JFP 3/31- Rogers: no sign-off on arming rebels; Brotherhood: we'll break Gaza siege
Just Foreign Policy News
March 31, 2011
*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
Contrary to the President's Speech, Removal of Qaddafi Is the Military Objective
In his speech, the President claimed that the military mission in Libya has a narrow objective of protecting civilians. But a report in the New York Times on the Administration's strategy shows that's not true: the objective of the military mission is to bomb the Libyan army until it forces Qaddafi to leave.
Matt Southworth: Libyan no-fly zone: addressing questions and dispelling myths
The problems in Libya are political problems that cannot be solved with military force.
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1) Mike Rogers, chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said that arming the Libyan rebels would require his approval and he hasn't given it, Foreign Policy reports. "Any covert action that happens would have to get the sign off of the intelligence chairmen, by statute. You won't get a sign off from me," Rogers said. "I still think arming the rebels is a horrible idea. We don't know who they are…We don't have a good picture of who's really in charge."
2) Five of the most liberal House Democrats are asking the House leadership to schedule a floor vote on authorizing the U.S. military mission in Libya, the Politico reports.
3) Rep. Brad Sherman said the Administration is sidestepping the War Powers Resolution's provisions giving Congress the ability to put a 60-day time limit on any military action, Talking Points Memo reports. "[Secretary Clinton] said they are certainly willing to send reports [to us] and if they issue a press release, they'll send that to us too," Sherman said.
4) Military leaders and Obama's civilian advisers are girding for battle over the size and pace of the planned pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer, with the military seeking to limit a reduction in combat forces and the White House pressing for a substantial withdrawal, the Washington Post reports.
5) According to Afghan Taliban sources, some of the 200 Libyan al Qaeda fighters operating near the Afghan border may be on their way home to steer the anti-Gaddafi revolution in a more Islamist direction, the Daily Beast reports. According to an Afghan Taliban commander, al Qaeda fighters can't believe their good luck that U.S. and NATO aircraft are now raining down ordnance against their enemy Gaddafi.
6) Turkey is supporting an Italian proposal to provide a safe-haven for Gaddafi if he were to go into exile, The Independent reports. But Britain and the US want him to face an investigation by the International Criminal Court. Since Britain and the US want Gaddafi to face an investigation ICC, any destination would have to be outside its jurisdiction, The Independent says; 22 African nations are outside the ICC's jurisdiction. [Many in Africa revile the ICC as they see it as having disproportionately targeted African leaders without regard for African concerns. The Independent takes a gratuitous swipe at Venezuela by suggesting it as a destination, but according to the logic of its article, Venezuela would not do; it is a party to the ICC treaty, a fact that The Independent could have easily verified - JFP.]
7) Officials say members of the NATO alliance have warned Libyan rebels that if they attack civilians, they could become NATO military targets, the New York Times reports. Calls by some NATO members to provide heavier weapons to the rebels will intensify concerns about how NATO would respond to rebels firing on a town of Qaddafi sympathizers, like Surt, the Times says. A NATO spokeswoman said if rebels shelled cities with artillery, NATO will move to stop them, because the UN Security Council resolution "applies to both sides." Deliberations about where NATO should intervene show the intervention is evolving into a complex, and perhaps open-ended, role in policing the Libyan chaos, the Times says.
The recognized government of a country - even an internationally despised one like the Qaddafi regime - is generally seen to have a right to use force to put down an armed insurrection, said David Glazier, a professor of national-security law at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles. "I don't know that we have distinguished between civilians who are truly nonparticipants in the conflict and who no one has any right to attack, and those civilians who have taken up arms in revolt against the government and so are legitimate targets," Glazier said.
On March 21, Tom Donilon, the national security advisor to President Obama, appeared not to distinguish between armed rebels and other citizens of Libya who opposed the Qaddafi government. "They are citizens of Libya, and they are civilians," he said, referring to the rebels. But that same day, General Carter Ham, the head of US Africa Command, said that opposition forces with heavier weaponry would not qualify for protection the way civilians would.
8) Secular democracy activists and the Muslim Brotherhood are pushing for a reevaluation of Egypt's relationship to Israel under an elected government, the Washington Post reports.
A Muslim Brotherhood activist helping organize for the parliamentary vote said that if his group gains influence through the elections, Egypt is likely to pursue closer ties with Gaza, opening border crossings and promoting trade as a way to undermine the Israeli blockade.
A surgeon in the Democratic Front Party who supports Mohamed ElBaradei also advocated stronger action to relieve besieged Palestinians in Gaza. "The environment there is inhuman," he said. The surgeon says his group supports sticking by the peace treaty with Israel, but notes that the treaty requires concessions by Israel towards the Palestinians that have never been implemented.
9) Egypt's military rulers said presidential elections would be held by November, the New York Times reports. The interim government dismissed several editors of state-run publications. Employees had been demanding the ouster of the editors because they had been appointed by Mubarak. The fired editors included the head of Al-Ahram, a daily newspaper that was the government's semiofficial voice.
1) House intelligence chairman: Obama Cabinet split on arming rebels
Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy, Thursday, March 31, 2011 - 12:33 AM
Responding to reports President Barack Obama secretly authorized covert action to support the Libyan rebels, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said that actually arming the Libyan rebels would require his approval and he hasn't given it.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) said in a late Wednesday interview that the Obama administration's top national security officials were deeply split on whether arming the rebels was a good idea. In a classified briefing Wednesday with lawmakers, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs Chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, Rogers said it was clear that there were deep divisions between the cabinet officials regarding the wisdom of arming the rebels.
"I've never seen an uneasiness amongst their national security cabinet members as I have seen on this. It's kind of odd," said Rogers. He declined to say which cabinet members were supporting arming the rebels and which were opposed, but he said it was obvious that they disagreed.
"Everything from body language to the way they are addressing members of Congress, it's very clear that there's lots of tension inside that Cabinet right now. This to me is why it's so important for the president to lead on this," said Rogers. "I think [Obama's] reluctant on this, at best. And there are differences of opinion and you can tell that something just isn't right there."
Rogers wouldn't confirm or deny the report that Obama issued what's known as a "presidential finding" authorizing the intelligence community to begin broadly supporting the Libyan rebels, because such findings are sensitive and classified. But he said that if Obama wanted to arm the rebels, the president would need Rogers' support, which he doesn't yet have.
"Any covert action that happens would have to get the sign off of the intelligence chairmen, by statute. You won't get a sign off from me," Rogers said referring to National Security Act 47. "I still think arming the rebels is a horrible idea. We don't know who they are, we only know who they are against but we don't really who they are for. We don't have a good picture of who's really in charge."
Rogers said that the issues of providing covert support and actually arming the rebels are separate issues. "There is a public debate about arming the rebels... that somehow got intertwined and it probably shouldn't have."
But Rogers has no objections to putting CIA operatives on the ground to gather information on who the rebels are. National Journal reported late Wednesday that about a dozen CIA officers are now on the ground in Libya doing just that.
"That should be happening anyway, through public means, through intelligence, all of that should be happening," he said. "The agencies are by statute and by law allowed to go overseas to collect information, that means any country."
The intelligence committees do need to be notified about major intelligence operations, either before or immediately after in exigent circumstances, a committee staffer said.
Rogers said he was concerned about al Qaeda's involvement with the Libya opposition.
"The number 3 guy in al Qaeda right now is Libyan. They have put a fair number of fighters into Iraq from Libya. So it is a place where al Qaeda is, [but] that doesn't mean this is an al Qaeda effort."
2) Anti-war Dems seek House vote on Libya
John Bresnahan, Politico, March 30, 2011
Five of the most liberal House Democrats are asking House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to schedule a floor vote on authorizing the U.S. military mission in Libya.
Despite President Barack Obama's major speech on the Libyan campaign on Monday, these Democrats - Reps. Barbara Lee (Calif.), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Mike Honda (Calif.), Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) and Raul Grijalva (Ariz.) - want Boehner and Cantor to schedule a debate and floor vote on the issue.
"Consideration of the President's continued military engagement in Libya is our responsibility as elected representatives in the U.S. Congress, and essential to reasserting the undisputed role and responsibility of the Legislative Branch in overseeing and providing for our nation's commitments while at war," the Democrats wrote in a letter that will go out Wednesday night.
"The United States has now been engaged militarily in Libya since March 19, 2011. While we firmly believe that a robust debate and up-or-down floor vote should have occurred in advance of U.S. military action in Libya, it is without question that such measures are still urgently required. Beyond defending Congressional authority in these matters, these deliberations are essential to ensuring that we as a country fully debate and understand the strategic goals, costs, and long-term consequences of military action in Libya."
The Democrats added: "It is our position that the President has a constitutional obligation to seek specific, statutory authorization for offensive military action, as he should have done with regard to U.S. military engagement in Libya. We look forward to working with you to address this matter on the House floor as soon as possible."
3) Clinton To Congress: Obama Would Ignore Your War Resolutions
Susan Crabtree, Talking Points Memo, March 30, 2011, 4:44PM
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), who asked Clinton about the War Powers Act during a classified briefing, said Clinton and the administration are sidestepping the measure's provisions giving Congress the ability to put a 60-day time limit on any military action.
"They are not committed to following the important part of the War Powers Act," he told TPM in a phone interview. "She said they are certainly willing to send reports [to us] and if they issue a press release, they'll send that to us too."
The White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a classified briefing to House members Wednesday afternoon.
Clinton was responding to a question from Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) about the administration's response to any effort by Congress to exercise its war powers, according to a senior Republican lawmaker who attended the briefing.
[The Administration could likely get away legally with ignoring a "sense of the Congress" resolution that does not require the President's signature, but it would be a different matter to ignore language that had been enacted into law - JFP.]
4) Within Obama's war cabinet, a looming battle over pace of Afghanistan drawdown
Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post, Wednesday, March 30, 9:51 PM
Military leaders and President Obama's civilian advisers are girding for battle over the size and pace of the planned pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer, with the military seeking to limit a reduction in combat forces and the White House pressing for a withdrawal substantial enough to placate a war-weary electorate.
Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top allied commander in Afghanistan, has not presented a recommendation on the withdrawal to his superiors at the Pentagon, but some senior officers and military planning documents have described the July pullout as small to insignificant, prompting deep concern within the White House.
At a meeting of his war cabinet this month, Obama expressed displeasure with such characterizations of the withdrawal, according to three senior officials with direct knowledge of the session. "The president made it clear that he wants a meaningful drawdown to start in July," said one of the officials, who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to share internal discussions.
The divergent views about the withdrawal illustrate the unresolved tensions between Obama's military and civilian advisers over the decision to send more troops to Afghanistan in a last-ditch attempt to salvage a failing war. Although military officials contend that the surge has enabled U.S. forces to blunt the Taliban in key areas over the past several months, White House officials remain skeptical that those gains will survive without the presence of American troops and without U.S. financial aid.
Complicating the debate is growing concern in Washington about the war's cost, which is estimated to reach $120 billion this year, and polls that show increasing disenchantment, even among Republicans, with a mission that has turned into a complicated nation-building endeavor.
As both sides prepare for what they expect to be a vigorous debate, they are seeking ways to achieve their favored outcome by limiting what the other can do. For the military, that means crafting a narrow set of choices, because there is general agreement that reduction numbers need to originate in the field, not be imposed by the White House. But the National Security Council may attempt to impose its own limitations by setting a date by which all the surge forces must be brought home, the officials said.
Although Obama approved a 30,000-troop increase sought by the military in 2009, he made clear that the surge forces would begin returning home by July 2011. But the pace of that reduction has been in dispute since the president's surge announcement, with Defense Department officials describing the initial reductions as minor and some of Obama's other advisers, including Vice President Biden, saying the pullout would be as rapid as the deployment of the surge troops.
Petraeus has said that he will give the president a range of withdrawal options, one of which he will recommend.
Two senior military officials said one set of options being developed by staff officers in Kabul involves three choices: the removal of almost no forces; the withdrawal of a few thousand support personnel, including headquarters staff, engineers and logisticians; and the pullout of a brigade's worth of troops - about 5,000 personnel- by culling a battalion of Marines in Helmand province that was added after the surge, a contingent of soldiers training Afghan security forces and an Army infantry battalion in either the country's east or far west.
The officers said Petraeus had not approved the list. They said they expected that a version of the support-personnel withdrawal, perhaps with some combat forces added to the mix, would be the most likely recommendation.
"Our hope is that we'll be able to get away with no combat troops getting pulled out this summer," one of the officers said. "But we recognize that may not be possible."
The Pentagon is hoping to increase its flexibility by dispatching in April an equivalent-size unit to replace a 750-strong Marine battalion that arrived in Helmand in January for a three-month deployment, the officers said. Although those battalions are not part of the 30,000-troop surge, commanders may seek to count their departure as part of the July drawdown.
But arguments to keep surge forces in Afghanistan for longer than two years contradict promises made by military commanders to Obama during the 2009 White House debate over the troop increase. At the time, commanders insisted that after 18 to 24 months of counterinsurgency operations, they would be able to transfer control of areas to Afghan forces. That timeline led Obama to impose the July 2011 date, which is exactly two years from the arrival of the first wave of additional forces he deployed after assuming the presidency.
"You don't hear much about 18 to 24 months from the military anymore," one senior administration official said.
Under one approach being seriously considered by the National Security Council, the White House would seek to impose a date by which all 30,000 surge troops would need to be removed but that would give Petraeus and his successor the flexibility to determine the pace of the withdrawal, two of the civilian officials said.
That would be similar to the approach Obama used to reduce U.S. forces in Iraq, where he declared that the military would have to cut troop levels to 50,000 by August 2010 but left it to Gen. Ray Odierno, then the top commander in Iraq, to set the glide slope of withdrawal.
The Afghanistan date is still under discussion - the final decision would be made by Obama - but one option would be to set it in the fall of 2012, which would be two years from the arrival of the last wave of surge forces. That milestone could appeal to commanders, who could hold on to most of the surge forces through next year's summer fighting season, but it could provoke opposition from voters and lawmakers who favor a faster drawdown.
In a Washington Post-ABC News poll released in mid-March, nearly two-thirds of Americans surveyed said the war in Afghanistan is no longer worth fighting. "There are political consequences to having 90,000 troops in Afghanistan through the end of 2012," the senior administration official said.
For the president's civilian advisers, a key element of the pullout discussion will be whether U.S. troops are required in as many parts of Afghanistan, and to be as significant a presence, as they are today. Some of the advisers contend that the counterinsurgency mission being conducted is far broader than what was envisaged by Obama when he authorized the surge.
An opening shot in that debate could play out over the next few weeks as the White House considers a request from Petraeus to expand the size of the Afghan army and police force from a total of 305,000 to 378,000.
Military officials contend that the Afghan government needs a larger security service to help stave off the Taliban and assume responsibility from coalition forces. But National Security Council officials have suggested that Afghanistan might not really require such a large army and police force, and that perhaps new village-defense squads could make up some of the difference. The officials also question whether there would be enough U.S. and NATO forces to mentor such a large Afghan force.
The most significant issue is the price tag. Increasing the Afghan security forces to 378,000 could cost as much as $8 billion a year. Much of that would have to be paid for by the United States. "That's a huge bill," the senior official said. "In this fiscal environment, think of what we could do at home with $8 billion."
5) Al Qaeda's Libya Pilgrimage
As debate rages in Washington over whether to arm anti-Gaddafi rebels, an exclusive report by The Daily Beast indicates al Qaeda forces are gearing up to join the rebels and seize power in Libya.
Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau, Daily Beast, March 30, 2011, 1:34pm,
As the battle for the future of Libya continues, the excitement is almost palpable among Libyan-born al Qaeda fighters and other Arabs hunkered down in Pakistan's remote and lawless tribal area. According to Afghan Taliban sources close to Osama bin Laden's terrorist group, some of the 200 or so Libyans operating near the Afghan border may be on their way home to steer the anti-Gaddafi revolution in a more Islamist direction.
"We have heard a number of fighters have already departed from the tribal area," says an Afghan commander who is linked to the powerful Haqqani network, a North Waziristan-based organization that shelters many al Qaeda fighters. Others may be on their way.
"Libyans and Arabs seem to be getting ready for departure and are eager to go home and fight," says the Afghan source. "I've heard that some fighters are saying goodbye and giving thanks with kind words to their (Pakistani) tribal friends who have been sheltering them."
Since the anti-Gaddafi revolution began last month, al Qaeda-especially Libyan-born affiliates-have viewed the fighting as an opportunity to spread their radical Islamist ideology. Indeed, as one Afghan Taliban operative who helps facilitate the movement of al Qaeda militants between the tribal area and Pakistani cities told The Daily Beast earlier this month: "This rebellion is the fresh breeze they've been waiting years for. They realize that if they don't use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was."
Now, as the White House and NATO continue to debate the possible ramifications of arming the Libyan opposition, the Haqqani network-linked Afghan commander says Libyan al Qaeda affiliates seem to be more "enthusiastic" about the war against Gaddafi every day. And from what the Afghan Taliban commander has seen, there appears to be more than "flickers" of al Qaeda's presence in Libya, the description given by NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis. According to the Afghan commander, al Qaeda fighters can't believe their good luck that U.S. and NATO aircraft-the same forces that have dropped bombs on their heads in Afghanistan and Pakistan-are now raining down ordnance against Gaddafi.
6) Clinton: UN resolution gives us authority to arm Libyan rebels
Oliver Wright and Nigel Morris, The Independent, Wednesday, 30 March 2011
But there were signs of divisions over a plan - put forward by the Italian Foreign Minister, Franco Frattini, to provide a safe-haven for Gaddafi if he were to go into exile. This is supported by Turkey but is less enthusiastically backed by Britain and the US who would prefer him to face an investigation by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
"We are not engaged in the UK in looking for somewhere for him to go, but that does not exclude others from doing so," said Mr Hague. The Libyan opposition also opposed the plan. "The people will not accept a deal for him to go into exile. We will not start to negotiate until he has gone," said Mr El-Gamaty.
The hunt for a possible bolthole for Muammar Gaddafi was focused on Africa last night, even though there were international divisions about whether the Libyan leader should be allowed to leave his country.
Since Britain and the US want Colonel Gaddafi to face an investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC), any destination would have to be outside its jurisdiction. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said he hoped "the African Union can find a valid proposal".
It is thought Gaddafi could try to call in financial favours from several African nations if needed, but whether he would be welcomed is a different question. Nobody has invited him to come but Equatorial Guinea has been mooted and is one of the 22 African nations outside the ICC's jurisdiction.
Other options lie west: William Hague erroneously suggested in the early days of the crisis that Colonel Gaddafi had left for Venezuela to renew his "friendship" with President Hugo Chavez.
[The Independent apparently couldn't resist this swipe at Venezuela, but as it could easily have verified, Venezuela is a party to the ICC treaty, so according to the logic of this article, it is not a possible destination - JFP.]
7) NATO Warns Rebels Against Attacking Libyan Civilians
Thom Shanker and Charlie Savage, New York Times, March 31, 2011
Washington - Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to senior military and government officials.
As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya and the Obama administration considers new steps to tip the balance of power there, the coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime's forces have been punished.
"We've been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Qaddafi or pro-opposition," said a senior Obama administration official. "We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don't confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians."
The warnings, and intense consultations within the NATO-led coalition over its rules for attacking anyone who endangers innocent civilians, come at a time when the civil war in Libya is becoming ever more chaotic, and the battle lines ever less distinct. They raise a fundamental question that the military is now grappling with: Who in Libya is a civilian?
In the early days of the campaign, the civilian population needing protection was hunkered down in cities like Benghazi, behind a thin line of rebel defenders who were easily distinguishable from the attacking government forces.
That is no longer always the case. Armed rebels - some in fairly well-organized militias, others merely young men who have picked up rifles to fight alongside them - have moved out of Benghazi in an effort to take control of other population centers along the way, they hope, to seizing Tripoli.
Meanwhile, fresh intelligence this week showed that Libyan government forces were supplying assault rifles to civilians in the town of Surt, which is populated largely by Qaddafi loyalists. These civilian Qaddafi sympathizers were seen chasing rebel forces in nonmilitary vehicles like sedans and trucks, accompanied by Libyan troops, according to American military officers.
The increasing murkiness of the battlefield, as the freewheeling rebels advance and retreat and as fighters from both sides mingle among civilians, has prompted NATO members to issue new "rules of engagement" spelling out when the coalition may attack units on the ground in the name of protecting civilians.
It was unclear how the rules are changing - especially on the critical questions surrounding NATO's mandate and whether it extends to protecting rebels who are no longer simply defending civilian populated areas like Benghazi, but are instead are themselves on the offensive.
"This is a challenge," said a senior alliance military officer. "The problem of discriminating between combatant and civilian is never easy, and it is compounded when you have Libyan regime forces fighting irregular forces, like the rebel militias, in urban areas populated by civilians."
Oana Lungescu, the senior NATO spokeswoman, emphasized that NATO was taking action because Qaddafi's forces were attacking Libyan civilians, including shelling cities with artillery. She said that if the rebels do likewise, the organization will move to stop them, too, because the United Nations Security Council resolution "applies to both sides."
"Our goal, as mandated by the U.N., is to protect civilians against attacks or threats of attack, so those who target civilians will also be targets for our forces, because that resolution will be applied across the board," she said.
But it is no simple matter to follow that logic.
"Qaddafi is trying to take advantage of this mixing of combatants and noncombatants to deter NATO from striking," said one Obama administration official who was briefed on the intelligence reports.
Even though rebel forces were in retreat on Wednesday, the civil war has seen repeated advances and retreats by both sides, and that is expected to continue. The highest concern is not how to deal with fighters who are loyal to the regime, but how NATO would respond to rebels firing on a town of Qaddafi sympathizers, like Surt.
Calls by some NATO members to provide heavier weapons to the rebels suggest that these worries will only intensify.
The deliberations about where to draw the line, going on at the highest levels of allied nations and among senior officials across the Obama administration, show how an intervention to stop a potential massacre is evolving into a much more complex, and perhaps open-ended, role in policing the Libyan chaos.
The situation is as complicated legally as it is militarily. The United Nations Security Council resolution that authorized a no-flight zone and other steps in Libya makes no distinction between pro-rebel and pro-Qaddafi civilians.
Senior legal advisers to the military campaign say that unarmed civilians, whether living in towns or fleeing the fighting, are clearly meant to be protected by the United Nations resolution, while opposition forces taking an active part in combat away from cities are currently seen as falling outside of its protection. But one such official acknowledged that there are other situations that are much less clear.
Noncombatants and the various shades of opposition, resistance and rebellion "are so intermixed that it is not feasible to discern where the boundary between the civilians and opposition forces lie," the official said. "There are also those civilians entitled to protection that may be armed in order to protect their families, homes, businesses, and communities. Other civilians may join the rebels at certain stages, becoming armed combatants, and then decide to return home for whatever reason, thus transitioning back to civilian non-combatants."
At times when the rebels are gaining ground, the allies fear that the rebels will inevitably try to take loyalist cities by force, and could end up endangering or even killing civilians there. That is what prompted the coalition's warnings to the rebels, administration officials said.
The specifics of the warnings - like when they were conveyed, who delivered them, and to which rebel leaders - remained unclear.
The traditional laws of war distinguish between combatants, who may be lawfully attacked, and civilians, who generally must be protected. Civilians who pick up weapons and join in fighting can be lawfully attacked as long as they are directly participating in hostilities.
But the laws of war are vague about how to categorize internal rebels, rather than external enemies. And the recognized government of a country - even an internationally despised one like the Qaddafi regime - is generally seen to have a right to use force to put down an armed insurrection, said David Glazier, a professor of national-security law at Loyola Law School-Los Angeles.
"I don't know that we have distinguished between civilians who are truly nonparticipants in the conflict and who no one has any right to attack, and those civilians who have taken up arms in revolt against the government and so are legitimate targets," Mr. Glazier said. "This is all poorly defined. It really is all about politics, and not at all about law."
On March 21, in a briefing with reporters, Tom Donilon, the national security advisor to President Obama, appeared not to distinguish between armed rebels and other citizens of Libya who opposed the Qaddafi government.
"They are citizens of Libya, and they are civilians," he said, referring to the rebels. "They're not military forces under the direction and control of Qaddafi."
But that same day, General Carter Ham, the head of United States Africa Command, said that opposition forces with heavier weaponry would not qualify for protection the way civilians would, and he acknowledged that "it's not a clear distinction, because we're not talking about a regular military force - it's a very problematic situation."
"These are situations that brief much better at a headquarters than they do in the cockpit of an aircraft," General Ham said, adding that "if it's a situation where it's unclear that it is civilians who may be being attacked, then those air crews are under instruction to be very cautious and not apply military force, again, unless they are convinced that doing so would be consistent with their mission to protect civilians."
8) Egypt likely to face more difficult relations with Israel, U.S.
Edward Cody, Washington Post, Wednesday, March 30, 11:00 PM
Cairo - Whatever new government emerges from the uprising in Tahrir Square, Egypt's relations with Israel and the United States are likely to become more difficult in the months ahead with an infusion of Arab nationalism and skepticism about Egypt's landmark peace treaty with Israel.
Many of those who helped oust President Hosni Mubarak, including secular democracy activists and Muslim Brotherhood leaders, say the 32-year-old treaty should be respected for now because Egypt is in political limbo and overwhelmed by internal upheavals. But they add that when stability is restored, the pact should be submitted to the Egyptian people for approval, through a new parliament scheduled to be elected in September and then perhaps in a public referendum.
The desire to reconsider the treaty marks a clear difference with the policy of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which soon after Mubarak's Feb. 11 departure declared that Egypt would respect all its international commitments, including the treaty with Israel. The open-ended declaration, reportedly made at U.S. urging, was designed to reassure Israel, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had warned that his nation faced uncharted dangers in the months ahead because of the revolts across the Arab world.
Much about Egypt's policy toward Israel will be determined by the relationships that emerge between the military and the civilian government due to be elected later this year, which is expected to include representatives of many of the groups that brought down Mubarak.
"There was no real end to the war with Israel, just a truce," said Shadi Mohammed, a 26-year-old leader of the April 6 Movement that helped promote the Tahrir Square demonstrations. "That's just my personal opinion, but there are a lot of people who think like I do."
Mohammed Maher, a Muslim Brotherhood activist helping organize for the parliamentary vote, said that if his group gains influence through the elections, Egypt is likely to pursue closer ties with Gaza, opening border crossings and promoting trade as a way to undermine the Israeli blockade. The Brotherhood traditionally has focused on Gaza because the territory's ruling Palestinian group, the Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas, is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
Shady Ghazali Harb, a 32-year-old surgeon in the Democratic Front Party who supports Mohamed ElBaradei, the former U.N. nuclear agency chief, also advocated stronger action to relieve besieged Palestinians in Gaza. "The environment there is inhuman," he said.
These goals for Gaza would mark a sharp change from the way Israel and Egypt have done business in recent years.
Mubarak, eager to maintain economic and military aid from the United States, cooperated closely with Israel in Gaza security matters, including attempts to halt arms and other smuggling along the border. The Egyptian intelligence chief, Gen. Omar Suleiman, was a trusted intermediary between the Israeli government and Palestinian militant groups. Suleiman is long gone, having dropped out of sight along with Mubarak.
"Mubarak believed the door to the United States was through Israel," said Mona Makram-Ebeid, a founding member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and a former member of parliament who lectures at the American University in Cairo. "But that is no more."
Harb, the ElBaradei supporter, said his group thinks the treaty obligates Israel to make more concessions in negotiations with the Palestinians. "We are for sticking by the treaty," he said, "but we are also seeking a peace based on justice between Israel and the Palestinians."
[Harb is right about the treaty: provisions of the Camp David Treaty concerning Palestinian rights and Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank were never implemented; this is well-known in Egypt - JFP.]
Makram-Ebeid, who sits on the protesters' Council of Trustees of the Revolution, suggested treaty provisions limiting the number of Egyptian soldiers stationed along the Gaza border should be reviewed. But the main difference in Egyptian foreign policy is likely to be a demand for respect, she said, adding that many Egyptians felt humiliated by what she described as servile willingness by Mubarak to do what he was told by Washington. "No more of the headmaster telling us what to do," she said.
9) Elections In Egypt By The Fall, Leaders Say
Amr Emam, New York Times, March 30, 2011
Cairo - Egypt's military rulers announced an interim constitution Wednesday and said presidential elections would be held by November, both important steps in their plan for getting out of the daily business of governing the country.
Maj. General Mamdouh Shaheen, a member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, said the 18-member council would hand over legislative powers after the parliamentary election in September. Executive powers would be transferred after the presidential election.
A new president would bring "stability and development," he said, using the two military watchwords about what Egypt needs.
The new constitution replaces the one suspended when President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11. Much of it remains the same, with the addition of about eight amendments approved by voters in a March 19 referendum, including limiting the president to two eight-year terms. The issuance of the new governing principles had been expected since that vote.
When elected, the two chambers of the new parliament will choose a 100-member assembly of legal experts, academics, politicians and other professionals to draft a new constitution, which Egyptians will have to approve with a referendum, the general said.
Many of the young liberals who helped bring about Mr. Mubarak's overthrow wanted more time for the election, fearing that an early vote would give an overwhelming advantage to well-organized groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the now deposed National Democratic Party, which once ruled virtually unopposed.
The interim constitution retains many aspects of the suspended version. For example, it declares Islam as the state religion but bans the formation of parties based on religious grounds.
In a simultaneous piece of post-revolutionary housekeeping, the interim government dismissed several editors of state-run publications. Employees had been demanding the ouster of the editors because they had been appointed by Mr. Mubarak.
The fired editors included Osama Saraya, the head of Al-Ahram, a daily newspaper that was the government's semiofficial voice. On the day after the first massive demonstration in Tahrir Square in Cairo, the paper carried front-page banner headlines about protests occurring in Lebanon.
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