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U.S. considers arming rebels as Gaddafi pushes back

by Jorge Hernandez on March 30, 2011

President Obama has been careful to call the Libyan conflict a legitimate war, but it seems that many officials in Washington are debating deepening America's involvement in the country by arming the rebel forces. 

This has raised many questions about where the opposition's allegiance lies.

"We don't know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know," Hillary Clinton has said, New York Magazine reports.

NATO military commander Admiral James Stavridis said that there were signs of Al Qaeda and Hezbollah influence among the rebels. This could mean that arms support could end up working against America's interest in the end.

European allies have been debating the same prospect. Officials from Britain and France have said that there are ways to bypass the United Nations embargo on arms set against Libya since 1973, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov disagrees.

''The NATO Secretary-General, Fogh Rasmussen, declared that the operation in Libya was being staged to protect the population and not to arm it – and here, we completely agree with the NATO Secretary-General,'' he said.

More than anything, this new debate may illuminate the fact that Allied forces are growing concerned that the rebels may not have adequate resources to defeat Gaddafi's army.

Lately, the rebels have faced a series of setbacks when confronting the army, which is better trained and better equipped. But while the opposition has been driven back, some analysts say that this could be used to their advantage, as the further distances loyalists reach, the easier it becomes to target them during Allied air strikes, according to The New York Times.

President Obama addressed the nation on Monday and said that the Libyan conflict was in the nation's interest, because America would not stand by while innocents were getting massacred.  

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