Protests in Libya which began on February 15 in Libya have escalated into an international conflict as Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's efforts to stay in power have triggered efforts by NATO, Arab nations, and other partners to protect civilians.

In mid-March, members of the United Nations Security Council voted 10-0 to authorize the use of military force to protect civilians by the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya.

In the last days of March, jets from Britain, France and the United States have pounded Gaddafi's air defenses and ground forces at our near various eastern cities which Libyan rebels captured early in the fighting.

A key development which opened the way for action was the support of the Arab League, a group of 22 Arab nations in northern Africa and the Middle East which have supported calls to protect civilians, which Gaddafi had vowed to crush.

Gaddafi has called the international effort an imperial attack meant to re-colonize the nation. The Libyan leader initially blamed the insurgence on terrorist elements within the country, including al-Qaeda.

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are powers which have joined the international effort, contributing their military power.

How the conflict will unfold is still to be determined, although the coalition's efforts to protect civilians have destroyed significant parts of Gaddafi's military infrastructure.