Libya: Unrest and U.S. Policy [March 18, 2011]   [open pdf - 653KB]

"On March 17 [2011], the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1973, calling for an immediate cease-fire and dialogue, declaring a no-fly zone in Libyan airspace, authorizing robust enforcement measures for the arms embargo established by Resolution 1970 of February 26, and authorizing member states 'to take all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.' World attention is now focused on the potential steps that the United States and governments in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East may take to enforce the resolutions. Qadhafi supporters have threatened to respond to any foreign attack by striking civilian and military targets in the Mediterranean. Until recently, the United States government was pursuing a policy of reengagement toward Qadhafi after decades of confrontation, sanctions, and Libyan isolation. President Obama now has joined some leaders in asserting that Muammar al Qadhafi must give up power. On March 18, President Obama outlined nonnegotiable demands for an end to violence and indicated the United States was prepared to act militarily as part of a coalition to enforce Resolution 1973 and protect Libyan civilians. The President said the United States would not introduce ground forces. Many observers believe that Libya's weak government institutions, potentially divisive political dynamics, and current conflict suggest that security challenges could follow the current uprising, regardless of its outcome. In evaluating U.S. policy options, Congress may seek to better understand the roots and nature of the conflict in Libya, the views and interests of key players, and the potential consequences of various policy proposals now under consideration."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33142
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