The international community should find ways to secure a ceasefire line, now that Moammar Gadhafi has declared an immediate cessation of hostilities in Libya, in apparent compliance with the last-minute resolution of the United Nations Security Council passed on Friday.
The temporary de facto partition of Libya gives the countries who will take part in enforcing a no-fly zone some welcome time to prepare and deploy - for example, Canada, which is sending CF-18 fighter jets to join HMCS Charlottetown (already in the Mediterranean) - but it also may slow their momentum. They must be ready to strike, if need be.
Colonel Gadhafi, whose almost 42-year-long rule has had many phases, is a shrewd operator; though doubtless swollen-headed, he is not the psychotic he is often believed to be. He is quite capable of stealthily advancing - some reports say his forces are still moving closer to Benghazi.
These circumstances call for an adaptation of something like old-fashioned peacekeeping for a civil war that is (or should be) on hold. Indeed, this could be more effective than traditional peacekeeping, thanks to the resolution's continuing back-up threat of "all necessary measures" - a generously vague phrase - "to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack."
The resolution prudently excludes "a foreign occupation force of any kind." But it also asks the Secretary-General to appoint a group of experts to advise on how to implement the already authorized measures better and on "particular incidents of non-compliance." These experts would make themselves very useful if they come up soon with a proposal on how to monitor the ceasefire on the ground - though preferably not with blue helmets from the countries participating in the enforcement; that would present a conflict of interest.
The unfolding of the Libyan crisis in the past few days has been surprisingly good. An unusually cautious United States woke up to impending disaster, and unwilling Russia, China and Germany have not stood in the way. Most Arab countries, with leadership from Lebanon, have been eager. Now, the less exciting tasks of preserving a ceasefire, and continuing readiness to strike, must be the priorities.