By Jerome Socolovsky
President Barack Obama says a wide range of potential options in Libya are under consideration, including a military response to the fighting there.
As the fighting in Libya increasingly resembles a civil war, the U.S. administration is coming under increased pressure to take action. Over the weekend, several lawmakers, including former presidential candidates John McCain and John Kerry, argued that the U.S. and its allies should impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
President Barack Obama referred to Libya in brief remarks in the Oval Office after meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, as forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi were reported to be conducting air strikes on a rebel-held eastern town and battling opposition fighters in the east and west of the country.
“And I think Prime Minister Gillard and I both share a very firm conviction that the violence that’s been taking place and perpetrated by the government in Libya is unacceptable,” he said.
He said, the Libyan leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, and his loyalists will be held accountable for continuing violence.
“In the meantime, we’ve got NATO, as we speak, consulting in Brussels around a wide range of potential options, including potential military options, in response to the violence that continues to take place inside of Libya,” the president said.
In a briefing with reporters at the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said the main military options under consideration are establishing a no-fly zone, enforcing a U.N. arms embargo, and protecting humanitarian aid operations.
At a news conference in Brussels Monday, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance has “no intention” of intervening in Libya for the time being, but is conducting “prudent planning for any eventuality.”
President Obama said he had just authorized an additional $15 million to be provided to humanitarian organizations working in Libya.