Norway backs UN attack on Libya

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Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said the Norwegian government fully supports an historic resolution by the United Nations Security Council to attack Libya, with the goal of protecting Libyan civilians from their dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Støre said government leaders were “evaluating” how Norway itself would participate.

Norway will participate in the UN-sanctioned military action against Libya, confirmed Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. PHOTO: Utenriksdepartementet

The UN Security Council resolution represents the most widespread, comprehensive measure ever enacted by the international organization, and essentially pits Gadhafi against the rest of the world. Neither Russia nor China issued a veto and an attack was supported by the Arab League. That was important, claimed political commentators, to send the message that this is not a case of western nations against a Muslim country.

Støre, who came under criticism earlier this week from the opposition parties in parliament for not being tough enough against Gadhafi, has maintained that Norway and all other UN and NATO members needed to wait for a UN-sanctioned attack. Now that the UN has approved not only a no-fly zone over Libya but “all necessary measures” to protect civilians as well, Støre said Norway would absolutely participate.

“Here we have the UN arriving at the lawful decision to use force, and the world must be able to use force in situations where extreme things occur,” Støre told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “Gadhafi still has time to turn around, but I think that with this mandate, member states (of the UN) with capacity to do so will quickly resort to force.”

Støre noted that Norway “has a long tradition” of supporting measures taken by the UN Security Council. “Norway will always support a resolution from the UN Security Council,” he told NRK. “Now, with our allies, we will evaluate how we can also contribute to this resolution.”

Norwegian Defense Minister Grete Faremo also said Norway would be willing to participate in military action against Libya. “We are prepared to contribute to the operation,” Faremo told VG Nett Friday morning. She said it was “too early,” however, to say how Norway would contribute.

The most likely was by sending air resources, such as fighter jets. A “major humanitarian operation” would also be mounted, Faremo said, to which Norway could contribute transport flights and supplies.

France, Great Britain, the US and several Arab countries including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar were expected to lead a military action. While the UN resolution did not approve an occupation of Libya, it did allow “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, which could include ground forces.

After first threatening attacks himself on civilian and military aircraft in the entire Mediterranean, Gadhafi seemed to be changing tactics on Friday, declaring himself willing to enter into a ceasefire with the opposition forces that have been trying to mount a revolution in Libya for weeks. His son then declared, however, that the Gadhafi family did not fear a UN-supported attack.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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