The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on Thursday to end its authorization on Monday of the foreign military intervention in, the legal basis for the attacks on Col. ’s forces during the eight-month civil war that toppled him from power.
The council’s action, a week after Colonel Qaddafi was killed as he sought to escape his final refuge in Surt, his hometown, was not unexpected. But it came despite new worries in Libya that Colonel Qaddafi’s remaining loyalists might not be vanquished, and that they might regroup outside Libya to cause new trouble in the months ahead.
Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the leader of the interim Libyan government, said Wednesday that he had asked NATO to extend its operations through the end of the year, partly over concerns about leftover Qaddafi loyalists.
But NATO ministers, who are scheduled to meet on Friday at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, are expected to officially declare Monday as their final day of action in Libya, in accordance with the Security Council’s action.
“Tomorrow we will confirm and formalize that decision,” Anders Fogh Rasmussen, NATO’s secretary general, told reporters in Berlin after a visit with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany. He called the operation “probably one of the most successful missions in the history of NATO.”
Mr. Rasmussen did not rule out a future role for NATO in Libya. “If requested, we can assist the new Libyan government in the transformation to democracy, for instance with defense and security sector reform,” he said. “But I wouldn’t expect new tasks beyond that.”
The Security Council vote, streamed on the Internet on the United Nations’ Web site, was conducted swiftly and without discussion, reflecting a view that after Colonel Qaddafi’s death and Mr. Abdel-Jalil’s proclamation of victory in a national celebration on Sunday, there was no need for further intervention.
The council had authorized a no-flight zone and military action to protect Libyan civilians in a resolution that was passed on March 17. At that time, Colonel Qaddafi’s forces were threatening to annihilate the Libyans who were challenging his 42-year grip on power, inspired by the uprisings that had toppled Arab autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt.
NATO used the resolution as justification for bombing attacks on Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, which some Security Council members, notably Russia, considered beyond the scope of the measure’s intent. The NATO attacks are widely credited with helping the coalition of Libyan rebels to oust Colonel Qaddafi.
William Hague, the foreign secretary of Britain, which along with France and the United States were the core participants in NATO’s Libyan operation, said in a statement that the Security Council’s move on Thursday was “another significant milestone toward a peaceful, democratic future for Libya.” He added, “Ending the no-fly zone and the civilian protection provisions demonstrates that Libya has entered a new era.”
Despite the post-Qaddafi euphoria in Libya, the interim government has been criticized over how Colonel Qaddafi, his son Muatassim and his former defense minister died. All were killed, apparently while in the custody of anti-Qaddafi fighters who had besieged Surt. Cellphone video images of Colonel Qaddafi and his son while in captivity, which have circulated on the Internet, strongly suggest that the men were brutalized and executed.
The interim government, the Transitional National Council, has said it will investigate the circumstances of Colonel Qaddafi’s death. On Thursday, the council’s vice chairman and spokesman, Abdel Hafez Ghoga, said in Benghazi, Libya, where the anti-Qaddafi uprising began, that “whoever is responsible for that will be judged and given a fair trial,” Al Arabiya television reported.
But Mr. Ghoga gave no indication that any arrests would be made, and there is widespread skepticism that the interim government will make good on its pledge. Militia fighters from the port city of Misurata, Libya, who seized Colonel Qaddafi and the others in Surt and displayed their bodies publicly as war trophies have ridiculed the idea that anyone should be prosecuted for the deaths.
There has been no official word on the whereabouts of Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, Colonel Qaddafi’s one-time heir apparent and the only remaining Qaddafi son still to be accounted for. He has become a focal point of rumor and speculation.
Unconfirmed news accounts from Libya and Niger have said that both Seif al-Islam and Colonel Qaddafi’s former intelligence minister and brother-in-law, Abdullah al-Sanousi, have sought refuge in neighboring Mali and may be under the protection of the Tuareg tribesmen there who had good relations with the Qaddafi family.
Another uncorroborated account in Beeld, an Afrikaans-language South African newspaper, said that Seif al-Islam might be traveling under the protection of South African mercenaries, Agence France-Presse reported.
A third account, by Reuters, also uncorroborated, said that Seif al-Islam, fearing for his life, was seeking to arrange for an aircraft to rescue him from a desert hide-out and deliver him into the custody of the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The court issued arrest warrants for him, his father and Mr. Sanousi in May in connection with charges of organizing systematic attacks on civilians.