President Obama Says Gaddafi May Wait Out Military Assault

03/22/2011 10:17 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011
  • Reuters/The Huffington Post

March 23, 2011 1:03:24 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may try to wait out a no-fly zone and military assault that has damaged his armed forces, President Barack Obama said Tuesday in an interview with CNN.

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``Gaddafi may try to hunker down and wait it out even in the face of the no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded,'' Obama said.

The U.S. president's comments acknowledged the longtime Libyan leader's staying power and the limits of a U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya that the United States and European countries are enforcing, with some Arab support.

U.S. officials have made clear Gaddafi's ouster would be welcome but was not the goal of the air strikes. Obama said the no-fly zone was meant to ensure ``the people of Libya aren't assaulted by their own military.''

Obama, in El Salvador on the last leg of a Latin America trip, said there were other ways the international community could try to oust Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya for 41 years.

``Keep in mind we don't just have military tools at our disposal in terms of accomplishing Gaddafi's leaving,'' he said. ''We've put in place strong international sanctions. We've frozen his assets. We will continue to apply a whole range of pressure on him.''

Asked what he would do to help the Libyan rebels, Obama said he was discussing possible measures with U.S. partners in the Libya coalition.

``I think - our hope is - that the first thing that can happen once we've cleared the space is that the rebels are able to start discussing how they organize themselves, how they articulate their aspirations for the Libyan people and create a legitimate government,'' he told CNN. (Reporting by Bill Trott; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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04/01/2011 10:39 PM EDT

Deaths In Misrata

@ BreakingNews : Anti-Gadhafi fighters in Misurata say 28 people had died in the city in the past three days - Al Jazeera http://bit.ly/ecR130

04/01/2011 6:40 PM EDT

Wife Of Former Foreign Minister Who Defected Reportedly Seized

Gaddafi forces have reportedly captured the wife of Moussa Koussa, the former Foreign Minister who defected while in England. Reports the Telegraph:

The wife of the Libyan foreign minister who defected to Britain earlier this week has been seized by Colonel Gaddafi and is being interrogated by his "internal security" officials, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

She is thought to have been captured amid eyewitness reports of a fierce gunfight at Col Gaddafi's central Tripoli compound as the regime stepped in to stop further defections.

Yesterday, local residents recalled how the most fierce firefight yet seen in central Tripoli had erupted within hours of the regime confirming that the Foreign Minister had defected.

Read the entire report here.

04/01/2011 6:36 PM EDT

U.S. Military Combat Missions To End

NBC's Ann Curry tweets that the U.S. will move to support missions only:

@ AnnCurry : NBCNews: US military will stop flying COMBAT missions over Libya, only SUPPORT missions incl reconnaissance, starting April 2.

04/01/2011 5:51 PM EDT

Fact Check: Senate Did Approve No Fly Zone

Despite complaints to the contrary, the U.S. Senate actually did support a no-fly zone over Libya. The AP reports:

Some lawmakers are grousing loudly that President Barack Obama sent the nation's military to Libya without Congress' blessing. They're ignoring a key fact: The Senate a month ago voted to support imposing a no-fly zone to protect civilians from attacks by Col. Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

With no objections, the Senate on March 1 backed a resolution strongly condemning "the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya" and urging the U.N. Security Council to take action, "including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory."

There was no recorded vote. It was simply approved by unanimous consent.

04/01/2011 3:48 PM EDT

Government Rejects Rebels' Ceasefire

Reuters reports:

@ Reuters : FLASH: Libyan government rejects rebels' conditions for ceasefire, says troops will not leave Libyan cities

Reuters adds:

"They are asking us to withdraw from our own cities. .... If this is not mad then I don't know what this is. We will not leave out cities," said Mussa Ibrahim, the government spokesman.

Read more here.

04/01/2011 3:02 PM EDT

'Don't Arm The Rebels, Train Them'

Robert Haddick, writing at Foreign Policy, argues that the rebels need combat skills much more than they need heavy artillery. He writes:

On March 30, it was reported that CIA officers were in Libya with the rebels, making an assessment of their situation and possibly directing airstrikes in support of their fighters. We can gather from open sources much of what these intelligence officers are likely to report. As a military force, Libya's rebels are a disorganized rabble and seem incapable of preparing and holding defensive positions or maneuvering effectively against rudimentary enemy resistance. The rebels need boot camp, fundamental infantry training, and the development of some battlefield leaders, not a new stockpile of weapons.

Those Western leaders whose plan currently consists of hoping that Qaddafi will be spontaneously overthrown need to think again. Absent a Western invasion of the country, the rebel force is the only means of removing Qaddafi, and the rebels will need many months or even years of training before they are capable of defeating loyalist ground units and marching all the way to Tripoli.

Read the entire piece here.

04/01/2011 2:59 PM EDT

Gunfire In Gaddafi's Compound

Gunfire has been reported in Gaddafi's compound. Reuters reports:

Sustained gunfire rang out near Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's heavily fortified compound in Tripoli on Friday and residents said they saw snipers on rooftops and pools of blood on the streets.

It was not clear what triggered long bursts of machinegun and automatic gunfire that echoed around the city center for about 20 minutes and stopped before dawn.

Cars were heard speeding along central Tripoli streets, their tires screeching on the asphalt. Distant shouting or chanting also was heard.

04/01/2011 12:02 PM EDT

Journalist Describes His Ordeal In Libya

A journalist who was picked up by Libyan security details his ordeal. Here's an excerpt of his story from Reuters:

We sat quietly. I turned to Chris, a London-based Canadian I had worked with in Iraq. I said I thought they would kill us.

A soldier opened the lock and the rear door swung open again. We looked down at the back of a station wagon which had been opened up to reveal some blankets. I thought they would perhaps drive us away. Maybe they were going to free us?

But a closer look showed feet poking under the blankets.

Soldiers then pulled aside the coverings and hauled three handcuffed young men up and in beside us. When we were locked in again, they told us they were Libyan university students.

Later, several soldiers came in. "Who are you?" one asked me. We are Reuters journalists, I said. He is our driver. We have permission. We were invited here by your government.

The soldier shook his head. "Bad time to be a journalist in Libya." Reporters were part of a foreign conspiracy against Libya, he said. But then he made it clear that if they decided we were not journalists but spies, that would be worse.

"If you tell us the truth, it should be fine, God willing. But if we catch you lying, oh we will show no mercy. None."

Read the rest here.

04/01/2011 11:37 AM EDT

Rebels Make Oil Deal With Qatar

Libyan rebels have made a deal to sell oil to Qatar. Reports the AP:

A plan to sell rebel-held oil to buy weapons and other supplies has been reached with Qatar, a rebel official said Friday, in another sign of deepening aid for Libya's opposition by the wealthy Gulf state after sending warplanes to help confront Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

It was not immediately clear when the possible oil sales could begin or how the arms would reach the rebel factions, but any potential revenue stream would be a significant lifeline for the militias and military defectors battling Gadhafi's superior forces.

04/01/2011 9:56 AM EDT

Gaddafi Forces Attack Homes In Misrata

Gaddafi forces are attacking home in Misrata, according to rebels. Reuters reports:

Forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi are mounting an intense artillery bombardment of rebel-held Misrata and pro-Gaddafi troops are attacking shops and homes in the city center, a rebel spokesman said.

Misrata is the last big rebel stronghold in western Libya but after weeks of shelling and encirclement, government forces appear to be gradually loosening the rebels' hold on the city, despite Western air strikes on pro-Gaddafi targets there.