- The Washington Times - Monday, February 28, 2011

Many Libyans oppose the idea of Western troops on the shores of Tripoli, as the Obama administration and its allies on Monday said no option is off the table in their effort to oust longtime dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

“We have to get him ourselves,” said a resident of Tripoli, who spoke to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity, citing a fear for his life.

Others warned that any foreign army on Libyan soil will meet the same resistance that Col. Gadhafi’s troops are now facing, but many also endorsed a no-fly zone patrolled by foreign fighter aircraft to prevent Libyan forces from attacking anti-government protesters.

“We don’t want U.S. troops on the ground. We would, however, support an intervention by U.N. troops because the U.N. doesn’t have any political agenda,” said Ashraf Tulty, a Libyan dissident currently residing in the United States.

The U.S. military has deployed naval and air units near Libya, and in remarks to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton left open the possibility of military intervention against the Gadhafi regime.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday. The 27-nation bloc agreed on sanctions against Libya. (Associated Press)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks to the Human Rights Council ... more >

Mrs. Clinton said the Obama administration will continue to explore “all possible options for action.”

“As we have said, nothing is off the table so long as the Libyan government continues to threaten and kill Libyans,” she said.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Wendy Snyder told The Times some U.S. forces in the region were being repositioned.

“To provide the president with flexibility of a full range of options, we need to take a look at everything,” Cmdr. Snyder said. “We are repositioning some forces in the region.”

Mr. Tulty said a majority of Libyans would support a U.S. airstrike on Col. Gadhafi’s compound and said such an action would provide “very strong strategic support to the revolution.”

In 1986, President Reagan ordered an air strike on Col. Gadhafi’s compound in retaliation for Libya’s bombing of a West German disco that killed two U.S. soldiers.

“There is a large consensus that [Libyans] do not want outside intervention,” said Khaled Mattawa, a Libyan-American poet and professor at the University of Michigan who has been in regular contact with friends in Libya.

Libyans instead favor the protective cover of a no-fly zone.

Their plea took on a sense of urgency amid reports that aircraft had bombed a radio station and the airport in Misurata, a rebel-held city east of Tripoli.

Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Obama administration is “considering actively and seriously” the possibility of a no-fly zone in discussions with its NATO allies.

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