Pictures of burning tanks belonging to Colonel Gaddafi are coming out of Libya and returning British RAF pilots have declared their mission a success. David Cameron pronounced the action was “legal and right’.
But there’s a problem already. The head of the Arab League has criticized allied strikes on Libya because they say they are causing too many civilian deaths. Their support for a no-fly zone last week helped overcome resistance in the west for action. The UN authorised not only a no-fly zone but also ‘all necessary measures’ to protect civilians. Arab League head Amr Moussa says the military operations have gone beyond what the Arab League agreed to and wants the killing of civilians to stop.
Enter the Russians. They have lodged a protest and called for a stop to the ‘indiscriminate’ use of force and said that the air strikes went beyond the mandate of the UN resolution. Russian Foreign Minister Alexander Lukashevich said the US and European air raids killed 48 civilians and a medical centre was partially destroyed.
Libyan officials seized the Italian tugboat ‘Asso 22’ and their crew made up of 8 Italians, 2 Indians and 1 Ukrainian. Italian Defence Minister said that Italy was prepared to evacuate the crew ‘with every possible means.” Italy’s oil and gas giant Eni has vast interests in Libya and they had rented the tug for use at oil platforms off the coast. It’s around this time that a cynic would say “it’s really all about the oil.”
Last night the US Pentagon reported that 112 Tomahawk missiles had been fired from both US and British ships and submarines in Operation Odyssey Dawn while three B-2 stealth bombers from the US have dropped 40 bombs on Libyan airfields.
A spokesman said “The missiles struck more than 20 integrated air-defence systems and other defence facilities ashore. These strikes were carefully co-ordinated with our coalition partners. The targets themselves were selected on a collective assessment that the sites either pose a direct threat to the coalition pilots or, through use by the regime, pose a direct threat to the people of Libya." He added "I want to stress that this is just the first phase of what will likely be a multi-phased military operation designed to enforce the UN resolution and deny the Libyan regime the ability to use force against its own people."
Now the UN has to answer to the Arab League and the Russians about whether it’s “legal and right.”