Amazing what a little show of international resolve can achieve. For days, Muammar Qaddafi has been making blood-curdling threats against Libyan opposition groups, vowing to wipe them out to a man. Then last night, the UN Security Council passed a resolution authorizing the use of force to stop his offensive. Now, this morning, his regime is announcing an “immediate cease-fire” and cessation of offensive operations. It is also releasing four New York Times journalists captured a few days ago.
This is not to suggest by any means that the work of the international coalition is done or that it will all be as easy as this. Clearly, Qaddafi will not give up his grip on power without a fight, and having been able to push back the opposition, he is still in a strong position. But he is canny enough to understand that the odds are now shifting against him, and for the time being at least, he seems eager not to provoke the international coalition that is gathering with overwhelming force. Now it is up to the U.S. and our allies to buttress the opposition and allow them to make up lost ground.