The least the world can doThe United Nations Security Council authorized international military action, including a no-fly zone over Libya, to stop Libyan strongman Muammar el-Qaddafi from his campaign of bloodshed against his own people.
The decision could halt the ruthless attack on rebel-held cities carried out by Qaddafi’s military forces over the last few days as global attention shifted to earthquake-stricken Japan.
The UN resolution came after Qaddafi on Thursday night declared a final assault on the eastern coastal city of Benghazi that has served as the base for anti-Qaddafi forces.
After the resolution established a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace and authorized “all necessary measures” from UN member states to protect civilians, Qaddafi offered to halt further military actions.
But given his erratic character and tenacious stance to oust rebel forces, the Libyan despot of 42 years is unlikely to end his attempt to recapture complete control over the nation.
A full-scale massacre was feared when forces loyal to Qaddafi - backed by jet fighters, tanks, and warships - clashed with poorly-armed opposition rebels in the second largest city of Benghazi.
The United States has been weighing another military interference in the Muslim country, with its ongoing engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Other countries had misgivings about military actions.
Qaddafi had warned his forces could go “berserk if the world turns crazy.” There is still a possibility that Qaddafi forces could stage an ambush against civilian rebels regardless of the UN decision.
The Libyan crisis poses as a conundrum for global leaders. Due to political-demographic complexities, it won’t be easy to oust Qaddafi as was done in the Jasmine Revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.
The UN resolution currently restricts foreign military measures to the skies and China and Russia, both of which abstained from the vote, are still strongly against military action.
There is a limit to what the international community can do to force Qaddafi to step down.
It will ultimately be up to the people of Libya to decide. They must end their long-time autocracy and create a democratic government with their own hands.
But the process shouldn’t cost further civilian lives. The international community should see to that.
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