The UN Security Council just issued a Presidential Statement on Libya — a collective act of hand-wringing that serves as a substitute for a course of action. With so much concern, so many calls and its limp-wristed urging, this statement could have been written by President Obama himself.
The members of the Security Council expressed grave concern at the situation in Libya. They condemned the violence and use of force against civilians, deplored the repression against peaceful demonstrators, and expressed deep regret at the deaths of hundreds of civilians. They called for an immediate end to the violence and for steps to address the legitimate demands of the population, including through national dialogue.
The members of the Security Council called on the Government of Libya to meet its responsibility to protect its population. They called upon the Libyan authorities to act with restraint, to respect human rights and international humanitarian law, and to allow immediate access for international human rights monitors and humanitarian agencies.
The members of the Security Council called for international humanitarian assistance to the people of Libya and expressed concern at the reports of shortages of medical supplies to treat the wounded. They strongly urged the Libyan authorities to ensure the safe passage of humanitarian and medical supplies and humanitarian workers into the country.
The members of the Security Council underlined the need for the government of Libya to respect the freedom of peaceful assembly and of expression, including freedom of the press. They called for the immediate lifting of restrictions on all forms of the media.
The members of the Security Council stressed the importance of accountability. They underscored the need to hold to account those responsible for attacks, including by forces under their control, on civilians.
The members of the Security Council expressed deep concern about the safety of foreign nationals in Libya. They urged the Libyan authorities and all relevant parties to ensure the safety of all foreign nationals and facilitate the departure of those wishing to leave the country. The members of the Security Council will continue to follow the situation closely.
Maybe a Resolution will come later this week, but even if it does, it’s hard to imagine it will have any immediate impact on the bloodshed in Libya.
A sterner message is coming from eastern Libya or “Free Libya” as it is now being called, where captured mercenaries are being executed.
While foreign governments are focused on evacuating their own nationals, they might consider offering free passage to any of the remaining mercenaries to head back to Chad, Darfur or wherever else they came from — the sooner they pack their bags and get out, the better for everyone.
There are reports in the Arabic press that Egyptian officials have notified Tripoli that Egypt could intervene to protect the estimated two million Egyptians resident in Libya.
One of the strongest calls for action coming out of Washington came from Senator John Kerry:
The Qadhafi government’s use of deadly force against its own people should mean the end of the regime itself. It’s beyond despicable, and I hope we are witnessing its last hours in power. Libyans should have the opportunity to choose leaders who respect their basic rights. The question now is what can be done to send that message clearly and effectively. While it’s true that America has less influence in Tripoli than elsewhere in the region, we’re not without options, particularly in partnership with the broader international community. World leaders must together put Colonel Qadhafi on notice that his cowardly actions will have consequences. First, while Qadhafi himself is irredeemable, his senior military commanders need to know that their acquiescence in atrocities could open them to future international war crimes charges. Second, all American and international oil companies should immediately cease operations in Libya until violence against civilians ceases. The Obama administration also should consider reimposing U.S. sanctions that were lifted during the Bush era. Third, United Nations leadership is on the line. Libya’s mission to the U.N. bravely condemned their own government. … Fourth, the Arab League and African Union have an opportunity to create a new precedent in response to the crisis in Libya.
The most pointed message so far, however, has come from the leading Sunni scholar and TV preacher Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradawi, head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars. In an interview on Al Jazeera yesterday, he said:
The truth is that I do not want to say anything to Al-Gaddafi, because one should only address people who are reasonable. People who are not reasonable should not be addressed. That man is no longer reasonable. He has been crazy for a long time….
Therefore, I address the Libyan army, which is definitely endowed with faith, manliness, and honor. They must not attack their own people. Who would kill their own people?! Would you sacrifice an entire people for the sake of a madman?! . . .
I hereby issue a fatwa to the officers and soldiers who can kill Mu’ammar Al-Gaddafi: Whoever among them can fire a bullet at him, thus relieving the country and the people of him, should do so. This man wants to annihilate the people, so I am protecting the people.
I rule that whoever can fire a bullet, and relieve us, as well as Libya and its great people, of this man’s evil and danger, should do so.