March 12, 2011
The Arab League has backed the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya, reports say, as rebels continue to be pushed back by Colonel Gaddafi’s forces. A special meeting in Cairo voted to ask the UN Security Council to impose the policy, diplomats told news agencies. The UK and France have pushed for the idea, but have failed so far to win firm backing from the EU or Nato. Libyan rebel forces have meanwhile suffered fresh setbacks including the loss of the key oil port of Ras Lanuf. Reports suggested that the rebel front line had been pushed back even further back, towards the town of Uqaylah. The Arab League vote for a no-fly zone was opposed only by Syria and Algeria, reports from the Cairo meeting said. Nato has previously cited regional support for the idea as a key plank before it could possibly go ahead. Russia, which wields a veto on the UN Security Council, has expressed serious reservations on the issue. And the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, was quoted on Saturday as saying it was still not clear whether it was a wise policy. The policy would be aimed at preventing Col Gaddafi’s forces using warplanes to attack rebel positions, although no clear position has emerged on exactly how this would be achieved.