UN Security Council vote news.
UPDATE 1: The Resolution, number 1973, has just passed the Security Council by a vote of 10 yes, 0 no, 5 abstentions.  China and the Russian Federation, veto wielding members, abstained from the vote.  Members are now explaining their votes.

UPDATE 2: The Resolution establishes a No Fly Zone and authorizes “any military or preventative measures” to protect Libyan civilians and civilian areas “while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory”.  This language authorizes a wide range of military actions, including air and sea strikes, prevents flights into Libya potentially transporting mercenaries and targeted bombings, but explicitly rules out any ground occupation by UN member states acting under the resolution.

UPDATE 3: Al Jazeera English Live is currently facing jamming problems.  The site has the following message:

Al Jazeera has been suffering interference on its Arabsat satellite frequency. During jamming Al Jazeera English can be watched on Hotbird 13E Frequency: 11034 Vertical FEC: 3/4 Symbol rate: 27500; on Badr4/Eurobird 2 (26East) Frequency: 11680.8 Horizontal; SR: 27.5: FEC: 3/4; and on Nilesat/ Atlantic Bird4A (7West) Frequency: 11393 Vertical; SR:27.5; FEC: 3/4. Al Jazeera Arabic can be watched on Nilesat 7W Frequency: 11555 Vertical FEC: 3/4 Symbol rate: 27500.

You can watch Al Jazeera English by going to Livestation.com and registering.  It is free and Al Jazeera English is Channel 3.  Al Jazeera is broadcasting live reaction to the UN vote from Benghazi.

UPDATE 4: The United States was also a sponsor of the resolution, along with the UK, France and Lebanon.  This resolution establishes a precedent as the first authorization of force based on protection of civilians.  This new precedent stems from the 2005 “Responsibility to Protect” resolution adopted by the General Assembly, but has never been invoked by the Security Council up until now.

The RtP establishes that “Each individual State has the responsibility to protect its populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” and authorizes the UN to act on these responsibilities when nation states commit these crimes.  In the lead up to the UN Security Council vote, Human Rights Watch urged “the UN Security Council to consider the full range of options available to meet its responsibility to protect civilians from large-scale atrocities” based on RtP obligations.

For additional information on the previous Resolution 1970 referral of Libya to the ICC, see here.  Resolution 1970 explicitly limits ICC jurisdiction to actions after February 15, 2011 which means that information related to western powers selling arms now being used by Gaddafi against the rebels will be outside of the ICC’s investigation.

UPDATE 5: In surprising, and controversial, new information, Al Jazeera is reporting that Saudi Arabia may participate in the military intervention.  To what degree- hosting airbases and allowing air space use or participating in the enforcement itself- Saudi Arabia would be involved is not known.  Saudi Arabian troops are currently in Bahrain oppressing the civilian uprising in that country and supporting the current monarchial government.

UPDATE 6: The Guardian has posted the full text of Security Resolution 1973.  You can read it in full here.  The 5 abstention votes were the Russian Federation, China, Germany, India and Brazil.

Contrary to the public statements made by the Egyptian military, the Wall Street Journal is reporting “Egypt’s military has begun shipping arms over the border to Libyan rebels with Washington’s knowledge, U.S. and Libyan rebel officials said.  The shipments—mostly small arms such as assault rifles and ammunition—appear to be the first confirmed case of an outside government arming the rebel fighters.”

UPDATE 7: US Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Susan E. Rice, addressed the media following the Security Council vote:

UPDATE 8: The UN vote was met with jubilation in Benghazi.  AFP reports:

In the “capital” of the rebels, a thousand miles east of Tripoli, shots of joy rang out in the city.  Several hundred young people were gathered outside the headquarters of the National Transition Council, the governing body set up by the insurgents, and waving the flags of the monarchy in force before the takeover by Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The crowd waved placards that read “Benghazi do not love you” to address Mr. Gadhafi. Many cars honked.

“I saw the announcement of the vote on Al-Jazeera is the happiest day of my life, all citizens are happy,” said Marij Bourahima, 42, who works for the main Libyan oil company.

Read here for more world reaction to the UN vote.

Benghazi celebrates the UN vote

UPDATE 9: The NY Times is reporting that, in response to the UN vote, the Gaddafi regime’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Koussa, declared an ““immediate cease-fire and the stoppage of all military operations.”  The statement is being met with skepticism by Britain and France and Britain has indicated it intends to take the military lead on enforcing the resolution.  The US role remains unclear.  From the Times:

“Shortly before Mr. Koussa spoke in Tripoli, Mr. Cameron told Parliament in London that Britain, a leading backer of the no-flight resolution, had begun the preparations to deploy Tornado and Typhoon warplanes along with aerial refueling and surveillance aircraft. He said the planes would move “in the coming hours” to bases where they could start implementing the no-flight zone.”

Update Number 10: 03/18/2011 12:35 pm EST.

CNN is reporting that attacks on rebel strongholds in the Western part of the country continue despite government assurances of a cease fire. Casualties are reportedly heavy in the city of Misrata. One oppostion leader told CNN:

“Misrata is on fire,” according to an opposition member — who said tanks and vehicles with heavy artillery shot their way into the city Thursday night and the assault continued on Friday. He said Gadhafi’s regime announced a cease-fire to buy time for itself. “Please help us.”

We will keep you updated as the situation develops.

Update Number 11: 1:35 pm EST.
The Egyptian Facebook group, We are all Khaled Said, that was crucial to the Egyptian uprising (this is the English version of the page Wael Ghonim administered in Arabic) has posted new video purportedly showing new bombing in Mistrata today.

 

Meanwhile, Al Jazeera is confirming that the attacks are continuing.

UPDATE 12: 3:03 pm EST President Obama has just concluded his remarks.  This post will be updated as soon as the White House releases the recorded video.

Who Will Contribute Military Assets?

The Washington Post is reporting via Al Jazeera the following NATO nations will contribute:

-Britain says it will mobilize its Tornado and Typhoon fighter jets, and two frigates currently in the Mediterranean. France and the U.S. will cooperate in those missions.

-Canada will contribute the use of six CF-18 fighter jets and a navy frigate currently in the Mediterranean.

-Denmark is awaiting parliamentary approval to mobilize F-16 fighter jets to take part.

-Italy says it is ready to offer the use of several airbases.

-Norway says it is prepared to take part in the operation.

-Poland says it is prepared to offer logistical support, but no military strike force.

UPDATE 13: 8:33 pm EST: President Obama delivered remarks on Libya earlier this afternoon. The White House has now released a recording of his remarks:

The transcript of his full remarks is available here.

The Associated Press reported on a press conference this morning held by the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s Prosecutor, Mr. Moreno-Ocampo, following the ultimatum from the Libyan government telling civilians to leave the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi or face attack. Mr. Moreno-Ocampo reiterated his earlier warnings to members of the Libyan military that they could be prosecuted for war crimes for any attack on Benghazi following the ultimatum’s issuance.

“As a prosecutor, I want to be clear: the issuance of such a warning does not provide an excuse to attack civilians,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo said. “Civilians in fact can remain in Benghazi. The forces who attack them should be careful. Any indiscriminate attack affecting civilians could constitute war crimes.”
“I am even more worried because after the Security Council decided to protect civilians using resolution 1973, members of the ministry of defense issued a threatening [statement]. They said: all civilian and military activities will be the target of a Libyan counterattack if the members of the U.N. enforce the Security Council resolution.”

Video of Prosecutor Moreno-Ocampo’s full press conference:

 

Author’s note: This post will be updated as events unfold

The UN Security Council is set to vote at 6:00PM EST on a new resolution (sponsored by France, The United Kingdom and Lebanon) establishing a No Fly Zone and, potentially, authorizing additional military actions.  According to French sources, military actions could commence within hours of a successful vote- meaning tonight.

Recent Developments

On Friday, March 11, The African Union announced that it was sending a fact finding mission to Libya, composed of members from South Africa, Uganda, Mauritania, Congo and Mali.  The African Union continues to oppose any foreign, including UN led, intervention in Libya.  On Saturday, March 12, in an emergency meeting, the Arab League passed a resolution calling on the UN Security Council to impose a No Fly Zone on Libya.

Today, in a major shift in position, the United States threw its support behind not only a UN enforced No Fly Zone, but also the aerial bombing of Libyan tanks and heavy artillery.   The US shift in position is being mainly attributed to advances made by pro-Gaddafi forces and fears that the opposition forces may be routed shortly without outside intervention.  Further, Secretary of State Clinton stated “the turning point was really the Arab League statement on Saturday.  That was an extraordinary statement in which the Arab League asked for Security Council action against one of its own members.”

Pro-Gaddafi forces have been retaking opposition held areas for the past week and are approaching the opposition capitol, Benghazi.  Today, Gaddafi spoke on a call-in radio show and threatened to invade Benghazi tonight. “We are coming tonight,” Gaddafi said. “You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets.”  Gaddafi promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away” but “no mercy or compassion” for those who fight.

Hours ago, Al Jazeera reported:

At least two Arab states have said they will participate in a no-fly zone over Libya, the Arab League says.  Yahya Mahmassani, the bloc’s envoy to the United Nations, said that the United Arab Emirates and Qatar “may be” among those participating.   The two countries are expected to provide airspace and access to military bases, but not provide troops.

Egypt says that it will not intervene militarily in Libya. Responding to Sec. of State Clinton’s comments earlier about possible “Arab involvement” in military action, Menha Bakhoum, an Egyptian foreign ministry spokesperson told Reuters “Egypt will not be among those Arab states. We will not be involved in any military intervention. No intervention, period.”

The Resolution

Al Jazeera is reporting that while China and Russia may abstain, they are not expected to veto.  Al Arabiya is reporting that up to 5 total voting members may abstain.  9 of the 15 members must vote ‘yes’ for the resolution to pass.

AFP has obtained and released portions of the current draft resolution being considered.  The draft language that would authorize military actions, including military strikes on ground and air forces is “Authorizes 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…;” The resolution released by AFP in full is:

Demands the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;

“Stresses the need to intensify efforts to find a solution to the crisis which responds to the legitimate demands of the Libyan people and notes the decisions of the Secretary-General to send his Special Envoy to Libya and of the Peace and Security Council of the African Union to send its ad hoc High Level Committee to Libya with the aim of facilitating dialogue to lead to the political reforms necessary to find a peaceful and sustainable solution;

“Demands that the Libyan authorities comply with their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law, human rights and refugee law and take all measures to protect civilians and meet their basic needs, and to ensure the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian assistance;

“Authorises 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…;

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

“Calls upon all member states, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, to provide assistance, including any necessary over-flight approvals, for the purposes of implementing” the no-fly zone.

“Calls upon all member states, in particular states of the region, acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, in order to ensure strict implementation of the arms embargo established (by Resolution 1970) to inspect in their territory, including seaports and airports, and on the high seas, vessels and aircraft bound to or from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya…

“Deplores the continuing flows of mercenaries into the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and calls upon all member states to comply strictly with their obligations under (Resolution 1970) to prevent the supply of armed mercenary personnel to the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya;

“Decides that all states shall deny permission to any aircraft registered in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya or owned or operated by Libyan nationals or companies to take off from, land in or overfly their territory ?unless the particular flight has been approved in advance by the Committee, or in the case of an emergency landing;

“Decides that all States shall deny permission to any aircraft to take off from, land in or overfly their territory, if they have information that provides reasonable grounds to believe that the aircraft contains items the ?supply, sale, transfer, or export of which is prohibited … including the provision of armed mercenary personnel, except in the case of an emergency landing;

“Decides that the asset freeze imposed by (Resolution 1970) shall apply to all funds, other financial assets and economic resources which are on their territories, which are owned or controlled, directly or indirectly, by the Libyan authorities … or by individuals or entities acting on their behalf or at their direction…

“Affirms its determination to ensure that assets frozen pursuant to (Resolution 1970) shall, at a later stage, as soon as possible be made available to and for the benefit of the people of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”