January-June 2011

Libya mission becomes a burden for Obama

30 June 2011 – Miami Herald – Nancy A. Youssef
NATO’s mission in Libya has lasted over 100 days and the outcome still remains unclear. US military experts argue that military and diplomatic tools need to be used in tandem. US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has hinted in various exit interviews the US is involved in the conflict to aid its European allies, who are highly dependent on Libya’s oil reserves, and to “thank” them for their commitment to the US campaign in Afghanistan. The Obama administration made the decision to get involved in the conflict in order to aid the rebels, who currently hold less ground than they did at the start of the conflict.
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Britain Sends Supplies to Libyan Rebels
30 June 2011 – New York Times – David Jolly
The British military is providing limited assistance to rebel forces fighting Moummar Gaddafi’s forces in Libya by sending over protective clothing for police officers. The supply of 5,000 sets of body armor, 6,650 police uniforms, and 5,000 high visibility vests and T-shirts has been deemed “fully in line” with United Nations resolutions governing arms embargoes by British Foreign Minister William Hague. The current policy of the NATO-led mission in Libya is “no boots on the ground” and the British, American, and French leadership are hoping that the rebels can overthrow Gaddafi with the aid of their airstrikes.
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US, EU condemn violence in northeastern Nigeria
28 June 2011 – Reuters – Ibrahim Mshelizza
The US and EU collectively condemned t violence in northeastern Nigeria on Tuesday. They issued a joint statement that expressed “deep concern” for security and said that “there is no place in society for these horrific acts of violence and there should be no impunity for the perpetrators.” The single most deadly attack so far was at local bar on Sunday, where 25 people were killed by a homemade bomb. Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect, has claimed responsibility for the majority of the recent violence. Nonprofits such as Amnesty International have started to speak out against the violence, saying that “Boko Haram must stop its reign of terror in the country. No cause can justify the deliberate targeting of civilians.” It is estimated that over 150 people have died in the region this year.
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NATO warships fire on Gaddafi forces
29 June 2011 – Reuters – Hamuda Hassan
NATO warships launched an attack against Gaddafi forces in the strategic town of Zlitan, where government forces are blocking rebels from advancing on the capital of Tripoli. 90 days into NATO’s campaign, Gaddafi is still unwilling to give into pressure and relinquish his power, leading NATO and rebel forces to continue to launch advances toward the capital. Rebels are currently attempting to breakout of their stronghold in the east and move west toward the capital in order to force the entrenched Gaddafi out of power, a campaign that has lasted for nearly four months.
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Counterpoint: In Defense of NATO
28 June 2011 – Stanley R. Sloan – New York Times
Americans should not be so quick to predict the demise of NATO; the alliance is still a strong and dependable one and is not going anywhere for a while. Many different criticisms of NATO have sprung up over the past few weeks due to US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ speech a few weeks ago, in which he warned that the alliance faces “collective irrelevance” if Europeans do not increase their defense spending. The main issue is that Europe is not a sovereign state that is able to collectively gather its resources like the United States, and no full political union exists. There are no credible alternatives to remaining in close cooperation with European allies.  
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Global arrest warrant issued for Qaddafi, son
27 June 2011 – Pamela Falk – CBS News
The International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity has issued arrest warrants for Muammar Gadhafi and his son Saif al Islam Gadhafi. Luis Moren-Ocampo, the court’s chief prosecutor, stated the decision was necessary to bring Gadhafi to justice. The decision comes after evaluating claims that the two are responsible for crimes committed in Libya, and that their arrest will be the only way to protect Libyan civilians.
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Afghanistan: France follows US in troop withdrawal
23 June 2011 – BBC 
After President Obama’s announcement yesterday that the US will begin phasing out the “surge” troops in Afghanistan by the end of September 2012, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that the French would follow the President’s timetable. The decision came after a month-long deliberation in which Obama and his administration concluded that the surge forces were meeting their goals in bringing stability to Afghanistan and after successfully killing al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. There are several fears related to the American withdrawal however, and they stem from the fact that Afghan Security Forces are not capable of handling the various issues plaguing the nation, ranging from drug addiction to terrorism. 
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Clinton on Libya: 'Whose side are you on?'
23 June 2011 – CNN Wire Staff
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton defended the US role in Libya and stated that the mission to protect the Libyan people should not be abandoned. She affirmed that the US has made progress in pressuring Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down and instill hope in the Libyan people in order to defend their political aspirations. Gadhafi has criticized the NATO-led mission, calling it “barbaric.” He has also been critical of the leadership of President Barack Obama, stating that he has “sold out” to America. Congress has been debating US participation in the mission and is clearly divided on the issue. 
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NATO's Surreal World
22 June 2011 – Sarwar A. Kashmeri – New York Times
NATO has faced difficulties over the past few years, and it appears that these difficulties are only going to increase over time. This is due to differences in threat perception between the US and European nations; Europeans simply do not feel as threatened as Americans and thus are willing to spend less on their defense. The war in Afghanistan is certainly not led by NATO. It is in fact led by the US, which would never allow NATO to assume control of the mission. Worse, it seems that American military leaders have lost faith in the alliance. The only way that this will change is if there is renewed political will amongst European leaders.
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Libya takes case against NATO to UN, others
21 June 2011 – Afrique en ligne
Secretary of the Libyan General People's Committee, Baghdadi Mahmoudi, has taken Libya’s case against NATO to the UN. He claims that NATO has committed crimes against the Libyan people in its airstrikes, including acts of collective genocide through its bombing campaign, and believes it has targeted residential areas. He is calling on international organizations and bodies to intervene and stop the violence, which he claims violates international law. 
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NATO: We're to blame for Sunday's civilian deaths in Libya
20 June 2011 –  Ariel Zirulnick –  Christian Science Monitor 
NATO has taken responsibility for an airstrike in Libya that caused several civilian casualties and destroyed a civilian home. The alliance claims that the incident took place as a result of a “weapons system failure” that led a weapon intended for a military target to go off track. Libyan officials have accused NATO of directly targeting civilian sites in order to bolster anti-Gadhafi sentiments in Libya. The fact that civilians are becoming direct victims of the conflict has raised questions over the effectiveness of NATO’s campaign. 
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EU tries to find Libyan solution
20 June 2011 – Belfast Telegraph
EU Foreign Ministers are beginning to plan for the post-Gadhafi era in Libya and are attempting to find a solution to end the growing conflict in the North African nation. Uri Rosenthal, the Dutch Foreign Minister, claimed that Gadhafi is beginning to feel the pressure that is being placed on him and soon his only option will be to step down. In order for Libya to bring itself out of the conflict, it will need what has been dubbed as the “Three M’s”: money, market access, and mobility. 
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Insiders: Despite Gates's Warnings, NATO Remains Relevant
20 June 2011 – Sara Socher – National Journal
Despite the fact that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates issued a stern warning to his European counterparts in his farewell address last week, NATO is still a relevant and will continue to be so. NATO stands ready to accept various international challenges and play a role in different conflicts. It only needs to improve its effectiveness. What is keeping NATO relevant and instrumental to international stability is the fact that it is uniting like-minded countries with similar goals and interests. 
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Sharing the burden within NATO
16 June 2011 – Christoph Schwarz and Matthew Leatherman – The Hill
In order to make NATO a more effective alliance, it is necessary for member states to develop a clear outline of their mutual interests and avoid becoming bogged down on differences. It will be necessary for member states to also establish what they are economically capable of before coming to the bargaining table to improve NATO. This way, during the NATO summit next year, negotiations will be a more orderly process and more successful overall.
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Who Needs NATO?
15 June 2011 – Geoffrey Wheatcroft
After US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates’ speech last week in Brussels, many are questioning the necessity of NATO. When the alliance was formed in 1949, there was a serious need to control the spread of communism in not only Europe, but globally. The main issue the US has with the organization is the fact that they are picking up the majority of the tab in terms of defense spending, and it appears that Europe is taking advantage of this. Considering the lack of enthusiasm most NATO member countries have had in intervening in different conflicts, some are questioning the utility of the organization. 
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European Parliament: East Jerusalem should be Palestinian capital
15 June 2011 – DPA
European Union President Jerzy Buzek addressed the Israeli Parliament today, telling members that the EU endorses President Obama’s plan for peace between Israel and Palestine. This includes the creation of a Palestinian state around 1967 borders with agreed land swaps. Buzek made it clear that negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis are absolutely critical at this point in time, and that the status quo is no longer an option. He also argued that East Jerusalem should become the capital of the Palestinian state. This contrasts with Israeli President Netanyahu opposition to the idea of dividing Jerusalem. 
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Leaders converge on Kazakhstan for security summit
14 June 2011 – Saigon
Leaders of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) met in Astana, Kazakhstan today for its security summit. The SCO was founded in 2001 as a counterweight to NATO that would allow Russia and China to rival US influence in Asia. Among the notable leaders to attend this year’s summit is President Ahmadinejad of Iran. He is scheduled to have a bilateral meeting with President Dmitry Medvedev of Russia despite the tension between the two leaders from Iran’s controversial nuclear program. Moreover, the observer nations of SCO, including India and Pakistan, have expressed interest in becoming full members of the group even though decisions on enlargement were not on the agenda.     
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S.Africa says NATO abusing UN resolution on Libya
14 June 2011 – Reuters
South African President Jacob Zuma said that the United Nations (UN) is abusing UN Resolution 1973, which was passed to protect the Libyan people from Muammar Gaddafi’s forces. In parliament he stated, “We strongly believe that the resolution is being abused for regime change, political assassinations and foreign military occupation.”  Zuma also reiterated the need for a so-called “African Peace and Security Architecture,” which would include a stand-by military force. 
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NATO general: Serbia will not be pressured to join the alliance
14 June 2011 – Jovana Gec – The Associated Press
NATO General Stephane Abria assured Serbians that NATO will not pressure the Balkan nation to join the alliance, but rather wants to focus on strengthening the partnership. As Abria gave his speech, hundreds of Serb nationalists, angry about NATO’s 1999 air campaign to end Serbia’s attack against separatists in Kosovo, burned the NATO flag and hung anti-NATO banners. Nationalists want Serbia to strengthen ties with Russia instead of NATO. But Serbian officials have publically declared cooperation with NATO is in the country’s interests. 
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Is the U.S.-European Relationship Really in Decline?
14 June 2011 – James Joyner – The Atlantic 
The farewell speech that US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave to NATO a few days ago has many pondering whether or not the transatlantic relationship is in decline. Although the partnership may not be living up to its full potential, it is definitely not a worthless one, and the international community would suffer a serious blow if NATO were to dissolve. Military capabilities have certainly declined in a tough economic climate, but the relationship between the US and Europe is still a strong and relevant one. One of the greatest challenges of the relationship is finding a cause that will both unite and benefit European nations and the US.
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Beginning of the End for NATO?
13 June 2011 – Judy Dempsey
In a speech given in Brussels on Friday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that unless European nations improve their military capabilities, NATO faces the possibility of becoming “militarily irrelevant.” Gates told the Europeans that they must pull their weight in the alliance and increase their military spending. He claimed that the US contributes to about 75% of the NATO defense budget. The main issue at hand appears to be the fact European nations are less interested in military spending, as they do not share the same threat perception as Americans. 
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Violence, deaths continue in Libya
13 June 2011 – CNN Wire Staff
The Libyan town of Dafniya witnessed seven deaths on Sunday as violence continues to escalate in the North African nation. In the town of Zawiya, about fifteen rebels and one hundred Gadhafi soldiers were killed on Sunday, according to a rebel spokesman. Rebels in Misrata released a 15-page document entitled "Battle plan to cleanse the city of Misrata from militant gangs," which they claim is the plan of Gadhafi loyal forces to rid the area of rebel fighting. As the violence increases, NATO claims that there is an upsurge in anti-Gadhafi sentiment as more nations recognize the rebel Transitional National Council as the sole representative of the Libyan people. 
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Libya's Gadhafi Plays Chess With Russian Visitor
13 June 2011 – Associated Press
Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, Russian head of the World Chess Federation, was sent on a mission to play chess with Libyan President Mouamar Gadhafi in order to pass on the message that his time as President was quickly coming to close. Gadhafi apparently told Ilyumzhinov that he has no intention of leaving Libya any time soon. It is unclear exactly where the game took place.
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Libya crisis: Clinton tells allies to step up pressure
9 June 2011 – BBC
Officials of the Contact Group are meeting in Abu Dhabi to discuss plans for a post-Gadhafi Libya, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the group that “Gadhafi’s days are numbered.”  Clinton reaffirmed NATO’s military mission to protect the Libyan people, but also argued that it is necessary for world leaders to increase pressure on Gadhafi to step down. In addition, a new procedure to transfer funds to Libyan rebels has been put in place, with Kuwait pledging $180 million to the $3 billion the Transitional National Council has said it requires to complete its mission.
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