On March 17, the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 which not onlyimposed a no-fly zone over Libya (with the restriction applying exclusively to Gadhafi's forces) but also authorized all UN member states to take necessary measures to protect the country's civilians.Ten of the UN Security Council's 15 members voted for the resolution with Russia, China, Germany, India, and Brazil abstaining.
The new document tightened the regime of sanctions imposed on Libya: seven members of the Libyan administration were additionally blacklisted and the assets freeze faced by the Central Bank of Libya, the Libyan Investment Authority, and Libya's National Oil Corporation was given the UN stamp of approval. The Resolution confronted Gadhafi – but not his opponents – with the demands to embrace an immediate ceasefire, to end all violence against civilians, and to comply with the international law, a list which should be regarded as an expression of total cynicism considering that Libya's government forces came under airstrikes from aircrafts “unexplainably” obtained by the rebels shortly before the UN vote. The UN Security Council Resolution was passed at the moment when the fighting in Libya was subsiding and Gadhafi's son pledged a sweeping political reform for the country and an amnesty for the rebels who would agree to put down arms. Moreover, at the time the government forces only had to cross an unpopulated desert to reach Benghazi, the opposition's center.
The UN Security Council Resolution promises a protracted armed conflict in Libya and a massive intervention in the country by an international coalition supporting the rebels. The media uniformly responded to the Resolution by showing a crowd of rejoicing teenagers and even younger school kids who gathered in front of the Transitional National Council headquarters in Benghazi.
Libya’s deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim said bitterly in an interview to Le Monde that the Resolution reflected the international community's aggressive position and put in jeopardy Libya's unity and territorial integrity. He condemned the international conspiracy and the plans harbored by France, Great Britain, and the US to tear apart the country. In Kaim's view, the Resolution urges Libyans to kill Libyans.
Chief of French diplomacy Alain Juppé who showed up in New York amidst the anti-Libyan campaign answered albeit indirectly the question about the origin of the opposition's tanks, artillery, copters, and, importantly, aircrafts which attacked the government forces in Libya. Juppé pushed for an immediate military intervention in Libya in the run-up to the UN vote and said the offensive was a matter of hours rather than days. France rolled out the plan to deliver air strikes as soon as the UN Resolution saw the light of day, but evidently even earlier the international community – aware that no veto from Russia or China loomed on the horizon – chose not to skip “alternative options“. A scaringly similar blueprint was materializing in the spring of 1999 when Yugoslavia was about to suffer bomb strikes…