Libyan opposition groups seek U.S. support, calls for air strikes against Qaddafi

 

Growing anger: Baying protesters in the city of al-Zawiya, west of Tripoli demand Gaddafi leave the country as Western countries considered military action.

Libya’s opposition is increasingly seeking U.S. military support to push out Col. Gadhafi. Libyan dissidents held meetings with the State Department in Washington this week in which they called for greater logistical support from U.S. and NATO forces, and possibly targeted military strikes on against Col. Gadhafi’s air force, tanks and troops.

Libya’s opposition is increasingly seeking U.S. military support to push out Col. Gadhafi. Libyan dissidents held meetings with the State Department in Washington this week in which they called for greater logistical support from U.S. and NATO forces, and possibly targeted military strikes on against Col. Gadhafi’s air force, tanks and troops.

“We’re worried this conflict could drag on,” said Ali Rishi, among the dissidents who met with the State Department this week. “We don’t want Gadhafi to feel he can survive.”

A senior State Department official confirmed the U.S. has met with a variety of Libyan opposition figures this week but wouldn’t discuss the details. “There were a variety of views expressed,” he said.

The U.S. has said it wouldn’t rule out any steps to ensure Col. Gadhafi exits power, as the White House and international community continue to exert pressure. The United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday suspended Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council over the violent crackdown on protesters.

On Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Congress that Libya risks falling into “civil war” unless the international community offers a more coordinated response to the bloodshed there. “In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy, or it could face protracted civil war, or it could descend into chaos,” she said.

Abdel-Hassib Ghogah, vice president of the Libyan Provisional Council, has called for a no-fly zone over Libya.

The Pentagon announced it has begun to ‘reposition’ warships including an aircraft carrier with 90 fighter aircraft to join a no-fly zone. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said: ‘The no-fly zone is an option we are actively considering. All options are on the table.’

Closing in: The nuclear-powered USS Enterprise, bristling with warplanes, has left pirate-hunting duty off Somalia and is now heading towards Libya.

Under the plans, Britain, the U.S. and other Nato allies would police a no-fly zone with different air forces providing cover at different times. The flight ban may cover the whole of Libya, or areas under rebel control.

Britain could deploy up to 59 Eurofighter Typhoons from RAF Coningsby and RAF Leuchars in Scotland – leaving 12 for home air defence. They are expected to fly from RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, where British ‘eye in the sky’ AWACS aircraft are already stationed.

If troops are needed, a detachment of the Mercian regiment, earmarked for Afghanistan, is available in Cyprus. The Parachute regiment or the Royal Marines are the more likely options.  Gadhafi is quickly running out of options, especially since the oil revenue is no longer coming in at the same pace it used to.

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