U.S. repositioning military around Libya

Posted on February 28, 2011

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Gadhafi and those around him must be held accountable,’ Clinton says
The Associated Press / cbc.ca
Posted: Feb 28, 2011 7:14 AM ET
Last Updated: Feb 28, 2011 12:24 PM ET
The U.S. military is repositioning its naval and air forces around Libya to provide “flexibility once decisions are made,” a Pentagon spokesman said.

Col. David Lapan told Reuters also said there are “various contingency plans” in place for the North African country, where longtime leader Moammar Ghadafi’s forces and rebels in the east remain locked in a tense standoff.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton kept up pressure for Gadhafi to step down, and told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, on Monday that “nothing is off the table” as long as Gadhafi threatens Libya’s citizens.

“Gadhafi and those around him must be held accountable for these acts, which violate international legal obligations and common decency,” Clinton said.

The Associated Press is reporting that the U.S. is also sending aid teams to Libya’s borders with Egypt and Algeria to help refugees.
International pressure grows

International pressure is growing for Gadhafi to step down.

The U.S., Canada, Britain and the UN Security Council all slapped sanctions on Libya over the weekend, and the European Union did the same Monday.

British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country is working on plans for a no-fly zone over Libya, and Reuters reported Qatar’s prime minister called for Gadhafi to step down in a rare Arab call for his resignation.

In Paris, Prime Minister Francois Fillon said Monday that France was sending two planes with humanitarian aid to Benghazi.

“It will be the beginning of a massive operation of humanitarian support for the populations of liberated territories,” he said on RTL radio.
Gadhafi makes stand in Tripoli

Meanwhile, Gadhafi continued his clampdown Monday in Tripoli, as the two sides in Libya’s crisis appeared entrenched.

Gadhafi’s opponents, including mutinous army units, hold nearly the entire eastern half of the country, much of the oil infrastructure and some cities in the west. Gadhafi is making his stand in Tripoli and nearby cities, backed by better armed security forces and militiamen.

In the two opposition-held cities closest to Tripoli — Zawiya and Misrata — the standoff continued between rebel forces and Gadhafi loyalists.In the capital, several hundred protesters started a march in the eastern district of Tajoura, which has been the scene of frequent clashes. After the burial of a person killed in gunfire last week, mourners began to march down a main street, chanting against the Libyan leader and waving the flag of Libya’s pre-Gadhafi monarchy, which has become a symbol of the uprising, a witness said.

But once a brigade of pro-Gadhafi fighters rushed to the scene, the mourners quickly dispersed before the gunmen could fire a shot, the witness said. He and other residents in the capital spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Earlier Monday, there had been attempts to restore aspects of normalcy, residents said. Many stores downtown reopened, and traffic increased. Libyans lined up outside banks, wanting to receive the equivalent of $392 Cdn per family that Gadhafi pledged in a bid to shore up public loyalty.One resident told The Associated Press that the price of rice, a main staple, has gone up 500 per cent amid the crisis, reaching the equivalent of $39 for a five-kilogram bag.

Some schools reopened but only for half a day, and attendance was low.

“My kids are too afraid to leave home and they even sleep next to me at night,” said Sidiq al-Damjah, 41 and father of three. “I feel like I’m living a nightmare.”

Gadhafi has launched by far the bloodiest crackdown in a wave of anti-government uprisings sweeping the Arab world, the most serious challenge to his four decades in power.

Dimitri Soudas, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s communications director, tweeted Monday morning that a Canadian Armed Forces C17 landed in Malta with Canadians and other nationals who had been in Libya, and a British ship was “due to arrive in Malta shortly” with 33 Canadians.

Foreign Affairs said earlier Monday that a total of 255 Canadians had been evacuated from Libya so far.
Unrest displaces migrant workers

The unrest has displaced thousands of migrant workers who have been abandoned by companies that have closed shop and left their employees behind.CBC’s Carolyn Dunn, reporting from the eastern rebel stronghold of Benghazi on Monday, was at one camp for internally displaced people, where 10 Libyan volunteers were looking after the needs of 2,200 workers from places such as Bangladesh, Thailand, Pakistan and India.

“Neither their countries nor their companies seems to have any intention of moving them, so at this point the Libyans are just taking them into their fold,” Dunn said.

Meanwhile, CBC’s Adrienne Arseneault said from Tunisia that tens of thousands of people, mostly Egyptian workers, were streaming across the border from Libya. The workers line the roads just inside the Tunisian border with inadequate infrastructure to help them.

“It started with ordinary Tunisians driving up here in their pickup trucks full of fresh bread to hand out,” she said. “They quickly realized that for all their good intentions they cannot deal with this level of crisis.”

The EU says that Gadhafi no longer controls most of the oil and gas fields in the country.

EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger said control is in the hands of regional families or provisional regional leaders that have emerged from the revolt and chaos.

The unrest in the North African nation has sent shudders through global oil markets, with concern centring on the possibility that the unrest could spread to other OPEC members, triggering a major supply crunch that would propel prices forward and potentially undercut global economic recovery efforts.
With files from CBC News

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