House fails to vote down Libya operations —but cuts funding for rebels

In another contradictory message on the Libya intervention, the House of Representatives July 8 defeated 199-229 a bipartisan measure sponsored by Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) and Justin Amash (R-MI) to defund all US military operations in the North African country, but passed 225-201 a separate measure sponsored by Tom Cole (R-OK) to deny funding for equipment and training to the Libyan rebels. The second measure, which comes as an amendment to an annual Pentagon spending bill, forbids the Defense Department from providing “military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual, not part of a country’s armed forces, for the purpose of assisting that group or individual in carrying out military activities in or against Libya.”

Last month, the House overwhelmingly defeated a measure to authorize the operations in Libya while also defeating a measure to defund it. US forces have been involved in Libya beyond the time limit imposed by the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires congressional authorization for further use of force. However, even if the measure to defund was passed, it had little chance of passing the Senate which has a Democratic majority. The Senate was set to vote on a resolution authorizing operations in Libya on July 6, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV) postponed it for procedural reasons, arguing that the budget dispute and debt crisis were more urgent. (Jurist, July 8; Raw Story, July 7; AP, July 6)

Ironically, the measure to deny US funds to the rebels comes just as NATO has announced that it will hold a meeting with rebel leadership next week. At a Brussels press conference, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance’s July 13 meeting with members of Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) would be an opportunity to exchange views on the rebels’ road map for a democratic transition. Twelve of NATO’s 28 members have officially recognized the Libyan transitional government in Benghazi—but not the US. (VOA, July 6)

On July 3, Turkey became the latest NATO member to recognize the Benghazi government, and pledged $200 million in aid, ostensibly for civilian infrastructure. Trueky has already supplied the rebel government with $100 million. Mahmud Jibril, representative of the TNC, met in Ankara this week for three-way talks with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and his United Arab Emirates counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan. The talks were meant to prepare the ground for a meeting of the International Contact Group on Libya, scheduled for July 15-6 in Istanbul. (China Daily, July 7; Xinhua, July 3)

See our last posts on Libya and the Arab Spring.