U.S. Weighs Options, on Air and Sea

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by SHASH2K2, Mar 7, 2011.

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should USA intervene and help Libyan rebels?

  1. yes

    3 vote(s)
    37.5%
  2. no

    4 vote(s)
    50.0%
  3. not sure

    1 vote(s)
    12.5%
  1. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    U.S. Weighs Options, on Air and Sea


    WASHINGTON — American military planners are sifting through a range of options as the United States, like other Western nations, weighs the response to the bloody Libyan military assaults on rebels trying to oust Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi.

    Rebel commanders have begged for American strikes on troops and weapons that have turned on civilians and assaulted strongholds of the resistance. And on Sunday, three influential members of the United States Senate, from both parties, renewed the call for a no-flight zone to ground the Libyan Air Force and prevent it from attacking its people. They also pressed the Obama administration for a more aggressive response, including supplying intelligence, arms and training to the rebels.
    The defense secretary, Robert M. Gates, and top commanders have warned of political fallout if America again attacks a Muslim nation, even to support a popular revolt. So military planners on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff and in its field commands are offering a broad range of approaches, depending on how events play out in Libya and how tough the United States and its allies want to be.
    Even without firing a shot, a relatively passive operation using signal-jamming aircraft in international airspace could muddle Libyan government communications with military units. Administration officials said Sunday that preparations for such an operation were under way.
    The latest military force to draw within striking distance of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, is the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard two amphibious assault ships, the Kearsarge and the Ponce. The unit provides a complete air, sea and land force that can project its power quickly and across hundreds of miles, either from flat-decked ships in the Mediterranean Sea or onto a small beachhead on land.
    In this task force are Harrier jump-jet warplanes, which not only can bomb, strafe and engage in dogfights, but can also carry surveillance pods for monitoring military action on the ground in Libya; attack helicopters; transport aircraft — both cargo helicopters and the fast, long-range Osprey, whose rotors let it lift straight up, then tilt forward like propellers to ferry Marines, doctors, refugees or supplies across the desert — landing craft that can cross the surf anywhere along Libya’s long coastline; and about 400 ground combat troops of the 1st Battalion, 2nd Marines.
    Not that every option would require such firepower. Helicopters from that same Marine Expeditionary Unit, for example, were sent to assist after the catastrophic floods in Pakistan. Pentagon planners can also look at templates from large humanitarian missions carried out after the Haitian earthquake, Pakistani floods and an Indonesian tsunami, as well as the military operation to protect and feed residents of Iraqi Kurdistan after the first Persian Gulf war.
    And the Kearsarge provides a large floating hospital.
    Already, a military airlift of refugees is under way. Four more flights of propeller-driven C-130s carrying international refugees back to their home nations were planned for Sunday. Earlier military flights carried relief supplies for refugee camps just beyond Libya’s border and then carried out Egyptians who had escaped into Tunisia.
    But the firepower arriving off Tripoli could prove convenient, and not only to protect the expedition from coming under attack. The flotilla can be seen as a modern-day example of “gunboat diplomacy” — intended to embolden rebels and shake the confidence of loyalist forces and mercenaries, perhaps even inspiring a palace coup.
    Should Mr. Obama opt for direct intervention, he has a range of choices short of what Mr. Gates cautioned could be an expensive, exhausting “no-flight” zone — though that might be simpler than he portrayed, if the United States proved willing to attack Libyan runways, missiles and radars outright.
    Another tactic would be to air-drop weapons and supplies to rebels, an idea floated Sunday by Stephen Hadley, who served President George W. Bush as national security adviser.
    “If there is a way to get weapons into the hands of the rebels, if we can get antiaircraft systems so that they can enforce a no-fly zone over their own territory, that would be helpful,” Mr. Hadley said on “State of the Union” on CNN.
    Other options include inserting small Special Operations teams, perhaps just a dozen soldiers, to assist the rebels, as was done in Afghanistan to topple the Taliban.
    The teams are specially trained to turn ragtag rebel groups almost overnight into more effective fighters, with a modest infusion of know-how, equipment and leadership.
    A handful of strikes on valued government or military targets could be ordered, as was done in the Gulf of Sidra raids in 1986 after Libya was linked to the bombing of a Berlin club popular with American troops. (An American plane was shot down, and residential areas were blasted, showing the many risks of even a limited operation.)
    There are ample planes based in Europe and on the aircraft carrier Enterprise and its strike group, now in the Red Sea, for missions over Libya.
    Pentagon officials said Sunday that those vessels were carefully sailing in the direction of the Suez Canal, gateway to the Mediterranean.
    Support for a no-flight zone was voiced Sunday by Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as well as two Republicans — Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the minority leader, and Senator John McCain of Arizona.
    Mr. McConnell urged exploring other options like “aiding and arming the insurgents.” But he cautioned he was “not sure who the insurgents are” so the United States “ought to make sure who we’re dealing with here.”
    But the administration offered no change in its position.
    “Lots of people throw around phrases like no-fly zone — they talk about it as though it’s just a video game,” William M. Daley, the new White House chief of staff, said in at appearance on “Meet the Press” on NBC.
    Gen. John P. Jumper, who served as Air Force chief of staff from 2001 to 2005 and commanded all Air Force missions in the Middle East from 1994 to 1996, said past flight-denial missions over Iraq proved that requirements reach far beyond the jet fighters and bombers that are the most obvious instruments of carrying out a presidential order.
    The destruction of Libyan air-defense radars and missile batteries would be required, perhaps using missiles launched from submarines or warships. A vast fleet of tankers would be needed to refuel warplanes. Search-and-rescue teams trained in land and sea operations would be on hand in case a plane went down.
    The fleet of aircraft needed for such a mission would easily reach into the hundreds. Given the size of such a mission, it would be expected that American and NATO bases in Europe would be used, and that an American aircraft carrier would be positioned off Libya.
     
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  3. smartindian

    smartindian Regular Member

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    nothing going to happen it just talk talk talk, they will only going to attack if they get sponsor's like Saudi Arabia, which gave'd billions of dollar for first gulf war ,
     
  4. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    U.S., allies edge toward military options for Libya


    The United States and its NATO allies edged closer Monday to formulating a military response to the escalating violence in Libya as the alliance boosted surveillance flights over the country and the Obama administration signalled it might be willing to help arm Moammar Qadhafi’s opponents. Europe, meanwhile, kick-started international efforts to impose a no-fly zone.
    It still appeared unlikely that U.S. warplanes or missiles soon would deploy in Libya, which may be sliding toward civil war, but the continuing violence increased pressure on Washington to do something or spell out its plan.
    The violence “perpetrated by the government in Libya is unacceptable,” President Barack Obama declared as he authorized $15 million in new humanitarian aid to help and evacuate people fleeing the fighting. He also warned those still loyal to Qadhafi that they will be held to account for a violent crackdown that continued Monday with warplanes launching multiple airstrikes on opposition fighters seeking to advance on Tripoli.
    “I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Col. Qadhafi,” Mr. Obama told reporters in the Oval Office alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in Washington for meetings. “It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place.”
    The president spoke as U.S. military planes shuttled between Europe and Tunisia, ferrying in supplies and taking out some of the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled across the Libyan border. As international humanitarian efforts stepped up, Mr. Obama said NATO was consulting about “a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya.”
    As a first step, NATO agreed on Monday to increase AWACs surveillance flights over Libya from 10 to 24 hours a day to give the alliance a better picture of both the humanitarian and military situations on the ground, U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder told reporters. NATO’s governing body is meeting over the next two days to come up with contingency plans for military operations to be considered at a Thursday meeting of the alliance’s defence ministers in Brussels, he said.
    Meanwhile, Britain and France were drafting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone over Libya aimed at protecting Qadhafi’s foes from military air strikes, diplomats said. U.S. officials said a no-fly zone remains an option but suggested there was little enthusiasm for such a complex and expensive operation and questioned whether it would serve its intended purposes.
    “When you really look at what is going on, we have actually seen a decrease in both fighters and overall air activity over Libya,” Daalder said. “The kinds of capabilities that are being used to attack the rebel forces and indeed the population will be largely unaffected by a no-fly zone.”
    White House spokesman Jay Carney said a military response was no more likely now than it was before the surge in violence. But, he said arming the rebels was a possibility even as officials denied a report that the U.S. had asked Saudi Arabia to provide weapons to rebels fighting Qadhafi and other officials noted it would violate a U.N. arms embargo imposed on Libya last week.
    “It is one of the range of options that is being considered,” Carney said of the idea. Yet, he cautioned that there were still many unanswered questions about what groups comprise those forces and whether it would be prudent to arm them.
    “I think that it would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya. We need to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we’re pursuing,” Carney said.
    At the State Department, spokesman P.J. Crowley pointed out that arming the rebels would be illegal unless the U.N. arms embargo were modified or lifted.
    “There is an arms embargo that affects Libya, which means it’s a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya,” he said. “That is not permitted. But, depending on how events unfold, there are a wide range of options available to the international community.”
    Hundreds of people have died since Libya’s uprising began, although tight restrictions on media make it nearly impossible to get an accurate tally.
    The U.S. and United Nations have imposed sanctions against Qadhafi’s regime, and U.S. military forces have also moved closer to Libya’s shores to back up demands that Qadhafi step down.
     
  5. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Discord Fills Washington on Possible Libya Intervention

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    WASHINGTON — Nearly three weeks after Libya erupted in what may now turn into a protracted civil war, the politics of military intervention to speed the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi grow more complicated by the day — for both the White House and Republicans.
    President Obama, appearing Monday morning with Australia’s prime minister, tried to raise the pressure on Colonel Qaddafi further by talking about “a range of potential options, including potential military options” against the embattled Libyan leader.
    Despite Mr. Obama’s statement, interviews with military officials and other administration officials describe a number of risks, some tactical and others political, to American intervention in Libya.
    Of most concern to the president himself, one high-level aide said, is the perception that the United States would once again be meddling in the Middle East, where it has overturned many a leader, including Saddam Hussein. Some critics of the United States in the region — as well as some leaders — have already claimed that a Western conspiracy is stoking the revolutions that have overtaken the Middle East.
    “He keeps reminding us that the best revolutions are completely organic,” the senior official said, quoting the president.
    At the same time, there are persistent voices — in Congress and even inside the administration — arguing that Mr. Obama is moving too slowly. They contend that there is too much concern about perceptions, and that the White House is too squeamish because of Iraq.
    Furthermore, they say a military caught up in two difficult wars has exaggerated the risks of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, the tactic discussed most often.
    The American military is also privately skeptical of humanitarian gestures that put the lives of troops at risk for the cause of the moment, while being of only tenuous national interest.
    Some of these critics seem motivated by political advantage. Others, including the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, who is among Mr. Obama’s closest allies, warn of repeating mistakes made in Iraqi Kurdistan, Rwanda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina by failing to step in and halt a slaughter.
    The most vocal camp, led by Senators John McCain, the 2008 Republican nominee for president, and Joseph I. Lieberman, the Connecticut independent and another hawk on Libyan intervention, say the central justification for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya is that the rebel leaders themselves are seeking military assistance to end decades of dictatorship.
    It is hardly an effort to impose American will in the Muslim world, Mr. Lieberman argued in an interview on Monday.
    “We have to try and help those who are offering an alternative future to Libya,” Mr. Lieberman said, sounding much like Mr. Obama at the White House on Monday. “We cannot allow them to be stifled or stopped by brutal actions of the Libyan government.”
    But even the critics acknowledge that the best outcome would be for the United States not to go it alone, but join other nations or international organizations, in particular NATO, the Arab League or the African Union.
    Mr. Lieberman and others argue that the risks of waiting may be far greater than the risk of an early, decisive military intervention. He acknowledged that as in Iraq, the United States might unleash an uncertain future of tribal rivalry and chaos, in a country that has no institutions prepared to fill the vacuum if Colonel Qaddafi is driven from power.
    Yet, he argued: “It’s hard to imagine any new government growing out of this opposition that is worse than Qaddafi.”
    On television Mr. McCain has made similar points, and portrayed Mr. Obama as indecisive and weak. But curiously, in a sign of the uncertainties about how the politics of an American intervention would play out, few of the potential nominees for the 2012 Republican presidential ticket have expressed a strong opinion.
    For the administration, Mr. Kerry’s view is more troublesome, given that he is a normally a strong ally on foreign policy issues. He was a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, but he sees Libya as a different matter.
    He has pushed the White House to do more — including “cratering” Libya’s airfields so the planes cannot take off.
    Mr. Kerry, who was openly siding with officials who want the president to take a stronger public stance, said he was pushing the administration to “prepare for all eventualities” and warned that “showing reticence in a huge public way is not the best option.”
    “You want to be prepared if he is bombing people, and killing his own people,” he said, referring to Colonel Qaddafi. The Libyan people, he said, would “look defenseless and we would look feckless — you have to be ready.”

    He added: “What haunts me is the specter of Iraq 1991,” when former President George Bush “urged the Shia to rise up, and they did rise up, and tanks and planes were coming at them — and we were nowhere to be seen.”
    “Tens of thousands were slaughtered,” Mr. Kerry said.
    President Bill Clinton, he said, “missed the chance in Rwanda, and said later it was the greatest regret of his presidency, and then was too slow in Bosnia,” where the United States ended up using air power, also in the defense of a Muslim population.
    Administration officials make the case that the focus on no-fly zones is overdone. “No-fly zones are more effective against fighters, but they really have limited effect against helicopters or the kinds of ground operations we’ve seen” in Libya, Ivo Daalder, the American ambassador to NATO, said Monday.
    He added that “the overall air activity has not been the deciding factor” in fights between rebels and the loyalists and mercenaries surrounding Colonel Qaddafi.
    It is possible that the mere talk of no-fly zones had some effect. Pentagon and military officials confirmed that sorties by aircraft loyal to the Qaddafi government had dropped by half over the past three days. There was no explanation for the change; it could have to do with maintenance, or a decision to fly helicopters, which are less provocative and harder to track.
    The biggest voice of caution has been the most prominent Republican in Mr. Obama’s cabinet, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. It was Mr. Gates who laid out last week the strongest case against intervention — a case that even some in the White House say privately they think may have been overstated to make a point about how military actions that look easy can quickly become complicated.
    Mr. Gates forcefully warned Congress during budget testimony that the first act in imposing a no-fly zone would be an attack on Colonel Qaddafi’s air defenses, and that the step should only be taken if the United States was ready for a prolonged military operation that could cover all of Libya. He cautioned it might drain resources that are already overstretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, because Libya is such a large territory.
    In interviews this week, even some military officials called Mr. Gates’s portrayal extreme. Executing a no-fly zone would not require covering the whole country. Most of the Libyan action would be along the coast, where the major cities now held by rebels are. Even so, the opening mission of imposing a no-fly zone would almost certainly include missile attacks on air defense sites of a sovereign nation, which some would indeed regard as an act of war.
    Tactical issues aside, Mr. Gates is concerned, Pentagon officials say, about the political fallout of the United States’ attacking yet another Muslim country — even on behalf of a Muslim population. But he is cognizant of the No. 1 lesson of Iraq: That once the United States plays a major role in the ouster of a Middle Eastern leader, it bears responsibility for whatever state emerges in its place.
     
  6. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Obama threatens Gaddafi with military action

    WASHINGTON: US president Barack Obama delivered a new warning to loyalists around Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi that will be "held accountable" for violence raging amid a rebel uprising.

    Obama also noted that Nato was meeting in Brussels to discuss a range of responses to the violence in Libya, including military options and said he had endorsed another $15 million US donation to humanitarian efforts. "I want to send a very clear message to those who are around colonel Gaddafi. It is their choice as to how to operate moving forward. They will be held accountable for whatever violence will continue to take place there," he said.

    "In the meantime, we have got Nato, as we speak, consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options including potential military options in response to the violence that is continuing to take place in Libya," he added.

    The military options being considered range from positioning a signal-jamming aircraft in the international air space off Libya which could muddle Libyan government's communication with military units. "US administration officials said preparation for such an operations were underway," the New York Times said.

    The other options, it said, before the US were air dropping of weapons including anti-tank arms and supplies to Libya's oppositions or inserting small special operations team to assist and guide the rebels, as was done in Afghanistan in 2001 to topple the Taliban.

    Such teams of commandos are specially trained to turn rag-tag rebel groups overnight into more effective fighting formations, with the modest infusion of know how and leadership.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...-with-military-action/articleshow/7651972.cms
     
  7. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Libya violence: Gaddafi forces step up attack on rebels


    Forces loyal to Libyan President Colonel Muammar Gaddafi on Monday launched their most ferocious counter attack on rebel-held cities.

    Rebel troops advancing towards capital Tripoli were pounded by gun ships, tanks and heavy artillery. Gaddafi's forces also launched rocket attacks on rebel positions in Bin Jawad, Tobruk, Ras Lanuf and Misurata.

    Headlines Today managed some dramatic visuals en route to the conflict zone of Sirte, the dictator's hometown. Dozens of people, many of them civilians, have been killed.

    However the morale of the rebels was not sagging despite the onslaught by Gaddafi's forces. A rebel fighter said he was ready to fight the forces loyal to Gaddafi with just three days of training.

    "Most of us have a little knowledge of military science so it is lucky for us that Gaddafi falls," admitted a doctor, who formed part of the rebel force.

    Meanwhile, the European Union was preparing new sanctions against economic groups, including the Libyan Investment Authority, which is the overseas investment vehicle for the country's oil revenues.

    Britain and France were also drafting a United Nations resolution that would establish a no-fly zone in Libya. It would effectively ground Gaddafi's air force.
     
  8. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    I have a feeling that Libya is going to be another Bosnia . USA and its military arsenals are only for resource/petroleum rich countries. Libya has almost nothing to offer to USA and hence this lack of will power to intervene directly or indirectly.
     
  9. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    World will act if Gaddafi violence continues: NATO

    BRUSSELS: The world will not allow the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to continue attacking anti-government forces without trying to stop him, NATO's secretary general has said.

    NATO has so far played a cautious role in the events in Libya, asking its generals to draw up a plan for possible military action in the country, but insisting that it would only use them if given the explicit backing of the UN Security Council.

    "The international community monitors the situation closely, and if Gaddafi and his military continue to attack the Libyan population systematically, I can't imagine the international community and UN standing idly by," Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday.

    The fledgling Libyan opposition movement has already called for world powers to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent air forces loyal to Gaddafi from launching bombing raids against them.

    Rasmussen called for caution, saying that such an operation would require "a wide range of military assets". The last time NATO operated a no-fly campaign, over Kosovo in 1999, it flew more than 38,000 sorties in 78 days.

    At the same time, "I assume that any NATO operation would take place in accordance with, and pursuant to, a UN mandate, and I take note of the fact that the current UN mandate doesn't authorise the use of armed force", he said.

    The US ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder, told reporters on a conference call a no-fly zone would have a "limited effect" on countering low flying helicopters used by Gaddafi's forces. He added that Libyan air activities have decreased since last week.

    "The overall air activity has not been the deciding factor in the ongoing unrest," Daalder said. "Other things are really determining what's happening on the ground."

    NATO was stepping up its surveillance of events in Libya with AWACS aircraft, increasing operations from 10 hours daily to 24 hours to get a "better picture of whats really going on in this part of the world", Daalder said.

    NATO defence ministers are due to meet in Brussels Thursday and Friday. The meeting was planned months ago to debate reform issues, but is now expected to discuss the Libyan situation.

    "They will consider how NATO can do more to help our partners in North Africa and the wider Middle East during this period of transition - if they so wish," Rasmussen said.

    http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...olence-continues-NATO/articleshow/7652611.cms
     
  10. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Well, it may or may not be so. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa and 9th largest in the world. I think, this time around, its because of Barack Obama's administration that we are not seeing the Americans beating war drums like when George Bush was in power. It seems that Mr. Obama doesn't want to do anything that can result in bad publicity of his administration like the ones they got after Bush invaded Iraq under the same old false pretext of finding WMDs. He is just trying to play it safe, hence you see them nudging the Saudis to get their hand dirty, by supplying the opposition fighters in Libya with weapons.
     
  11. SHASH2K2

    SHASH2K2 New Member

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    Brother this time whatever happening there is for everyone to see. poor and ill equipped rebels are pounded by heavily armed gaddafi supporters and no one is doing anything to help them . At least there should have been supply of equipments to those rebels. I Agree that USA army is stretched and cannot intervene directly but they can provide air support at least . NATO is also doing nothing . All they can do is piggyride USA and have no balls to take independent and tough decisions . All USA needs to do is to send an AC ther and provide some close air support to Rebels . This small gesture will help them to build good relationship with future government there . Hope its no too late before world powers decide to intervene.
     
  12. sandeepdg

    sandeepdg Senior Member Senior Member

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    Yeah, American efforts to establish a no fly zone would have helped the Libyan opposition immensely, but I think they are doing the right thing presently, until a formal accord is reached between the UN and NATO, that such action is required, then they should get on with it. If they act impulsively, most in the Arab world won't be happy about such a development, since the Arab League has already stated that they don't want outside interference in Libya. But, I am sure that some sort of covert or overt is already being planned by the Americans together with NATO, since a psychopath like Gaddafi, won't give up so easily.
     
  13. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    US weighs military action against Libya; Russia objects
    7 MARCH 2011

    President Barack Obama warned Libya's leaders that the United States and its NATO allies still are considering military options in response to what he called "unacceptable" violence perpetrated by supporters of Moammar Gaddafi.

    "I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Gaddafi. It is their choice to make how they operate moving forward. And they will be held accountable for whatever violence continues to take place," Obama said during remarks in the Oval Office Monday.

    Libyan warplanes launched multiple airstrikes Monday on opposition fighters in the second day of a harsh government crackdown to thwart rebels advancing on Gaddafi's stronghold in Tripoli.

    White House spokesman Jay Carney said a military response was no more likely Monday than it was before the surge in violence. He said the US and its partners are considering a wide variety of military actions, including a no-fly zone, but said deploying ground troops "is not top of the list at this point."

    Obama said he has also authorized $15 million in humanitarian aid to help international and non-governmental organizations assist and evacuate people fleeing the violence in Libya. More than 200,000 people have fled the country, most of them foreign workers, creating a humanitarian crisis across the border with Tunisia - another North African country in turmoil after an uprising in January that ousted its longtime leader.

    Hundreds if not thousands of people have died since Libya's uprising began, although tight restrictions on media make it nearly impossible to get an accurate tally.

    The US and United Nations have imposed sanctions on Gaddafi's regime, and US military forces have also moved closer to Libya's shores to back up demands that Gaddafi step down.

    Obama spoke alongside Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, who is in Washington for meetings.

    However, state-controlled news agency RIA Novosti quoted Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Monday that Moscow is against any foreign military intervention in Libya.

    "We don't see foreign intervention, moreover the military one, as a means of solving the crisis in Libya. The Libyans have to solve their problems by themselves," Lavrov was quoted as saying.


    Source: AP
     
  14. Someoneforyou

    Someoneforyou Regular Member

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    Officials: US missile attack on Libya prepared
    UNITED STATES - 19 MARCH 2011

    WASHINGTON – The U.S. prepared to a launch a missile attack on Libyan air defenses, but American ships and aircraft stationed in and around the Mediterranean Sea did not participate in initial French air missions Saturday, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the unfolding intervention.

    One official said the U.S. intends to limit its involvement — at least in the initial stages — to helping protect French and other air missions by taking out Libyan air defenses.

    An attack against those defenses with Navy sea-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles was planned for later Saturday, one official said. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of military operations.

    The official said that depending on how Libyan forces responded to initial intervention by the French and others, the U.S. could launch additional attacks in support of allied forces. The intention was to leave it to other nations to patrol a no-fly zone over Libya once air defenses are silenced, the official said.

    President Barack Obama, on an official visit to Brazil, mentioned the Libya operation only briefly. He noted that U.S., European and other government officials met in Paris Saturday to discuss the way ahead in Libya.

    "Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear," Obama said. "The people of Libya must be protected and in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians our coalition is prepared to act and to act with urgency."

    After the Paris meeting, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi continued to defy the will of the international community that he halt attack against rebels. She said the U.S. will support the international military coalition taking action to stop Gadhafi.

    Clinton said "unique" American military capabilities will be brought to bear in support of the coalition, and she reiterated Obama's pledge on Friday that no U.S. ground forces would get involved. She was not more specific about U.S. involvement.

    "We will support the enforcement" of the U.N. Security Council resolution that was passed earlier in the week, she said. That resolution authorized the imposition of a no-fly zone and use of "all necessary" military force.

    Among the U.S. Navy ships in the Mediterranean were two guided-missile destroyers, the USS Barry and USS Stout, as well as two amphibious warships, the USS Kearsarge and USS Ponce, and a command-and-control ship, the USS Mount Whitney. The submarine USS Providence was also in the Mediterranean.



    Source: Associated Press
     

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