|Members of the UNSC voted to act militarily to protect Libyan citizens who are rebelling against Gaddafi [Reuters]|
The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) has voted on a resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya and “all necessary measures” – code for military action – to protect citizens.
Ten of the council’s 15 members voted in favour of the resolution, with Russia, China and Germany the five that abstained.
No votes were recorded against the resolution, which was co-sponsored by France, Britain, Lebanon and the United States.
The resolution fulfills a long-standing demand from pro-democracy opposition forces in Libya asking for a no-fly zone to be established in order to prevent Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, from using fighter jets to bombard their positions, as they have been doing.
It comes just a few hours after Gaddafi warned residents of Benghazi, an opposition stronghold, that his forces would show “no mercy” in an impending assault on the city.
The draft of the resolution was prepared by the United Kingdom, France and Lebanon, and in the hours ahead of the meeting the United States appeared to have changed its stance on the issue by actively backing calls for not just a no-fly zone, but also strikes against Libyan military targets that could be mobilised against civilians.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, said there was not much time left for the international community to act.
“France is very much involved in this action and has prepared the draft resolution. We have one goal… we want to stop the attacks by the Gaddafi regime against civilian populations.
“And it’s a question of days or hours because the pressure against Benghazi, especially, is now very tough.”
The Libyan defence ministry on Thursday, before the vote, warned that any military intervention in Libya would endanger air and sea traffic in the Mediterranean Sea.
In a statement released by the state-run Jana news agency, the ministry said that both civilian and military targets in the Mediterranean will be attacked.
(english.aljazeera.net / 17.03.2011)