Libya announced a “immediate” cease-fire and a halt to military action Friday, hours after the U.N. Security Council authorized the use of force to protect besieged civilians in Libya.
Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa said Libya is “obliged to accept the Security Council resolution that permits the use of force to protect the civilian population.”
He said Libya has decided on “an immediate ceasefire and the stoppage of all military operations.”
Hmmm. I suspect a stalling tactic here. Libya may very well cease overt military actions while continuing covert ones, or just continue with scaled-back operations, which it will call “policing.”
Let’s see what Juan Cole has to say.
The Qaddafi regime sent mixed signals after the announcement, with the deputy foreign minister indicating that a cease-fire would be observed if its details could be worked out. The minister of defense said that a ceasefire would begin Sunday (by which time, presumably, he expected to be in control of the whole country). At the same time, the ministry of defense issued a threat that if Libya were attacked, it would retaliate against air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean basin.
One strategy the Qaddafi regime could deploy would be to try to take the whole country quickly. A no-fly zone and even a ‘no-drive zone’ intended to protect the rebels would become irrelevant if all the rebel strongholds had fallen. Although some French sources are talking about air strikes on Libya by late Friday, other sources say Sunday is likely the earliest the UN-authorized forces could intervene. By then, some elements in Tripoli probably hope, the whole thing will be over with. In short, the rebels need to be able to survive on their own two or three brutal days.