Even as confusion surrounded the legality of the western alliance arming rebel groups in Libya, United States President Barack Obama on Saturday said the military operation Odyssey Dawn was “succeeding”.
According to observers here, the “Obama administration believes the United Nations resolution that authorised international intervention in Libya has the “flexibility” to [arm the rebels]”.
In particular, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N. Susan Rice is reported to have said the language of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 authorising action in Libya was “not specific”.
While Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, head of the UNSC's Libya Sanctions Committee, admitted the wording of the UNSCR 1973 was “open to a lot of interpretation”, he was reported to have said he would not interpret the wording as allowing arms shipments to the rebels.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said this week if arming the rebels was “the right way to go”, then that option would certainly be a “possibility”.
However, in United Kingdom, Prime Minister David Cameron said: “I think I am right in saying that the resolution is clear... There is an arms embargo, and that arms embargo has to be enforced across Libya.” He added that legal advice suggesting this stricture applied only to the Qadhafi regime “is not in fact correct”.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama, in his weekly televised address, said: “We are succeeding in our mission. We have taken out Libya's air defences. Qadhafi's forces are no longer advancing across Libya.”
However, similar to other statements emanating from the White House and State Department, Mr. Obama persisted with the emphasis on the limited nature of the U.S. engagement in Libyan mission and the likely reduction in the number of U.S. troops involved going forward.
Mr. Obama said, “As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort.”