Arab League chief calls for Libya no-fly zone
CAIRO, (Reuters) – Arab League chief Amr Moussa called for a no-fly zone over Libya in an interview with a German magazine on Saturday, ahead of the group meeting in Cairo on Saturday to discuss the proposal.
“I am speaking of a humanitarian action,” he said in comments to Der Spiegel released on Saturday. “It is about assisting the Libyan people with a no-fly zone in their struggle for freedom against an increasingly inhuman regime.”
“The Arab League can also play a role,” said Moussa, who is stepping down as secretary-general after a decade, intending to contest the Egyptian presidency later this year.
European states hope the Arab League will lead the way in shaping policy, particularly over a no-fly zone, towards the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi.
“What is needed now is Arab intervention using mechanisms of the Arab League and at the same time in accordance with international law,” Omani Foreign Minister Youssef bin Alawi bin Abdullah said in his opening remarks to an Arab League meeting.
“We must look at various options that circumstances in Libya need,” he said, giving brief opening remarks during a televised opening session over which he presided.
“What is happening now to the Libyan people poses a threat to the security and stability of Arab states.
“If the Arab League does not take responsibility to prevent a downward spiral, that could lead to internal fighting or unwanted foreign intervention,” he added.
Gulf Arab ministers said on Thursday Gaddafi’s administration had lost its legitimacy and called for measures including imposing a no-fly zone. Gaddafi has had particularly bad relations with Gulf heavyweight Saudi Arabia for years.
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Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa, a candidate for the Egyptian presidency, called for a no-fly zone to help the Libyan people “in their struggle for freedom against an increasingly inhuman regime”.
In an interview with Der Spiegel, he said the Arab League could play a role.
The Arab League has appeared to adopt a tough line towards Gaddafi, suspending Libya over its handling of the uprising. The League said at a March 2 meeting that imposing a no-fly zone was an option for protecting Libyan civilians.
But the body is still in touch with the Tripoli government, League officials say. The League has also established contact with the rebel Libyan National Council, which is leading the revolt from Benghazi in the east.
In language reflecting the positions of some European governments, Gulf Arab ministers said on Thursday Gaddafi’s administration had lost its legitimacy and called for measures including the imposition a no-fly zone.
On Thursday, France became the first Western nation to give its full backing to the rebel council. The European Union said it may also recognise the council if the Arab League were to do so. Germany has also said it wants to hear the Arab view.
The 27 EU members, meeting in Brussels on Friday, endorsed the Libyan National Council as “a political interlocutor”.