US paves way to arm Libyan rebels

Nicholas Watt|The Guardian

Clinton tells London conference that UN security council resolution 1973 over-rode absolute prohibition of arms to Libya

Hillary Clinton has paved the way for the United States to arm the Libyan rebels by declaring that the recent UN security council resolution relaxed an arms embargo on the country.

As Libya‘s opposition leaders called for the international community to arm them, the secretary of state indicated that the US was considering whether to meet their demands when she talked of a “work in progress”.

The US indicated on Monday night that it had not ruled out arming the rebels, though it was assumed this would take some time because of a UN arms embargo which applies to all sides in Libya.

But Clinton made clear that UN security council resolution 1973, which allowed military strikes against Muammar Gaddafi‘s regime, relaxed the embargo. Speaking after the conference on Libya in London, Clinton said: “It is our interpretation that [resolution] 1973 amended or overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya so that there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country were to choose to do that. We have not made that decision at this time.”

Clinton’s remarks came after the Libyan Transitional National Council used the London conference to issue a plea to be armed.

Mahmoud Shammam, the council’s head of media, told a press conference at the Foreign Office: “We asked everybody to help us in many ways. One of them is giving our youth some real weapons.

“If you look to the reports that you have from the streets of Libya or from the cities of Libya you will see that our people have very light arms. You can see that just regular cars are fighting with machine guns. We don’t have arms at all, otherwise we finish Gaddafi in a few days. But we don’t have arms. We ask for the political support more than we are asking for the arms. But if we get both that would be great.”

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Libyan Rebels Dismiss Transition Talk As Bill Clinton Suggests Supplying Arms


BENGHAZI, Libya – The Libyan rebel leadership dismissed Monday suggestions of a transition to democracy under two of Moamar Ghadafi’s sons amid diplomatic efforts to find a solution to the standoff.

Meanwhile, the former US president Bill Clinton said Washington should consider arming the rebels, who have shown little sign of breaking past loyalist forces and threatening the capital Tripoli.

“I think that for the United States to be on the side of this freedom movement without implying that we have either interest or the capacity to send armed forces on the ground and to do everything is a good thing,” Clinton told ABC’s “Good Morning America” program.

Clinton said he took “a broader view” of America’s national interests, as Libya was not a major supplier of oil to the US.

“I think we’re trying to build a world in which people resolve their differences in non-violent ways,” he said. “And we’re trying to build a world where no ruler can cavalierly kill its unarmed civilians.”

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