What, if any, military action will be taken against Qaddafi remains in question. The Libyan opposition today indicated that it may request foreign military intervention – something other countries seem reluctant to provide.
The option mentioned the most often is imposing a no-fly zone over the country to prevent Qaddafi from using aircraft to attack the opposition. This would require UN approval. While a no-fly zone has been framed as a relatively mild action, Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Wednesday warned that direct military action would be necessary to carry it out, according to Reuters. “A no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses … and then you can fly planes around the country and not worry about our guys being shot down,” he said.
The UK has also floated the idea of a no-fly zone, with Prime Minister David Cameron requesting that the military draw up plans. Britain already has aircraft in nearby Malta and a naval destroyer and frigate “in position” off of Libya’s coast, Mr. Cameron said, according to the Washington Post.
But the UN appears hesitant to authorize a no-fly zone because it could lead to escalation of foreign military action, the Post reported. A Pentagon official noted that the US and NATO have enough forces in the Mediterranean region to take swift actions.