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Explainer: Military action in Libya

  • Image: A rebel fighter looks at burning vehicles after a coalition air strike
    Goran Tomasevic  /  Reuters
    A rebel fighter looks at burning vehicles belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces, along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah March 20, 2011. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic (LIBYA - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)

    Pentagon officials say the allied bombardment has been successful so far in diminishing Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses, while the embattled Libyan leader vowed a "long war" with the West.

    Here's a look at key players and issues surrounding the U.N.-mandated military action in Libya.

  • Meeting in Paris

    Image: World leaders
    Lionel Bonaventure  /  Pool via Reuters
    France's President Nicolas Sarkozy speaks with Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, right, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and France's Prime Minister Francois Fillon, left.

    World leaders gathered in Paris to discuss the course of action regarding Libya after the U.N. Security Council passed resolution 1973 that demands a cease-fire and a complete end to violence against civilians. Here what leaders had to say.

  • France

    Image: Paris Summit on Libya
    Lionel Bonaventure / Pool  /  EPA
    France president Nicolas Sarkozy.

    French President Nicolas Sarkozy

    "It's a grave decision we've had to take. Along with our Arab, European and North American partners, France has decided to play its part before history.

    "This is why, in agreement with our partners, our air forces will counter any aggression by Colonel Gadhafi's aircraft against the population of Benghazi. As of now, our planes are preventing air attacks on the city of Benghazi. As of now, other French aircraft are ready to intervene against armored vehicles which threaten unarmed civilians.

    "Colonel Gadhafi has scorned our warnings. In the past few hours his forces have intensified their murderous offensive.

    "The Libyan people need our aid and support. It's our duty.

    "We are doing it to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that in killing its own people has lost all legitimacy.

    "There is still time for Colonel Gadhafi to avoid the worst, by acting without delay and without reservations in accordance with all the demands of the international community. The door of international diplomacy will open again the moment attacks end."

  • Britain

    Image: France's President Sarkozy greets Britain's Prime Minister Cameron at the Elysee Palace ahead of wider international talks on Libya in Paris
    Gonzalo Fuentes  /  Reuters
    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron.

    British Prime Minister David Cameron

    "Colonel Gadhafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community, he has promised a cease-fire, he has broken that cease-fire.

    "He continues to brutalize his own people so the time for action has come. It needs to be urgent, we have to enforce the will of the United Nations and we cannot allow the slaughter of civilians to continue.

    "Obviously at this time our thoughts should be with those who are going to risk their lives to help the lives of others. I think it is vitally important that, with the United Nations behind us, with the clear legality of this action, and with local countries supporting us as well, it is right to act.

    "Of course, there are dangers. There are difficulties. There will always be unforeseen consequences of taking action. But it is better to take this action than to risk the consequences of inaction, which is the further slaughter of civilians by this dictator flouting the United Nations and its will."

  • United States

    Image: Clinton makes remarks on U.S. opportunities in the Americas at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington
    JONATHAN ERNST  /  Reuters
    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

    "We have said from the start that Arab leadership and participation in this effort is crucial.

    "(Intervention) is to protect civilians and it is to provide access for humanitarian assistance.

    "Further delays will only put more civilians at risk.

    "We did not lead this. We did not engage in unilateral actions in any way, but we strongly support the international community taking action against governments and leaders who believe as Gadhafi  is unfortunately doing so now."

  • Germany

    Image: German Chancellor Merkel attends German Bundestag session in Berlin
    TOBIAS SCHWARZ  /  Reuters
    German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel

    "We are united that the war must be ended. The resolution must be pushed through.

    "We will not take part in the action in military terms. We will take on additional responsibilities in Afghanistan.

    "No one will succeed in dividing the international community in its determination. We stand united at the side of the Libyan people and stand united that the Gadhafi 's war against his own people must be ended and a cease-fire must be implemented.

    "I have called for a comprehensive oil embargo because this would hit the Libyan regime hard.

    "We are ready to relieve NATO particularly in its AWACS capabilities by taking on additional responsibilities in Afghanistan... Also we will naturally be prepared for the American bases in Germany to be used for military action.

    "The next few days will be decisive.

    "I believe that the presence also of the countries that are not participating militarily is very important because we have made clear that the resolution counts and this resolution must now be implemented. We will not participate militarily in the action."

  • European Union

    Image: EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Ashton addresses a news conference in Brussels
    THIERRY ROGE  /  Reuters
    European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton.

    EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton

    "The UN Security Council resolution 1973 has sent a strong and unequivocal message to Colonel Gadhafi : the violence against the people must stop immediately, the Libyan population must be protected.

    "Colonel Gadhafi  had and still has a choice to make. Either he abides immediately by the UNSC resolution or the international community will have no choice but to continue to act. I hope he will listen to the demands of the Libyan people, the European Union, the Arab League, the African Union and fulfill all the conditions set out by the international community in the UNSC resolution."

  • Italy

    Image: Silvio Berlusconi
    Thibault Camus  /  AP
    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

    Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi

    "I have proposed that the military coordination of the operation be in the NATO base at Naples.

    "For the time being we are making the bases available but, if they request it, even military intervention (is possible)."

  • Spain

    Image: Spanish PM Rodriguez Zapatero speaks during a joint news conference with UN Secretary-General Ban after their meeting in Madrid
    ANDREA COMAS  /  Reuters
    Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

    Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero

    "The Libyan regime has not complied with the United Nations' resolution. It still has a chance to comply, immediately. That is the first demand of this meeting: immediate compliance."

  • United Nations

    Image: Ban Ki-moon meets Zapatero
    Chema Moya  /  EPA
    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

    U.N. Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon

    "Everything depends upon how Libyan authorities will comply with the Security Council resolutions. I again urge, in the strongest possible terms, that Libyan authorities must fully comply with resolutions and they must immediately stop these military hostilities."

  • Military buildup

    Image: An F-18 Hornet jet fighter maneuvers over the NATO airbase of Birgi, Italy
    Carmelo Imbesi  /  AP
    An F-18 Hornet jet fighter maneuvers over the NATO airbase of Birgi, near Trapani, Sicily, Italy, March 19, 2011.

    Here's a look at some of the international military assets in or heading to the region to help enforce the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya:

  • U.S.

    — After barrage of attacks by sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles March 19, an array of U.S. warplanes — including several Air force B-2 stealth bombers — followed in the pre-dawn hours Sunday with a coordinated assault using precision-guided bombs

    —Navy EA-18G Growlers launched from unspecified land bases to provide electronic warfare support over Libya.

    —Marine AV-8B Harriers from the USS Kearsarge sailing in the Mediterranean conducted strikes against Gadhafi's ground forces and air defenses.

  • France

    —Deployed eight Rafale and four Mirage jets to survey rebel-held Benghazi; one fired on a Libyan military vehicle in first military strike of operation.

    —Six C-135 refueling tankers

    —1 AWACS surveillance plane

    —Deployed the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier to the region from Toulon, accompanied by the anti-submarine frigate Dupleix, the Aconit frigate and a refueling ship, La Meuse.

  • Britain

    —Tornado GR4 jets in air raid over Libya early Sunday; more Tornado and Typhoon fighter jets deployed to the Gioia del Colle airbase in southern Italy to give them easier access to targets in Libya.

    —Tomahawk missiles fired from a Trafalgar Class submarine in the Mediterranean.

    —Britain's air base in southern Cyprus, RAF Akrotiri, is hosting VC-10, RAF E3D and Sentinel surveillance aircraft, which also provide re-fueling capability

    —Two British frigates, HMS Westminster and HMS Cumberland, are in the Mediterranean off Libya's coast.

  • Canada

    —Sent six F-18s to Italy base; 140 military personnel involved.

    —Frigate HMCS Charlottetown is in Mediterranean for possible staging ground for Canadian forces.

  • Italy

    —Offered use of seven military bases: U.S. air bases at Sigonella, Sicily and Aviano in northern Italy; Italian air bases in Amendola near Foggia, Decimomannu in Sardinia, Gioia del Colle near Bari, base on Sicilian island of Pantelleria, and the military airport of Trapani, Sicily.

    —Proposed NATO base in Naples serve as coordination point for operation.

    —Placed eight aircraft, four Tornados and four fighter jets, under command of coalition forces.

    —Aircraft carrier Giuseppe Garibaldi, with the eight aircraft aboard, has been conducting air and sea surveillance missions for several days.

    —Destroyer Andrea Doria, which has anti-aircraft and anti-missile equipment, protecting Italian territory from Libyan retaliation.

  • Denmark

    —Six F-16s arrived at U.S. air base in Sigonella, Sicily and could be deployed as early as March 20; 132 support staff.

  • Norway

    —Offered six F-16s, with around 100 support staff, but operational capabilities five-six days off.

    —Considering contributing an Orion maritime surveillance plane.

  • Belgium

    —8 Belgian F-16s and 200 air force personnel are now at the Greek air base of Araxos west of Athens, the Belga news agency reported. They will be ready to start flying missions on March 21.

  • U.N. mandate

    Image: Libyan rebels in Benghazi celebrate UN resolution
    EPA
    Libyan people celebrate after the United Nations Security Council authorizes a no-fly zone over Libya on March 18, 2011.

    Key elements in the resolution adopted March 17 by the U.N. Security Council authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" to protect civilians from attacks by Moammar Gadhafi's forces:

  • 'Measures'

    — Demands "the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians."

    — Demands that Libyan authorities "take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance."

    — Authorizes U.N. member states "to take all necessary measures ... 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."
    — Asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an eight-member panel of experts to help the U.N. sanctions committee monitor implementation of sanctions against Libya.

  • Bans

    — Decides "to establish a ban on all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians," but says humanitarian flights and flights authorized by the U.N. and Arab League can take place.

    — Strengthens the arms embargo imposed on Feb. 26 by calling on U.N. member states "to inspect in their territory, including airports and seaports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from" Libya if the country has information with "reasonable grounds" to believe the cargo contains banned military items, or that armed mercenaries are being transported.

    — Orders all states to prevent any Libyan owned, operated, or registered aircraft — or any aircraft believed to be carrying prohibited weapons or mercenaries — to take off, land or overfly their territory without prior approval from the U.N. committee monitoring sanctions.

    — Adds travel bans on the Libyan ambassador to Chad and the governor of Ghat, both directly involved in recruiting mercenaries for the Gadhafi regime.

  • Asset freeze

    — Extends an asset freeze to seven more individuals including three additional Gadhafi children, the defense minister, the director of military intelligence, the director of the external security organization, and the secretary for utilities.

    — Freezes the assets of five key financial institutions: the Central Bank, the Libyan Investment Authority, the Libyan Foreign Bank, Libyan Africa Investment Portfoilio, and the Libyan National Oil Corporation.

    — Asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to establish an eight-member panel of experts to help the U.N. sanctions committee monitor implementation of sanctions against Libya.

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