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Libya
18/03/2011 23:29:00

This morning, the Prime Minister made a statement to the House of Commons about last night's UN Security Council resolution on Libya, which demands "the immediate establishment of a ceasefire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians", establishes "a ban on all flights" in the airspace of Libya and "authorises member states...acting nationally or through regional organisations or arrangements, and acting in co-operation with the Secretary-General, to take all necessary measures...to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack". The Prime Minister made it clear that UK forces will join an international operation to enforce the resolution if Colonel Gaddafi fails to comply with the UN's demands.

At the outset of the crisis, I was reluctant to see UK forces deployed. They already have plenty on their plate and with the country so deep in debt the last thing we need is another prolonged military campaign. I was also loathe to see us repeat the mistake of Iraq.

Set against that, there is a clear humanitarian case for intervention. And it is clearly in our national interest to see these democratic uprisings in north Africa succeed - if we abandon those who have rebelled against Gadaffi's tyranny in Libya, what lesson does it send to those struggling against oppression in other countries?

It therefore seemed to me that there were two tests that needed to be passed.

First, there would need to be broad based support for any intervention, including from other Arab and African countries. It is now clear that this exists. The people of Libya themselves have called for a no fly zone through the Transnational Council. The Arab League has backed that call and all three African members of the Security Council voted in favour of the resolution.

Second, we would need to be very clear about the limits of our intervention. I am therefore delighted to see that the resolution excludes an occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory and makes no mention of regime change (regime change is obviously desirable but it should not be an objective of any military intervention).

Finally, whether you agree with the Prime Minister's policy or not - and on balance, for the reasons set out above, I do - it is undeniable that he has shown real leadership on this issue. My thoughts now are with our brave servicemen and women who will be called on to enforce the resolution if, as seems likely, Gadaffi does not comply.

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Gavin Barwell, 133 Wickham Road, CR0 8TE, Tel  020 8663 8741      © Gavin Barwell  2017       Promoted by Ian Parker on behalf of Gavin Barwell, both at 36 Brighton Road, Purley, CR8 2LG