Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Obama faces pressure to intervene in Libya

Pressure mounted on the White House on Tuesday to intervene to stop Muammar Gaddafi's bloody crackdown on democracy protests as a lawmaker close to President Barack Obama urged oil firms to halt work in Libya.

The United States faced calls to impose sanctions but also to take direct action such as bombing Libyan airfields and imposing no-fly zones -- military steps that most analysts consider unlikely. Some critics questioned Obama's silence on the violence in which hundreds of Libyans have died.

U.S. officials called for an end to the violence but seemed to rule out any unilateral action, stressing the United States was working with other countries on a way forward.

Senator John Kerry, the influential chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the White House to consider reimposing tough sanctions on Libya.

"World leaders must together put Colonel Gaddafi on notice that his cowardly actions will have consequences," Kerry said.

The White House said it was studying Kerry's proposal to reimpose sanctions that were lifted by the Bush administration but, for now, was focused on ending the bloodshed, which sent U.S. oil prices to near 2-1/2-year highs. ...

U.S. options to influence events in Libya are limited, unlike in Egypt and Bahrain where Washington was able to bring pressure to bear as a long-time ally and benefactor. U.S. foreign aid to Libya was less than $1 million in 2010.

Military action does not appear to be on the table, although the United States has not shied from the use of force against Gaddafi in the past. It bombed Tripoli and Libya's second city, Benghazi, in 1986 in retaliation for an attack on a West Berlin disco used by U.S. military personnel.

"There is absolutely no talk of military intervention," said Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution in Washington. "We don't know the opposition and it is not clear that they would be on our side."...


via Obama faces pressure to intervene in Libya | Reuters.

Woah. Let's hope the CIA has better Intel than the Brookings Institution about the opposition to Gaddafi. ;-) Assuming they do, this is another way of saying Gaddafi is the lesser of evils for US interests.

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