Fears Over U.S. Silence on Libya No-Fly Zone Despite initial support for the implementation of a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya, the United States appeared to have pulled away from that position during the past week. This move came as a surprise to many including some of America’s closest international allies. The move […]

Fears Over U.S. Silence on Libya No-Fly Zone

Despite initial support for the implementation of a no-fly zone to protect civilians in Libya, the United States appeared to have pulled away from that position during the past week. This move came as a surprise to many including some of America’s closest international allies. The move was particularly shocking given the fact that–in an unprecedented move–the Arab League passed resolution in support of a no-fly zone on March 12.

On Tuesday of this week, Lebanon introduced a draft resolution at the United Nations Security Council that would provide authorization for a no-fly zone. The initiative was supported by France and the United Kingdom, while the United States remained largely silent. It was feared that lack of support from the United States would effectively block passage of the resolution.

Activists Make Urgent Appeal

In light of the lackluster support from the United States, activists from across the country took action yesterday to pressure the U.S. representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Susan Rice, to do everything she could in support of the resolution. In just a few short hours, Ambassador Rice’s comment line overflowed with messages, her Facebook page had been taken over and countless tweets had been directed at her Twitter account.

This morning, Rice posted a message on her Facebook wall that read, “Urgent negotiations on Libya continue today in Security Council. US view – need to take steps beyond no-fly zone to protect civilians.” An almost identical message was posted to her Twitter feed.

Ambassador Rice “Reverses” U.S. Position in Support of a No-Fly Zone

In statements made late last night (video), Ambassador Rice seemed to reverse the U.S. position on a no-fly zone saying:

We are discussing very seriously and leading efforts in the Council around a range of actions that we believe could be effective in protecting civilians. Those include discussion of a no-fly zone. But the U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved, and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk.

We welcome this revised position and further urge Ambassador Rice to work behind-the-scenes to garner support for the resolution from other key Security Council members. In a press statement issued this morning, GI-NET/SDC President Mark Hanis commented, “Our responsibility to protect innocent civilians in Libya is clear, and it is past time to take action.”

The UNSC is expected to vote on the Libya no-fly zone resolution today at 3:30 p.m. Update: The UNSC vote is now expected at 6:00 p.m.

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