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U.S. Considers Ground Troops In Libya As War Reaches Stalemate

Kevin Douglas Grant |
April 7, 2011 | 1:52 p.m. PDT

Executive Editor

The U.S. may resort to sending ground forces into Libya to aid rebels who have been unable to break Moammar Gaddafi's stronghold despite extensive Western air support.

NBC reported: "The use of an international ground force is a possible plan to bolster the Libyan rebels, [Army General Carter] Ham said at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.

Asked whether the U.S. would provide troops, Ham said, 'I suspect there might be some consideration of that. My personal view at this point would be that that's probably not the ideal circumstance, again for the regional reaction that having American boots on the ground would entail.'"

President Obama has consistently said that American troops are not an option, though the general's testimony clearly undermines those statements. It has been reported for weeks, however, that Libyan rebels do not have the equipment or the training to overcome Gaddafi's army.

The New York Times reported: "The rebel military, as it sometimes called, is not really a military at all.  What is visible in battle here is less an organized force than the martial manifestation of a popular uprising."

With battle reaching a plateau, diplomacy offers a way out of a protracted war, the AFP reported:

The key Western powers involved in the Libyan conflict were throwing their energies Wednesday into negotiating a solution, as the war between government and rebel forces dug deeper into a stalemate.

The United States, France and Britain are reaching out to both the rebels and, indirectly, to officials in Moamer Kadhafi's regime, looking for a way to bring them together in talks, officials for both sides said.

Envoys from those countries were in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi holding talks with rebel leaders, and Turkey -- the only Muslim member of NATO -- was maintaining communication with Kadhafi's circle.

But there was as yet no agreement on opening negotiations, with both sides imposing conditions.  

The Wall Street Journal said the rebels have bolstered their credibility on the international stage by pursuing diplomatic relationships with the U.S. and others:

U.S. envoy Chris Stevens, a former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, met with members of the rebels' provisional government in talks both sides said were aimed at giving the Americans a better sense of the opposition leadership and how the U.S. can help them.

Hafiz Abdel Goga, a member of the Transitional National Council in Benghazi, said the council hoped the talks would lead to U.S. recognition of the rebel government, which has been formally recognized only by France, Qatar and Italy. 

Rebel leaders have criticized NATO for its handling of the aerial attacks, especially now that evidence has emerged that multiple convoys of rebel troops have mistakenly been bombed by NATO jets.  NATO, meanwhile, has continued to request American assistance in its Libya operations.

It appears the U.S. is being drawn deeper and deeper into a conflict that had been billed as a few-day endeavor.



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