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France: We can start bombing Libya tonight

French Defence Minister Alain Juppé at the UN Security Couincil

© Paulo Filgueiras/UN Photo/afrol News
afrol News, 18 March
- The French Defence Minister has confirmed that military action against the Ghaddafi regime can start only hours after the UN Security Council approves of it.

Defence Minister Alain Juppé today said France was ready for immediate strikes against the Ghaddafi regime as soon as the UN Security Council gives its much awaited approval. The Council is to vote over a no-fly zone and possible military action against the Ghaddafi regime this night, with most observers expecting an approval.

French diplomatic sources today confirmed this to the news agency 'AFP', saying military actions "could start only hours after the resolution is approved of."

France and the UK have lobbied for a UN Security Council resolution permitting use of military force to stop the Ghaddafi regime's bombing of its own people. After the Arab League also urged for military action, the US also turned in favour and China and Russia have indicated they will not use their veto to stop the resolution.

The US and France during the last days have had intensive meetings with Arab states to convince them to participate heavily in the implementation of a no-fly zone and in attack Ghaddafi forces. A NATO-only operation is being ruled out by Western powers.

The Ghaddafi regime during the last few days has tried to split the world community by praising Germany, China and Russia for their reluctance to vote in favour of a no-fly zone, offering the future oil and business contracts. The embarrassing compliments however rather convinced the three states to back down from their resistance to a no-fly zone.

Other Ghaddafi regime initiatives have included threatening with "joining al Qaeda" if attacked by Western forces, or bombing targets in the Mediterranean and Europe. The threats have not been taken seriously - given Libya's very small air force - and have rather increased anger with the Ghaddafi regime.

Also, the Ghaddafi clan on Libyan state TV and in interviews has made many statements claiming their victory over the rebel forces was near and that a foreign intervention "in any case would come to late." Facts on the ground however show that rebels are able to keep the front line around the city of Ajdabiya.

French and US sources indicate that there is intensive military planning on how the first strikes against the Ghaddafi regime will be implemented. It is widely expected that a first strike will seek to eradicate the Libyan air force altogether.

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