France and the UK made a last-effort yesterday (16 March) to urge the UN Security Council to back a draft resolution that would include a no-fly zone over Libya. As the international community appears unwilling to take action, Gaddafi’s troops are preparing to launch “a mortal blow” on rebel capital Benghazi.
As Gaddafi’s troops march on rebel capital Benghazi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and UK Prime Minister David Cameron signed a letter to heads of state of United Nations Security Council members, asking them to immediately to back a draft resolution that would include the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.
‘Showing some leadership’
Speaking to the parliament in Westminster, Cameron said that “after extensive discussion with Lebanon, France, the US and others,” the UK had tabled a new draft Security Council resolution at the UN.
“This includes a no-fly zone banning all flights except humanitarian flights, and it also includes an extension of the travel ban and the asset freeze, and tougher enforcement of the arms embargo – particularly on the Libyan government,” the prime minister explained.
“Of course there are a wide range of views in the UN, but I would urge others to take the right steps so that actually we show some leadership on this issue and make sure that we get rid of this regime,” Cameron said.
At an 11 March EU summit, France and UK were the only EU countries to call for the exploration of military options to prevent Gaddafi from slaughtering his people.
In the meantime, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé wrote on his blog that only the use of force could stop Gaddafi.
In a blog post entitled ‘Our honour’, he wrote: “It is not enough to proclaim, as almost all the major democracies have done, that ‘Gaddafi must go’. We must give ourselves the means to effectively help those who took up arms against his dictatorship,” Juppé said.
“Judicial and financial sanctions agreed by the United Nations and the European Union are useful. But we know they only give results after several months. Now there is urgency […] It has often happened in contemporary history that the weakness of democracies leaves free space to dictatorships. It is not too late to prove that this rule is wrong,” he wrote.
Dictator would reward Germany
Gaddafi slammed Western powers in a German television interview on Tuesday, saying Germany was the only country with a chance of doing business for Libyan oil in the future.
“We do not trust their firms, they have conspired against us,” he said in excerpts of a tape to be broadcast on RTL later in the day. “Our oil contracts are going to Russian, Chinese and Indian firms. The West is to be forgotten.”
Among Western nations, only Germany, which has been hesitant to call for a no-fly zone over the country to protect embattled rebels fighting against the leader, stood out as “responsible”.
“The Germans have taken a very good position towards us, very different from many other important countries in the West,” he said, adding that he imagined Libya could work with German firms in the future.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain have led calls for a no-fly zone, which Germany and Russia argue could be counter-productive. In the interview, Gaddafi called Sarkozy his friend but said he was “suffering from mental illness”.
In a separate interview, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam said that his father’s regime had helped to finance the 2007 presidential election campaign of French President Nicholas Sarkozy.
“We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything,” Saif al-Islam said in an interview with the Euronews TV channel on Wednesday. Sarkozy’s services rejected the allegations.
Gaddafi’s son also scoffed at protracted discussions among world powers on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.
“The military operations are finished. In 48 hours everything will be over. Our forces are close to Benghazi. Whatever decision is taken, it will be too late,” Saif told Euronews TV channel.