Tag Archives: Barack Obama

Israel Iran War

Israel asks U.S. for arms that could aid Iran strike

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has asked the United States for advanced “bunker-buster” bombs and refueling planes that could improve its ability to attack Iran’s underground nuclear sites, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

“Such a request was made” around the time of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s visit to Washington this week, the official said, confirming media reports.

But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity given the sensitivity of the issue, played down as “unrealistic” reports that the United States would condition supplying the hardware on Israel promising not to attack Iran this year.

Netanyahu told Obama at a White House meeting on Monday that Israel had not yet decided on military action against Iran, sources close to the talks said.

Netanyahu has hinted that Israel could resort to force should Tehran – which denies suspicions that it is covertly trying to develop atomic bombs – continue to defy big powers’ diplomatic pressure to curb its nuclear program.

The risk of an Israeli-Iranian war troubles President Barack Obama, who is up for re-election in November and has cautioned against kindling more Middle East upheaval. A Gulf conflict could send oil prices rocketing upwards.

A front-page article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Thursday said Obama had told Netanyahu that Washington would supply Israel with upgraded military equipment in return for assurances that there would be no attack on Iran in 2012.

Israel is widely assumed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal but its conventional firepower may not be enough to deliver lasting damage to Iran’s distant, dispersed and well-fortified facilities, many experts say.

Israel has limited stocks of older, smaller bunker-busters and a small fleet of refueling planes, all supplied by Washington.

Western powers suspect Iran’s uranium enrichment program is aimed at stockpiling fissile material for nuclear weapons. Iran says it is strictly for civilian energy uses.

http://news.yahoo.com/israel-asks-u-arms-could-aid-iran-strike-091024021.html

 


Obama kills Osama

Obama: US operation killed al-Qaida head bin Laden; US in possession of body

By Julie Pace,Matt Apuzzo, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Osama bin Laden, the elusive mastermind behind the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that led the United States into wars in Afghanistan and later Iraq, was killed in a firefight, President Barack Obama said Sunday.

Bin Laden’s death at a compound in Pakistan ended the world’s most widely-watched manhunt, and jubilant crowds gathered outside the White House and at ground zero in New York as word spread late at night.

“Justice has been done,” the president said.

A small team of Americans killed bin Laden early Sunday in the town of Abbottabat, about 100 kilometres (62 miles) north of the capital Islamabad, U.S. and Pakistani officials said. The team took custody of his remains and American officials said they were being handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

The stunning end came just months before the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Centers and Pentagon, orchestrated by bin Laden’s al-Qaida organization, that killed more than 3,000 people.

Former President George W. Bush, who was in office on the day of the attacks, issued a written statement hailing bin Laden’s death as a momentous achievement.

“The fight against terror goes on, but tonight America has sent an unmistakable message: No matter how long it takes, justice will be done,” Bush said.

Obama said he ordered the operation after receiving undisclosed intelligence information. Senior administration officials said the terrorist mastermind was found inside a custom-built compound with two security gates. They said it appeared to have been constructed to harbour one high-value target and that for undisclosed reasons, officials became clear the hideout was bin Laden’s.

The raid occurred in the early morning hours Sunday. Administration officials offered some details of the operation.

Based on statements given by U.S. detainees, intelligence officials have known for years that bin Laden trusted one al-Qaida courier in particular and they believed he might be living with him in hiding. In November, intelligence officials found out where he was living, a huge fortified compound. It was surrounded by walls as high as 18 feet (5.5 metres), topped with barbed wire. There were two security gates and no phone or Internet running into the house.

Intelligence officials believed the $1 million home was custom-built to harbour a major terrorist. CIA experts analyzed whether it could be anyone else, but time and again, they decided it was almost certainly bin Laden.

Three adult males were also killed in Sunday’s raid, including one of bin Laden’s sons, whom officials did not name. One of bin Laden’s sons, Hamza, is a senior member of al-Qaida.

Officials also said they believe the death puts al-Qaida on a path of decline that will be difficult to reverse, but there was no word on the whereabouts of bin Laden’s second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahri.

The attacks a decade ago seemed to come out of nowhere, even though al-Qaida had previously damaged American targets overseas.

The terrorists hijacked planes, flew one of them into one of Manhattan’s Twin Towers — and, moments later, into the other one. Both buildings collapsed, trapping thousands inside and claiming the lives of firefighters and others who had rushed to help them.

A third plane slammed into the Pentagon, defacing the symbol of America’s military might. A fourth crashed in rural Pennsylvania after passengers overpowered the hijackers and forced the craft from the air — before it could hit its intended target in Washington.

Obama spoke with Bush and former President Bill Clinton on Sunday night to inform them of the developments.

Obama struck a less than boastful tone in his brief announcement, although he said the death of bin Laden was “the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al-Qaida.

“His death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al-Qaida will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must and we will remain vigilant,” he added.

Moments after he spoke, American officials cautioned that the events could lead to heightened threats against the United States.

Officials said the U.S. would ensure that bin Laden’s body was handled in accordance with Islamic tradition.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/source-al-qaida-head-bin-laden-dead-us-025557590.html


Osama Bin Laden DEAD

Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden dead: U.S. officials

By Steve Holland, editing by Philip Barbara | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Osama bin Laden is dead and his body has been recovered by U.S. authorities, U.S. officials said on Sunday night.

President Barack Obama was to make the announcement shortly that after searching in vain for bin Laden since he disappeared inAfghanistan in late 2001, the Saudi-born extremist is dead.

It is a major accomplishment for Obama and his national security team, having fulfilled the goal once voiced by Obama’s predecessor,George W. Bush, to bring to justice the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-statement-sunday-white-house-says-015437966.html


US eyes more firepower against Gadhafi’s forces; Obama says pressure rising on Libyan leader

By Richard Lardner, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Even after a week of U.S.-led air strikes, forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi remain a potent threat to civilians, say Pentagon officials who are considering expanding the firepower and airborne surveillance systems in the military campaign.

“Every day, the pressure on Gadhafi and his regime is increasing,” President Barack Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday, aired just after Libyan rebels regained control of the eastern city of Ajdabiya. It was the first major turnaround in an uprising that once appeared on the verge of defeat.

Obama also readied for a speech to the nation Monday evening to explain his decision-making on Libya to a public weary of a decade of war.

Lawmakers from both parties have complained that the president has not sought their input about the U.S. role in Libya or stated clearly the U.S. goals and exit strategy.

“The United States should not and cannot intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world,” Obama said in the speech Saturday. But with Gadhafi threatening “a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region … it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times.”

Among the weapons under consideration for use in Libya is the Air Force’s AC-130 gunship, armed with cannons that shoot from the side doors. Other possibilities are helicopters and drones that fly lower and slower and can spot more than fast-moving jet fighters.

Obama said in an email statement Saturday that “we are now handing over control of the no-fly zone to our NATO allies and partners, including Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.”

In light of that goal, the discussion of adding weapons to step up the assault on Gadhafi’s ground troops reflects the challenges in hitting the right targets.

U.S.-led forces began missile strikes last Saturday to establish a no-fly zone and prevent Gadhafi from attacking his own people.

American officials have said they won’t drop bombs in cities to avoid killing or wounding civilians — a central pillar of the operation. Yet they want to hit the enemy in contested urban areas.

“The difficulty in identifying friend from foe anywhere is always a difficult challenge,” Navy Vice Adm. William Gortney, staff director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Friday at the Pentagon. The difficulty in distinguishing “friend from foe inside an urban environment is magnified significantly.”

Army Gen. Carter Ham, the U.S. officer in charge of the overall international mission, told The Associated Press, the focus is on disrupting the communications and supply lines that allow Gadhafi’s forces to keep fighting in the contested cities.

Ham said in a telephone interview from his U.S. Africa Command headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany, that the U.S. expected NATO would take command of the no-fly zone mission on Sunday, with a Canadian three-star general, Charles Bouchard, in charge. Bouchard would report to an American admiral, Samuel Locklear, in Locklear’s role as commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command Naples, he said.

But with the Obama administration eager to take a back seat in the Libya campaign, it is still when — or even if — the U.S. military’s Africa Command would shift the lead role in attacking Libyan ground targets to NATO. U.S officials say the alliance is finalizing the details of the transfer this weekend.

Obama spoke with Democratic and Republican congressional leaders about Libya on Friday afternoon. Republican Sen. John McCain said he was concerned that the current military action might not be enough force Gadhafi from power, his spokeswoman said.

Brooke Buchanan said McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, supports the military intervention but fears it could lead to a stalemate that leaves Gadhafi’s government in place.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/us-eyes-more-firepower-against-gadhafis-forces-obama-20110326-074523-714.html

 


US and UK vessels launch missile strike against Gadhafi’s limited air defences in Libya

By Robert Burns, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – U.S. and British ships and submarines launched the first phase of a missile assault on Libyan air defences, firing 112 Tomahawk cruise missiles Saturday at more than 20 coastal targets to clear the way for air patrols to ground Libya‘s air force.

In announcing the mission during a visit to Brazil, President Barack Obama said he was reluctant to resort to force but was convinced it was necessary to save the lives of civilians. He reiterated that he would not send American ground troops to Libya.

“We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy,” he said in Brasilia.

It was clear the U.S. intended to limit its role in the Libya intervention, focusing first on disabling or otherwise silencing Libyan air defences, and then leaving it to European and perhaps Arab countries to enforce a no-fly zone over the North African nation.

Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters the cruise missile assault was the “leading edge” of a coalition campaign dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn. Its aim: prevent Moammar Gadhafi‘s forces from inflicting more violence on civilians — particularly in and around the rebel stronghold of Benghazi — and degrading the Libyan military’s ability to contest a no-fly zone.

A chief target of Saturday’s cruise missile attack was Libya’s SA-5 surface-to-air missiles, which are considered a moderate threat to some allied aircraft. Libya’s overall air defences are based on older Soviet technology but Gortney called them capable and a potential threat to allied aircraft.

Also targeted: early warning radars and unspecified communications facilities, Gortney said. The U.S. military has extensive recent experience in such combat missions; U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft repeatedly attacked Iraq’s air defences during the 1990s while enforcing a no-fly zone over Iraq’s Kurdish north.

Cruise missiles are the weapon of first choice in such campaigns; they do not put pilots at risk, and they use navigational technologies that provide good precision.

The first Tomahawk cruise missiles struck at 3 p.m. EDT, Gortney said, after a one-hour flight from the U.S. and British vessels on station in the Mediterranean.

The U.S. has at least 11 naval vessels in the Mediterranean, including three submarines, two destroyers, two amphibious warfare ships and the USS Mount Whitney, a command-and-control vessel that is the flagship of the Navy’s 6th Fleet. Also in the area are Navy P-3 and EP-3 surveillance aircraft, officials said.

Gortney said it would take as long as 12 hours to assess the effectiveness of Saturday’s strikes. Then a high-altitude Global Hawk unmanned surveillance plane would overfly the target areas to get a more precise view, the admiral said. He would not say how long the attacks on Libyan air defences would last, but he stressed that Saturday’s assault with cruise missiles was the first phase of a multi-stage mission.

Defence Secretary Robert Gates, who was scheduled to fly to Russiaon Saturday afternoon to begin a week-long overseas trip, postponed his departure for 24 hours. Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates decided he should remain in Washington to monitor developments in Libya at the outset of U.S. strikes.

Gates had been skeptical of getting involved in Libya’s civil war, telling Congress earlier this month that taking out Libya’s air defences was tantamount to war. Others have worried that the mission could put the U.S. on a slippery slope to deeper involvement in yet another Muslim country — on top of the wars inIraq and Afghanistan.

Hours after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended an international conference in Paris that endorsed military action against Gadhafi, the U.S. and Britain kicked off their attacks.

At a news conference in Paris, Clinton said Gadhafi had left the world no choice but to intervene urgently and forcefully to protect further loss of civilian life.

“We have every reason to fear that, left unchecked, Gadhafi would commit unspeakable atrocities,” she told reporters.

Clinton said there was no evidence that Gadhafi’s forces were respecting an alleged cease-fire they proclaimed and the time for action was now.

“Our assessment is that the aggressive action by Gadhafi’s forces continues in many parts of the country,” she said. “We have seen no real effort on the part of the Gadhafi forces to abide by a cease-fire.”

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.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/us-navy-vessels-launch-missile-strike-against-gadhafis-20110319-130851-879.html

 


Will the US intervene in Libya?

Libya poses stern test of Obama’s doctrine of military intervention to protect civilians

By Bradley Klapper,Matthew Lee, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – Preparing for the prospect of deeper international intervention, President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron conferred Tuesday on the spectrum of military and humanitarian responses to Libya’s worsening civil strife. The British leader bluntly said after the talk that the world cannot stand aside and let Moammar Gadhafi brutalize his people.

In weighing the options, the Obama administration underscored that any authorization of a no-fly zone over Libya must come from the Security Council at the United Nations.

“We think it’s important that the United Nations make this decision — not the United States,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told Britain’s Sky News. The comment reflected Obama’s thinking that any action intended to halt Libya’s violence must carry the legitimacy and strength of an international coalition.

Obama’s top national security advisers were to meet Wednesday at the White House to outline what steps are realistic to pressure Gadhafi to end the violence and leave power, officials said. Clinton, national security adviser Tom Donilon and CIA chief Leon Panetta are among those expected to attend as Obama’s team centred in on recommendations for him. The president himself was not expected to attend.

Obama and Cameron agreed to press ahead on potential responses from the U.S. and its NATO allies, including the creation of a no-fly zone over Libyan airspace to keep Gadhafi from bombarding the rebels seeking to oust him from power, according to statements released from their offices. Other options including steeper surveillance, humanitarian assistance and enforcement of an arms embargo as Libya slips from Gadhafi’s grip and into a civil war.

“We have got to prepare for what we might have to do if he (Gadhafi) goes on brutalizing his own people,” Cameron told the BBC.

Cameron said his call with Obama was to talk “about the planning we have to do in case this continues and in case he does terrible things to his own people.” The prime minister added: “I don’t think we can stand aside and let that happen.”

Libya’s rebel movement has been countered by overwhelming power from loyalists to Gadhafi. Pro-regime forces halted its drive on Tripoli with a heavy barrage of rockets in the east and threatened on Tuesday to recapture the closest rebel-held city to the capital in the west.

The continuing violence increased pressure, from NATO toWashington, for intervention.

Rebels are fighting to oust Gadhafi from power after more than 41 years, and his bloody crackdown has left hundreds, perhaps thousands, dead. Libya’s U.N. ambassador, who broke with Gadhafi, has urged the U.N. Security Council to impose a no-fly zone to prevent Gadhafi’s forces from bombing civilians. Britain and France are drafting a resolution, but no decision has been made.

The United States has acted itself and worked with world partners to impose sanctions on the Libyan regime and freeze its assets.

Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona said Tuesday that the creation of a no-fly zone could help hasten Gadhafi’s exit.

“Every day and every hour that goes by, innocent Libyans are being attacked and massacred from the air,” McCain said. “I also worry about additional actions that Gadhafi could take such as bombing oil facilities, which could have extreme environmental consequences.”

Earlier in the day, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, McCain pressed senior the secretary of the Navy, the chief of Naval Operations and the commandant of the Marine Corps about U.S. military equipment in the region and how difficult it would be to impose a no-fly zone. The witnesses described Libya’s air defence as “modest” but insisted that combat operations would be a precursor to any action.

In order to ground the Libyan air force, thereby providing air cover for the rebels, U.S. and partner aircraft would first attack Libya’s anti-aircraft defences.

Sen. Richard Lugar, ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, warned that imposing a no-fly zone would be a costly “act of war.”

“The United States should not, in my view, launch military intervention into yet another Muslim country without thinking long and hard about the consequences and implications,” Lugar said.

The White House meeting of the president’s highest security advisers on Wednesday will examine the ramifications of a no-fly zone over Libya and potential military options, although the final decision will rest with Obama, officials said.

A highly visible show of force could involve U.S. ships moving into the Gulf of Sidra and lingering in international waters, which would be about 14 miles off shore. Other options include greater use of surveillance flights, intelligence-gathering and ongoing support for evacuations and humanitarian assistance.

On Capitol Hill, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon, a Republican, took a swipe at Obama at the end of a news conference.

“He’s doing a great job of doing nothing on Libya,” McKeon said.

Clinton, in the Sky News interview, said the United States wants Gadhafi to go peacefully. He has shown no intention to do so.

“If that’s not possible, then we are going to work with the international community,” she said. “Now, there are countries that do not agree with that. We think it’s important that the United Nations make this decision, not the United States, and so far the United Nations has not done that. I think it’s very important that this not be a U.S.-led effort, because this comes from the people of Libya themselves; this doesn’t come from the outside.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-cameron-discuss-libya-options-clinton-says-un-20110308-153123-560.html

 

 


US, allies edge closer toward formulating military options to halt violence against Libya

By Bradley Klapper,Matthew Lee, The Associated PressThe Canadian Press

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama warned Libya‘s leaders that the U.S. and its NATO allies are still considering military options in response to what he called “unacceptable” violence perpetrated by supporters of Moammar Gadhafi.

“I want to send a very clear message to those who are around Colonel Gadhafi. 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 on opposition fighters in the second day of a government crackdown to thwart rebels advancing on Gadhafi’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 U.S. 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.”

Carney said the U.S. is also considering providing weapons to rebel forces, though he cautioned that there were still many unanswered questions about what groups comprise those forces. He said the U.S. is using diplomatic channels, as well as contacts in the business community and non-governmental organizations, to gather information about the opposition.

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 withTunisia — 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 U.S. and United Nations have imposed sanctions on Gadhafi’s regime, and U.S. military forces have also moved closer to Libya’s shores to back up demands that Gadhafi step down.

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

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/obama-us-nato-allies-still-considering-military-action-20110307-083347-439.html

 


Libyan rebels push west as Gaddafi receives crimes warning

By Mohammed Abbas | Reuters

AL-UQAYLA, Libya (Reuters) – Libyan rebels pushed west on Thursday, extending their grip on a key coast road as Muammar Gaddafi received a warning he would be held to account at The Hague for suspected crimes by his security forces.

Venezuela said the Libyan leader had agreed to its proposal for an international commission to negotiate an end to the turmoil in the world’s 12th largest oil exporting nation.

But Gaddafi’s son Saif al Islam said there was no need for any foreign mediation in the crisis, a leader of the uprising rejected talks with the veteran leader, and the Arab League said cautiously the plan was “under consideration.”

In Paris, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France and Britain would support the idea of setting up a no-fly zone over Libya if Gaddafi’s forces continued to attack civilians.

President Barack Obama said the United States and the international community must be ready to act rapidly to stop violence against civilians or a humanitarian crisis in Libya.

The uprising, the bloodiest yet against a long-serving ruler in the Middle East or North Africa, has torn through the OPEC-member country and knocked out nearly 50 percent of its 1.6 million barrels per day output, the bedrock of its economy.

In eastern Libya, witnesses said a warplane bombed Brega the oil terminal town 800 km (500 miles) east of Tripoli, for the second day, part of a struggle for control of a strategically vital coast road and oil industry facilities.

Warplanes also launched two raids against the nearby rebel-held town of Ajbadiya, witnesses said.

“CIVILIAN AREAS NOT BOMBED”

But Juma Amer, Secretary for African Affairs at the Libyan Foreign Ministry, told journalists: “Media reports that civilian areas were bombed are false. Police had been and are urged to use maximum self restraint.”

Saif said Brega was bombed to scare off militia fighters and to gain control of oil installations.

“First of all the bombs (were) just to frighten them to go away,” he told Britain’s Sky News.

On the ground, rebels leading the unprecedented popular revolt pushed their front line west of Brega.

They said they had driven back troops loyal to Gaddafi to Ras Lanuf, site of another major oil terminal and 600 km (375 miles) east of Tripoli.

They also said they had captured a group of mercenaries.

In an angry scene at al-Uqayla, east of Ras Lanuf, a rebel shouted at a captured young African and alleged mercenary: “You were carrying guns, yes or no? You were with Gaddafi’s brigades yes or no?”

The silent youth was shoved onto his knees into the dirt. A man held a pistol close to the boy’s face before a reporter protested and told the man the rebels were not judges.

In The Hague, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Gaddafi and members of his inner circle, could be investigated for alleged crimes committed since the uprising broke out in mid-February.

“We have identified some individuals in the de facto or former authority who have authority over the security forces who allegedly committed the crimes,” Moreno-Ocampo said.

“They are Muammar Gaddafi, his inner circle including some of his sons, who had this de facto authority. There are also some people with formal authority who should pay attention to crimes committed by their people.”

Libyan government spokesman Musa Ibrahim told BBC radio the news from The Hague was “close to a joke.”

“No fact-finding mission has been sent to Libya. No diplomats, no ministers, no NGOs or organisations of any type were sent to Libya to check the facts … No one can be sent to prison based on media reports,” he said.

Ibrahim Mohammad Ali, a spokesman for the public security department, said Libya had told the United Nations it would allow visits by independent human rights observers.

Libya is not a signatory of the ICC treaty, “but we are willing to deal with the ICC and take action against anyone who has acted outside the law,” he told a Tripoli news conference.

A spokesman for Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Gaddafi ally, said the Libyan government had accepted a Venezuelan plan to seek a negotiated solution to the conflict in Libya.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said the plan was under consideration and he was waiting for details from Caracas.

SKEPTICISM OVER CHAVEZ PLAN

Oil prices fell briefly on news of the plan, but traders said the fall was due to profit-taking and they were skeptical about any Venezuelan mediation. Brent crude fell more than $3 but by 2000 GMT had recovered to $114.82.

Chavez’s plan would involve a commission from Latin America, Europe and the Middle East trying to reach a negotiated outcome between the Libyan leader and rebel forces.

An aide to Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the rebels’ National Libyan Council, told Reuters the rebels were open to talks only on Gaddafi’s resignation or exile to avoid more bloodshed.

“There is nothing else to negotiate,” he said.

He also called for foreign air strikes to set up a “no-fly zone” to help the rebels topple Gaddafi.

Save The Children and Medecins Sans Frontieres said they were struggling to get medicine and care to Libya’s needy, with gunmen blocking roads and civilians too scared to seek help.

The government has tried to persuade people in Tripoli that life continues as normal. But there were queues at banks, and residents said food prices had gone up and the street value of the Libyan dinar had fallen dramatically against the dollar.

The official news agency said the Libyan parliament had cut car fuel prices by 25 percent to 0.15 dinars ($0.12) a liter.

A fish market near Tripoli’s Green Square was mostly empty. “The situation is affecting us,” said Ismail, a fisherman. “All the Egyptian workers who run the boats have left.”

Just outside rebel-held Zawiyah, west of Tripoli, officials took foreign journalists to a local refinery to show it was controlled by the state. Officials said it was running normally.

But in the center of Zawiyah, rebels were fully in control and said they had enough forces to repel any government attack.

In the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, men of all ages gathered next to the courthouse engaged in fierce debates, enjoying their new-found freedom of speech.

“We must go to Tripoli and get rid of Gaddafi,” shouted one, to murmurs of approval from those around him.

“But we have only our shirts to protect us from the cannon,” said Ahmed el Sherif, 60, standing on the edge of the group.

The upheaval is causing a humanitarian crisis, especially on the Tunisian border where tens of thousands of foreign workers have fled to safety. But an organized international airlift started to relieve the human flood from Libya as word spread to refugees that planes were taking them home.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/gaddafi-strikes-town-rebels-call-foreign-help-20110302-191256-365.html

 


US says ready to help Libya’s insurgents

By Jean-Louis Santini | AFP News

The United States said it was prepared to offer “any kind of assistance” to Libyans seeking to overthrow the regime of strongman Moamer Kadhafi as they set up a transitional body.

As forces opposed to the longest-serving Arab leader took control of several western Libyan towns, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton echoed the calls of world leaders, including President Barack Obama, for him to quit.

“We are just at the beginning of what will follow Kadhafi,” she said.

“First we have to see the end of his regime and with no further bloodshed,” she continued, noting Washington is eager for his ouster “as soon as possible.”

The top US diplomat spoke as she prepared to leave for a ministerial-level meeting of the UN High Commission on Human Rights on Monday, and for bilateral talks with many of her counterparts about the crisis in Libya.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported late Sunday that US and European officials discussed plans to impose a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent further killings of civilians by troops loyal to Kadhafi.

The newspaper cited an unnamed senior administration official as saying that no decision had been made.

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said Sunday that a key friendship treaty signed between Italy and Libya in 2008 was “de facto suspended.”

According to The Times, the accord contains a non-aggression clause that some analysts said complicated Italy?s position in the event of international military intervention in Libya.

US administration officials said Sunday that they were also discussing whether the US military could disrupt communications to prevent Colonel Kadhafi from broadcasting in Libya, the paper said.

In addition, the administration was looking at whether the military could be used to set up a corridor in neighboring Tunisia or Egypt to assist refugees, the report noted.

“I think it is way too soon to tell how this is going to play out. We are going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the US,” Clinton told reporters, noting Washington was in touch with the Libyan opposition.

Two senior US lawmakers urged Washington to recognize any transitional government and supply it with weapons and humanitarian assistance to oust Kadhafi, who has ruled Libya with an iron fist for four decades.

“We ought to recognize the provisional government as the legitimate government of Libya and we ought to give that government certainly humanitarian assistance and military arms… to give them the wherewithal to fight on behalf of the people of Libya against a cruel dictator,” Senator Joe Lieberman told CNN.

Lieberman was speaking alongside Republican Senator John McCain from Egypt, where a popular uprising swept president Hosni Mubarak from power earlier this month after nearly 30 years of autocratic rule.

McCain urged Obama, his former rival in the 2008 presidential campaign, to “get tough” and make it clear that Libyan officials involved in attacks on their own people would face prosecution for war crimes.

The UN Security Council has imposed a travel ban and assets freeze on Kadhafi’s regime and ordered an investigation into possible crimes against humanity by the Libyan leader, the first time such a decision has been made unanimously.

On Friday, Obama announced unilateral sanctions targeting Kadhafi and his inner circle in a move intended to encourage defections and peel away loyalists defending his rule.

Clinton has signed an order revoking the US visas of Libyan officials and others linked to the violence against civilians. New visas will now be denied as a matter of policy.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/us-says-ready-help-libyas-insurgents-20110228-051520-935.html


Gadhafi blames al-Qaeda for Libyan riots

CBC

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi blamed international terrorism and al-Qaeda for brainwashing youth and spurring the turmoil in his country.

“What is happening now is not the people’s power. It is international terrorism lead by al-Qaeda,” Gadhafi said in a rambling 30-minute phone call broadcast live on state television Thursday.

“These people who are duping our children are insane and they couldn’t care less if your country is completely destroyed…. You are responsible for what happens to your country, be it peace or war.”

Gadhafi accused the extremist Islamic group for launching a campaign through mobile phones to harm Libyan youth and take them away from their parents.

He also blamed excessive use of drugs by youth, and urged their parents to reassert their authority.

“Come of out of your homes. Get your children back home. Arrest the offenders and take them to court. Rehabilitate your children,” Gadhafi, who appeared to be directing his speech to residents of Zawiya, a key city near an oil port and refineries, and the scene of violent uprisings.

He offered his condolences to the families of four security officers killed in clashes that have gripped the country since Feb. 18. At least 1,000 civilians have also been killed.

Gadhafi said he couldn’t understand why he had to leave. “There are people who have been in power longer than me, like Queen Elizabeth of Britain, and nothing has happened to her.”

He also lobbed a warning at foreign powers, saying, “If the situation gets worse, the oil flow will stop.”

Meanwhile, army units and militiamen loyal to Gadhafi struck back against protesters who have risen up in cities close to Tripoli Thursday, attacking a mosque where many had taken refuge and blasting its minaret and opening fire on others protecting a local airport.

The assaults aimed to push back a rebellion that has moved closer to Gadhafi’s bastion in the capital, Tripoli. The revolt has already broken away nearly the eastern half of Libya and unraveled parts of Gadhafi’s regime

In the latest blow to the Libyan leader, a cousin who is one of his closest aides, Ahmed Gadhaf al-Dam, announced that he has defected to Egypt in protest against the regime’s bloody crackdown against the uprising, denouncing what he called “grave violations to human rights and human and international laws.”

In the city of Zawiya, 50 kilometres west of Tripoli, an army unit attacked a mosque where protesters had been camping inside and in a lot outside for several days, calling for Gadhafi’s ouster, a witness said.

The soldiers opened fire with automatic weapons and hit the mosque’s minaret with anti-aircraft missiles, he said. Some of the young men among the protesters had hunting rifles.

He said there were casualties, but couldn’t provide exact figures. He said a day earlier an envoy from Gadhafi had come to the city and warned protesters, “Either leave or you will see a massacre.”

After the assault, thousands massed in the city’s main Martyrs Square, shouting “leave, leave,” in reference to Gadhafi, he said.

“People came to send a clear message: we are not afraid of death or your bullets,” he said. “This regime will regret it. History will not forgive them.”

The other attack came at a small airport outside Misrata Libya’s third largest city, where rebels claimed control on Wednesday. Militiamen on Thursday attacked a line of residents who were protecting the facility, opening fire with rocket-propelled grenades and mortars, said a resident who saw the assault

“They left piles of human remains and swamp of blood,” he said. “The hospitals are packed with those killed and injured.”

But he could not provide exact figures.

After the attack ended before noon, another Misrata resident said the local radio, now in opposition hands, urged people to march on the airport in support of the protesters. Both residents said the rebellion continues to control the city about 200 kilometres east ofTripoli. They and other witnesses around Libya spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Gadhafi’s crackdown has so far helped him maintain control of Tripoli, a city that holds about a third of Libya’s six million population. But the uprising by protesters, backed by army units that joined their ranks, has divided the country and threatened to push it toward civil war.

The leader’s cousin, Gadhaf al-Dam, is one of the most high level defections to hit the regime so far, after many ambassadors around the world, the justice minister and the interior minister all sided with the protesters. Gadhaf al-Dam belonged to Gadhafi’s inner circle, officially his liaison with Egypt, but he also served as Gadhafi’s envoy to other world leaders and frequently appeared by his side.

International momentum has been building for action to punish Gadhafi’s regime for the bloodshed.

U.S. President Barack Obama said the suffering in Libya “is outrageous and it is unacceptable,” and he directed his administration to prepare a full range of options, including possible sanctions that could freeze the assets and ban travel to the U.S. by Libyan officials.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/gadhafi-blames-al-qaeda-libyan-riots-20110224-060431-610.html