The Latest News from Libya

Barely two days after U.N. authorization, the vaunted no-fly zone over Libya has been been "officially enforced" by a coalition of U.S., French and British forces. Here's the latest from the ongoing conflict in Libya:

  • Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi's compound was reportedly struck by U.K. forces on Sunday night, though American officials insisted the dictator wasn't a target. Nevertheless, the mission of the coalition forces "moved beyond taking away his ability to use Libyan airspace, to obliterating his hold on the ground as well,"The New York Times reports. [NYT]
  • The U.S. is hoping to pass the metaphorical war-baton to either a combined French-British or a NATO command, possibly "in a matter of days." Italy says it is contributing eight of its jets to coalition forces, and Qatar is expected to join coalition forces in some unspecified capacity on Monday. [AP; The Guardian]
  • The Arab League, which had initially supported the no-fly zone and theoretically lent military action some degree of legitimacy in the Arab world, appeared to waver on Sunday as strikes went on. Secretary General Amr Moussa released a statement saying "What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone" and specifically condemning reports of civilian casualties. [WaPo]
  • Also not on board: Russia, India and China, all of which abstained from the U.N. Security Council vote and all of which cited reports of civilian casualties in condemning the airstrikes. [Telegraph]
  • But about those civilian casualties: Despite claims by the Libyan government of dozens of civilan deaths, the Times reports that "reporters seeking proof have been offered none to account for even part of that number." The French government, unsurprisingly, says it has no information about civilian casualties.
  • Allied authorities have so far stopped short of saying Qaddafi's exit is an objective—which could result, when all of this is over, in a divided Libya not too dissimilar to the divided Iraq—and the more-or-less independent Iraqi Kurdistan—of the 1990s. [Bloomberg]
  • Don't get too excited about the emerging story that the White House's intervention in Libya was "women foreign policy advisers against the men," as MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell put it. "I don [sic] think the U.S. government goes to war bc [sic] a couple of senior directors at the NSC overrule the National Security Advisor and the Secretary of Defense," Human Rights Watch official Tom Malinowski told Politico's Ben Smith. [Politico]
  • The Libya Feb. 17 blog passes on an unconfirmed report that Qaddafi's son Khamis died from burn injuries sustained when a Libyan resistance pilot flew his plane into one of Qaddafi's compounds, killing himself in the process [Libya Feb. 17]

[Photo via AP]