France admits it armed Libyan rebels
France's admission Wednesday that it provided weapons to Libyan rebels renews debate on the legality and wisdom of arming rebels in conflicts whose outcome is unpredictable.
• A daily summary of global reports on security issues.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Qaddafi: A look back
Israeli general hints at another Gaza campaign
Unclaimed attack on Islamic school raises tension in Nigeria
See no evil? Activists doubt credibility of Arab League mission to Syria.
Arab League observers head to Syria's war-ravaged Homs
Christmas church bombings put global spotlight on 'Nigerian Taliban' (VIDEO)
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
France revealed Wednesday that its forces parachuted weapons to Libya's rebels earlier this month, making it the first NATO country to disclose that it provided arms to rebel forces and renewing debate on the merits of such action.
The ambiguous wording of UN Resolution 1973, which authorized foreign intervention in Libya, has led to clashing interpretations of what is allowed under the guise of protecting civilians. There is no consensus on whether arming the rebels is permissible under the resolution's guidelines. According to NATO, France is the only country to provide weapons, the Associated Press reported.
UN Resolution 1970, passed in February, placed an arms embargo on the country, and some critics consider providing weapons to the rebels a violation of that resolution. However, resolution 1973, passed in March, offers a loophole in the arms embargo, according to proponents of arming the rebels, Reuters reports.
In exceptional circumstances, we can not implement paragraph 9 [of resolution 1970] when it's for protecting civilians," [French ambassador to the UN Gerard] Araud said.
Resolution 1973 authorized U.N. member states "to take all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya. It also adds "notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970" – referring to the arms embargo.
US and European officials have argued that the word "notwithstanding" is a loophole that could allow them to arm the rebels in the interest of protecting civilians. Araud made clear Paris subscribed to that view.
Security Council representatives say that Russia, China, and India disagree with arming the rebels and that the majority of the council members believe doing so violates the arms embargo, Reuters reports. Some have warned that ignoring resolution 1970 could lead China and Russia to do the same with Iran and North Korea.