Wednesday, March 30, 2011

U.S. launches new missile barrage at Libya

From: Army Times
Stepping up attacks far from the front-line fighting, a U.S. Navy ship fired 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles at weapon storage sites around Tripoli on Tuesday, while President Obama said the effectiveness of the allies’ fight is a factor in deciding whether to arm the rebels.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, meanwhile, held talks in London with an envoy from the Libyan political opposition group trying to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi.

In Washington, under questioning by Congress, NATO Supreme Allied Commander Adm. James Stavridis said officials had seen “flickers” of possible al-Qaida and Hezbollah involvement with the rebel forces. But Stavridis said there was no evidence of significant numbers within the political opposition group’s leadership.

The Tomahawks targeted storage sites for surface-to-surface missiles near the Libyan capital, while combat aircraft of the U.S. and its partners in an international air campaign struck at ammunition storage depots and other military targets in western Libya. The rebels, though, were reported in full retreat after trying to march on Sirte, a city about halfway between Tripoli and the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi.

In an interview with ABC News, Obama conceded that “it’s conceivable that the process of actually getting Gadhafi to step down is not going to happen overnight ... it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Whether the rebels will receive arms from the allies remains an open question, Obama told NBC News as he made the rounds of the network evening news programs.

“One of the questions that we want to answer is: Do we start getting to a stage where Gadhafi’s forces are sufficiently degraded, where it may not be necessary to arm opposition groups?” Obama said.

All 22 Tomahawks were launched from the guided-missile destroyer Barry, according to a U.S. defense official. It was the highest number of Tomahawks fired in several days, even as the Navy has reduced the number of missile-firing ships and submarines off the coast and as the U.S. has prepared to give NATO full control of the Libya campaign.

The Libyan missiles targeted by the U.S. onslaught could have been used by pro-Gadhafi forces defending Tripoli, should heavy combat spread to the capital, which remains under Gadhafi’s control. The rebels are outmatched in training, equipment and other measures of military might by Gadhafi’s remaining forces, and would be hard-pressed to mount a full-scale battle for Tripoli now.

As for the overall international campaign against Gadhafi, Stavridis said he expected a three-star Canadian general to assume full NATO command of the operation by Thursday. Meanwhile, the Pentagon put the price tag for the war thus far at $550 million.

Clinton told reporters in London that the U.S. is operating with incomplete information about the Libyan opposition. But she said there was no information about specific individuals from terror organizations that are part of the political opposition.

“We’re building an understanding, but at this time obviously it is, as I say, a work in progress,” she said. “We don’t know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know.”

The Obama administration is not ruling out a political solution in Libya that could include Gadhafi leaving the country, she said, but she acknowledged there is no timeline.

Clinton met with Mahmoud Jibril, a representative of the Libyan political opposition.

“Their commitment to democracy and to a very robust engagement with people from across the spectrum of Libyans is, I think, appropriate,” she said.

A senior administration official said the U.S. will soon send an envoy to Libya to deepen relations with leaders of the rebels. But the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, said the meeting wouldn’t constitute formal recognition.

Chris Stevens, who until recently was the deputy chief of mission at the now-shuttered U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, will make that trip.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said that the opposition leaders Obama officials have met with have expressed views that correspond with U.S. goals.

“We’ve spent a lot of time looking at the opposition and now meeting with opposition leaders,” Carney told reporters. “The folks who were in London, the leaders that Secretary Clinton met [previously] in Paris have made clear what their principles are. And we believe that they are meritorious.”

Carney added: “That doesn’t mean, obviously, that everyone who opposes Moammar Gadhafi in Libya is someone whose ideals we could support.”

The pace of air strikes by the U.S. and its international partners has picked up in recent days. The Pentagon said there were 119 strikes on Monday, up from 107 on Sunday and 88 on Saturday.

Clinton said international leaders have made no decisions about arming the rebels, but they talked at a London conference on Tuesday about providing non-lethal assistance including funds to keep them going. In his speech to the nation on Monday, Obama pledged that $33 billion in Libyan government funds frozen by the U.S. Treasury would at some point be made available to the Libyan people.

Obama said the U.S. was stepping back from the lead military role in Libya, although the extent of future participation remained unclear.

The president continued to take political heat for his approach, with Republicans leading the criticism.

They vowed to press senior administration officials for greater clarity at closed briefings slated for Wednesday. Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen are to brief members of the House and then meet with members of the Senate.

“The president’s remarks were a step in the right direction. They didn’t answer every question, but we’ll continue to pose those to Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky told reporters.

Obama received strong backing for his efforts in Libya from his 2008 presidential rival, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

“The president’s decision to intervene in Libya deserves strong bipartisan support in Congress” and in the country, McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor.

“We have prevented the worst outcome in Libya, but we have not secured our goal,” he said, stressing that Gadhafi must go.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Service Committee, said Obama needs to further refine U.S. purposes.

“I still did not hear a clearly defined goal for how long military operations will last in Libya,” McKeon said. “Utilizing U.S. warriors to protect civilians from a brutal dictator is a noble cause, but asking them to maintain a stalemate while we hold out hope that Gadhafi will voluntarily leave his country raises serious questions about the duration of the mission.”


Kaneda said...

It's a good thing to help the resistance IMO.

consuela bananahammoc said...

:( don't start with the bombing...

Anita Johnson said...

Wow when will it end...

mac-and-me said...

Some facts about Libya
-most advanced state in north africa
-only state that actually blocks illegal immigrants to central europe
-for years good friend of france,italy and germany
and now they say the rebels which are linked to al qaida and are islamist extremists are the good guys? and they wanna protect the population?
and the worst thing is the media is backing em up
we live in a mind controlled world, so sad

Banacek said...

Don't worry. Canada will be in charge.

Daily01 said...

Remember this: wars are fought for economic profit, not for moral and ethics.

Jay.CA said...

oh no, i thought the US involvement was over. :(

CandleintheDark said...


The rebels being connected to Al Queda is just what Qaddafi is using to justify his slaughter of civilians. That is what he is blaming for the uprising, when it is actually general popular uprising. It was probably more economic than political but you can blame islamists

psyke said...

@Bancek Canada now has guns?

Anonymous said...

Lame, it seems to be firing all up again :S

Devon Davidson said...

Wake me up when this is all over.

SOMS said...

lol i had never seen Obama with a cigarette

Lemmiwinks said...

great post. following you

ExoticBlogger said...

down with Gaddaffi! said...

Christ boming and what not, cant every one just start blogging out there anger insteed? XD

Green Bus said...

Those missiles are powerful, man.

Patti D. said...

this is so sad, killing so many people...

FrenchNeo said...

I don't know what to think about this war..

Andrew said...

I'm still on the fence with this one.

Chris said...

I was wondering how long it was going to take France to surrender to Libya.

Danny Murphy said...

It's becoming increasingly clear that everyone has charged off into this with little understanding of what they're doing, where this is going, what the goal is, when it ends, how it ends, and why.

The rush to recognise a rag-tag bunch of local hooligans as a government in exile remains mystifying..

What is now becoming apparent is that a no-fly zone is not enough, and Gaddhafi will regain control of the country, reak whatever havoc he may on the rebels or anyone else. What happens next is interesting. He will preside over an effective failed state - right on the doorstep of Europe. He will hold no official status in the UN, or any other international bodies, and his government will not be recognised by many others. He will renegotiate oil deals with China and Russia, resume a WMD programme (after all, that is what truly deters the spineless western nations), and quite possibly return to state-sponsored terrorism.

The only way to avoid this extremely unpleasant, but now extremely likely outcome is to ratchet up the use of force against him. This inolves Milosovic style bombing, arming rebels (who ever they may be), and probably, to be quite honest, feet on the ground, followed by extensive Iraq style nation-building

Randy truckguy! said...

This war is just confusing dunno what to say lol

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