The United Nations Security Council again failed to agree on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya as the U.S. conceded other options must be considered on the eve of what looks to be a final push by forces loyal to Moammar Gadhafi to recapture Misrata and the rebel capital Benghazi.
“We are moving as rapidly as we can in New York to see whether we can get additional authorization for the international community to look at a broad range of actions — not just a no-fly zone, but other actions as well,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters yesterday during her trip to Cairo.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice later acknowledged after Wednesday night's UN meeting adjourned that it may be too late for a no-fly zone to save the rebels. Other action may be needed, she suggested.
"We are discussing very seriously and leading efforts in the (Security) Council around a range of actions that we believe could be effective in protecting civilians. Those include discussion of a no-fly zone," Rice told reporters.
"But the U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone at this point, as the situation on the ground has evolved, and as a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk," Rice added.
Among the expanding options being considered at the UN are declaring and protecting "no-drive" and "no sail" zones to halt Gadhafi's ground-based counter-offensive and attacks from the dictator's navy. It may be late for even those options to work, some experts say.
The U.S. remains opposed to ground action against Gadhafi's forces.