While the US and its Western allies are talking openly about the possibility of arming the rebels fighting against the dictatorial and brutal rule of Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, the Arab League is distancing itself from such a possible move.
Hesham Youssef, chief of the Arab League Secretary-General said that no decision to arm the rebels was taken by the Arab organisation. He added that in the reading of the Arab League arming rebels was out of the mandate of a recent UN Security Council resolution that authorised the imposition of a no-fly zone to end the military attack of Qaddafi against rebels.
Speaking in London after the Conference on Libya, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said she believed that UN resolutions allowed for the "legitimate transfer of arms" to the rebels should any country wish to do so.
For his part, William Hague, the UK Foreign Secretary, said that arming rebels was possible. While Alain Juppe, his French counterpart, argued that arming rebels "is not part of the UN resolution... but we are ready to discuss it with our partners".
Speaking to Al-Ahram Online from London following his participation in the one day Conference on Libya that convened Tuesday in the UK capital, Youssef said that for the Arab organisation the line is clear "our objective is to protect civilians and not to meddle into the Libyan affairs".
This, he said, means that "a change of the regime in Libya is not our objective – nor it is our job; our job is to protect civilians and this is what we are working with the international community on".
Youssef insisted that the Arab League support of the imposition of the no-fly zone by a unanimous UN Security Council resolution is designed to spare civilians from being subject to bloodshed and is prompted by "the support of the Arab League to the legitimate aspirations of Arab people for democracy – in Libya or elsewhere"