Gaddafi forces advance

Muammar Gaddafi’s better- prepared forces forced back rebel fighters when the Arab League advised the United Nations to impose a no-fly region above Libya to prevent the assault.

The U.S. and U.K. issued remarks praising the Arab League position without committing to action. Western partners prepared to meet tomorrow in Paris. The chance for halting Qaddafi’s offensive was diminishing, experts said.

“ Regardless of whether the UN Security Council acts on there, it might take time, and it also doesn’t appear that time is on the side of the Libyan protesters,” said Wayne White, a previous deputy director of the State Department intelligence bureau’s Near East office and now a scholar with the Middle East Institute in Washington.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated the alliance was in a position of launching an action. “The question is whether it’s a wise thing to do,” he told reporters traveling with him back to the U.S. from meetings in Bahrain

The rebels captured Ras Lanuf and its oil facilities a week ago, when their offensive was gaining area and shutting down in on Qaddafi strongholds near Tripoli, the capitol. Momentum has shifted since in favor of Qaddafi’s forces, which have implemented armor and warplanes to push the rebels back.

Oil, that has risen about 20 percent in three weeks of fighting in Libya, dropped in New York on March 11, sending last week’s decrease to 3.1 %. Crude oil for April delivery tumbled $1.54 to $101.16 a barrel on the Ny Mercantile Exchange, the cheapest arrangement since March 1.

The Arab League resolution may increase pressure for action by others to establish a no-fly region within the seven days ahead. North Atlantic Treaty Organization leaders gathering in Brussels on March 11 said a UN requirement was needed well before they would progress.