With pressure mounting on President Obama to push forward for a no-fly zone over Libya, one official from his administration splashed cold water on the proposal.
U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder in a call with reporters Monday said that “the kinds of capabilities that are being used to attack the rebel forces and, indeed, the population will be largely unaffected by a no-fly zone,” Daalder said.
Daalder was not going rogue; he was voicing the skepticism many Obama administration officials have about the efficacy of the push.
Said one administration official to ABC News: “we can save many more lives with humanitarian relief and other efforts than through a no-fly zone.”
US officials say there was a significant decrease in both fighter and overall air activity over the weekend and, as Daalder put it, “the overall air activity has not been the deciding factor in the ongoing unrest; just as you stated, other things are really determining what’s happening on the ground.”
He underlined that “it’s important to understand that no-fly zones are more effective against fighters, but they really have a limited effect against the helicopters or the kind of ground operations that we’ve seen, which is why a no-fly zone, even if it were to be established, isn’t really going to impact what is happening there today.”
That said, NATO is looking into a no-fly zone possibility and they’ll know more by the end of theweek. As of yesterday, Daalder said, NATO had not yet had an in-depth discussion “on what it would take, what capabilities are required, and indeed, what the purpose of such a no-fly zone would be.”
The US is working with France and the UK in the UN Security Council to prepare for a no fly zone just in case. “With respect to a Security Council resolution for a no-fly zone, all of us want… a Security Council resolution to – for that eventuality,” Daalder said.
NATO is exploring other steps including:
• Setting up NATO command-and-control capability if only for humanitarian relief;
• Possibly re-tasking some NATO ships in the Mediterranean and NATO airlift assets to bring in humanitarian relief, or help evacuate people, or both;
• Possibly enhancing surveillance capacity by deploying NATO-owned and operated AWACS systems.