The situation has completely changed since last weekend, with air strikes by American, British and French planes and Anglo-American cruise missiles. Muammar Gaddafi’s armoured forces have been significantly weakened, prompting the Libyan rebels to push along the coast to retake the towns of Ajdabiya, Brega, Bin Jawad and Ras Lanuf, and are now threatening Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte.
On Sunday, NATO decided “to take on the whole military operation in Libya” — beginning full transfer of command to its forces. America and Britain were keen for the campaign to be transferred to NATO jurisdiction while Turkey was not as keen, wanting to limit the role of intervention by NATO to that of enforcing the no-fly zone, leading to prospects of Britain and France conducting its own operations as America draws down its military presence as expected.
Criticism of the campaign increased with Russia’s foreign minister insisting the intervention is not covered by the U.N. resolution. This comes at a time when the United Arab Emirates decided to contribute 12 planes (six F-16 and six Mirage 2000s) to the effort, joining Qatar who joined last week.
A large VIED was discovered near the Bishop Street Court House at Derry on Sunday evening. The bomb was described by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) as “substantial” and evacuations of nearby St Columb’s Cathedral and residential areas nearby were conducted until the bomb was made safe. Political parties representing both sides of the divide have condemned the attempted attack with Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson saying the bomb was out of step with the views of the vast majority of people in the city. Northern Ireland has suffered in past years from a resurgence of dissident Republican violence culminating in two British soldiers being shot at an Army base in County Antrim in March 2009.