French officials announced June 29 that they have armed rebels in Libya, in an attempt to break the stalemate in a conflict that has stretched longer than many policy-makers anticipated. France dropped guns, rocket-propelled grenades and other munitions in Libya’s western Nafusa Mountains (heartland of the Berber insurgency) in early June to help rebel forces who were at the time under threat from Qaddafi’s military, a French military spokesman told reporters. (WP, June 29)
Meanwhile in Washington, Barack Obama continued to assert that the bombing does not constitute “hostilities” that would allow Congressional action against it under the War Powers Act. He insisted the operation is “limited in time and scope,” has been carried out in “exemplary fashion,” with “no risk of additional escalation.” Failing to explain in what sense bombing does not constitute “hostilities,” he said: “We have engaged in a limited operation to help a lot of people against one of the worst tryants in the world… and this suddenly becomes the cause celebre for some members of Congress? C’mon.” (CBS, June 29)
Congress has been no less equivocal. On June 24, the House voted down 123-295 a resolution that would have authorized further operations in Libya. Then mere hours later, it voted down 180-238 a measure that would have defunded the operations. (Jurist, June 24)
See our last post on Libya.