Saturday, March 26, 2011

Rebels Advance in Libya

My pessimism about the rebels' military capabilities may have been overdone. With coalition airpower having cleared the way, they have retaken Ajdabiya. Rue89, echoing the Washington Post, reports, moreover, that France has been pushing to supply the rebels with arms, while the Obama administration, although dubious about the legality of such a move under the terms of the UN resolution, favors a "flexible" reading of that resolution to accommodate the more aggressive French position. Whether the Arab League will remain on board remains to be seen, but the news from Ajdabiya is a first sign that this conflict may not end in stalemate after all.

This is not the British understanding of the UN resolution, however:

“I think I am right in saying that the resolution is clear,” British Prime Minister David Cameron told Parliament on Monday. “There is an arms embargo, and that arms embargo has to be enforced across Libya.” Legal advice “suggesting that perhaps this applied only to the regime,” Cameron said, “is not in fact correct.”

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