President Obama needs allies to move on Libya

Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, March 2, 2011.

From Barbara Slavin, POLITICO:  The best way to confront him now is to get his neighbors in the African Union and Arab League to back measures by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to protect Libyan opposition forces, ordinary civilians and oil installations.

Already, the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates – have called for a no fly zone. Saturday, the Arab League is due to meet in Cairo to discuss Libya.

What better way for Amr Moussa – the league’s outgoing head and a newly announced presidential candidate in Egypt – to show his support for democratic principles than backing the beleaguered Libyan people? The Egyptian military, recipient of $2 billion in annual U.S. aid for the past three decades, can surely provide planes and ships for a NATO-led operation next door. …

U.S. and NATO assets are already in place in the Mediterranean to evacuate refugees and provide humanitarian support. More ships are en route. NATO defense ministers met Thursday in Brussels and are to meet again Tuesday to continue planning for all options — including a no fly zone.

NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at the meeting that military action would depend on three principles: a “demonstrable need,” “a clear legal basis,” and “firm regional support.” Translation: a mounting death toll, a U.N. Security Council resolution and backing from the African Union and Arab League.

Rasmussen noted that NATO AWACs surveillance planes are already monitoring Libya 24/7. NATO will be “watching what Libya does very carefully,” Rasmussen said. “We are ready to help.”

Barbara Slavin is a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, former senior diplomatic reporter for USA Today and former Mideast correspondent for The Economist. She interviewed Muammar Qadhafi in 2000.  (photo: Reuters)

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