Tag Archives: Hillary Rodham Clinton

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

 


Supporters call for vote Thursday on UN resolution to impose no-fly zone on Libya

By Anita Snow,Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press | The Canadian Press

Supporters of a no-fly zone over Libya called for a Security Council vote Thursday on a U.N. resolution aimed at preventing Moammar Gadhafi‘s planes from conducting aerial attacks on the Libyan people, but the United States was pushing for broader action to protect civilians from land and sea attacks as well.

Britain and France put a draft resolution that would impose a no-fly zone in a final form late Wednesday after more than eight hours of closed-door discussions by Security Council ambassadors. France’s U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said the text was being sent to capitals overnight and could still be changed before being put to a vote in the 15-member council.

With Gadhafi’s forces intensifying attacks and heading toward rebel-held Bengazi, Libya’s second-largest city, U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told the reporters the Obama administration is “fully focused on the urgency and the gravity of the situation on the ground.”

According to a council diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks were private, Rice said during more than eight hours of closed-door discussions by council ambassadors Wednesday the goal should be expanded from creating a no-fly zone to protecting civilians, meaning the international community must have all the tools it needs including authorization to use planes, troops or ships to stop attacks by Gadhafi’s air, land and sea forces.

According to the diplomat, Rice said the U.S. will not act without Security Council authorization, does not want to put U.S. ground troops into Libya, and insists on broad international participation, especially by Arab states.

“We are interested in a broad range of actions that will effectively protect civilians and increase the pressure on the Gadhafi regime to halt the killing and to allow the Libyan people to express themselves in their aspirations for the future freely and peacefully,” Rice told reporters after the meeting. “Those include discussion of a no-fly zone, but the U.S. view is that … a no-fly zone has inherent limitations in terms of protection of civilians at immediate risk.”

The initial draft resolution would establish a ban on all flights in Libyan airspace and authorize U.N. member states “to take all necessary measures” to protect civilians. But an amendment proposed by the United States and obtained by The Associated Press would authorize states “to protect civilians and civilian objects from the Gadhafi regime, including by halting attacks by air, land and sea forces under the control of the Gadhafi regime.”

During the sometimes heated closed-door discussions, the diplomat said Rice told council members the United States is very concerned that Gadhafi’s forces are on a rapid march to Benghazi and wants the amendment because a no-fly zone isn’t enough to protect civilians from probable atrocities.

It was unclear if the amendment the U.S. was calling for would remain in the text that was eventually put to a vote.

The diplomat said Russia, which has veto power, raised serious questions about the use of force against Gadhafi and other council nations reacted cautiously.

Lebanon, France and Britain introduced the draft resolution Tuesday afternoon, spurred by the Arab League‘s urgent call for a no-fly zone.

Rice told reporters the U.S. is “working very hard” toward having a vote on Thursday.

China’s U.N. Ambassador Li Baodong, the current council president, told reporters “we hope we will have real progress tomorrow.”

An Obama administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity because council discussions are private, said the United States is discussing a range of other concrete steps with allies, both at the United Nations and at NATO. Among those additional steps are greater humanitarian aid, supporting the Libyan resistance with money from seized Gadhafi-related assets, and greater enforcement of the U.N. arms embargo on Libya.

Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin, whose government had expressed misgivings about a no-fly zone, proposed that the council vote first on a resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya. Rice told reporters a majority of council members did not support a separate cease-fire resolution but said that a call for a cease-fire could be incorporated in the no-fly resolution.

“We were not rejecting at all the larger resolution,” Churkin told reporters, adding that his country thought that the call for a cease-fire “could possibly prevent impending bloodshed in Libya.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon earlier Wednesday urged all sides in Libya to accept an immediate cease-fire.

Ban “is gravely concerned about the increasing military escalation by government forces, which include indications of an assault on the city of Benghazi,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

The U.N. chief warned that “a campaign to bombard such an urban centre would massively place civilian lives at risk,” Nesirky said.

While Russia and Germany expressed doubts, France pushed for rapid action with Foreign Minister Alain Juppe saying in Paris that several Arab countries have pledged to participate in possible military action in the North African country.

Libya’s deputy U.N. ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who supports the opposition, said five Arab countries have offered support.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy called on leaders of the 14 other Security Council nations to “fully shoulder their responsibilities and give support to this initiative.”

“Together, we can save the martyred people of Libya,” he wrote in a letter. “It is now a matter of days, if not hours. The worst would be that the appeal of the League of the Arab States and the Security Council decisions be overruled by the force of arms.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a visit to Egypt on Wednesday that the Obama administration is consulting with the Arab League “about their understanding of the goals and modalities of a no-fly zone as well as other forms of support.”

“We believe that this must be an international effort and that there has to be decisions made in the Security Council in order for any of these steps to go forward,” she said.

Libya’s Dabbashi told reporters he expects a no-fly resolution to be adopted, with a provision that will also allow air strikes.

He stressed the urgency of council action, saying according to information the Libyan Mission has received, Gadhafi is preparing for two operations: One against the eastern city of Ajdabiya, which is already under siege using mercenaries in more than 400 vehicles that are already en route, and one against mountain villages in the west where tanks, heavy artillery and other weapons are being gathered for an assault.

The latest push for a ban on flights in Libya came as Gadhafi’s forces intensified offensives in the east and the west Wednesday with relentless shelling aimed at routing rebel holdouts.

France and Britain failed to win support for a no-fly zone during a two-day meeting of Group of Eight foreign ministers in Paris earlier Tuesday and the G-8’s final communique did not mention a flight ban, leaving any action to the Security Council.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at the G-8 that his country wants more details and clarity from the Arab League about its proposals for Libya before approving any military intervention, and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said his country was “very skeptical” about military action.

The Security Council on Feb. 26 imposed an arms embargo on Libya and ordered all countries to freeze assets and ban travel for Gadhafi and some close associates. It also referred the regime’s deadly crackdown on protesters to the International Criminal Court, for an investigation of possible crimes against humanity.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/french-minister-says-several-arab-nations-participate-military-20110316-042813-499.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

 

 


U.S. warships move through Suez, Gaddafi defiant

By Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy | Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Two U.S. warships were passing through the Suez Canal on their way to waters off Libya on Wednesday as Western nations exerted diplomatic and military pressure onMuammar Gaddafi to step down.

The United States said Libya could sink into civil war unless the Libyan leader ends his four-decade rule amid fears that the uprising, the bloodiest yet against long-serving rulers in the Middle East, could cause a humanitarian crisis.

Gaddafi is defiant and his son, Saif al-Islam, has warned the West against launching military action. He said the veteran ruler would not relinquish power or be driven into exile.

Across Libya, tribal leaders, officials, military officers and army units have defected to the rebel cause and say they are becoming more organized. Tripoli is a stronghold for Gaddafi in this oil-producing north African state.

“We are going to keep the pressure on Gaddafi until he steps down and allows the people of Libya to express themselves freely and determine their own future,” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Captain Faris Zwei, among officers in the east who joined the opposition to Gaddafi, said there were more than 10,000 volunteers in Ajdabiyah, 800 km (500 miles) from the capital.

“We are reorganizing the army, which was almost completely destroyed by Gaddafi and his gang before they left,” he said. “We are reforming, as much as we can, the army from the youth that took part in the revolution.”

Two amphibious assault ships, USS Kearsarge, which can carry 2,000 Marines, and USS Ponce, entered the canal on Wednesday en route to the Mediterranean. The destroyer USS Barry moved through the Suez Canal on Monday.

The ships entered through the southern end of the canal, an official said, adding that they were expected to pass through by 3:30 p.m. (1330 GMT) or 4:00 p.m. local time.

Arab League foreign ministers meet on Wednesday at an extraordinary session in Cairo and are expected to reinforce their condemnation of Gaddafi. Some delegates want the meeting to underline the League’s unwillingness to see foreign intervention in Libya.

The repositioning of U.S. ships and aircraft closer to Libya is widely seen as a symbolic show of force since neither the United States nor its NATO allies have shown any appetite for direct military intervention in the turmoil that has seen Gaddafi lose control of large swaths of his country.

“We are looking at a lot of options and contingencies. No decisions have been made on any other actions,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, noting the United Nations had not authorized the use of force in Libya.

Italy said it was sending a humanitarian mission to Tunisia to provide food and medical aid to as many as 10,000 people who had fled violence in Libya on its eastern border.

Tunisian border guards fired into the air on Tuesday to try to control a desperate crowd clamoring to cross the frontier.

About 70,000 people have passed through the Ras Jdir border post in the past two weeks, and many more of the hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in Libya are expected to follow.

U.S. RULES NOTHING OUT

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: “Libya could become a peaceful democracy or it could face protracted civil war.”

The U.S. Senate, in a unanimous vote, approved a resolution “strongly condemning the gross and systematic violation of human rights in Libya, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms.”

The White House said the ships were being redeployed in preparation for possible humanitarian efforts but stressed it “was not taking any options off the table.” Gates said: “Our job is to give the president the broadest possible decision space.”

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe sounded a note of caution, saying military intervention would not happen without a clear United Nations mandate.

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who said Britain would work with allies on preparations for a no-fly zone over Libya, said it was unacceptable that “Colonel Gaddafi can be murdering his own people using airplanes and helicopter gunships.”

General James Mattis, commander of U.S. Central Command, told a Senate hearing that imposing a no-fly zone would be a “challenging” operation. “You would have to remove air defense capability in order to establish a no-fly zone, so no illusions here,” he said. “It would be a military operation.”

Analysts said Western leaders were in no mood to rush into conflict after drawn-out involvements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The U.N. General Assembly unanimously suspended Libya’s membership of the U.N. Human Rights Council because of violence by Gaddafi’s forces.

Gaddafi, a survivor of past coup attempts, has told television networks: “All my people love me,” dismissing the significance of the rebellion that has ended his control over much of oil-rich eastern Libya.

REBELS SAY STRENGTH GROWING

The Libyan leader has, however, faced defections from soldiers, diplomats and ministers. Gaddafi replaced two of his ministers who had defected to support the uprising seeking to oust him, Libyan state television said on Wednesday.

Rebel fighters said the balance of the conflict was swinging their way. “Our strength is growing and we are getting more weapons. We are attacking checkpoints,” said Yousef Shagan, a spokesman in Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) from Tripoli.

The rebel army officer in the eastern city of Ajdabiyah said rebel units were becoming more organized. “All the military councils of Free Libya are meeting to form a unified military council to plan an attack on Gaddafi security units, militias and mercenaries,” Captain Zwei said.

Despite the widespread collapse of Gaddafi’s rule, his forces were fighting back in some regions. A reporter on the Tunisian border saw Libyan troops reassert control at a crossing abandoned on Monday, and residents of Nalut, about 60 km (35 miles) from the border, said they feared pro-Gaddafi forces were planning to recapture the town.

Mohamed, a resident of rebel-held Misrata, told Reuters by phone: “Symbols of Gaddafi’s regime have been swept away from the city. Only a (pro-Gaddafi) battalion remains at the city’s air base but they appear to be willing to negotiate safe exit out of the air base. We are not sure if this is genuine or just a trick to attack the city again.”

Many on the streets of Tripoli on Tuesday expressed loyalty, but a man who described himself as a military pilot said: “One hundred percent of Libyans don’t like him.”

The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously suspended Libya’s membership of the U.N. Human Rights Council. A U.N. Security Council resolution on Saturday called for a freeze on Gaddafi’s assets and a travel ban and refers his crackdown to the International Criminal Court.

The United States has frozen $30 billion in Libyan assets.

Libya’s National Oil Corp said output had halved due to the departure of foreign workers. Brent crude surged above $116 a barrel on Tuesday as supply disruptions and potential for more unrest in the Middle East and North Africa kept investors edgy.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/gaddafi-defiant-west-flexes-military-muscle-20110301-182841-267.html

 

 


World raises pressure on Libya, rebels hold key towns

By Maria Golovnina | Reuters

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Rebels downed a military aircraft on Monday as they fought a government bid to take back Libya‘s third city, Misrata, a witness said, while foreign ministers discussed how to help them oust Muammar Gaddafi.

Gaddafi’s forces have been trying for days to push back a revolt that has won over large parts of the military, ended his control over eastern Libya and is holding the government at bay in western cities near the capital Tripoli.

In both Libya’s third city, Misrata, 200 km (125 miles) to the east, and Zawiyah, a strategic refinery town 50 km (30 miles) to the west, rebels with military backing were holding the town centers against repeated government attacks.

“An aircraft was shot down this morning while it was firing on the local radio station. Protesters captured its crew,” the witness, Mohamed, told Reuters by telephone.

“Fighting to control the military air base started last night and is still going on. Gaddafi’s forces control only a small part of the base. Protesters control a large part of this base where there is ammunition.”

Foreign governments are increasing the pressure on Gaddafi to leave in the hope of ending fighting that has claimed at least 1,000 lives and restoring order to a country that accounts for 2 percent of the world’s oil production.

SANCTIONS

The U.N. Security Council has slapped sanctions on Gaddafi and other Libyan authorities, imposed an arms embargo and frozen Libyan assets, while making clear that those who used violence against civilians would face international justice.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and others were holding bilateral talks at a human rights conference in Geneva to coordinate further action.

European powers including erstwhile ally Italy said it was time for Gaddafi to quit and Clinton said the United States was “reaching out” to opposition groups.

A U.S. official in Geneva said a central aim of sanctions was to “send a message not only to Gaddafi … but to the people around Gaddafi, who are the ones we’re really seeking to influence.”

Revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt have helped to ignite resentment of four decades of often bloody political repression under Gaddafi as well as his failure to use Libya’s oil wealth to tackle widespread poverty and lack of opportunity.

Gaddafi himself has been defiant, but a spokesman struck a new, conciliatory tone at a briefing on Monday.

Spokesman Mussa Ibrahim conceded that government forces had fired on civilians, but said this was because they were not properly trained.

“So they shot and killed some civilians,” he said. “We never denied that hundreds of people have been killed.”

He also said the revolt had “started as a genuine peaceful movement.”

“We also believe it is time for change,” he said. “But this movement has been hijacked by the West … and by Islamic militants.”

Regional experts expect rebels eventually to take the capital and kill or capture Gaddafi, but add that he has the firepower to foment chaos or civil war — a prospect he and his sons have warned of.

ZAWIYAH

Rebels holding Zawiyah said about 2,000 troops loyal to Gaddafi had surrounded the city.

“We will do our best to fight them off. They will attack soon,” said a former police major who switched sides and joined the rebellion. “If we are fighting for freedom, we are ready to die for it.”

Residents even in parts of the capital Tripoli have thrown up barricades against government forces. A general in the east of the country, where Gaddafi’s power has evaporated, told Reuters his forces were ready to help rebels in the west.

“Our brothers in Tripoli say: “We are fine so far, we do not need help’. If they ask for help we are ready to move,” said General Ahmed el-Gatrani, one of most senior figures in the mutinous army in Benghazi.

Opposition forces are largely in control of Libya’s oil facilities, which are mostly located in the east, and output has been reduced to a trickle.

Bank of America Merrill Lynch said in a note to its clients that the unrest could mean Libyan supplies were unavailable to the market for months.

Benchmark Brent oil futures were slightly lower at just under $112 a barrel.

In the eastern city of Benghazi, opponents of the 68-year-old leader said they had formed a National Libyan Council to be the “face” of the revolution, but it was unclear who they represented.

They said they wanted no foreign intervention and had not made contact with foreign governments.

The “Network of Free Ulema,” claiming to represent “some of Libya’s most senior and most respected Muslim scholars,” issued a statement urging “total rebellion” and endorsing the formation of an “interim government” announced two days ago.

FOREIGN WORKERS STRANDED

Western leaders, emboldened by evacuations that have brought home many of their citizens from the vast desert state, have been speaking out clearly against Gaddafi.

“We have reached, I believe, a point of no return,” Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said on Sunday, adding it was “inevitable” that Gaddafi would leave power.

Britain’s former prime minister, Tony Blair, said he had spoken to Gaddafi on Friday and told him to go.

“He was in denial that these things are going on,” Blair said. “The strategic objective is that there is a change in leadership in Libya with the minimum further bloodshed. Far too many people have died; there has been far too much violence.”

Blair helped to end the Western isolation of Gaddafi over his support for international terrorism after he agreed to renounce weapons of mass destruction, paving the way for big British business deals in Libya.

Wealthy states have sent planes and ships to bring home expatriate workers but many more, from poorer countries, are stranded. Thousands of Egyptians streamed into Tunisia on Sunday, complaining Cairo had done nothing to help them.

The United Nations refugee agency said on Sunday nearly 100,000 people have fled violence in Libya in the past week in a growing humanitarian crisis.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/gaddafi-unflinching-rebel-city-fears-counter-attack-20110227-234010-459.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


Southern Sudan…world’s newest nation

Juba as next world capital: Southern Sudan prepares as results show huge vote for independence

By Jason Straziuso,Maggie Fick, The Associated Press

JUBA, Sudan – The mud-hut town of Juba has earned a promotion to world capital later this year. Only Southern Sudan needs far more than its own currency and a national anthem: Most of the roads here are dirt and even aid workers live in shipping containers.

In a little more than five months, Southern Sudan is slated to become the world’s newest country. Final results from last month’s independence referendum announced on Monday show that 98.8 per cent of the ballots cast were for secession from Sudan‘s north.

Juba is oil-rich but lacks the embassies and skyscrapers of other world capitals. There was only a mile or two of pavement here just a year ago, and the local archives are stored in a tent. Many, though, see great potential, and are excitedly looking forward to controlling their own destiny.

Entrepreneur Soloman Chaplain Lui, 42, is overseeing the construction of 160 apartments and hotel rooms on a rocky bluff overlooking Juba. The country’s largest swimming pool sits here, though its water is murky. His arm points toward empty fields where he hopes to one day build a mall and a golf course.

“As I talk to you now there are many people flowing here,” he said. “A new country is being born.”

Two decades of war between the predominantly Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south killed at least 2 million people before a 2005 peace agreement was reached. Residents are jubilant to have their own country at last, though much work remains.

Decades of war and poverty have kept Southern Sudan in a decrepit state, and its 8.7 million people live in one of the least developed regions in the world. The U.N. says a 15-year-old girl here has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than finishing school. An estimated 85 per cent of the population is illiterate.

Adding to the challenges, the prices of some everyday goods like sugar, soap and cooking oil have increased by more than 50 per cent in recent weeks.

“The list is long,” said Athai Peter, 25, as he stood at a job advertisement board outside a U.N. agency on Monday. “The roads are so poor in many places that we have very high food prices.”

A new currency must be established. Diplomatic missions need to be opened. And a country name must be chosen.

Critical negotiations still must be held with the north to decide on citizenship rights, oil rights and even the final border demarcation.

The U.S. national intelligence director warned last year of a possible new mass killing or genocide in Sudan over the referendum. That no longer looks likely.

Sudan President Omar al-Bashir backed the final results Monday and said he wanted to be the first to congratulate the south on their new state. His remarks seemed designed to help ensure a continuous flow of southern oil through the pipelines in the north. About 98 per cent of Southern Sudan’s budget comes from oil revenue.

U.S. President Barack Obama also congratulated the people of Southern Sudan for “a successful and inspiring” referendum, and said he intended to formally recognize the country as a sovereign, independent state in July 2011

Obama said in a statement that after decades of conflict the image of millions of southern Sudanese voters deciding their own future was an inspiration to the world. He also said it is another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward justice and democracy.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said that the U.S. is reviewing its designation of Sudan as a sponsor of terrorism.

She said in a statement that the designation will be lifted, if Sudan does not support terrorism for the preceding six months, promises to continue doing that in the future, and fully implements the 2005 peace agreement.

No one is quite sure how many residents Juba even has. After the 2005 peace accord, people began flooding into the town. Ad hoc settlements sprung up around the city, then expanded as the city ballooned. The settlements have no roads, electricity, or sewage.

Jemma Nunu Kumba, Southern Sudan’s minister of housing and physical planning, concedes that the government is playing catch-up. But she notes that foreign investors are knocking on the government’s door, hoping to get in on a building boom.

“It is a big challenge that the government has to face. The priorities are competing with the resources we have. But of course it’s not something to neglect so we will have to knock at the doors of the international community, of our develop partners, to help us.”

Juba has been attracting international investors for years. In 2007, a group of business people from England, South Africa and Kenya spent $1.5 million to renovate a family home into a 16-room hotel known as the Logali House, where the walk-in rate is $275 a night.

General manager Laurie Meiring calls it a “courageous” investment, given that the independence vote was years away and the threat of war lingered.

“I think it’s five stars for Juba, even if it would be two to three stars if you were going by the book in Europe or America,” Meiring said.

Most Sudanese are unemployed or live hand to mouth on small sales of tea and other goods. Small, Sudanese-run business growth is hard to achieve, said Melody Atil, the founder and managing director of Peace Dividend, an organization that loans money at affordable rates in Sudan. Banks rarely give loans, and she estimates that only 10 per cent of the region’s work force is employed.

Zach Vertin, a Southern Sudan analyst with the International Crisis Group, said it is essential that the outstanding issues on oil rights and border demarcation get resolved.

“This is critical not only for a peaceful transition between now and July but in order to lay the foundations for a constructive post-referendum relationship,” Vertin said. “It’s absolutely critical that support continue for this process or we’ll end up in July with a whole host of issues outstanding and then you risk potential conflict.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/sudans-president-backs-southern-sudans-independence-referendum-results-20110207-054910-608.html