To Arm or Not To Arm?
As NATO fires on Qaddafi’s compound, Washington is considering its Libya options. So far, the administration is giving both political and economic support to rebels opposing Qaddafi, but it has not provided weapons to the opposition. U.S. Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the rebels were doing alright with the weapons they have, and that the process would take some time: “It is natural and to be expected that it is going to take some time for them to be constituted into an effective fighting force.” Plus, Washington is still trying to feel the opposition out, and is, according to Rice, weighing the decision to arm the rebels “very carefully and deliberately.” Rice was appearing on Bloomberg.
Meanwhile, as Syrian troops try to quell uprisings in Dara’a by force, the Obama administration is wondering what to do to check Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. One option on the table is sanctioning the regime, and administration officials are apparently working on a draft sanctions plan.
The UAE’s crown prince will be in Washington tomorrow to meet with President Obama. The two will focus on “strategic interests in the region,” according to a statement, as tensions continue to heighten across the Middle East. National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and the head of CENTCOM, General James Mattis, have both already met with the crown prince (Donilon in fact delivered the invitation to come to DC).
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has some criticisms to offer of the Obama administration. A Newsweek piece describes Abbas as being a bit disappointed with President Obama, quoting the Palestinian leader reflecting on Obama’s receptiveness to the Palestinian cause before he took over the Oval Office. Abbas said Obama left him alone out on a limb when it came to the settlement freeze, and noted that special envoy George Mitchell was ineffective: “Every visit by Mitchell, we talked to him and gave him some ideas. At the end we discovered that he didn’t convey any of these ideas to the Israelis. What does it mean?”