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Libya crisis: British PM threatens Gaddafi with military action

March 01, 2011 15:25 IST
As intense fighting brought Libya close to a civil war, British Prime Minister David Cameron has threatened the country's strongman Muammar Gaddafi with military action by imposing a no-fly zone and also suggested English troops could be involved in peacekeeping in the strife-torn nation.

Cameron told the House of Commons on Monday night that Britain and its allies were considering using fighter jets to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, patrolling and shooting down Libyan aircraft ordered to attack protesters. His warning came amid growing concerns about the crumbling regime's ability to commit last desperate acts of mass murder, as reports suggested that Gaddafi could use chemical weapons against his own people.

Britain and America are also thought to be considering arming rebel forces in Libya, The Telegraph reported, as reports circulated that the United States and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation were massing forces close to the embattled nation.

The Daily Mail and The Telegraph said Cameron did not rule out "the use of military assets", saying Britain "must not tolerate this regime using military forces against its own people". The papers quoted British sources as saying that Libya still has stocks of mustard gas chemicals.

According to the Daily Mail, Cameron threatened Gaddafi with military action on Monday night, promising a no-fly zone and arms shipments to his enemies. While Gaddafi has lost control of much of his country, he still remains in charge of Tripoli, the capital and home to a third of Libya's people.

Gaddafi showed no sign of wanting to quit, giving a deranged interview to the world's media. "They love me, all my people love me," he said. "They would die to protect me."

Cameron announced that the vast majority of Britons had been evacuated from Libya and that the evacuation of foreign nationals would be largely completed by Tuesday. The end of the evacuation effort has coincided with a meeting of senior Western politicians to begin the "next phase" of action against the Gaddafi regime.

On Sunday, Britain announced emergency plans to freeze the Gaddafi regime's assets in London. The European Union will impose wide-ranging sanctions against Gaddafi and the Libyan government this week.

Cameron said, "If Gaddafi uses military force against his own people, the world cannot stand by. That is why we should be looking at a no-fly zone." No-fly zones have previously been imposed over Iraq and Bosnia to prevent rogue regimes using air power against civilians. General Sir David Richards, the chief of the defence staff, has been asked to draw up options for British military operations in Libya.
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