Libya: David Cameron and Barack Obama plan ‘full spectrum’ of action on Libya
David Cameron and President Barack Obama have announced a “full spectrum” of action on Libya as Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces pounded two oil towns in an effort to bring the rebellion against the regime under control.
A joint British and US statement said a plan for a no-fly zone, as requested by many of the rebels, was among the ideas being discussed. Action would also include surveillance and enforcement of the arms embargo against Libya.
The two men spoke as residents of the town of Zawiyah to the west of Tripoli took to the rooftops with loudhailers to appeal to their fellow-citizens not to give up the fight as scores of tanks streamed into the central square.
Fragmented reports from the town, where telephones, electricity and the internet have all been cut, said shells were hitting residential buildings and mosques and bodies were lying in the streets.
Television footage of the two-week-long battle for control of the town showed dead bodies of soldiers lying in the streets and casualties pouring into the hospitals.
In the east of the country, rebel forces managed to maintain control of the town of Ras Lanuf, also seat of an oil terminal, despite aerial bombardment that included at least five air strikes, including on a block of flats.
But attempts to break out to the west were met with devastating government firepower, leading to a rebel decision to reinforce its volunteer troops with units of the regular army that have defected to their side but not yet been employed against their former comrades.
President Obama and his administration have been markedly more reluctant to support a no-fly zone than Mr Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy of France. But he has also come under pressure to act as Col Gaddafi’s military fightback has intensified.
The significance of control over Libya’s oil facilities was emphasised when William Hague, the foreign secretary, told MPs he was considering whether to push for international action to take billions of dollars of Libyan oil revenues away from the Gaddafi regime and put them under United Nations control.
The plan, inspired by the oil-for-food system imposed on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, would require a decision by the United Nations Security Council, which is already under pressure to impose a no-fly zone over Libya in light of Col Gaddafi’s use of air power to try to crush the rebellion against his 41-year-rule.
2012: Crossroads for Humanity:
Climate science: observations vs. models