In a qualitatively different reaction than the one taken toward other governments facing uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, the Pentagon announced Feb. 28 that the U.S. military is repositioning naval and air forces around Libya, in apparent preparation for military intervention. The Pentagon now has two aircraft carriers in its naval command region that includes the Arabian Sea and Gulf.
Colonel David Lapan, a Pentagon spokesperson, was quoted by Reuters as saying, “We have planners working and various contingency plans and I think it’s safe to say as part of that we’re repositioning forces to be able to provide for that flexibility once decisions are made … to be able to provide options and flexibility … We’re still in that planning and preparing mode should we be called upon to do any of those types of missions, whether humanitarian and otherwise.”
The U.S. government also announced that it was consulting its allies about military options for dealing with Libya, including possibly declaring a no-fly zone over the Libya. The United States had a no-fly zone over northern Iraq before the U.S. invasion and occupation of that country. U.S. officials stress that all options, including military ones, are on the table.
President Obama is calling on Muammar Gadhafi to step down immediately. White House spokesperson Jay Carney threatened that even if Gadhafi does step down, his government “must be held accountable for their actions,” presumably through international criminal trials.
These verbal threats were backed up by the large scale military maneuvers and a full court press on international bodies to implement strict sanctions against Libya. Under pressure from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Geneva on Feb. 28 to press the U.S. government’s plan, the European Union instituted an arms embargo, visa ban and other sanctions on Libya’s government. Likewise the United Nations Security Council unanimously voted to levy strong sanctions against Libya.
At the same time, powerful U.S. Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman clamored for the Obama administration to intervene militarily by arming the Libyan opposition, which reportedly has control of the eastern part of the country. The senators also called on the U.S. government to immediately recognize a new provisional government. Secretary of State Clinton confirmed that the U.S. is reaching out to Libyan rebels and is “ready and prepared to offer any type of assistance.”
The U.S. government’s rush to militarily intervene in Libya is driven largely by a desire to gain control over Libya’s oil production and vast oil reserves. Libya is one of the world’s top ten oil-producing countries. Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world. Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production, high quality oil and proximity to European markets.
According to Steff Yorek, of Freedom Road Socialist Organization, “In the context of continuing U.S. occupation in Iraq and war in Afghanistan, anti-war activists in the U.S. must firmly oppose these U.S. war threats against Libya. U.S. military intervention would only bring suffering and oppression to the Libyan people. We support self-determination in Libya, not having the U.S. or other Western powers impose who they want through massive military force. The U.S. government doesn’t care about Libyan people’s rights or lives; they’re making a power grab for Libya’s oil.”