Libya: French Air Strikes on Tanks Near Benghazi

Enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya has begun, with French military jets taking the lead. According to al Jazeera breaking news, “French warplanes have destroyed four Libyan tanks near the city of Benghazi.” You can follow the al Jazeera Libya live blog here.

The BBC also has a live blog on Libya that is frequently updated. The latest update is this tweet from a Libyan opposition group:

1758: Activist group Liberty4Libya tweets: “#Libya #Zintan, heavy shelling into the city of #Zintan, #Gaddafi troops’ tanks advancing under the fire cover.”

The BBC page is also running video reports.

Voice of America has this report: Allied Warplanes Patrol Libyan Skies. According to VOA Canadian planes are also on the way to launching point in Sicily.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy says allied warplanes are flying over Libya to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians in the city of Benghazi, where forces loyal to leader Moammar Gadhafi have been bearing down on rebels trying to bring down his government.

U.S. President Barack Obama confirmed a short time later that the United States has joined a coalition with its European and Arab partners to take action in Libya.

Obama spoke to reporters during his visit to Brazil. He said the allied coalition’s “resolve is clear,” and that all members are “prepared to act with urgency.”

Gaddafi has already responded as follows:

Gadhafi sent urgent messages to world leaders Saturday, including U.S. President Barack Obama and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. In a letter read to reporters by a government spokesman in Tripoli, Gadhafi noted the rebels had seized control of Benghazi, and asked rhetorically how Obama would “behave” if there was a similar situation in the United States.

Addressing the U.N. secretary-general, Gadhafi said the Security Council’s resolution on Libya is “invalid,” and predicted that any Western action against Libya would be seen as “clear aggression.”

Here is a report on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s statement last night in response to Gaddafi’s supposed “cease-fire.”

The BBC also has video of Hillary’s remarks after the Paris Summit today. You can watch it here. You can read the full text of her statement below the fold.

First, let’s remember how we got here. As you know, Americans and people around the world, watched with growing concern as Libyan civilians were gunned down by a government that has lost all legitimacy. The people of Libya appealed for help.

“The Arab League and the Gulf Cooperation Council called for action. The international community came together to speak with one voice and deliver a clear and consistent message: Colonel Gaddafi’s campaign of violence against his own people must stop.

“The strong votes in the UN Security Council underscored this unity. And now the Gaddafi forces face unambiguous terms. A ceasefire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop.

“Troops must stop advancing on Benghazi, and pull back from Ajdabiyah, Misurata and Az Zawiyah. Water, electricity and gas supplies must be turned on to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.

“Yesterday President Obama said very clearly that if Gaddafi failed to comply with these terms, there would be consequences. Since the president spoke, there has been some talk from Tripoli of a ceasefire, but the reality on the ground tells a very different story.

“Colonel Gaddafi continues to defy the world.

“His attacks on civilians go on. Today we have been monitoring the troubling reports of fighting around and within Benghazi itself. As president Obama also said, we have every reason to fear that left unchecked, Gaddafi will commit unspeakable atrocities.

“It is against that backdrop that nations from across the region and the world met today here in Paris to discuss the ways we can, working together, implement UN Resolution 1973. We all recognise that further delay will only put more civilians at risk.

“So let me be very clear about the position of the United States. We will support an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of resolution 1973. As you may know, French planes are already in the skies above Benghazi.

“Now America has unique capabilities and we will bring them to bear, to help our European and Canadian allies and Arab partners stop further violence against civilians, including through the effective implementation of a no-fly zone.

“As President Obama said, the US will not deploy ground troops, but there should be no mistaking our committment to this effort.

“Today I was able to discuss next steps with the full group, and also conduct smaller, focused conversations with many of my colleagues. I met first with President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron. Both France and the United Kingdom, along with other key partners, have stepped forward to play a leading role in enforcing 1973.

“We reviewed the latest reports from the ground, and discussed how we can work together most effectively in the hours and days ahead, and how we would work very cooperatively with our other partners, including Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey as well as others that are not in that long list.

“I also had the opportunity to engage today with my Arab counterparts …

“We have said from the start that Arab leadership and participation in this effort is crucial, and the Arab League showed that with its pivotal statements on Libya, what really that meant: it changed the diplomatic landscape.

“They have sent another strong message by being here today, and we look to them for continued leadership as well as active participation and leadership going forward.

“With Sheikh Abdullah [bin Zayed of the UAE] and [Qatari] prime minister Hamad bin Jassem, I reiterated our strong and enduring partnership. The United States has an abiding commitment to Gulf security, and a top priority is working together with our partners on our shared concerns about Iranian behaviour in the region.

“We share the view that Iran’s activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in neighbouring countries undermines peace and stability. Our Gulf partners are critical to the international community’s efforts on Libya, and we thank them for their leadership.”

This is an open thread to discuss events in Libya as well as in the Middle East.


49 Comments on “Libya: French Air Strikes on Tanks Near Benghazi”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Update from BBC News:

    1825: A member of the opposition Transitional National Council in Benghazi, Dr Fathi Baja, says he is confident that rebels can overcome Colonel Gaddafi’s troops. “The coming few hours will prove that our forces, who are surrounding Gaddafi’s criminal forces and mercenaries, really are capable of crushing and destroying the remaining supporters of the criminal regime,” he says. “Gaddafi’s regime is living its last days and its last hours, by the will of God.”

  2. trixta says:

    When I heard Ralph Nader utter “Hillary Clinton” I braced myself for his usual CDS, but I was very surprised that he gave her credit for wanting to close the nuclear plant near NY.

    • dakinikat says:

      It’s interesting to watch the French be hawks and the Germans be doves for a change, isn’t it?

      • dakinikat says:

        Also, uh, interesting is this Ann Althouse blog:

        http://althouse.blogspot.com/2011/03/feminist-milestone-our-male-president.html

        A feminist milestone: Our male President has been pulled into war by 3 women.

      • jawbone says:

        Re: the NYTimes article — I found the lack of attribution for much of the information interesting. Who wants this take on things “out there”?

        The attributed quotes were from John Kerry, who’s been fairly hawkish about Libya, an analyst, then an anonymous administration official, followed by indication of info coming directly from Susan Rice, as indicated by the reporter(s) saying Rice said such and so on a phone call.

        But, throughout, there’s little indication of where so much of the tick-tock came from, how the reporters know so many quotes, etc.

        So, what is the desired effect? Strong women? Weak Obama being manipulated by women, especially Hillary? So, will this be Hillary’s War, especially if it goes badly? Or if it goes well, a means of promoting a different Democratic nominee for the presidency in 2012?

        Hhhmmm….

      • bostonboomer says:

        Jawbone,

        What NYT article are you referring to?

      • jawbone says:

        Boston Boomer, I meant to add the link for the article in Altman’s post (I tend to not like to go to her site). Here it is:

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/19/world/africa/19policy.html

      • bostonboomer says:

        Thanks, Jawbone!

      • Laurie says:

        Seems that Gadaffi actually financed a large slice of Sarkozy’s electoral run (according to G’s son anyway).

        Another gem doing the round of the talk shows here is that France (and England) are moving in to elbow Italian influence out of Libya.

    • Fannie says:

      Feminist milestone my ass. Don’t ever forget what a feminist looks like (see Ms. Magazine cover photo).

      Meanwhile you had Naral, Emily’s List, and Susan Rice, and Samantha Power’s plowing into Hillary’s character like she was the monster from Hell in 2008.

      None of these women are on the same page as Hillary. They did however make their pledge to Obama. End of that story.

  3. jawbone says:

    Also: How will Hillary and the administration finesse the attacks on protesters by foreign forces invited into Bahrein? The killings in Yemen?

    Can we get some no-fly zone over the Ivory Coast? Where people are being killed a lot?

    Can we, finally, get a no-fly zone over the West Bank and Gaza, to not only protect the people from the IDF but also keep watch on what’s going on there?

    Precedent has been set….

    Similar, but, of course, no oil….

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hillary spoke about Bahrain this morning. It’s in her statement at the end of the post. She criticized the government for attacking protesters.

      Yemen is definitely going to be problematic.

      BTW a lot of people have been massacred in Libya. We may never know how many.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        I thought Hillary was wonderful this morning at her press conference. I don’t remember any other SOS having as many press conferences covered by the MSM. But then even Bush would take questions from the press…and give press conferences off the cuff. Obama = SPOTUS

        Spectator President of the United States

  4. foxyladi14 says:

    Hillary is on the job.bo on vacation 😆

  5. foxyladi14 says:

    great round up.thanks.this seems to be the only one standing Dak.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    US fires cruise missles on Libyan air defenses.

    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/03/19/501364/main20045015.shtml

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Why does our military always have to give these actions silly names? This one is called “Odyssey Dawn.”

    • paper doll says:

      Why does our military always have to give these actions silly names?

      cause it’s fun movie for them

      This one is called “Odyssey Dawn.”

      jesus I swear they just pull a word each from two hats to come up this garbage.
      Sounds like a stage name frankly…as you say, what’s with the name shit?

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Why does our military always have to give these actions silly names? This one is called “Odyssey Dawn.”

      Because the URL “Shithead and Son” was already taken?

    • foxyladi14 says:

      where do they find these names.sounds like a dish soap 😆

  8. boogieman7167 says:

    OT do you girls know about the super moon that we are having tonight??

  9. gweema says:

    “This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought,” President Barack Obama said from Brazil, where he is starting a five-day visit to Latin America. “We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.”

    Is it just me, or could that apply to what’s been going on here since all the money in this country has been systematically been re-routed to a handful of greedy people?

    • bluelyon says:

      Why not? The U.S. sat idly by while millions were murdered in Darfur.

      • gweema says:

        Not sure how Darfur got in there, I was referring to the giant chipping away that is being done to our freedoms and economic health by this adminishtration. We have our own tyrant telling us there will be no mercy for the people being pushed out of their homes and jobs.

    • Fannie says:

      Sure, they tell you we’re the greatest, and healthist country in the world, and that we are doing so good. Meanwhile they are in no hurry to create jobs, they have no drive to better the middle class or poor class workers.

  10. bluelyon says:

    Question, if the goal is to take out anti-aircraft weapons, why are tanks being bombed?

    • bostonboomer says:

      The goal is to protect Benghazi. The UN resolution goes way beyond a no-fly zone.

  11. bostonboomer says:

    That Gaddafi is such a card. Updates from BBC News live blog:

    0005: As his country came under attack, Col Gaddafi said the Mediterranean and North Africa had become a war zone. He warned that civilians and military targets in the region would be in danger. In a statement broadcast on state television, Col Gaddafi said arms stores would be opened so the people could resist what he called colonial, crusader aggression. The speaker of the Libyan parliament said that civilian areas had been targeted, and there had been casualties. A BBC correspondent in Tripoli said the city was calm with traffic still on the streets.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    More comedy gold from Gaddafi:

    0055: The BBC’s Allan Little in Tripoli says: “There has been a very defiant response to the air and missile strikes from the Libyan government. Col Gaddafi said the Libyan people should arm themselves for revolution. The government continues to insist there has been no popular uprising in the east of the country; that it is a criminal enterprise led by a few hundred gangs which are working alongside al-Qaeda. That is not a version of events that anyone in the outside world believes. State media have been preparing people all day for what is happening tonight. They have been showing pictures of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, and the aftermath of that. The air strikes have also been called ‘crusader strikes’.”

  13. dakinikat says:

    CNN just drug Wolf Blitzer back to the studio to discuss the attacks on Libya. Poor Don Lemon must’ve been pushed aside in the excitement over war coverage.

  14. dakinikat says:

    Oh, and Michael Moore is going wild on twitter asking that Barrack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize be recalled.