01 MAR 2011
EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Fighter jets, aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean, a no-fly zone over Libya and arming the rebels are all options being weighed up by the US and its EU allies, as a defiant Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi is continuing to cling onto power and is ordering airstrikes on towns and arms depots.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday (28 February), British Prime Minister David Cameron said the UK is "taking the lead" in isolating the "illegitimate" Gaddafi regime, including by military means.
"We must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people. In that context I have asked the Ministry of Defence and the chief of the Defence Staff to work with our allies on plans for a military no-fly zone," he said.
When pressed by a Conservative MP on whether the Libyan opposition could be supplied with weapons, Mr Cameron replied: "It's certainly something we should be considering."
In France, Prime Minister Francois Fillon confirmed that "all options are on the table," including a no-fly zone. A military option is being "evaluated by the French government," he said.
Meanwhile, in Geneva, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said a no-fly zone was being discussed among European allies and the US.
Her American counterpart, Hillary Clinton, said: "Nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyans."
Meanwhile, a Pentagon spokesman said US military planners are working on "various contingency plans" and "repositioning" military ships in the Mediterranean so that they are closer to the Libyan border so as to provide more "flexibility once decisions are made."
The US and a number of European countries, including Britain and Germany, have already flown military aircraft into the Libyan desert to help with evacuation efforts, with Mr Cameron unveiling that one of the C-130 Hercules planes suffered "minor damage from small arms fire" after a rescue operation.
As Russia and China seem unwilling to back the idea of a no-fly zone in the UN Security Council, the US and its European allies may go for a Nato decision instead, as was the case during the war in Yugoslavia, a spokesman for the US State Department suggested.
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