The Shores of Tripoli

February 28, 2011

The Shores of Tripoli

Cracking down on Libya while Iran says Washington is scared and Steinberg visits Bosnia.

In Geneva today at a meeting of the UN Human Rights Council, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi to be “ held accountable ” for his violent suppression of protestors. Qaddafi’s acts, Clinton said, “violate international legal obligations and common decency.” Before departing yesterday, the secretary of state made it clear that Washington is also prepared to give those trying to overthrow the regime “ any kind of assistance ,” as the U.S. administration wants the bloodshed to end and Qaddafi to get out “as soon as possible.”

Today, the EU decided to impose sanctions on the Libyan regime, including an arms embargo and a targeted asset ban and visa freeze (aimed at Qaddafi’s closest family and associates). U.S. senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman are meanwhile traveling in the region and calling for a no-fly zone over Libya. Both said that it wasn’t quite time to use ground forces.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates seems to sort of agree with the senators. Speaking about Iraq and Afghanistan on Friday, he said that “any future defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should 'have his head examined ,' as General MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Iran’s top general said yesterday that U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen’s “hasty” visit to the Middle East “shows the deep worry regarding the fate of American forces stationed in the region.” Iranian General Hassan Firouzabadi called for U.S. troops to make a “quick exit” from the region.

And Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg was in Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina on Friday (he visited Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan earlier in the week). In the latter he met with members of the tripresidency and called on political parties to speed up government formation.