Hillary Clinton yesterday signalled that a no-fly zone in Libya should be led by the UN rather than by the US. (“I think it’s very important that it is not a US-led effort because this comes from the people of Libya themselves…We think it is important that the United Nations make that decision.”) The secretary of state clearly does not want it to look as if the US is flexing its muscles unilaterally once again.
The British position is slightly more subtle, however. As the Downing St spokesman said this morning at lobby: “Our position is as set out by the foreign secretary statement; it said we needed international support , a clear trigger and an appropriate legal basis.”
Britain and France are leading efforts to draft a UN resolution to sanction a no-fly zone if conditions worsen in Libya. Yet the spokesman was pressed as to whether “international support” specifically meant a UN resolution – and he refused to say. “It means it should be an appropriate legal basis, we’re taking it step by step,” he said.
That suggests that the no-fly zone could still be co-ordinated via Nato alone, although Turkey – one of its 28 members – has already voiced opposition.#
UPDATE at 6.3opm
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said later on Wednesday that the alliance was not looking to intervene in Libya although its military was ready to respond to any developments at short notice.
Rasmussen said any action would require a clear United Nations mandate and widespread international support. “NATO is not looking to intervene in Libya, but we have asked our military to conduct prudent planning for all eventualities,” Rasmussen told Sky News. So that is somewhat clearer.