Friday, May 13, 2011
Libyan Muslim Brotherhood "Rebels" to Meet Obama Seeking Billions
The Obama administration is stepping up its engagement with forces fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, inviting opposition leaders to meet with U.S. officials at the White House Friday, while stopping short of recognizing their council as Libya's legitimate government.
France and Italy are among the nations that recognize the Council as Libya's legitimate government. But White House press secretary Jay Carney said Thursday that while the U.S. would continue consulting and assisting the opposition, giving the Council political legitimacy would be "premature."
Still, the U.S. has been boosting its support for the opposition over the past month, including Obama's authorization of $25 million in non-lethal assistance to the rebels. The first shipment of that aid — 10,000 meals ready to eat from Pentagon stocks — arrived in the rebel stronghold city of Benghazi this week. The U.S. has also supplied some $53 million in humanitarian aid.
In addition, the administration has begun working with Congress to free up a portion of the more than $30 billion in frozen Gadhafi regime assets in U.S. banks so it can be spent to help the Libyan people. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who met with Jibril this week, said Wednesday he was drafting legislation at the request of the White House that would allow that to happen.
The rebels have said they need up to $3 billion in the coming months for military salaries, food, medicine and other supplies in order to keep fighting Gadhafi's forces.