The United Nations Security Council has just authorized a no-fly zone over Libya and implicitly allowed the United States, France and Britain to bomb military forces and facilities loyal to Muammar Qadddafi.
Aljazeera live is covering the session and is showing enormous, delirious crowds celebrating in downtown Benghazi, which Qaddafi had threatened to occupy earlier on Thursday. They are deploying celebratory fire, which I’d advise them against, since Qaddafi’s forces are near and the more activist elements of NATO likely to intervene on their behalf rather farther away. They may yet need the bullets.
The resolution demands an immediate ceasefire, an end of violence, and refers the Qaddafi regime to the World Court for war crimes, as well as creating a new sanctions regime against arms dealers and mercenaries helping Qaddafi.
Aljazeera Arabic is reporting that the Qaddafi regime dismissed the resolution as ‘not worth the paper it is printed on’ and is defiant. Unfortunately, Qaddafi has a lot of troops and tanks at Ajdabiya not far from Benghazi.
Not since fall of 1990, when the UNSC authorized military action to push Saddam Hussein’s forces out of Kuwait, has it acted so decisively and exactly in the way its founders had aspired for it in 1945.
A note: The resolution was co-sponsored by the Lebanese government, in which the Shiite party Hizbullah (Hezbollah) is a leading element. In part, Lebanon was representing the Arab League, which in some ways was the major political force (along with Britain and France) pushing for world action. But in other ways something more personal was going on.
When I was working for a newspaper in Beirut in 1978, I translated wire service reports on the disappearance of the great Shiite leader Mousa al-Sadr while on a trip to Libya. He was likely murdered by Qaddafi and put in a grave somewhere there. I once attended a lecture by Sadr in Beirut. He was a great man, charismatic and a force for uplift in his community and for outreach to other communities. He probably went to Libya in an attempt to convince Qaddafi not to send any more weapons to the factions there (such arms shipments and factionalization contributed to the long Lebanese Civil War). Lebanese Shiites, including Hizbullah, still lionize Mousa al-Sadr and despise Qaddafi.
Payback is a bitch.