No-fly zone debate
Residents flee Libya as fighting intensifies
WESTERN powers argued over imposing a proposed nofly zone over Libya as rebels fighting Muammar Gaddafi’s regime began organising the trappings of parallel government in many towns.
The UN refugee agency said the situation on the LibyaTunisia border was reaching crisis point as desperate expatriate worker spour across, fearful of a bloody rearguard action by diehard regime elements.
More than 100,000 people have already left Libya to escape a vicious crackdown by Gaddafi loyalists which has left at least 1000 dead, according to conservative UN estimates.
Anger at authoritarian Arab regimes in the Middle East and North Africa raged from Algeria to Yemen and has spread to the previously unaffected Gulf states of Kuwait and Oman, unnerving financial markets around the world.
New York crude prices again breached $ US100 a barrel in early Asian trade yes- t erday and Wall Street shares slumped, after Federa l Reserve chief Ben Bernanke warned high oil prices could spark inflation and hamper recovery.
Huge crowds poured into Yemen’s capital Sanaa on Tuesday to protest at President Ali Abdullah Saleh, in power since 1978.
Saleh dismissed the demonstrations as ‘‘ a storm orchestrated from Tel Aviv and under Washington’s supervision’’. Diplomatic manoeuvring over Libya stepped up with the United Nations on Tuesday, suspending the oil-rich state from its main human rights body, but the UN Security Council is split on the crisis.
Gaddafi is shouting defiance, although his regime now controls only some western areas around the capital and a few longtime bastions in the arid south.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Libya was at a crossroads between progress to a ‘‘peaceful democracy’’ or ‘‘ protracted civil war’’. British Prime Minister David Cameron, a leading advocate of the no-fly option, said it was unacceptable for Gaddafi to ‘‘ be murdering his own people, using aeroplanes and helicopter gunships and the like’’.
London said a no-fly zone did not necessarily require U N approval, but new French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe ruled out military action without a clear UN mandate, and Russia appears sceptical over t he issue.