Kadhafi says 'hell' awaits anyone who attacks Libya
Moamer Kadhafi warned on Friday that "hell" awaits anyone who attacks Libya, as Britain and France were expected to scramble fighter jets against his forces after securing the UN's blessing.
"If the world goes crazy, so will we," the defiant strongman said in remarks to Portuguese television just hours before the UN Security Council vote. "We will respond. We will turn their lives into hell."
Kadhafi said the Council had "no mandate" for such a resolution, "which we absolutely do not recognise."
"This is not a war between two countries that permits the council to intervene," he argued. The UN Charter "does not permit interference in the domestic affairs" of a country.
Following a warning on Thursday that any military operation against Libya would expose air and maritime traffic in the Mediterranean to danger, Kadhafi said such action would have "great consequences for the Mediterranean and for Europe."
The "Mediterranean will be ravaged. No air or sea traffic will be safe."
Meeting on Thursday, the Security Council voted by 10-0 to permit "all necessary measures" to establish the no-fly zone, protect civilian areas and impose a ceasefire on Kadhafi's military.
China and Russia, who did not use their veto power, abstained, as did India, Brazil and Germany.
NATO said it will discuss Friday what role the alliance may take.
US President Barack Obama called French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron to discuss strategy.
"The leaders agreed that Libya must immediately comply with all terms of the resolution and that violence against the civilian population of Libya must cease," the White House said in a statement.
So far Britain, France, the United States, Norway and Qatar have said they will help to enforce the no-fly zone, while China, Germany, Poland, Australia and Russia have indicated they will not.
French government spokesman Francois Baroin said Friday the strikes will come "rapidly... within a few hours."
The goal of the military action would be to "protect the Libyan people and to allow them to go all the way in their drive for freedom, which means bringing down the Kadhafi regime," he said.
Cameron told the House of Commons British forces will join the international operation to enforce the resolution.
"I can tell the house that we will deploy Tornado and Typhoon as well as air-to-air refuelling and surveillance aircraft. Preparations to deploy these have already started and in the coming hours they will move to airbases from where they can take the necessary action," he said.
In a note of caution, Germany said it remains "eminently sceptical on the option of military intervention... anticipated in this resolution."
"We see in it considerable risks and dangers. That is why we could not approve this part of the text," a statement by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.
"German soldiers will not take part in a military intervention in Libya."
China, too, said it had serious concerns, despite choosing not to use its veto.
"We oppose the use of military force in international relations, and have serious reservations about some of the content of the resolution," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said without elaborating.
Meanwhile, Libya denied earlier reports it was shutting down its air space, but European governments decided to ban all civilian flights to the country, Europe's air traffic agency said.
The main rebel bastion of Benghazi erupted with fireworks and joyful gunfire after news spread of the UN resolution.
Hussein Madani, a 48-year-old engineer in Benghazi's central square, welcomed the UN decision.
"We needed the no-fly zone, but more than that we need to bomb Tripoli, Sirte and Sabha because that's where most of the Libyan army infrastructure is," he said of towns under Kadhafi's control.
Meanwhile, rebels in Misrata, a bastion of the insurrection 210 kilometres (130 miles) east of Tripoli, said Kadhafi's forces were pounding the city on Friday after a night of heavy gunfire.
"Dozens of bombs of all sorts have fallen on the city since last night," a spokesman told AFP, adding that the bombing was "still intense."
Clashes were also reported in the western towns of Nalut and Zintan.
The United Nations has estimated more than 1,000 people have been killed in what is now a month of fighting.
US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the resolution should send a strong message to Kadhafi "that the violence must stop, the killing must stop and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely."
In The Hague, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court warned the Libyan government that any indiscriminate attack on civilians in Benghazi would constitute "war crimes."
Immediately after the UN resolution was passed, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaaim said Libya was ready for a ceasefire but wanted to discuss its terms.
Libya would "react positively to the UN resolution, and we will prove this willingness while guaranteeing protection to civilians."
Kadhafi's son Seif al-Islam said his family was "not afraid" but warned that foreign air strikes would kill civilians.
"We are in our country and with our people. And we are not afraid," Seif al-Islam told ABC News Nightline from Tripoli.
Celebrations in Benghazi, Libya's second city and stronghold of the month-long mainly eastern rebellion against Kadhafi's iron-fisted four-decade rule, carried on through the night.
Preachers in mosques across the Mediterranean city used loudspeakers to shout "God is greatest, God is greatest."
Tracer bullets and anti-aircraft fire ripped through the night sky, punctuated by the blaring of car horns.
Kadhafi, in a broadcast just hours before the vote, had warned his forces would attack Benghazi on Thursday night and show "no mercy."
"We will chase the traitors from Benghazi," he said, addressing his troops. "Destroy their fortifications. Show them no mercy. The world needs to see Benghazi free."
Meanwhile, up to 2,500 people will need to be evacuated from Libya's borders with Tunisia and Egypt for the forseeable future in one of the biggest humanitarian evacuations in history, the UNHCR and IOM said Friday.
Some 300,000 people have fled Libya since clashes broke out between rebels and pro-regime forces, and many more are expected to leave, the agencies said.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, more than 30 people were killed and scores wounded during an anti-government demonstration in the Yemeni capital Sanaa on Friday, medics and witnesses said.
Thousands of Shiites protested after Friday prayers in Sunni-ruled Bahrain, in defiance of martial law and a deadly crackdown by the strategic Gulf kingdom's security forces.
And Saudi King Abdullah warned security forces would "hit" whomever "considers" undermining the kingdom's security and stability, in a televised speech coupled with an announcement of improved social benefits.
© 2011 AFP