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Libya Announces Ceasefire

Libya announced a ceasefire today in the aftermath of a U.N. Security Resolution authorizing the use of force to protect civilians and dense urban areas. It is had been reported that a major assault on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi was imminent; but with news of a stoppage of major military operations, anti-regime groups may have received a reprieve after a week of major setbacks. The following link will take you to an explanation of what a no-fly-zone in Libya would look like, along with some of its inherent difficulties (the U.N. Resolution permits the establishment of a no-fly-zone over the country).


U.N Security Council Acts

The UN took decisive action to back rebel forces battling the regime of Muammar Gaddafi today. The UN Security Council voted 10-0 to establish a no-fly zone and all measures short of an invasion to protect civilians from harm. France, Great Britain and Lebanon pushed for the resolution with backing from the United States. China, Germany and Russia – thought to be opponents of the resolution – abstained from voting. The security council’s decision comes as Gaddafi’s forces have made gains against their rebel opponents in recent weeks, taking back towns once seized by anti-regime forces. An expected onslaught of the strategic rebel base of Benghazi is expected imminently.

Diplomatic Push on Libya Intensifies

The United Nations will have a busy day today as countries come together to figure out how to deal with the situation in Libya.   The NY Times discusses the diplomatic effort being spearheaded by France and Britain to obtain more than a mere statement condemning the actions of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.  France’s president, Nicolas Sarkozy has requesting a special session of the UN Security Council for today and has called on Qaddafi to resign.  France and Britain are pushing for an arms embargo and sanctions to be placed against Libya.  NATO has also stated that it is willing to help evacuate refugees.  Britain and Switzerland have frozen Qaddafi’s financial assets, while other western powers are attempting to have Libya removed from the UN Human Rights Council.  One wonders why they were even on it to begin with.  There having also been suggestions of bringing a case against Qaddafi and others to the International Criminal Court.

Many of these actions are purely symbolic.  But the world needs to respond with more than just condemnation.  Any of these proposed steps will show a world united against the heinous acts undertaken by Qaddafi.  This will also show the people of the Middle East and North Africa that the world is behind their movements.

US vetoes UN condemnation of settlements

Al Jazeera is reporting that the United States used its United Nations Security Council veto to block a draft resolution that would declare Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal.  President Obama has said that ending the expansion of settlements is a top priority in creating peace in Israel, and states like Britain, France, and Germany supported the draft resolution, but still the US vetoed the measure.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, told council members that the veto “should not be misunderstood to mean we support settlement activity”.

“While we agree with our fellow council members and indeed with the wider world about the folly and illegitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, we think it unwise for this council to attempt to resolve the core issues that divide Israelis and Palestinians,” she said.

Freezing the building of settlements is the key for peace talks to move forward.