Libya’s Deputy Permanent UN Representative warns that a convoy of 400 military vehicles are headed to destroy Ajdabiya and that the UN must intervene in the coming hours.
The New York Times reports:
The prospect of a deadly siege of the rebel stronghold in Benghazi, Libya, has produced a striking shift in tone from the Obama administration, which is now pushing for the United Nations to authorize aerial bombing of Libyan tanks and heavy artillery to try to halt the advance of forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.
The administration, which remains deeply reluctant to be drawn into an armed conflict in yet another Muslim country, is nevertheless backing a resolution in the Security Council that would give countries a broad range of options for aiding the Libyan rebels, including military steps that go well beyond a no-flight zone.
Administration officials — who have been debating a no-flight zone for weeks — concluded that such a step now would be “too little, too late” for rebels who have been pushed back to Benghazi. That suggests more aggressive measures, which some military analysts have called a no-drive zone, to prevent Colonel Qaddafi from moving tanks and artillery into Benghazi.
The United States is insisting that any military action would have to be carried out by an international coalition, including Libya’s Arab neighbors.
The rapid advance of forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi, combined with rising calls from the Arab world to prevent a rout of the opposition, has changed the calculations of the administration, which had clung to a belief that interfering in a Middle East uprising could provoke an anti-American backlash.
“The turning point was really the Arab League statement on Saturday,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday to reporters traveling with her in Cairo. “That was an extraordinary statement in which the Arab League asked for Security Council action against one of its own members.”
Mrs. Clinton said she was hopeful that the Security Council would vote no later than Thursday. The American ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice, is in intensive negotiations over the language of a resolution, sponsored by Lebanon, another Arab state, and backed by France and Britain.
This about-turn in the Obama administration’s position is being viewed with a measure of skepticism in some quarters. “Privately, some European officials expressed frustration with the Obama administration, with one saying he believed it was supporting strong measures in an attempt to draw a veto.”
What is particularly noteworthy is that the resolution is sponsored by Lebanon. Even while the country is still in the process of forming a new government, this UN initiative can most likely be attributed to Hezbollah, now the dominant political force in Lebanon.
Soon after the Feb 17 Revolution began, Hezbollah issued a strong condemnation of Gaddafi. On Feb 22, the Ahlul Bayt News Agency reported:
Hezbollah lashed out Monday at the “crimes committed by the Gaddafi regime” in Libya:
“Anyone with honor and consciousness in this world cannot, and should not, keep silent on the massacres that the Gaddafi regime is committing across the country on a daily basis, namely in Benghazi.
Terror and violence do not protect a regime that was founded on corruption and crime, from the will and determination of a people that has taken its decisive decision,” a Hezbollah statement read.
“Hezbollah firmly condemns crimes committed by the Gaddafi regime against the oppressed Libyan people. We also offer our sincere condolences to the families of those who were unjustly killed, just for demanding their rights. Hezbollah expresses support to the revolutionists in Libya and we pray that they will triumph over this arrogant tyrant,” the statement added.
“The criminality of this tyrant had first struck us deeply as Lebanese, when he kidnapped the Imam of the resistance Sayyed Moussa Sadr with his two dear companions. We ask Almighty Allah that the honorable revolutionists in Libya would be able to liberate Imam Sadr and his companions, just as they would be able to free Libya from all of its chains,” the statement concluded.