via @SultanAlQassemi Al Jazeera breaking: Multiple reports confirm that military airplanes are bombing protesters in Tripoli. #Libya

In President Obama’s Cairo speech, he said,

Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. We were born out of revolution against an empire. We were founded upon the ideal that all are created equal, and we have shed blood and struggled for centuries to give meaning to those words — within our borders, and around the world. We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum — “Out of many, one.”

The youth of the Arab Street heard him and have looked at our example as they have taken to the streets and plazas of Arab cities demanding freedom and self-governance. To them, Obama said in Cairo,

Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone, just as we would not presume to pick the outcome of a peaceful election. But I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. These are not just American ideas; they are human rights. And that is why we will support them everywhere.

The Arab Street did not need the US in Egypt, but in LIbya it is a different story entirely. Reports suggest that Gaddafi’s forces have already used heavy equipment and aircraft weapons against protestors. Al Arabiya sources say that bombing of Benghazi will commence tonight – or any minute, since we are half a day behind the Middle East, night is already falling there. And there are even some reports via Twitter sources that the Libyan navy is firing on shore targets.

Earlier, it was reported that a group of Libyan Air Force officers had defected to Malta. It turns out that they were already on a mission to Benghazi and disengaged at 500 feet. Unlike in Egypt, where the military refused orders to fire upon the civlians, these air force officers are in the minority – Libya is killing its own people.

It’s rare for me to advocate something as direct as a military action – but a no-fly zone is something we must as a nation do, and do immediately, if we are to do anything to help bring about a new golden age of democracy in the Middle East. After Egypt, all Arab leaders feared their people; after Libya, the people will again fear their tyrants. All the progress will be lost, all the potential will be wasted.

This is the moment that must be seized. And only we can do it.

As Marc Lynch said on Twitter, “Horrific violence in Libya demands stronger international and US action — different situation from Egypt, Tunisia, even Bahrain… Strong US/NATO/UN action against Libya now could prevent coming massacre and also restrain other Arab dictators from following suit.”

Left unsaid – the lack of action now will restrain the Arab people. WE MUST ACT. OBAMA MUST ACT.

If you agree – say so on Twitter with hashtag #noflylibya. You can cut and paste the following if you like:

OBAMA must ACT – no-fly zone for Libya NOW! #noflylibya

UPDATE: There’s also an internet petition you can sign via Twitter to support the no-fly zone for Libya – just copy and paste:

Petition USA @StateDept to send in the Sixth Fleet! visit #noflylibya

UPDATE 2 – at Foreign Policy, Marc Lynch makes the case for forceful action as well.

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