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ETpro's avatar

Why doesn't the Arab League take the lead in imposing a no-fly zone in Libya?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) March 12th, 2011

Surely, Egypt being on the eastern border with Libya doesn’t want to see a humanitarian crisis with Qaddafi bombing major population centers and committing genocide against his own people. It would drive huge waves of refugees over their border and potentially destabilize Egypt at a time when they are struggling to rebuild orderly government on the heals of Mubarak’s departure. Egypt has US F-4E Fighter Bombers, F-16C & D multiple fighters, Chinese F-7B interceptors and F-7M multiple fighters.

In addition, Saudi Arabia has a strong air force with F-15SA, C and D fighters, F-15S Strike fighters, F-5E and F fighters, British Tornado IDS ground attack, Tornado ADV fighters, and Eurofighter Typhoon F-3 fighters.

Other Arab states have equally sophisticated fighters and fighter bombers in lesser numbers. If the Arab League took the lead, the US or EU could supply AWACS for air traffic control, satellite positioning and targeting support.

It seems to me that, when the almost certain collateral damage occurs, the Arab League being in the lead would be a great advantage. Since nobody wants to see a wholesale massacre of innocent civilians in Libya just so a corrupt dictator can cling to power, why hasn’t this be floated as a possible solution? Perhaps if it were, and Qaddafi thought it might be imminent, he would arrange safe passage out of Libya to save his hide. What do you think?

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8 Answers

janbb's avatar

I heard a discussion about a UN imposed no-fly zone in which they said the Arab League might not support one but not a detailed discussion of the reasons. Presumably some of the countries with entrenched leaders (like Yemen and Saudi Arabia) don’t want the revolutionary idea to be sanctioned. I do think one should be imposed but not unilaterally by the US..

talljasperman's avatar

where will these fighter jets land and refuel?

janbb's avatar

@talljasperman I think if NATO or the UN imposes one there would have to be cooperation from some of the surrounding countries.

ETpro's avatar

@janbb The countries I had heard likely to reject any UN resolution were China and Russia as usual. The more the non-communist world melts down, the better in their eyes, apparently.

@talljasperman Egypt is the neighboring state to Libya. Planes flying out of Egypt could cover all of Libya and return without any need for in-air refueling. My guess is that most of the Arab League’s air assets are not equipped for in-air refueling and their pilots probably don’t train for it.

Mamradpivo's avatar

Egypt and Tunisia, the two Arab states that border Libya, are actually busy dealing with their own serious internal issues right now. Also, I’m not sure whether any of the countries in question have the machinery necessary for a 24-hour no-fly zone.

Besides, this is a small country we’re talking about and a no-fly zone patrolled by fighter jets won’t make much of a difference against helicopters.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The same reason NATO doesn’t. Libya has a robust air defence system. In order to impose a no fly zone the people doing the imposing have to have total control of the sky so any no fly zone would have to start with a massive air strike against Libya’s SAMs and radar instalations with the possibility of civilian casualites as well as basically being a decleration of war.

mattbrowne's avatar

The Arab League has just asked the UN Security Council to mandate the no-fly zone. Once there is a green light I see no reason why Egyptian and Saudi Arabian forces will join NATO to enforce it.

ETpro's avatar

@Mamradpivo Egypt is certainly in position to take a role. They have an interim government in place, and the military is entirely intact and well trained.

@Lightlyseared I do understand what it takes to impose a no-fly zone. I know it’s not a magic switch one throws.

@mattbrowne Yes, I just saw that headline, White House hails Arab League no-fly zone request

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