Date: Fri Mar 11 2011 - 02:30:47 EST
US offical says Libya ‘regime will prevail’
By Richard McGregor in Washington
Published: March 11 2011 00:31 | Last updated: March 11 2011 00:31
Muammer Gaddafi’s superior military forces meant his “regime will prevail”
in the longer term, the US director of national intelligence, James Clapper,
said in comments that undermined a robust defence by Washington of its Libya
Mr Clapper said in testimony to Congress on Thursday that Colonel
Gaddafi<http://www.ft.com/indepth/libya-uprising>was relying on two of
his brigades – which appeared to be “very, very
loyal”, “disciplined” and “robustly equipped with Russian equipment,
Mr Clapper, who oversees America’s 16 intelligence services, said the rebels
faced great difficulties as Col Gaddafi “intentionally designed the military
so that those select units loyal to him are the most luxuriously equipped
and the best trained”.
He added: “We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul. He appears
to be hunkering down for the duration.”
Tom Donilon, head of the National Security Council, said later that Mr
Clapper was describing a “static situation” which did not take into account
the “dynamic” change taking place throughout the Middle East.
Jay Carney, White House spokesman, separately rejected calls for Mr
Clapper’s resignation from a prominent senator, as financial sanctions, an
arms embargo and the threat of military action “enhance the pressure on
[Gaddafi] to force him to leave”.
In his briefing on US policy, Mr Donilon said that military action remained
on the table, including a no-fly
but that plans to deliver aid to rebel areas in coming days were purely
humanitarian: “They can in no way shape or form be considered as military
intervention,” he said.
Mr Donilon emphasised that any action against Libya depended on support not
just from the west, but also from other countries in the Middle-East. He
added: “Military steps are not the only method by which we can pressure
In relation to opposition groups, Mr Donilon said the US was “directly
engaged” in an effort to understand their organisation, structure and
leadership. The US has withdrawn recognition from the Libyan embassy in
Washington but has not said whether it intends to, like France has,
recognise the Libyan
Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, will meet members of Libya’s
opposition when she visits Egypt and Tunisia next week.
“I will be meeting with some of those figures when I travel to discuss what
more the United States and others can do,” she said in testimony to
Ms Clinton had been more hawkish than the White House in canvassing possible
US response to the violence in Libya, especially in expressing support for a
no-fly zone. However, the White House has shown no appetite for rushing into
a military response.
Mr Donilon said the US policy towards Libya was part of an overall response
to ensuring the upheaval in many Middle-Eastern countries worked for the
benefit of their populations.
The US was “very focused”, he said, on the economy in countries such as
Egypt, as that was the key to strengthening and entrenching representative
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