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Libya: Why the West finally got it right

The firm stand of Britain's David Cameron and France's Nicolas Sarkozy is a major reason for the success of yesterday's Security Council resolution on Libya – a resolution that puts the West on the right side of history and morality.

By Ranj Alaaldin / March 18, 2011


British Prime Minister David Cameron has done it. He was among the first of Western leaders and British politicians to call for the much-needed no-fly zone over Libya. Despite strong opposition from the international community, he stood firm and loyal to his convictions and, together with the equally tenacious President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, has restored faith in the once-impotent and futile United Nations. Libyans, the Arab world, and the broader international community should forever be grateful.

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Yesterday’s Security Council endorsement of a resolution that imposes a no-fly zone over Libya is a righting of the wrongs of history. In 1991, the international community and the ineffective Arab League found itself in a similar position when Iraqis rose up against the tyrannical dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. They left the Iraqis hanging, who, as a result, were slaughtered.

Now, with Qaddafi’s forces moving closer toward Benghazi, Libyans will not be as unlucky. A no-fly zone was always going to be the all-important factor in this bloody conflict. Yet, the conflict had, by the time of yesterday’s resolution, reached a point where a no-fly zone would have been too little too late, with Qaddafi checking the rebels’ westward progress and recapturing lost towns and cities in the rebel-controlled territories of the east.

Against all odds

Against all the odds, however, the Security Council went even further than a no-fly zone by implementing what Daniel Korski of the European Council on Foreign Relations had, three weeks ago, called the no-fly zone plus-one option: the use of air strikes to complement a no-fly zone that, on its own, would have merely sacrificed the exhausted and resource-diminished rebels to Qaddafi’s tanks and heavy artillery.


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