US President Barack Obama launched a number of diplomatic and military steps Monday. March 7 pointing toward preparation for US and NATO intervention in the Libyan civil war – notwithstanding objections from the Pentagon and US military chiefs. debkafile's intelligence and Washington sources report that the administration was behind the appeal Monday by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan for UN Security Council protection for the Libyan people. The appeal's purpose was to extend the sanctions resolution against Muammar Qaddafi to include military intervention. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded instantly that Moscow is against any "foreign intervention" in Libya, indicating a Russian veto would block a new resolution.
In Brussels, NATO sources reported that Awacs surveillance flights over Libya would be extended from 10 to 24 hours a day. Our military sources report that the US Air Force alone is capable of this mission, which would be tantamount to preparations for an aerial operation against pro-Qaddafi forces.
White House spokesman Jay Carney denied that the enforcement of a no-fly zone was planned – only operations against Libyan helicopter gunships and air control towers.
He appeared to be signaling that the Obama administration was weighing different options for disabling the Libyan air force without directly intervening in those zones. That limitation was apparently applied in consideration of the objections of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Command, Adm. Mike Mullen and US Air Force chiefs to putting a large number of US warplanes in jeopardy. They have warned that Qaddafi has enough up-to-date air force and advanced anti-air missiles to blow US warplanes out of the sky.
Carney added: "The option of providing military assistance to the rebels is on the table."
He was responding to earlier reports from British sources that Washington had asked Saudi Arabia to send weapons to the Libyan rebels. debkafile reports that there was no such request of Riyadh. However, Monday night, the Libyan rebels were reported to have taken delivery of a batch of anti-air missiles.
For the first time, Washington and Brussels have received certain information partially supporting Muammar Qaddafi's claim that al Qaeda is calling the shots for the Libyan rebellion. If this intelligence is confirmed, Obama may have to back down from his intended military intervention on the side of the anti-Qaddafi insurrection.
It was also rumored in Washington Monday, that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who had strongly objected to US military action in Libya had reconsidered her position and informed the president she was now in favor.