The United States is moving warships, planes and troops close to Libya and two assault ships passed through the Suez Canal Wednesday morning.
The USS Ponce and the USS Kearge, carrying approximately 400 marines passed through the waterway on the way to eastern Libya, where rebels are in control as Muammar Qaddafi continues to rule in Tripoli.
The U.S. Armed Forces Monday set up bases in eastern Libya, joining British and French special forces as a “no-fly” order looms. Russia has vehemently objected to military intervention that would prevent Qaddafi from using planes to bomb protesters, arguing that such an order would be illegal.
The Arab League, which has joined virtually the entire world in denouncing Qaddafi for slaughtering demonstrators, also objected to the use of foreign militaries.
The United Nations Security Council on Saturday slapped economic and military sanctions against Qaddafi, and Mark Lyall Grant, British ambassador to the United Nations, said a no-fly order is possible.
“We will look at what is happening on the ground, and we will look to take whatever measures we consider necessary to respond to events on the ground,” said Grant after the international body’s General Assembly suspended Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the Obama administration is “actively considering” a no-fly zone over Libya but told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Tuesday that the opposition in Libya wants it to be understood that “there not be outside intervention by any external force,’ ’meaning foreign forces not acting through the United Nations.
Qaddafi and the rebels are at a stand-off, with the opposition having downed at least one of the dictator’s planes and repelling other attempts to re-take the city of Benghazi in the east.
The Provisional Revolutionary Council is considering asking for international help under the auspices of the United Nations to bomb Qaddafi’s military bases.
“He destroyed the army. We have [only] two or three planes,’’ said Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, the council’s spokesman.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates yesterday opposed direct military intervention by the United States, already bogged by the invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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