Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told CBS News Wednesday there is "no way the U.S. will take unilateral action" against Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi for his violent crackdown against pro-democracy protesters.
She told CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews from Cairo, however, that members of the UN Security Council have been given new impetus to act now that the Arab League has asked for a no-fly zone over Libya.
"Time is fast upon us," Clinton said. "There is an urgency to it, which is why I think that once the Arab League acted, there has been much more intensive consultations. And many of the countries on the Security Council that were reluctant or opposed are now willing to discuss what might be possible."
As discussions continue, Qaddafi's forces on Wednesday intensified offensives in the east and the west, their relentless shelling aimed at routing rebel holdouts. Qaddafi's son, Seif al-Islam, warned rebels that government troops were closing in on the eastern city of Benghazi, where the rebellion was born a month ago.
"We want to do what we can to protect innocent Libyans against the marauders let loose by the Qaddafi regime," Clinton said.
Still, Clinton said that if the U.S. were to act alone, "there would be unforeseen consequences to that that I believe would be detrimental." But, she added, "as part of the international community, there will be a wide range of actions discussed."
Clinton met this week with one of the key leaders of the Libyan opposition, and she told Andrews the oppositon had many requests for what leaders thought would help them. The Security Council is considering all of those options, in addition to considering a resolution endorsing a no-fly zone over Libya, she said.
Whatever the Security Council decides, Clinton said, it's clear that any action must include Arab leadership and Arab participation.
"How that will be defined depends in large measure on what the UN Security Council decides to call for," she told Andrews.
The Arab League's call for military intervention "suggests that they know that they have to step up and lead and participate in any action that would be internationally authorized," Clinton added.
The Arab League's statement created a "sea change in opinion" and led to a more open discussion at the United Nations, Clinton said. China and Russia, she claimed, are "willing to discuss what's at stake here -- a regime that is acting as he is, with all of the consequences that that entails, not only for the Libyans but for the region and beyond."
Meanwhile, as soldiers and riot police in Bahrain use tear gas and armored vehicles against anti-government protesters, Clinton said the Obama administration has "made it very clear to the Bahraini Government at the highest levels that we expect them to exercise restraint."
"They are on the wrong track. There is no security answer to this," she said. "And the sooner they get back to the negotiating table and start trying to answer the legitimate needs of the people, the sooner there can be a resolution that will be in the best interest of everyone."