Tag Archives: military

Hugo Chavez….Gadhafi’s only friend

Venezuela’s Chavez says US, NATO preparing for war in Libya, warns it would be madness

By Jorge Rueda, The Associated PressThe Canadian Press

CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez warned Friday that it would be madness for the United States and its NATO allies to go to war in Libya to try to topple Moammar Gadhafi.

Chavez, a friend and ally of Gadhafi, criticized President Barack Obama for expressing support for the Libyan opposition.

“Right now they are preparing a war, the Yankees and their NATO allies,” Chavez said in a televised speech.

He predicted a larger war in Libya could push world oil prices to $200 a barrel, and he echoed Gadhafi’s warnings that a foreign military intervention would unleash much more bloodshed.

“If the Yankees (attempt) the madness of invading Libya — Gadhafi already said it a few days ago — it would be a new Vietnam,” Chavez said.

The Venezuelan president has proposed forming a “humanitarian commission” to travel to Libya to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

His stance has been echoed by Latin American allies including Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia. But other countries have dismissed Chavez’s mediation idea, and rebels in Libya have not expressed willingness to negotiate as long as Gadhafi remains in power.

Obama said Friday in Washington that the U.S. and the world community are “slowly tightening the noose” on Gadhafi. It was not clear what next steps Obama might be willing to take, but he said he was considering all options, including military efforts with NATO partners.

“Today I saw Obama, the Nobel Peace Prize winner, saying that he’s concerned about the price of oil,” Chavez said.

Chavez has accused the U.S. of manoeuvring to seize control of Libya’s oil. He said he believes events in Libya are being distorted to lay the groundwork for a conflict, and likened it to the situation inVenezuela in 2002 when he survived a failed coup.

“In its desperation, the Yankee empire is continuing and will continue to threaten nations that struggle for their dignity … conspiring against governments,” Chavez said.

He said his proposal for a peace effort would respect “the self-determination and freedom of Libya, which is a sister nation.”

As for the conflict raging in Libya, Chavez said: “That’s a matter the Libyans should resolve.”

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/venezuelas-chavez-says-us-nato-preparing-war-libya-20110311-192809-608.html

 

 


Europe and U.S. step up pressure on Gaddafi to go

By Michael Georgy and James Mackenzie | Reuters

TRIPOLI/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe and the United States stepped up diplomatic pressure on Muammar Gaddafi to quit, while on the ground his forces used their superior strength to press their advantage against rebels.

President Barack Obama said on Friday the United States and its allies were “tightening the noose” around Gaddafi and European Union leaders meeting in Brussels said they would consider all options to force the Libyan leader to step down.

However, the 27 leaders meeting in Brussels stopped short of endorsing air strikes, a no-fly zone or other military-backed means to achieve that goal. Libyan rebels said their three-week-old insurrection could fail without a no-fly zone.

The summit sidestepped a British and French initiative for a U.N. Security Council resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone.

They also would not back French President Nicolas Sarkozy‘s call to follow his lead and recognize the National Libyan Council as the country’s legitimate authority, or his call for “defensive” air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces if they used chemical weapons or warplanes against civilians.

Libya suspended diplomatic relations with France.

Obama, accused by critics of reacting too slowly, told a news conference he believed international sanctions, an arms embargo and other measures already in place were having an impact but also said a no-fly zone remained an option.

“Across the board we are slowly tightening the noose on Gaddafi. He is more and more isolated internationally,” he said. “I have not taken any options off the table.”

Soon after he spoke, the Treasury Department said it had extended a freeze on assets to Gaddafi’s wife, four of his sons and four senior officials in his government.

TANKS AND AIR POWER

Gaddafi’s forces, with air supremacy and a big advantage in tanks, appeared to be maintaining the momentum on the ground.

The sound of explosions and small arms fire came from the oil port of Ras Lanuf on Friday as government troops landed from the sea, backed by tanks and air power.

Rebels had advanced to the town of Bin Jawad about 60 km (38 miles) west of Ras Lanuf a week ago, but have been driven back across the strip of desert and scrub. Though out-gunned, they have kept up stiff resistance.

“Ras Lanuf is a ghost town. There are skirmishes between rebels and Gaddafi forces going back and forth,” said rebel captain Mustafa al-Agoury, adding that rebels were positioned on the east and Gaddafi’s forces on the west of the town.

Neither side had full control. Libyan state television said the town was cleared of “armed gangs” opposed to Gaddafi and a spokesman for the rebel movement, Hamid al-Hasi, told Al Arabiya that Ras Lanuf was back in rebel hands.

Gaddafi’s warplanes were carrying out air strikes seemingly unhindered by insurgent anti-aircraft guns mounted on pick-up trucks.

Many rebels were angry at international inaction.

“Where is the West? How are they helping? What are they doing,” shouted one angry fighter.

In Tripoli, Libyan security forces used teargas and fired in the air to disperse worshippers near a mosque before they could even attempt any protest, a Libyan man said, citing witnesses.

It was impossible to verify reports about what was happening in the Tajoura district of Tripoli because foreign journalists were prevented from reporting from the area and local anti-Gaddafi activists were not answering phone calls.

The revolt in Zawiyah, 50 km (30 miles) west of Tripoli and held by rebels for days against fierce attacks, appeared to have been crushed.

Foreign journalists brought to the city center by government forces on Friday saw buildings scorched, patches of fresh paint and loyalists chanting “I love Gaddafi.”

HOTEL BURNED OUT

A hotel on the square that had been the rebel command center stood burned out, now guarded by Gaddafi militiamen. Facades not covered by large cloths were pockmarked by bullets from days of battles around the space the rebels called Martyrs’ Square.

“There were bad guys inside. There were 35-40 guys there yesterday with Kalashnikovs and big guns,” said Waleed, one militiaman, pointing toward the building’s ruined facade.

“We cannot live without Gaddafi. He is the king of Africa, not just Libya.”

The only town holding out in western Libya was Misrata, about 200 km (125 miles) east of Tripoli. It was calm on Friday, but rebels said they were expecting an attack in the near future.

Libya’s insurgent leader said any delay in imposing a no-fly zone could let Gaddafi regain control.

“We ask the international community to shoulder their responsibilities,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, head of the rebels’ National Libyan Council, told the BBC.

“The Libyans are being cleansed by Gaddafi’s air force. We asked for a no-fly zone to be imposed from day one, we also want a sea embargo,” he said.

About 15,000 worshippers gathered outside the courthouse that has become the council’s headquarters in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

“Help us to become a democratic country,” said one banner strung between lampposts and written in English and Arabic.

The Arab League will discuss the no-fly zone and the idea of extending formal recognition to the rebels at a meeting on Saturday, but experts said divisions among them will likely preclude agreement, disappointing the EU which had been looking to the grouping to help guide their next steps.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/million-libyans-aid-uk-france-seek-no-fly-20110307-195811-643.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

 

 


Canada in Charge???!!!…bout time eh…

U.S. surge in Afghanistan likely to highlight Canadian role in Kandahar

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – The United States is sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in the hopes of breaking an insurgency that has engulfed the country’s southern regions, where Canadian troops have been holding Kandahar city.

President Barack Obama outlined a new strategy for U.S. forces that included a military surge, a focus on improving civilian institutions and diplomatic pressure on Pakistan.

“We must reverse the Taliban’s momentum,” he said in the speech from the West Point Military Academy in New York.

“And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan’s security forces and government.”

American soldiers gathered around television screens at Kandahar Airfield to watch the highly anticipated speech, though it failed to bump a hockey game between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs broadcast near the Canadian barracks.

The speech aired at 5:30 a.m., local time, in Afghanistan and is expected to prompt an official reaction from Canadian commanders later Wednesday.

Though he didn’t specifically mention Kandahar, where most of Canada’s 2,850 troops are based, officials say the bulk of the American reinforcements will be posted to southern Afghanistan.

In an effort to regain the initiative in Kandahar, NATO commanders are putting Canada’s military command in charge of the tactically vital Arghandab district north of Kandahar city.

As a result, two full battalions of troops already in the country – one American, the other Afghan – will come under the control of Brig. Gen. Dan Menard, the commander of the Canadian contingent known as Task Force Kandahar, by the new year.

“You’ll get all these guys together focused on Arghandab under the command of Dan Menard,” said Brig. Gen. Frederick Hodges, director of operations for NATO’s southern command.

“I think that’s a significant manifestation of the importance of that place on the city.”

Under U.S. Army Gen. Stanley McChrystal, NATO has signalled its desire to shift the focus of counter-insurgency efforts to urban areas; Kandahar has been singled out among them.

McChrystal is expected to tour NATO bases in Afghanistan on Wednesday to outline how Obama’s strategy will be implemented.

In a statement released as Obama delivered his speech, McChrystal said his main focus will be to develop the capacity of the Afghan police and army.

“We will work toward improved security for Afghanistan and the transfer of responsibility to Afghan security forces as rapidly as conditions allow,” he said.

By hastening the training of both the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police, Obama hopes to create a sustainable security environment that will allow the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops in 2011.

“After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home,” he said.

The timeframe coincides roughly with the planned end of the Canadian combat mission in Afghanistan.

Speaking in Ottawa, Defence Minister Peter MacKay said earlier the decisions to focus Canadian resources on Arghandab does not signal a change in direction for the mission, nor does it threaten the vaunted “model village” project in the Dand district to the south.

The model village concept, largely credited to Menard’s predecessor, Brig. Gen. Jonathan Vance, is a uniquely Canadian combination of security, development and political outreach designed to win over public support and drive out insurgents in smaller rural areas outside the city.

“The Americans have paid us an enormous compliment,” MacKay said of Canada’s added responsibilities. “They trust us. They appreciate our expertise.”

The move won’t change Canada’s mind about its own scheduled 2011 exit date, “nor does it affect our ongoing responsibility with Kandahar city” and the projects already begun, he added.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said he welcomes the increase in U.S. troops.

“We are pleased that the objectives of the U.S. policy are complementary to Canada’s own priorities,” Cannon said in a new release following Obama’s address.

“Canada has a significant civilian contingent on the ground in Afghanistan working alongside their military colleagues to ensure our programs and policies are helping the Afghan government to build a stable, democratic and self-sufficient society.”

Obama’s decision will put pressure on other NATO allies to either contribute more troops or in cases like Canada, extend existing commitments.

“I think it’ll have a positive influence on how other countries think about whether or not they should commit,” Hodges said in an interview prior to Obama’s announcement. “I personally… would love to see the Canadians stay here as long as is necessary, but I understand each nation has to make its own decisions.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has already asked France for an additional 1,500 troops to add to the 3,750 already in the country. She is seeking up to 7,000 more soldiers in all from the NATO alliance.

And while Canada is slated to begin a military pullout in 2011, some say it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Obama’s plan could influence the popular perception of the Afghan mission in Canada.

“I would suggest that if Obama had a strategy that Canadians would be at ease with, it’s not inconceivable the government would change its direction,” said Maj. Gen. (ret.) Terry Liston, a former chief of planning and development with the Canadian Armed Forces.

But Liston questioned whether an additional 30,000 troops would be enough to conduct a counter-insurgency properly, forcing the U.S. to rely on airstrikes and drone attacks that put civilians at risk.

With insufficient force levels, Obama would be hard-pressed to distinguish his military approach from his predecessor, George W. Bush, who focused on the counter-terrorism dimension.

“The extent that it seems to be a continuation of the (former U.S. secretary of defence Donald) Rumsfield approach, it’s not going to cause a rethink in Canada,” Liston said.

http://ca.news.yahoo.com/s/capress/091201/national/afghan_cda_obama