Trollmedia – what no-fly zone?

So the Guardian begins with: “French planes enter Libya to enforce no-fly zone“. Later, le Grauniad says: “Libya no-fly zone: Gaddafi’s forces and rebels are hard to tell apart from the air“. Strangely on the Graun’s live blog, we are told: “Al-Jazeera is reporting that French war planes have destroyed four Libyan tanks in air strikes to the south west of Benghazi.

Just because the official line on joint action on Libya began with talks of a no-fly zone, and that the United Nations Security Council’s Resolution 1973 explicitly mandates a no-fly zone, doesn’t mean that the UN member states enacting the resolution are going to enforce just a no-fly zone. At least not in the manner in which the phrase is commonly understood (from post-1991 Persian Gulf War experience).

Not that some media outlets care particularly for the fine print, it seems.

The following are the key clauses in UNSC Resolution 1973 governing military action in Libya (emphases mine):

4. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, and acting in cooperation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures, notwithstanding paragraph 9 of resolution 1970 (2011), to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory, and requests the Member States concerned to inform the Secretary-General immediately of the measures they take pursuant to the authorization conferred by this paragraph which shall be immediately reported to the Security Council;

This presumably is the provision under which the UN member states concerned (effectively NATO) are acting to conduct air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces. Note that it says “all necessary measures” to “protect civilians”, and doesn’t dictate that these measures take the form of a no-fly zone. Taking out Gaddafi’s forces seen to be attacking rebel-held cities can logically be held as a “necessary measure” to “protect civilians”.

Also of note is the bit about barring “a foreign occupation force of any form”. The inclusion of the qualifier “occupation” opens the possibility of the insertion of a “transition” force – a label often used on UN military peacekeeping missions in the past. If the genuine thrust for the resolution was to bar completely any foreign ground forces from entering Libya, the qualifier “occupation” is surely superfluous, totally unnecessary.

6. Decides to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians;

8. Authorizes Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to enforce compliance with the ban on flights imposed by paragraph 6 above, as necessary, and requests the States concerned in cooperation with the League of Arab States to coordinate closely with the Secretary General on the measures they are taking to implement this ban, including by establishing an appropriate mechanism for implementing the provisions of paragraphs 6 and 7 above,

Again “all necessary measures”, this time to enforce the no-fly zone. And again a potential qualifier for broad action against Gaddafi’s forces – the enforcement of a no-fly zone can be hindered by ground forces providing anti-aircraft defence, and as such UN/NATO can argue it legitimate to destroy certain Libyan government units under the aegis of clause 8.

Such is the legal framework for more extensive intervention, one feels, even as cordite, copper-scented red mists linger in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anything for energy security, eh?

By the way, I also hear some pretty rough shit going down in Bahrain and Yemen…oh sorry, my bad. I forgot it’s already being taken cared of.

P.S.: If the comic still whizzes over your cuckoo’s nest, see this and this. If you jelly, I appreciate it. Took me about half an hour.

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~ by spiegel2071 on March 19, 2011.

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