30 Shot Dead in Yemen

by Matthew Shaffer

The deadliest day yet:

Security forces and government supporters opened fire on demonstrators on Friday, killing at least 30, as the largest protest so far in Yemen came under violent and sustained attack in the center of the capital, Sana.

The toll mounted rapidly through the afternoon, as some of the more than 100 people wounded by gunfire or rocks hurled by government supporters succumbed to their injuries, according to several doctors at a makeshift hospital near the protest site.

A heavy cloud of black smoke rose over a downtown commercial district at the southern end of the protest, which swelled to tens of thousands of people and stretched for a mile from its center at Sana University.

Government supporters in plain clothes fired down on the demonstration from rooftops and windows almost immediately after the protesters rose from their noon prayers, conducted en masse in the street on Friday.

Libyan Regime Declares Cease-Fire; But Reports of Attacks Continue

by Matthew Shaffer

The news this morning made it look like Qaddafi had folded almost immediately.

But there are still scattered reports of attacks by pro-Qaddafi forces. From the BBC:

While the Libyan foreign minister was speaking of a cease-fire, an eyewitness in Misrata, who has asked to remain unnamed, told the BBC there was heavy fighting between rebels and the brigade forces, and that several civilian buildings had been hit. “We are terrified,” she said. “He [Qaddafi] is going to kill us all.”

Benghazi Celebrates UNSC Decision

“Not Impressed by Words”

by Matthew Shaffer

Highlights from Secretary of State Clinton’s statement this morning:


U.N. Approves No-Fly Zone and “All Measures Necessary,” with U.S.

by Matthew Shaffer

… of course. Secretary Clinton explained the U.S.’s reversal by saying the Arab League’s request was a “game changer.” The Qaddafi regime threatened counterattacks, including on civilians if foreigners intervened. Oh, and I should note, all the “no-fly zone” headlines are a bit misleading as this also gives UN planes the right to actively target pro-Qaddafi forces on the ground. 

From the Times


The United Nations Security Council approved a measure on Thursday authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect Libyan civilians from harm at the hands of forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

The measure allows not only a no-fly zone but effectively any measures short of a ground invasion to halt attacks that might result in civilian fatalities. It comes as Colonel Qaddafi warned residents of Benghazi, Libya, the rebel capital, that an attack was imminent and promised lenient treatment for those who offered no resistance.

“We are coming tonight,” Colonel Qaddafi said. “You will come out from inside. Prepare yourselves from tonight. We will find you in your closets.”

Speaking on a call-in radio show, he promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away” but “no mercy or compassion” for those who fight. Explosions were heard in Benghazi early on Friday, unnerving residents there, Agence-France Presse reported.

The United States, originally leery of any military involvement in Libya, became a strong proponent of the resolution, particularly after the Arab League approved a no-fly zone, something that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called a “game changer”

With the recent advances made by pro-Qaddafi forces in the east, there was a growing consensus in the Obama administration that imposing a no-fly zone by itself would no longer make much of a difference and that there was a need for more aggressive airstrikes that would make targets of Colonel Qaddafi’s tanks and heavy artillery — an option sometimes referred to as a no-drive zone. The United States or its allies might also send military personnel to advise and train the rebels, an official said.

In the most strident verbal attack on Colonel Qaddafi to date by an American official, Mrs. Clinton said Thursday that the Western powers had little choice but to provide critical military backing for the rebels. “We want to support the opposition who are standing against the dictator,” she told an applauding audience in Tunisia on Thursday. “This is a man who has no conscience and will threaten anyone in his way.”

She added that Colonel Qaddafi would do “terrible things” to Libya and its neighbors. “It’s just in his nature. There are some creatures that are like that.”

The Qaddafi government responded to the potential United Nations action with threats.

“Any foreign military act against Libya will expose all air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean Sea to danger and civilian and military facilities will become targets of Libya’s counterattack,” it said in a statement carried on Libyan television and the official news agency, JANA, Reuters reported. “The Mediterranean basin will face danger not just in the short term, but also in the long term.”

U.N. Security May Approve “All Necessary Measures” Tonight

by Matthew Shaffer

From Al Aribya: 

The latest draft resolution on Libya under discussion at the United Nations calls for “all necessary measures short of an occupation force” to protect civilians under threat of attack, Britain said on Thursday, as NATO warned that time was “running out” to stop Muammar Gaddafi from prevailing


French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe headed for New York to press for tough action by the 15-nation council and the United States has warned that a no-fly zone may not be strong enough.

France wants the U.N. Security Council to vote no later than Thursday evening on a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over Libya and stepped-up sanctions, French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said.


“I would say that we are asking for a vote at 6:00 p.m. (2200 GMT),” he told reporters. “You know the United Nations, it can drift but we are going to ask for a vote at 6:00 p.m.”

“Fighting for time”

by Matthew Shaffer

As David Kirpatrick and Kareem Fahim report in the Times, it appears that fighters in the rebel city of Misurata, the last rebel stronghold in the Libyan west, are stalling, fighting for time in the hopes of an international intervention: 


Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi massed Thursday outside the city of Misurata — the last major rebel foothold in the west — apparently in preparation for an attack, as the rebels at both ends of the country’s coast battled to hold off the Qaddafi forces and their superior firepower.

Musa Ibrahim, a spokesman for the Qaddafi government, confirmed that its forces were preparing to take Misurata just as they did Zawiyah, another western town that had been held by the rebels.

“It starts in the beginning by surrounding the city,” he said, “then moving slowly to avoid casualties.” Rebels in Zawiyah described heavy casualties — at least dozens — during the Qaddafi forces’ siege of that city.

“It should be finished up tomorrow if not today,” Mr. Ibrahim added.

Rebels in Misurata said that Qaddafi forces had so far appeared to hold back, though electricity, water and telecommunications remained severed a day after fighters held the town against an onslaught of tank and artillery fire.

After days of retreat, the rebels appeared to be fighting for time in the hope of obtaining some form of international military backing, which Western leaders now seem close to delivering. The United States Ambassador to the United NationsSusan E. Rice, said late Wednesday that she had been working furiously throughout the day on language for a resolution that would authorize not just a no-flight zone but additional steps to halt the movement of Colonel Qaddafi’s forces.

“We are discussing very seriously and leading efforts in the Council around a range of actions that we believe could be effective in protecting civilians,” Ms. Rice said. “The U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include but perhaps go beyond a no-fly zone.”

The diplomats were in a race against time, however, with loyalist military units surrounding the strategically located town of Ajdabiya and massing for a push up the road to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, 100 miles distant, rebel officials said. Ms. Rice said she hoped to bring the measure to a vote on Thursday.

Mohamed, a rebel spokesman in Misurata, welcomed the new American push. “We are very heartened yesterday by the moves in the United Nations Security Council and the urgency of the American stand,” he said, speaking over a satellite phone.

Updates From Libya

by Matthew Shaffer

A look at how pro-Qaddafi forces nearing Benghazi is changing the Obama administration’s tone and thoughts — including the Times’ claim that the administration has concluded that a no-fly zone now would be “too little, too late.” Which suggests either a stronger response, or none (“The United States is pretty busy with two wars, and we don’t want a third,” a senior official said.)

A look at Qaddafi’s attempts to manage and manipulate the foreign press.

Four New York Times journalists missing in Libya.