Mixed Signals on Possible Occupation of Libya
August 25, 2011
Jeremy Sapienza / AntiWar.com & Anwar Iqbal / The Dawn
Though it's been insisted for months that there would never be US "boots on the ground" in Libya, an administration known to play word games with military action could yet have other plans up its sleeve. Other countries are talking about a "world role" in helping the Libyan rebels form a proper government -- not least Italy, whose state oil company has already sent a team to Benghazi to talk crude.
Mixed Signals on Possible Occupation of Libya
Jeremy Sapienza / AntiWar.com
(August 22, 2011) -- As rebels rush into Tripoli and the imminent collapse of the 42-year Gadhafi regime approaches, much about Libya’s future remains up in the air.
Though it's been insisted for months that there would never be US "boots on the ground" in Libya, an administration known to play word games with military action could yet have other plans up its sleeve.
Other countries are talking about a "world role" in helping the Libyan rebels form a proper government -- not least Italy, whose state oil company has already sent a team to Benghazi to talk crude.
The White House is still saying it will not send any troops to occupy Libya even if other countries do.
"If there is going to be some kind of transitional mission that involves any kind of foreign troops, there wouldn’t be U.S. ground troops as part of that," Pentagon spokesman Dave Lapan told Reuters. However, there are many other types of personnel that would not come under the "troops" label, including CIA operatives, known to be in the country as early as March.
And John McCain, a leading congressional proponent of the NATO war in Libya, spoke to Face the Nation about the coming struggle to build a democratic state in Tripoli due to disagreements among Libya's disparate tribes. He alluded to difficulties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the two countries where the US continues to be bogged down in nation building, before saying "now it's going to be up to us and the Europeans." It's not clear what exactly this means, but it isn’t likely a hands-off plan.
The Associated Press paints other countries as eager to get in on the post-Gadhafi action, even saying in the headline that the world will "plan future." Britain will soon release Gadhafi’s cash to the Transitional National Council to "help establish order" somehow, and France, ever more hands-on, will organize an international meeting to talk about the future of Libya.
United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said his organization was also planning meetings with various other international groups, and the European Union is making its own plans.
Qatar is less worried about an interventionist image, openly providing military trainers and direct financing of the rebel council. Qatar has also been providing weapons; the Gulf state gets most of its arms from the United States.
Italy, for its part, was the first to rush to Benghazi after reports Tripoli was taken, to discuss future oil projects with the TNC. Libya has massive oil wealth and regime change will shake up the distribution of oil rights among many international corporations, and some argue this was the goal all along.
The US and other countries' oil conglomerates are poised to make out big after the recent war, and Italy’s Eni will have to scramble to retain rights the Americans sought to undermine, according to leaked diplomatic cables.
Oil company shares rose 3-5% since the rebels reportedly took Tripoli, and will certainly rise more with better regime certainty.
No US Troops for Libya Peace Mission, Says Pentagon
Anwar Iqbal / The Dawn
LAHORE & WASHINGTON (August 23, 2011) -- The United States said on Tuesday that it would not send its ground forces into Libya, even for peacekeeping operations.
The Obama administration also has decided to unfreeze about $35 billion of Libyan assets in the United States and send more than a billion dollars to the Transitional National Council within days, officials said.
US and NATO officials are also quietly encouraging the TNC to name an interim government to replace the crumbling Qadhafi regime.
At the Pentagon, spokesman Col Dave Lapan told reporters that the US had no plan to send ground forces into Libya, even to assist international peacekeeping efforts. There will be no US troops in Libya even after the Qadhafi regime is replaced.
Col Lapan also said that US official believed Col Qadhafi was still in Libya, but did not offer further detail on his presumed whereabouts. He said US surveillance operations over Libya, as part of the NATO mission, were expected to continue in the coming days.
Earlier, President Barack Obama noted in a televised speech that the Qadhafi regime had been brought close to a collapse “without putting a single US troop on the ground” and he intended to continue this policy.
At the State Department, spokesperson Victoria Nuland said the US might transfer between $1 billion and $1.5 billion of frozen Libyan assets in the US to the TNC within days.
US Ambassador to the UN Susan E. Rice said the United States was already working with the world body to remove “legal and diplomatic hurdles to begin the process of unfreezing” between $33 to $35 billion of Libyan assets.
Meanwhile, the US media reported that as efforts to form an interim government in Libya began, the NTC's chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, a former justice minister, emerged as the frontrunner. Mr Jalil is popular in the east and has a reputation for integrity but it is not clear if he is interested.
Mahmoud Jibril, the head of the NTC's executive board, is second on the list. Other names include Ali Tarhouni, a member of the executive board, and Shokri Ghanem, a former prime minister.
Meanwhile, the Pentagon noted that the US had so far spent $896 million on military operations in Libya.
The price tag includes the amounts for daily air operations in the initial days of the uprising, munitions used in the operation and humanitarian assistance for the Libyan people.
The US has also promised $25 million in non-lethal aid to the Libyan Transitional National Council.
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