The UN resolution that the UK government helped secure charges UN countries to impose a No fly zone on Libyan government forces so they cannot harm their citizens from the air. It has also been interpreted as allowing UN aircraft to take action against tanks and other offensive weaponry of the Libyan government if the UN forces believe those items are going to be used to harm civilians. The UN forces, now led by France and the UK, have been doing these functions well.
There is,however, a growing feeling by commentators that success for the French and British forces would take the form of regime change. The ultimate guarantee for the security of civilians in Libya would, some feel, only be secured if the dictator were removed. This is not what the UN agreed to. It also requires offering more help to the rebel forces to secure victory or to force the dictator out.
In the early days NATO struggled with the question would they take military action against rebel forces if they appeared to be advancing and running the risk of killing civilians. NATO did not want to say they would, but they recognised that the UN resolution did not say they are to intervene on the side of the rebels to promote their cause.
Today the western powers remind us there are diplomatic actions they need to take to complement the military. What the public want to know is how long we are committed to our current range of actions, and when other countries will play a fuller part in policing the No fly zone. A No fly zone on its own was never guaranteed to bring the regime down, nor was that the UN agreed plan. If we are in for a longer operation, policing the skies above a war torn country beneath, it is high time there was proper burden sharing with other NATO nations. One of the reasons I did not vote for the intervention was the difficulty in seeing how this open ended commitment would work, and my feeling that countries nearer to Libya were better placed to do whatever needed doing from outside.
I do not think we should seek to widen the mission to involve western countries in deciding the military and political outcome on the ground as Libya struggles with its future. Going too far in helping the rebels means the UN then becomes involved in the conflict which is killing people on the ground, and leads to the west being involved in any future political settlement.