Entries in no-fly zone (11)


Leaders Debate Effectiveness of No-Fly Zone in Syria

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The announcement that President Obama is planning to step up aid to the Syrian rebels, including sending small weapons and ammunition, is a significant change in the administration's policy on Syria.

But with 90,000 people already killed, a refugee crisis being called the worst in the world, and evidence of Iran and Hezbollah's growing involvement in the crisis, critics question whether the move will be enough to make a difference on the ground.

On Thursday, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, two of the most outspoken critics of the Obama administration's Syria policy, applauded the decision to provide arms, but called for the U.S. to go further and establish a no-fly zone

"The goal is to end the war. And the only way this war is going to end quickly and on our terms is to neutralize the air assets that Assad enjoys," Graham said on the Senate floor. "We can crater the runways. There are four air bases he uses. We can stop the planes from flying. We can shoot planes down without having one boot on the ground."

McCain and Graham are not the only ones calling for a no-fly zone. Some of America's allies in the region, including Turkey, also have said they would support the action as way to help strengthen the opposition's position on the ground and allow more humanitarian aid to get through.

But the administration maintains a no-fly zone is not the easy solution some are claiming.

"People need to understand that the no-fly zone is not some type of silver bullet that is going to stop a very intense and, in some respect, sectarian conflict, that it's taking place on the ground," National Security Advisor Spokesman Ben Rhodes told reporters on Friday.

So what exactly is a no-fly zone?

A no-fly zone is just what the name indicates; it's an action that stops planes, usually military, from flying in the skies of a designated area. The idea is to keep the military from a rogue nation from using its air power to attack other areas in its own territory or beyond.

No-fly zones are usually authorized by international bodies, like the United Nations or NATO, and the air forces of participating countries are authorized to a nation's air capabilities. They can disable runways at air bases, striking at air defense systems and possibly going as far as shooting down any military aircraft violating the no-fly zone.

The effectiveness of the ban hinges on enforcement, as was the case in Libya, where NATO enforced a no-fly zone though it was the U.S. that bore the brunt of the operations.

It was considered a success that gave the opposition the space and time to take control of the country and overthrow Moammar Gadhafi's regime.

Many critics of the administration's Syria policy have questioned why President Obama is so reluctant to push for a no-fly zone in Syria, as well.

The administration has said Syria is very different from Libya.

"It's dramatically more difficult and dangerous and costly in Syria for a variety of reasons," said Rhodes. "In Libya, you already had a situation where the opposition controlled huge portions of the country and you could essentially protect those portions of the country from the air. You do not have the same types of air defense systems that exist within Syria."

Experts say that Syria's air force is more capable than Libya's and, more importantly, has a complex air defense system that could target military aircraft enforcing a no-fly zone. But that doesn't necessarily preclude putting elements of a no-fly zone in place.

"A no-fly zone is not a monolithic thing," Joseph Holliday, a fellow at the Institute for the Study of War who focuses on the Syria crisis, said at a United States Institute for Peace event last month.

Holliday said that there is a "spectrum" of military options within a no-fly zone, from a full-scale air campaign to finding other creative ways to restrict the Syrian air force's capability. Still, Holliday, who tracks Syria's military capability, warned that the Assad regime seems to be keeping some military fighter jets in reserve specifically to deal with any possible foreign threat.

The Syrian Air Force is "not on its way out," said Holliday, who added that Syria retains "one of the densest air-defense systems in the world."

Administration officials have also questioned whether a no-fly zone would be an effective way to help the opposition defeat Assad and stop the slaughter of civilians.

"In Syria, when you have a situation where regime forces are intermingled with opposition forces and they're fighting, in some instances, block-by-block in cities, that's not a problem you can solve from the air," said Rhodes.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey told reporters in April that he doubted a no-fly zone could be effective in limiting civilian casualties

"About 10 percent of the casualties that are being imposed on the Syrian opposition are occurring through the use of air power," said Dempsey, who noted that the remaining 90 percent are by direct fire or by artillery. "So, the question then becomes: If you eliminate one capability of a potential adversary, will you be inclined to find yourself in a position to be asked to do more against the rest?"

Dempsey said the United States needs to be careful not to get drawn deeper into the conflict without having clear military objectives. If a no-fly zone was ordered, Dempsey said, the Pentagon would have to factor in the need to knock out Syrian air defenses and develop a search-and-rescue plan for any U.S. fighter pilots that could be downed. Military planners also would have to consider the prospect that Syria might launch retaliatory attacks both within Syria and beyond.

"Now, none of these reasons are reasons not to take action," Dempsey said. "But they all should be considered before we take that first step."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Don't Arm Libyan Rebels, Intel Committee Chairman Says

MUSTAFA OZER/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In a terse and strongly worded statement, the House Intelligence Committee chairman says, essentially, he’s not going to play Charlie Wilson in the Libyan conflict. Arming the rebels in Libya the way we armed the rebels in Afghanistan during the 1980s, he says, would be a mistake.

“It’s safe to say what the rebels stand against, but we are a long way from an understanding of what they stand for,” Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said.  “We don’t have to look very far back in history to find examples of the unintended consequences of passing out advanced weapons to a group of fighters we didn’t know as well as we should have.”

“We need to be very careful before rushing into a decision that could come back to haunt us.”

Rogers was an early advocate of using the U.S. military to impose a no fly zone.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Rep. Joe Heck: Obama Didn’t Make 'the Case'

Bill Clark/Roll Call(WASHINGTON) -- Congressman Joe Heck, R-Nev., says he still has “many questions” after President Obama’s address Monday night on Libya.

Currently serving as colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, Rep. Heck tells ABC News he is concerned about the United States’ military role in Libya and how long it could last.

“The president used the analogy to Bosnia [Monday] night in his speech, but we're still in Bosnia some 15 years after we first went in and the same type of situation by trying to enforce a no-fly zone to alleviate the humanitarian crisis,” the congressman said. “So what is it that we're hoping to accomplish? Why are we there? And what are we hoping to gain and when are we going to get out?”

Worrying about the financial implications of U.S. forces in Libya, Rep. Heck told ABC News the recent congressional budget battles have put agencies such as the Department of Defense in a “rough spot.”

Heck voted in favor of a Republican bill to cut government spending this year that included cuts to the Department of Energy's nuclear energy safety programs. He says that even after the nuclear crisis in Japan he wouldn't change his position on those cuts.

“I would not reconsider the nuclear cuts,” Rep. Heck said.  “The appropriations committee did due process in looking at where there was the ability to cut some spending and that's what we did and now it's time to look forward to fiscal year '12.”

Pivoting to 2012 politics, the congressman told ABC News he is already throwing his support behind anticipated 2012 candidate Mitt Romney. Having backed the former Massachusetts governor since 2008, the congressman says Romney’s controversial Massachusetts health care bill is “not a concern.”

“There’s a lot more insured people in the state of Massachusetts but the important thing was it was a program designed by the state for the state not a federal program that's being rammed down the state's throat.”

The congressman was also asked if he would continue to support former Senate candidate Sharron Angle in a race for a Nevada congressional seat. He replied, “I have no idea.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Gingrich Not Alone In No-Fly Zone Contradiction

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich isn’t the only Republican to oppose President Obama’s decision to involve American forces in the no-fly zone after first criticizing the president for not imposing a no-fly zone.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., endorsed a no-fly zone in a Feb. 26th press release when she said “stronger penalties must be imposed in order to hold the regime accountable for its heinous crimes, and to prevent further violence against the Libyan people.  Additional U.S. and international measures should include the establishment and enforcement of a no-fly zone…”

But after the president imposed the no-fly zone, on March 20, Ros-Lehtinen had concerns which she expressed in a new press release.

“I am concerned that the President has yet to clearly define for the American people what vital United States security interests he believes are currently at stake in Libya,” she said.

On March 21, after military action began, Rep. Candice Miller, D-Mich., accused the President of committing U.S. forces “to the conflict in Libya without any consultation or consent from Congress and without clearly stating to the American people the compelling U.S. national interest.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Newt Gingrich Contradicts Self on Libya, Tries to Explain

ABC News Radio (WASHINGTON) -- Newt Gingrich on Wednesday morning said he would not have sent American forces to help institute a no-fly zone. Earlier this week he called the President’s decision to involve the U.S. in the imposition of a no-fly zone in Libya as “amateur opportunism.”

But it turns out that Gingrich, who is a potential Republican candidate for president, was for a no-fly zone before he was against it.

“What would you do about Libya?” Gingrich was asked by Fox News’ Greta van Susteren back on March 7.

“Exercise a no-fly zone this evening....It’s also an ideological problem. The United States doesn’t need anybody’s permission. We don’t need to have NATO, who frankly won’t bring much to the fight. We don’t need to have the United Nations. All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening. And we don’t have to send troops. All we have to do is suppress his air force, which we could do in minutes,” he said on Fox News March 7.

Gingrich’s own plan is quite like what ultimately happened and the likely presidential contender took flak all day Wednesday online about the discrepancy between his March 7 position and his March 23 positions.

The discrepancy was first pointed out by the liberal watchdog Think Progress.

Wednesday afternoon, in a Facebook post, Gingrich tried to further clarify, arguing that in between the statement of his own two positions, the President said that Gadhafi must go. This changed everything, according to Gingrich. It turns out he now thinks the U.S. must “support the mission and see it through.”

He also makes the very valid point that the U.S. is intervening in Libya on the grounds of humanitarianism, but on that basis, should perhaps also be intervening in “Sudan, Syria, Zimbabwe, Yemen and more countries.”

“From the moment of the president’s declaration (that Gadhafi must go), he put the prestige and authority of the United States on the line.  After March 3, anything short of a successful, public campaign for regime change would have been seen as a defeat for the United States,” writes Gingrich on Facebook.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Adm. Mullen: US Pursuing 'Limited Objectives' in Libya

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- The United States is focused on "limited objectives" as part of the coalition enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, and will take a "supporting role" in the coming days, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen said Sunday.

"The French were the first ones in yesterday, in terms of starting to establish the no-fly zone. The United States is taking the lead in terms of the coalition," Mullen told ABC’s Christiane Amanpour. "And we look to, in the next few days, transition that to a coalition leadership."

Mullen said getting the no-fly zone in place "has been successful so far," taking out Libya's air defenses, and limiting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's ability to fly planes or continue marching forces toward the rebel-held Benghazi.

"We're very focused on the limited objectives that the president has given us and actually the international coalition has given us, in terms of providing the no-fly zone so that he cannot attack his own people, to avoid any kind of humanitarian massacre, if you will, and to provide for the humanitarian corridors, humanitarian support of the Libyan people," Mullen said.

Mullen did not say that removing Gadhafi from power was a direct objective of the no-fly zone, and would not speculate on the length of time needed for coalition forces to operate.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Kucinich: President Needs Congressional Go-Ahead for Libya No-Fly Zone

Architect of the Capitol(WASHINGTON) -- Rep. Dennis Kucinich is calling for the recessed Congress to come back into session after President Obama announced that the United States will support a United Nations-approved no-fly-zone over Libya.

Kucinich, an outspoken opponent to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in a statement that the president does not have the Constitutional power to unilaterally declare war and called on House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to immediately call the Congress back into session “to decide whether or not to authorize the United States’ participation in a military strike.”

“While the action is billed as protecting the civilians of Libya, a no-fly-zone begins with an attack on the air defenses of Libya and Qaddafi forces. It is an act of war. The president made statements which attempt to minimize U.S. action, but U.S. planes may drop U.S. bombs and U.S. missiles may be involved in striking another sovereign nation. War from the air is still war,” Kucinich, D-Ohio, wrote in a letter to Congressional leaders Friday afternoon. “Whether the U.S. takes military action is not for the UN alone to decide. There is a constitutional imperative in the United States with respect to deciding to commit our U.S. armed forces to war.”

“Both houses of Congress must weigh in,” he added. “This is not for the President alone, or for a few high ranking Members of Congress to decide.”

But the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told ABC News Friday afternoon that he did not believe Congressional authorization is necessary for U.S. involvement, and credited the president for opening up a White House national security briefing Friday to Congressional leaders from both parties.

Earlier Friday afternoon, President Obama issued an ultimatum to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to immediately implement a ceasefire in all parts of Libya and allow international humanitarian assistance or risk military action against his regime.

"These terms are not subject to negotiation," President Obama said from the East Room of the White House Friday. "If Gadhafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences and the resolution will be enforced through military action."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


House Intel Chairman: No-Fly Zone 'Absolutely the Right Thing to Do'

Tom Brakefield/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- After meeting with President Obama at the White House, the Republican Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee told ABC News that using the U.S. military to enforce a no-fly zone is "absolutely the right thing to do," but he warned it could be a long, drawn-out operation.

"It's an incredibly important thing that we show the support not only for our European allies, but the Arab league countries who have stepped up in an unprecedented way," Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., told ABC News. "This is truly an international effort, and absolutely we should be -- play a supporting role here."

Rogers wouldn't speculate on when military action could begin, but he said Gadhafi doesn't have long to meet the demands laid out by the UN Security Council and President Obama. Rogers spoke after a meeting with the President in the White House Situation Room.  Several other Congressional leaders were also in attendance.

Although Rogers echoed the President in saying any military action against Libya would be done by a broad international coalition, he expects U.S. military personnel will play an integral part in the operation.

"I'm sure some sorties will be flown by U.S., there are other things we can do to participate, to make sure those planes are safe, and can conduct a no-fly zone without risk of being shot down by Ghadafi's forces," Rogers said.

He warned this could be a long-term military commitment.

"This is not going to be a short-term, two-day operation," Rogers said. "Even if Ghadafi throws up his hands and gives up, I think it's going to be a long-term event."

Even so, Rogers said he does not believe President Obama needs Congressional authorization to use the U.S. military to help enforce a no-fly zone.

"I don't think he needs it," he said. "He was smart to bring up members of Congress -- both parties -- put us in the Situation room, and talk about what he's planning to do, to try to build congressional support. I think that was the right decision, we do have to be in this together, there's a lot going on in the world, the United States is in a lot of places right now, we need to do this together if we're going to do it at all."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Key Senate Republican: Declaration Of War Needed for Libyan No-Fly Zone

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Monday said if the Obama administration wants to implement a no-fly zone in Libya, it must first get Congress to declare war.

Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., also said if a no-fly zone is implemented, the Arab League should pay for its costs. 

“Given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame, the strains on our military, and other factors, it is doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. If the Obama Administration is contemplating this step, however, it should begin by seeking a declaration of war against Libya that would allow for a full Congressional debate on the issue,” Lugar said in a statement Monday.

Lugar, who is fighting a tough re-election battle in the Hoosier State, differs with the Senate’s number-three Democrat, Chuck Schumer, on the issue of whether or not the White House should get Congress to declare war if the administration wants to implement a no-fly zone.

On Sunday Schumer, D-N.Y., said it is up to the president to decide.

“I believe on these we should defer to the commander in chief on short term, immediate situations like this,” Schumer said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

A number of senators have vociferously demanded a no-fly zone in Libya. On Monday, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Joe Lieberman, I-CT, introduced a resolution in the Senate calling for a no-fly zone to combat Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


John McCain: Libya's Gadhafi Is 'Insane'

ABC News (file)(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., reiterated his call for a U.S.-backed no-fly zone over Libya on Sunday and called the country’s leader, Moammar Gadhafi, "insane."

"We can't risk allowing Gadhafi to massacre people from the air, both by helicopter and fixed-wing [aircraft]," McCain told ABC’s This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently noted that imposing a no-fly zone over a country as large as Libya would be a significant endeavor.

"If it's ordered, we can do it. But the reality is there's a lot of, frankly, loose talk about some of these military options," the secretary said on Capitol Hill on Wednesday. "And let's just call a spade a spade: a no-fly zone begins with an attack on Libya to destroy the air defenses. That's the way you do a no-fly zone."

McCain noted that, "these air assets that Gadhafi has are not overwhelming."

“We are on the side of the rebels,” McCain said. “We have called for Gadhafi's removal…I want to emphasize: ground intervention would not be appropriate – certainly not at this time.”

"A ground intervention by the part of the United States could be very counterproductive," he said. "But we can assist in a lot of ways: humanitarian, intelligence, providing them with some training and other things we can do as they form up a provisional government in Benghazi."

So how can the U.S. push Gadhafi to leave?

"I hope that Gadhafi understands the inevitability of --" McCain began to say.

"But he hasn't shown much indication to us," Amanpour interjected.

"Oh, I agree with you," McCain said. "He's insane. But perhaps the people around him would begin to depart the sinking ship."

"Again," he added, "by a no-fly zone, by declaring our support for a provisional government, perhaps, which is being formed up now – there is a lot of steps we can take."

McCain, who is the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, recently returned from a trip around the Middle East where he met with government leaders in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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