What To Expect From Today's UN Security Council Vote On Libya

UN Security Council

Photo: AP

At 6PM ET, the UN Security Council will be voting on a resolution to act against Qaddafi’s forces in Libya before their assault on Benghazi. They may create a no-fly zone in Libya in the process. It does not allow for a ground invasion.The move is the latest in a series of small steps international powers have been taking to escalate their hawkish positions on the situation in Libya.

You can see the draft resolution here >

(Note that this resolution could change.)

The UN Security Council:

The UN Security Council has five permanent members: China, France, Russia, The UK, and The U.S.
It does have other members, however, they don’t really count, because they don’t have veto power. And that’s where today’s vote gets interesting.

The Vote:

It’s guaranteed the The UK, U.S., and France will vote “yes” on the no-fly zone. China and Russia have reasons not to.

  • Russia and Libya traditionally have a strong relationship, but lately that has been deteriorating over the issue of Qaddafi’s use of force against his own people. On March 10, Russia banned arms sales to Libya. Russia is opposed to any ground invasion of Libya, which may be necessary to create a no-fly zone. Russia is likely a “yes,” or abstention.
  • China’s oil companies are preparing to restart operations in Libya. It doesn’t want any interference in Libya’s domestic affairs which is pretty much Chinese policy for every country outside its sphere of influence. Count China as a “no,” or, at best, an abstention.

The latest handicapping sees the vote passing based on an abstention from China, but that’s not yet certain.

What’s next:

If it’s a yes, then US-NATO forces will attack Qaddafi’s forces to prevent the destruction of rebels.

If it’s a no, and the U.S., UK, and France are serious about this, they’ll likely sidestep the Security Council’s “no” and get approval from the broader UN Assembly in some sort of non-binding resolution. Or, they’ll conduct the operation through NATO (or both). But they’ll have to act quickly if they want to prevent Qadaffi’s forces from decimating rebels camped in Benghazi.

Why does this matter:

If you’re cynical, this is a great opportunity for NATO member countries to get in on the oil trade China has been developing in Libya. If your a realist, this is about making sure neighbours in Europe’s backyard are friendly to European interests. And if you’re neither, this is about protecting innocent Libyans.

But overall, a no-fly zone would allow for the preservation of U.S.-EU influence in the Mediterranean, and prevent Libya from slipping more and more into the camps of China and Russia.

Follow the situation in Libya live here >

(Blue countries are NATO members. Note all the Mediterranean Dialogue members surrounding Libya.)


Photo: NATO

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