Europe divided after German rejection of Libya no-fly zone
Germany rejected the idea of a no-fly zone over Libya on Wednesday. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his country did not “wish to” and “cannot” take sides in a north African civil conflict that could eventually lead to German soldiers taking part in a war in Libya.
Westerwelle told MPs in parliament that the creation of a no-fly zone would amount to military action involving attacks against Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s anti-aircraft defences. If this was not effective he said the question of invention on the ground would be next on the agenda.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Wednesday that “only the threat of force can stop Kadhafi”. He said that several Arab states were ready to assist Western military intervention.
"Legal and financial sanctions by the United Nations and European Union are useful. But we know that they only produce results after several months," Juppe wrote on his blog.
British Prime Minister David Cameron also continued to push for a no-fly zone over Libya. Cameron admitted that there was opposition to the plan at the United Nations Security Council but said Kadhafi’s regime was “illegitimate” and they must “take the right steps”.
“I’m not arguing that a no-fly zone is a simple solution to this problem,” said Cameron. “But I do think it’s part of one of the steps we need to take to isolate and to pressurise this regime and to say that we stand with people in Libya who want to have greater democracy and greater freedom just as we take for granted in this country,” he added.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she hopes for a UN Security Council vote on a new package of measures, which might include a no-fly zone, on Thursday.
Meanwhile, a state-owned oil tanker was captured by rebels in Libya and forced to dock in the port of Tobruk, Libyan authorities acknowledged on Wednesday.
The Anouar Ifrikia (Lights of Africa) was seized off Derna, on the coast between the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and Tobruk. A source at the Libyan National Oil Corporation told the AFP news agency that it was taken by “Al-Qaeda terrorists … who forced the crew to head for Al-Hrika port in Tobruk under the threat of arms.”
Libyan opposition websites had reported late on Tuesday that an oil tanker had been seized. The vessel is carrying 2,800 tonnes of fuel and was travelling from Greece to western Libya, it’s owned by a maritime company run by Colonel Moamer Kadhafi.
In other news a ferry carrying 1,800 evacuees from Tripoli was prevented from docking, an Italian news agency reported on Wednesday.
The Moroccan-owned Mistral Express ferry was said to be on its back to Morocco from Italy. The vessel was being accompanied by the Italian navy out of Italian territorial waters, the Ansa news agency reported.
The ferry had come from Tripoli carrying mostly Moroccans. It was allowed into Italian waters to refuel in Augusta, Sicily after reassurances that it was not doing to dock, before setting sail for Morocco. The European Union had urged the Italian authorities to check whether there were refugees on board.