[QODLink]
Americas
Obama 'orders covert help for Libya rebels'
Reports say US president has secretly authorised covert operations allowing support to Libyan rebel groups.
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2011 22:57
President Obama has reportedly signed a secret order permitting covert CIA operations in Libya [REUTERS]

Libyan opposition fighters will be given extra support from the US, after President Barack Obama reportedly signed a secret order - authorising covert operations to hasten the downfall of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The armed rebels - who have found themselves outgunned and outflanked by Gaddafi's forces, despite a NATO-patrolled no-fly zone - could be boosted by CIA interventions in Libya, since the decision was allegedly endorsed by the White House.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential "finding", within the past three weeks, four unnamed US government sources told the Reuters news agency.

But US officials did not confirm or deny reports. Jay Carney, White House press secretary, said:

"As is common practice, for this and all administrations, I am not going to comment on intelligence matters ... No decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any group in Libya.

"We're not ruling it out or ruling it in. We're assessing and reviewing options for all types of assistance that we could provide to the Libyan people, and have consulted directly with the opposition and our international partners about these matters."

'Steady pressure'

The reports emerged the day after Obama hinted at further equipping the pro-democracy opposition, telling TV networks the US objective in Libya was for Gaddafi to "ultimately step down" from power.

Click here for today's Libya live blogHe also spoke of applying "steady pressure, not only militarily but also through other means" to force Gaddafi out.

"It's fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could," said Obama on Tuesday.

"We're looking at all our options at this point."

Arming rebels 'not discussed' previously

At this week's London conference on Libya's future, international officials said the transfer of weapons to anti-Gaddafi fighters had not been discussed.

William Hague, the British foreign minister, said that the country was under a UN-mandated arms embargo and that the restrictions "in our view, apply to the whole of Libya".

Alain Juppe, the French foreign minister, added: "I remind you it is not part of the UN resolution, which France sticks to, but we are ready to discuss it with our partners."

Specific covert operations, such as the delivery of cash or weapons to anti-Gaddafi forces, must be endorsed by the White House.

Former officials say these rulings are known in the intelligence world as "'Mother may I' findings", named after the children's game.

Obama was understood to have given similar authorisation for the expansion of covert counter-terrorism actions by the CIA in Yemen in 2009. The White House does not normally confirm such orders have been issued.

Source:
Al Jazeera, agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.