View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Thursday, 17 March 2011

No fly zone authorised

The United Nations have authorised the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. This means that all aircraft who are flying over the country without prior authority are liable to be shot down. All air defences in Libya will be disabled first - i.e., bombing raids will be carried out to that effect.

Gaddafi has issued a series of threats, when it became clear over recent days that this was in the offing. He has said that no mercy would be shown to the rebels in Benghazi. Retaliatory strikes would be carried out against military and civilian targets in the Mediterranean, with shipping in the basin being rendered unsafe in the medium and long term.

It is pretty clear to see what has happened over the past 4 weeks. From being in a state of denial, Gaddafi has actually moved to acknowledge the presence of the rebels and will exterminate them. I am deliberately using that term. We have seen what he was like against unarmed civilians, who dared to demonstrate against him - heavy weaponry, normally only used against armoured vehicles or fighter jets, was deployed. I remember a man being brought into a hospital, with an unexploded rocket-propelled grenade sticking out of his leg.

Since 2003, Gaddafi had portrayed himself as the bad boy turned good, after he saw what had happened to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. British Prime Minister (at the time) Tony Blair went to Libya to seal deals with the country's leader - but Blair had forgotten the old adage that a fox never loses its true character. Gaddafi has, so far, survived the insurrection in his own country, but in suppressing it has completely lost all credibility.

I am quite apprehensive about the outcome of the imposition of the no-fly zone, coming as it does rather late in the day. Gaddafi feels he is back in the ascendency, and being in a position of total isolation, will stick at nought to maintain his position.

For reference, Gaddafi is not really a colonel. He has promoted himself to that rank.

EDIT: Did I say that this means we've got another war on our hands?

Thursday 17 March

Quite a nice if rather cool day, but with intermittent showers passing us by. It is now clearing up, after sunset, and we can expect a frost in the night. The Highlands will dip to -7C, and we won't be that far behind.

It appears that the situation at the Fukushima reactor in Japan is barely under control, if the reactor cores have to be kept cool by dumping water out of helicopters. I hope that the rigging up of an auxiliary powercable puts things on a more sensible footing. The death toll of last Friday's earthquake and tsunami has been increased to 14,000, and there will be many more.

Libya's leader, Col Gaddafi, has threatened all shipping in the Mediterranean if the UN Security Council passes a resolution, approving the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya. Rather too flicking late.

Locally, there will be a tidal energy generator in the Sound of Islay, between the latter island and Jura. There are very strong tidal currents in those narrows. In the future, similar machines could be installed in the Pentland Firth, which separates Orkney from mainland Scotland. It is expected to bring work to the Arnish Fabrication Yard here in Stornoway, where the tidal generators could be made. The AFY has struggled over the years I have been in Stornoway, opening and closing at regular intervals.