Saturday, March 26, 2011

Libya: NATO statement on Libya

Source: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)

Responding to the ongoing crisis in Libya, NATO Allies decided on 24 March to enforce the no-fly zone over Libya. This is in response to the decisions of the United Nations Security Council.

All NATO Allies are committed to fulfill their obligations under the UN resolution. The purpose of the no-fly zone is to prevent any air attacks on civilians or populated areas by closing Libyan airspace.

NATO is taking action as part of the broad international effort and looks forward to working with its partners in the region.

At this point, there is still a coalition operation and a NATO operation but NATO is currently considering whether it should take on a broader responsibility in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution.

Through the chain of command NATO and the Coalition will ensure close coordination and de-confliction.

Background and timeline

Following the popular uprising which began in Benghazi on 17 February 2011, the United Nations (UN) Security Council adopted Resolution 1970. This institutes an arms embargo, freezes the personal assets of Libya's leaders and imposes a travel ban on senior figures.

On 8 March, with international concern over the Libyan crisis growing, NATO stepped up its surveillance operations in the Central Mediterranean, deploying AWACS aircraft to provide round-the-clock observation. These "eyes in the sky" give NATO detailed information of movements in Libyan airspace.

On 10 March, NATO Defence Ministers supported SACEUR's decision to have alliance ships move to the same area to boost the monitoring effort.

On 17 March, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, authorising member states and regional organisations to, inter alia, take "all necessary measures" to protect civilians in Libya.

On 22 March, NATO responded to the UN call by launching an operation to enforce the arms embargo against Libya. On 23 March, NATO's arms embargo operation started.

NATO ships and aircraft are operating in the Central Mediterranean to make sure that the flow of weapons to Libya by sea is cut off. They have the right to stop and search any vessel they suspect of carrying arms or mercenaries.

The NATO ships will not enter Libyan territorial waters. NATO has no intention of deploying land forces anywhere in Libyan territory.