NATO to intervene in Libya?

The Libyan UN Mission—breaking with the regime of Moammar Qaddafi—requested an emergency meeting of the Security Council about the situation in Libya Feb. 21, urging the world body to install a no-fly zone over the country to prevent the regime from using warplanes and helicopters to bomb its own population. Deputy Permanent Representative Ibrahim Dabbashi said Libyans had to be protected from "genocide." After meeting once the following day, the Council took no action but said it would meet again soon. (Afrol News, Radio Australia, Feb. 22)

Former British foreign secretary Lord Owen called on NATO to enforce a no-fly zone: "The UN Security Council should meet in emergency session and declare the situation in Libya as a threat to peace under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter and declare a no-flight zone for the Libyan air force and ask the regional power, NATO, to enforce it." (UKPA, Feb. 22)

Qaddafi strikes back —with incoherence
Qaddafi on Feb. 21 broke his silence to appear on Libyan national TV to issue a terse statement denying international media reports that he had fled to Caracas: "I want to clarify for them that I am in Tripoli not in Venezuela. Do not believe these channels—they are dogs. Goodbye."

The newly established General Committee for Defense also issued a statement calling the protesters "terrorist gangs made up mostly of misguided youths" who had been exploited and fed "hallucinogenic pills" by foreign agents.

The following day, Qaddafi appeared again on TV to deliver a rambling hour-long speech in which he denied that there had been any massacres—and yet pledged to cling to power re