The Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi appeared to be backing down Friday afternoon in the face of a threat of air strikes by NATO forces and Arab League. His government, which had begun the down pounding rebel-held areas again, declared a ceasefire.
The BBC reported Gaddafi’s regime wanted to cooperate with the U.N. Ceasefires are very iffy operations, and without monitors in palce there would be no effective way to monitor it.
Meanwhile, French and British air forces were preparing for airstrikes should they still be needed. They also could be used to monitor a ceasefire though NATO could also insist on placing some monitors in key locations. The rebels, who have already begun receiving weapons via Egypt, can rearm.
Mussa Kussa, the Libyan foreign minister, said his nation “decided on an immediate ceasefire and on an immediate stop to all military operations.”
French officials said the warplanes could be launched within hours. Fears were expressed that if no action was taken quickly Gaddafi might destroy the insurgency.
Gaddafi’s whereabouts were not clear as French and British warplanes reportedly were preparing for an assault under the authority of a U.N. resolution. The only action, which apparently had already begun, was the ongoing delivery of weapons to Libyan rebels by neighboring Egypt.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said RAF Typhoon and Tornado fighters would be deployed to enforce the no fly zone, the BBC reported.
One of Gaddafi’s sons, Sail el-Islam, said the encircling of the rebel capital of Benghazi was continuing. In fact, with virtually no journalists on the front lines it was difficult to determine the state of play. Nor was it known what had happened to four New York Times journalists believed to have been detained on the Gaddafi side of the conflict.
Rebels have been saying Gaddafi’s army is nowhere near Benghazi. With the authority of the U.N. resolution Western and Arab League nations could easily deliver supplies right to the rebels through the port. Their strong naval presence would mean any attempt to block them by Gaddafi’s small fleet would likely result in its instant destruction.Agencies