Peter Hoskin

The Arab League adds its weight to the calls for a no-fly zone

The Arab League adds its weight to the calls for a no-fly zone
Text settings

We're pushing for a no-fly zone. France is pushing for a no-fly zone. And now the Arab League is pushing for a no-fly zone too. The news fresh out of Cairo is that the organisation has voted in favour of restricting airspace above Libya. It will now push the UN to do the same, which is a considerably more proactive than the stance it adopted earlier this week.

While one vote doesn't really seal anything, this is potentially a crucial moment. NATO has made regional support a key condition of a no-fly zone – and now it has it, officially. Those who have been sniffing around for alternatives to the UN and its resolutions will regard this as a positive step. If a coalition can be built around the Middle Eastern countries, the EU, NATO and the African Union, then the West's aircraft may be called into action yet.

Question is, will it be too late to count? Although he is hardly a reliable source, there is still something sobering about Saif Gaddafi's claim, today, that his father's troops are now in control of "90 per cent of the country". Perhaps Syria and Algeria – the only two Arab League members to vote against a no-fly zone – see a future in which the Mad Dog still features.