European leaders on Friday agreed to examine “all necessary options” — including armed intervention — to protect civilians should the Libyan leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, escalate attacks on rebel-held territories.
The statement, from an emergency European Union summit meeting, made no specific reference to calls led by France and supported by Britain for a no-flight zone. Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said she was “fundamentally skeptical” of military action.
“The only countries that want a no-fly zone are Britain and France,” said a European diplomat, insisting on anonymity because of the delicacy of the issue. “Germany is against.”
Still, Friday’s statement called on Colonel Qaddafi to quit, did not rule out military intervention by Europeans, and reiterated suggestions from American and European diplomats that such a move would require a clear legal basis, regional support and a clear motive.
Those conditions are not close to being met, but Europe is trying to ready itself if Colonel Qaddafi unleashes such violence that both the United Nations Security Council and theArab League believe they must step in.
“This is about planning for any eventuality,” said another European diplomat. “Such that, if the situation deteriorates further, we would not be waiting three weeks or more to respond.”