No-fly vote sparks celebrations in Benghazi

2011-03-18 08:11

Benghazi – The UN Security Council’s move on Thursday to approve a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians from attacks by Muammar Gaddafi's forces sparked wild celebratory gunfire in rebel bastion Benghazi.

 The Security Council cleared the way for air strikes to halt Gaddafi’s  assault on embattled rebels in the country.

The 15-member Security Council in a resolution approved "all necessary measures" to impose a no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and pressure the Libyan leader into accepting a ceasefire.

The UN vote passed 10-0 with five abstentions - permanent members China and Russia which did not wield their veto power - plus Germany, Brazil and India.

No German troops will take part in any military intervention in Libya as there are "considerable risks and dangers", Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said afterwards.

"We remain eminently sceptical on the option of military intervention... anticipated in this resolution. We see in it considerable risks and dangers. That is why we could not approve this part of the text," a statement said.

"German soldiers will not take part in a military intervention in Libya."

Diplomats indicated air strikes from a coalition led by Britain, France and the United States could be imminent, just hours after Gaddafi had threatened to send his troops against Benghazi.

Change of tactics around Benghazi

Gaddafi later changed tack as "a humanitarian gesture" and decided to hold off on plans to mercilessly crush all resistance, CNN reported.

"I just took a phone call from one of Gaddafi’s sons, Seif (al-Islam). This is the message from the leadership," the CNN correspondent in Tripoli said.

"He said they're going to change the tactics around Benghazi, that the army is not going to go into Benghazi. It's going to take up positions around the stronghold. The reason is they expect a humanitarian exodus."

Libya, despite condemning the resolution as a threat to its unity, said it was ready for a ceasefire but wanted to discuss terms of its implementation, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim told reporters.

He indicated Libya would "react positively to the UN resolution, and we will prove this willingness while guaranteeing protection to civilians".

US President Barack Obama called French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron on Thursday to co-ordinate Libya strategy.

"The leaders agreed that Libya must immediately comply with all terms of the resolution and that violence against the civilian population of Libya must cease," the White House said in a statement.

Celebratory gunfire

The European Union welcomed the UN resolution and the head of the European Parliament, Poland's Jerzy Buzek, said "there was no time to waste" to enforce it.

Canadian media also reported plans to send six warplanes to help enforce the no-fly zone.

In Rome, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi met defence officials to discuss the UN decision, ANSA news agency said. It also quoted Kaaim in Tripoli as saying: "Let's hope Italy keeps out of this initiative."

Italy - Libya's former colonial ruler - has been diplomatically cautious so far but has voted in favour of sanctions against Gaddafi’s regime.

In Benghazi in the east, Libya's second city and stronghold of the month-long rebellion against Gaddafi’s iron-fisted four-decade rule, celebratory gunfire rang out moments after the UN vote.

Preachers in mosques in the Mediterranean city used loudspeakers to shout "God is greatest, God is greatest".

Tracer bullets streaked across the night sky and anti-aircraft fire punctuated the sound of car horns.

Gaddafi, in a televised address, had warned just hours before the vote that his forces would attack Benghazi on Thursday night and show "no mercy".

  • Midcorner - 2011-03-18 08:27

    Waht is a no flying zone and can anyone clarify me on that one?

      Rini_GTown - 2011-03-18 08:45

      territory over which aircraft are not permitted to fly. Such zones are usually set up in a military context, somewhat like a demilitarized zone in the sky.

  • Pieter Wolf - 2011-03-18 08:32

    A little to late.

  • BrianT - 2011-03-18 08:37

    Finally the UN has got off it .... As far as Germany is concerned, God forbid that their soldiers do anything dangerous, I mean what do you expect of a soldier??? Good on you Britain, France and USA.

      JMan - 2011-03-18 08:59

      FYI...Germany's soldiers are stationed in Afghanistan, (in fact they are one of the main contributers there) and have been since the beginning of the USA's "War on Terror", which up to now, they have lost. Everytime teh US sees a "threat" they go in guns blazin'...and please name one (significant) war they have actually won in the last 30 years with their "tactics"? So if Germany says they will not immediately go in and shoot everything to hell, I for one totally understand it, when regarding the track record of the USA and its war-allies....

      Freddie - 2011-03-18 09:25

      JMan, the Germans in Afghanistan are stationed far away from the danger zones. They were moved out of Helmand province when it became a little hairy for them. The British moved in to handle the actual action. Time and again countries like Germany and (usually) France hide away from their duties. I agree with BrianT,good on proper democracies for standing up for human rights and democracy.

      JMan - 2011-03-18 09:32

      Fair enough...but "their duties"? The USA attacks Afghanistan (for whatever reason)...and its Germany's (or any other country) "duty" to clean up their mess? Again? I think not. Look at the mess they created in Iraq...and for what? Standing for democracy is NOT bombarding a country to sh* they did in Iraq...for "Democracy" nogal. And look at the sh*t Blair and his GRN people are in now....

      Freddie - 2011-03-18 09:51

      Afghanistan was invaded following a UN resolution, not unilaterally by the USA and Britain. All NATO countries likewise have a duty to contribute to the operations in Afghanistan. Iraq is a separate matter. People who have no understanding of the facts constantly like to lump Afghanistan, Iraq and now Libya into the same category. They are not. The resolution, and contributions to activities in all three are totally different. Don't be lazy with your facts.

      JMan - 2011-03-18 09:58

      Again...fair enough! I understand your point(s), but a "UN resolution" based on which motivations...and by whom? Did you not hear Bush's Speech after 9/11 about "We are going in...they can be with us, or they can not".... I wonder who "they" were? I just think criticising a country for not wanting to resort to military action at the first call, is not always justified.

      nixcroft - 2011-03-18 11:53

      @Freddie. The reason the germans are being so light footed about it is because of politacal correctness. Just like all white in south africa are being indoctrinated for to be sorry for apartheid the german people have been indoctrinated into being ashamed of what happened under the nazis. just recently was the very first time that the german army had any operations outside of germany since 1945. As for your comments about the french military. Couldnt agree more, the the last time the french really meant anything in any war was under napoleon. The Italians... not even worth a mention

  • reliverevilo - 2011-03-18 08:43

    YES! ... there is movement for liberation of the people of Libya. Thank you UN for the decision to implement the no fly zone

  • bryan hurd - 2011-03-18 09:27

    gaddafi is not a "good guy"but neither are his associates{read}the false leadership of france britain usa and others so what he is today, like in other despot asian and african countries "leaders"is with the help of the crooked leadership of the mostly western powers,the voting public don't really want what their "leaders"are doing but think that they had fair elections,voting has been for years a manipulated system with the boys at the top "putting in"their yes men,in Bahrain right now that countries leaders are shooting their citizens dead in the street,from the west and UN ???NOTHING,we in south africa had a corrupt government foisted on us by this same WEST AND UN,look at our ignored tragedy which is going to end in disaster,so don't trust anything coming out of the UN.

  • shoutout - 2011-03-18 10:42

    Yet another invasion of an oil producing country!

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