US President Obama considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A portrait of US President Barack Obama
Image: Pete Souza.

United States President Barack Obama revealed Tuesday that he is considering supplying arms to Libyan rebels, among other things. Obama was quoted as saying, "if we [USA] wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could."

During an interview with NBC News, Obama disclosed he is, "not ruling it out. But I'm also not ruling it in. We're still making an assessment partly about what Gaddafi's forces are going to be doing." Obama also informed that he would be willing to negotiate a deal with Gaddafi; however, one clause would involve Gadaffi resigning from the leadership post.

Obama does not believe it is time for formal negotiations yet as he does not think Gaddafi has reached the point where he needs a quick way out.

Also mentioned in the interview was the strategy being used in Libya. "What we've also done is put Gaddafi back on his heels — at this point. In addition to maintaining a no-fly zone, protecting civilian populations, we also have political tools, diplomatic tools, sanctions, freezing his assets, all of which continue to tighten the noose."

Obama reiterated that same view on ABC News saying in an interview, "I think what we're seeing is that the circle around Gaddafi understands that the noose is tightening, that their days are probably numbered, and they are going to have to think through what their next steps are."

Meanwhile, in an interview with CBS News, Obama said of the rebels leaders that U.S. officials have met with are "[F]ully vetted, so we have a clear sense of who they are, and so far they're saying the right things, and most of them are professionals, lawyers, doctors, people who appear to be credible."

This comes after the NATO supreme commander, Admiral James G. Stavridis said there were "flickers" of al-Qaeda and Hezbollah in Libya. In response, Obama said on CBS, "[T]hat doesn't mean that all the people, among all the people who opposed Qaddafi, there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests. That's why I think it's important for us not to jump in with both feet."

As for the rebels themselves, Mahmoud Shammam, a spokesman for the rebels told the New York Times, "We ask for political support more than arms, but if we have both, that would be good."


Sources

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