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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Cameron urges UN to 'show leadership' in Libya revolt


David Cameron has urged the UN to "show
leadership" ahead of negotiations about whether to back a no-fly zone in
Libya, big words from a man who can’t show leadership within his own government?


The British, French and Lebanese are pressing for the move
to stop air attacks on civilians as fighting intensifies.


The British Prime Minister Cameron said a no-fly zone was
not a "simple solution" to the Libyan crisis but one of a series of
steps that was needed to "make sure we get rid of this regime".


China and Russia are among countries sceptical about a
no-fly zone.


Opposition leaders have appealed for international help in
limiting Col Gaddafi's resources as his forces maintain their onslaught on
rebel positions in the east of the country and as Saif Gaddafi, son of the
Libyan leader, claimed the uprising "will be over in 48 hours".


Anti-Gaddafi forces have denied claims their opponents have
taken Ajdabiya - the last town before their headquarters in Benghazi -
following a ground assault on the town.


The British are increasing the pressure for a no-fly zone
over Libya by tabling the draft resolution at the UN Security Council. France,
which along with Lebanon is also sponsoring the resolution, has said it is
confident it will "achieve its objective".


Germany, Russia and China are said to be among those
opposing such proposals, aimed at preventing air attacks on rebels by
pro-Gaddafi forces, while there is increasing pressure on the US to state its


The Arab League has backed the idea but a meeting of G8
foreign ministers in Paris failed to do so.


Cameron authorised the formal proposal of the text - which
contains a "menu" of options for restraining Col Gaddafi's regime.


Asked about the issue at Prime Minister's Questions, Cameron
said he recognised a no-fly zone was not a "simple solution" to the
crisis in Libya.


But he said it was one of several steps that needed to be
taken to isolate and increase the pressure on the Gaddafi regime.


He added: "At the end of this if Col Gaddafi is left in
place that would send a terrible message - not just to people in Libya - but
others across the region, who wants to see greater democracy and openness in
their societies. That is why it is right for the British to play that leading
role at the UN and elsewhere."


But amid uncertainty over US support for the resolution and
whether progress would be made, London Times political editor RC said the
"political blame game" about the world's response to the crisis had
already begun.


"On Monday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague
said the world had now reached the point of decision," he said. "It
might, perhaps, have been more accurate to say that the world had extended the
period of indecision, Hague having been given his lines from No; 10."


Mr Hague said on Wednesday the case for the UN to authorise
a no-fly zone to protect civilians was "powerful", and that the
government would not be going down this route if it believed it had "zero
chance" of success repeating what Cameron had already said, but put
putting the words in a different light? As he can’t think for himself, he needs
others to tell him what to say and how to say it?


"It is in our own national interest for what is
happening in Libya to proceed to some orderly outcome as well as morally right
for loss of life - on a considerable scale - to be avoided if it can be,"
he told fellow British MPs.


NATO defence ministers have said a clear UN mandate would be
needed for them to get involved in Libya but Russia has said the Arab League
had not "formalised" its decision to back a no-fly zone while Germany
has advised against military intervention, warning of a "slippery
slope" to a full-scale war.


The draft resolution - which France hopes to put to a vote
by Friday - would establish a ban on all flights in Libya, authorise member
states to enforce it and call on them to participate in it.


It also urges stronger enforcement of the arms embargo, adds
names, companies and entities to the sanctions list, bans commercial flights
from bringing arms and mercenaries into Libya and would set up an expert panel
to monitor implementation.


The UN talks come as fierce fighting continues between
government troops and opposition groups.


After finally gaining control of the town of Brega on
Tuesday, pro-Gaddafi forces have mounted an assault on Ajdabiya, the last town
on the road to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the east of the country.


Saif Gaddafi said government forces were "close
to" Benghazi and that the imposition of a no-fly zone would make no
difference to the outcome.


"The military operations are finished," he told
French TV channel Euro news. "In 48 hours everything will be over. Our
forces are close to Benghazi. Whatever decision is taken, it will be too


But the London Times reporter JG, who is in the city, said
he did not believe the government had the manpower to capture the city at this
stage and the regime's comments were primarily designed to increase pressure on
rebel forces.

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