At UN, US Pushing for Broader Military Authorization Versus Gadhafi — But Only With Arab Participation

By MichaelJames

Mar 16, 2011 10:01pm

Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia report:

Though U.S. officials repeatedly have expressed ambivalence about how well a no-fly zone imposed over Libya might work, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations would vote for a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for one — and more, officials tell ABC News.

During the eight-hours of the U.N. Security Council meeting today, the U.S. pushed for amendment after amendment that would broaden the military action authorized against Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces well beyond just a "no-fly" zone, sources tell ABC News.

"The U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice told reporters Wednesday evening, saying consultations will continue Thursday, when she also hopes for a vote.

Since the U.S. is concerned that a no-fly zone would have limited impact because most of the attacks by Gadhafi's regime against the Libyan people are not by air, the U.S. also is pushing for the resolution to authorize international forces to stop attacks by Gadhafi's forces on its people conducted on land and by sea as well.

This could include, for example, allowing aircraft from the international coalition to bomb Libyan tanks.

And the U.S. is insisting that Arab countries participate in any military action. The U.S. does not want this to be seen as America attacking yet another Muslim country. The military from Arab countries must participate.

"We need Arab leadership and Arab participation in whatever the U.N. decides to do," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told NBC News. "Unilateral action would not be the best approach.  It would have all kinds of unintended consequences.  International action with Arab leadership and participation, we think, is the way to go."

Other steps the U.S. wants to include in a resolution would include more sanctions against the Gadhafi regime, further mechanisms to enforce the arms embargo, and a push to allow the U.N. and member states into the country to provide humanitarian aid.

The Arab League endorsed the proposal for a no-fy zone over the weekend.

Ibrahim Dabbashi, Libya's deputy envoy to the U.N. — who has sided against Gadhafi — told journalists Wednesday that approximately five Arab countries would participate in enforcing the no-fly zone.

Dabbashi added, "Col. Gadhafi today has lost his mind," and will commit "genocide" in the eastern Libyan town of Ajdabiya and "ethnic cleansing" in the west.

Clinton told the BBC that the Arab League's endorsement has softened opposition to the no-fly zone on the U.N. Security Council. In addition to U.S. ambivalence, Russia and China had expressed reservations.

"There were countries which said they would veto anything," Clinton said. "There were other countries that were adamantly opposed.  That has changed."

- Jake Tapper and Kirit Radia

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