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Mar 17, 2011 | 23:51 GMT

3 mins read

Intelligence Guidance: U.N. Authorizes No-Fly Zone Over Libya

Monika Graff/Getty Images
Editor's Note: The following is an internal STRATFOR document produced to provide high-level guidance to our analysts. This document is not a forecast, but rather a series of guidelines for understanding and evaluating events, as well as suggestions on areas for focus. The U.N. Security Council has passed a resolution authorizing a no-fly zone over all of Libya. Now that the authorization has been given, the question is who will use it, and how. In light of the British, French and American votes in favor of the resolution, considerable preparation already could have been made, with the countries making plans and moving forces in the past few days. Hypothetically, action toward establishing a no-fly zone could be imminent. (click here to enlarge image) However, the opposite could also be the case. The United States intends to use the authorization to pressure Europe to take the lead in the action, but even if all European countries' intentions were aligned — which they are not — it could be very difficult to get everyone to agree on a mission, much less allocate forces and money. Those divisions could be politically desirable for some players. While this is all taking place, some deadline or redline might be set and delivered to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. If action does not take place quickly, Gadhafi's forces could reach Benghazi, at which point the no-fly zone authorization could be overtaken by events. What to watch for:
  • Statements seeking to define what the mission will be in execution (rather than just the full breadth of the authorization). Will there be distinct levels of escalation aligned with political demands? Will there be one, solid deadline before the no-fly zone is implemented? Is there disagreement on what should be done?
  • Positioning of military forces for imminent action, such as the USS Enterprise moving through the Suez Canal or the Charles de Gaulle putting to sea, movement of land-based fighters, tankers and airborne warning and control systems to closer land bases and actions such as the disabling of radars in Libya. Gadhafi's forces may accelerate operations and attempt to seize Benghazi before the no-fly zone's implementation.
  • Attempts to use the authorization to force Gadhafi to the negotiating table. This will be unlikely to work, but watch for the overtures — and from whom they come.

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