Gaddafi – This dangerous man’s regime is now doomed.

Libya: celebrations in Benghazi as UN backs no-fly zone
Celebratory gunfire rang out across the rebel-held city of Benghazi on Thursday night after the United Nations Security Council voted to authorise air strikes against the forces of Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi.

Residents of Benghazi celebrating the United Nations Security Council’s resolution to impose a no-fly zone over Libya Photo: AFP/GETTY
By Damien McElroy, Tripoli, Alex Spillius in Washington and Bruno Waterfield in Brussels 12:13AM GMT 18 Mar 2011
As imams at mosques in the coastal city took to loudspeakers shouting “God is greatest, God is greatest”, tracer bullets streaked across the night sky like fireworks and anti-aircraft fire punctuated the sound of cars honking their horns.

With the government’s forces closing in, the rebels had begged for military protection. Their pleas were only answered after a change of heart by the Barack Obama administration, which had opposed a no-fly zone for weeks but agreed to support the British and French initiative as opposition towns fell rapidly to the Libyan leader.
The decision at the UN appeared to have an immediate impact on Col Gaddafi’s thinking. Saif al-Islam, one of his sons, said there had been a change of tactics and that as a “humanitarian gesture” the Libyan army no longer intended to march on Benghazi, the rebels’ last major stronghold.
“He said that the army is not going to go into Benghazi. It’s going to take up positions around the stronghold,” said Nic Robertson, a CNN reporter who was telephoned by the son.
“The reason is they expect a humanitarian exodus. They expect people will be afraid of what’s going to happen, and he said the army will be there to help them get out.”
Earlier on state television, Col Gaddafi had promised a ruthless assault on the city.
“We will chase the traitors from Benghazi,” he told his troops. “Destroy their fortifications. Show them no mercy. The world needs to see Benghazi free.”
Earlier in the day, his forces moved within striking distance of the rebel-held city. But there were indications that rebels would put up a last-ditch defence, making it harder to conquer than the relatively exposed towns retaken recently.
Rebel commanders claimed to have weapons capabilities that had been kept hidden, including helicopters, tanks and artillery. Commanders claimed that three fighter jets were in their hands.
Col Gaddafi’s advance on Benghazi appeared to have encountered difficulties after rebels claimed to have shot down two air force fighter bombers.
Government planes bombed Benina airport, just six miles south of the city, which could be used by the rebels as an airbase. But even before Sail al-Islam’s announcement, the Libyan army held back from a move to encircle the city, perhaps fearing a rebel backlash.
There was claim and counter claim last night over the fate of Misurata, an outpost of opposition control 125 miles from Tripoli. Regime shelling from two sides was reported by residents but state television’s claims that the town had fallen were rejected by locals. Arab television reported that 30 people had been killed in Ajdabiyah, as fighting continued in the town on the coast road to Benghazi.
Within the Obama administration, the push towards a UN resolution was led by Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, and other senior figures in the State Department.
“A no-fly zone requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defence systems,” she said on a tour of northern Africa.
The decision last weekend by the Arab League to support a no-fly zone was regarded as critical. It is now expected that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates will join international forces set to bomb forces in Libya.
“There will be participation by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. That has been confirmed at the Security Council,” said a diplomat at the UN.
Given the swift, eastward progress of Col Gaddafi’s forces, the final resolution was stronger than original plans for a simple no-fly zone.
It excluded the use of foreign ground troops, but in the most crucial paragraph cleared the way for the liberal use of air power against the Libyan leader.
“Member states,” it said, “acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements” were permitted “to take all necessary measures, to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi”.
Among the five nations that abstained was Germany, which expressed doubts about “great risks and the likelihood of large loss of life”. If the resolution failed in its immediate goal of stopping the violence, Berlin feared for a “protracted military conflict that could effect the whole region”.
Early on Thursday US diplomats, working in tandem with the British, the French and the Lebanese, began strenuous efforts to guarantee the nine votes needed on the 15-member security council. In the end they garnered ten, and, crucially, persuaded China and Russia not to use the power of veto they hold as permanent members.