U.S. and allies gear up for possible no-fly zone in Libya

Will Rahn Senior Editor
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American planes and warships are being deployed close to Libya as the U.S. and its allies consider establishing a no-fly zone over the embattled North African nation, the Financial Times reports.

Pentagon spokesman Col. David Lapan told reporters that military commanders are working on “various contingency plans … [and] repositioning forces to be able to provide for that flexibility once decisions are made.” On Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters “Nothing is off the table” so long as Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi continues to brutally suppress the revolt that threatens his 42-year reign. “The no-fly zone is an option we are actively considering,” she continued.

British Prime Minister David Cameron also sees military action against Gaddafi as a possibility and said the U.K. would work with allied countries to implement a no-fly zone. “We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets,” he said. “We must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people.”

Kevin Rudd, the Australian foreign minister, told the AP that his nation would support a no-fly zone and compared Gaddafi’s actions to the infamous Guernica bombing during the Spanish Civil War that left hundreds of Basque civilians dead. “Guernica is known throughout the world for the bombing of the civilian population. We have seen evidence of that in Libya. Let us not simply stand idly by while similar atrocities are committed again,” he told the Associated Press.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayipp Erdogan, however, said his nation adamantly opposed any kind of Western alliance against Gaddafi. “Can you even consider such an absurdity?” he told reporters at a press conference in Germany when asked about the possibility NATO intervention into Libya. “As Turkey, we’re against this, this can’t even be talked about, it’s unthinkable.” Turkey possesses the second-largest standing army in NATO. Russia, China and Germany have all likewise expressed skepticism towards any plans for military action.

The United Nations agreed this weekend to impose sanctions against Gaddafi’s government, and Libya may soon be expelled from the U.N. Human Rights Council.