The crisis in Libya is quickly escalating. Rebel-pull backs continue in the east after Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces unleashed rockets and artillery on the light armed rebel forces today. The rebels, aided by Western air strikes, had made a two-day charge along more than 125 miles of barren coast (about 330 miles east of the capital of Tripoli) and seized strategic oil terminals near Gadhafi’s hometown of Sirte. However, the rebels have now been forced to retreat, giving up valuable gains to Gadhafi’s better armed troops.
On Monday, March 28th, President Obama made his case for military intervention in Libya in a speech to the nation, saying the action he directed was in U.S. interests and had already succeeded in preventing a massacre of “horrific scale.” He said the U.S. would work to remove Gadhafi from power, but made clear that he would rely on political, financial, and other pressures—not military force—to drive him out.
Just one day after President Obama’s speech, 40 world leaders convened in London, insisting that Gadhafi steps down but offering no new suggestions for how to dislodge him from power. Although the leaders pledged humanitarian aid and continued air strikes to protect civilians in the region, they indicated that it would be up to the Libyans themselves to force Gadhafi out.
The question of whether to arm the rebels was not publicly discussed at the summit, nor was the question of how to release frozen Libyan assets to help fund them. But President Obama, in an interview with NBC on Tuesday, said that he would not preclude the possibility of arming the rebels. Obama said, “I’m not ruling it out, but I’m also not ruling it in.” He added, “Operations to protect civilians continue to take out Gadhafi’s forces, his tanks, his artillery on the ground. And that will continue for some time.” While both the U.S. and Britain are not ruling out supplying arms to the rebels, China and Russia are stepping up complaints about the Western-led military intervention in Libya.
The UN, however, has openly pledged it’s support. In a statement released on Tuesday, March 29th, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said “thousands of lives” were saved by the actions of the international community. The Secretary General pledged the ongoing support of the UN to resolve the crisis in Libya and noted that the world body was already engaged in “strong diplomatic efforts.” He reiterated his call for an immediate ceasefire between the military and opposition forces, and said he and his Special Envoy for Libya, Abdel-Elah al-Khatib, remain in close contact with both Libya’s authorities and the opposition.
In total, around 380,000 people are estimated to have left Libya since the unrest – part of wider protests across North Africa and the Middle East – began and another 13,000 are stranded at the country’s borders with Tunisia and Egypt.
Stay tuned with us as we continue to monitor the unfolding events!
If you have been up to date with the news in Libya, you are probably aware that the situation in Libya is escalating. Libya has now become the center of attention for not only the media but also the U.N.
Libya’s bloody crackdown on protesters and its innocent civilians is alarming. It is reported that thousands may have been killed or injured.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon announced at a press conference on Wednesday, February 23rd that the current situation in Libya is unpredictable and it is possible that the situation could go in many directions, many of them, which are dangerous. He also stated that the international community should remain unity and act together. While the young people are pushing the frontier of freedom, it is important to note that there should be no violence and instead respect for human rights. He emphasized that the government of Libya should protect its people as attack on civilians are violations of international humanitarian and human rights law and those responsible must be held accountable.
Ironically, Libya is an elected member of the Human Rights Council and now some members have called for its expulsion.
On Friday, February 25th, the UN Human Rights Council met in a special session in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss possible sanctions against Moamer Kadhafi’s embattled government while the UN Security Council met Saturday 26th, in New York for a formal session to discuss the crisis in Libya and Moamer Kadhafi’s refusal to halt his crackdown on democracy protests. See below for a brief overview of those sessions:
Along with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, as well as counterparts from Britain, France, Germany, the European Union and Italy, the Human Rights Council, the UN’s top rights assembly, decided unanimously on Friday to approve Libya’s exclusion from the body.
It also launched an UN-led investigation into “systematic violence” in Libya that could amount to “crimes against humanity,” after 1,000 people were reportedly killed in attempts to crush an uprising against Kadhafi.
The U.N. Security Council unanimously decided to impose economic and military sanctions on Libya and urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague to pursue charges of war crimes against Kadhafi, members of his family, and 16 of his political and military advisers.
At the meeting, U.N Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon announced that the U.N. receives daily reports of clashes and the “indiscriminate use of violence” resulting in an estimated 1,000 deaths and countless arrests and wounded in Libya. In addition, reports of Kadhafi’s supporting forces killing wounded opposition members in hospitals where they were being treated for wounds, have also reached the U.N.
The results of the meetings were praised by human rights groups, but they also urged the international community to ensure protection of civilians in Libya and justice for victims of violence over the coming months.
How do you think the unrest in Libya should be handled? Is the international community doing enough? How can peace be achieved? Let us know what you think and keep posted with UNA-GB on the current situations in Libya.