Obama is seeking the support of Saudi Arabian King Abdullah to arm Libyan rebels in the embattled city of Benghazi, located in the eastern part of Libya. The Saudi King hates Colonel Gaddafi, especially since the eccentric Libyan leader tried to assassinate him about one year ago. But strong negative emotions are a long way from supplying anti-tank rockets and mortars to rebels, especially in light of the nascent protest movement against the Saudi regime.
King Abdullah Has Troubles of His Own
The Saudis have yet to respond to Obama’s request. At the moment they have banned all street protests after responding to such demonstrations in the province of Qatif last week with a flow of troops and security police to keep control. Nevertheless a ‘day of rage’ is being planned for Friday. Organizers of the protest have been inspired by the Shia uprising in the neighboring tiny country of Bahrain to conduct their own Shia uprising in Saudi Arabia. About 10% of the Muslim population in Saudi Arabia is Shia, and organizers of the demonstration have stated that they expect at least 20,000 protesters to fill the streets on Friday, with the intentional placement of women and children in the front rows to prevent the Saudi army from responding with gunfire or other violence.
Obama Pays Lip Service Only
Aside from the secret appeal to Saudi Arabia for arms assistance to the rebels, the Obama government has done little to offer support themselves, aside from Obama’s statement that “Gaddafi needs to step down from power and leave,” and Hillary Clinton’s remark that “one of our biggest concerns is Libya . . . becoming a giant Somalia.”Obama’s reluctance to step in has been justified with statements from Pentagon chief Robert Gates who said, “It’s a big operation in a big country. We also have to think about, frankly, the use of the U.S. military in another country in the Middle East.” James Mattis, the Commander of Centcomm has stated similar sentiments.
Obama Wont Act Without UN or Arab Approval
Among analysts in America there is a suspicion that Obama’s real motivation for staying clear of the conflict is more ideological than practical. According to the Wall Street Journal Obama is not acting to support the rebels because, the White House believes that “any U.S. action will somehow be tainted if it isn’t wrapped in U.N. or pan-Arab approval. They have internalized their own critique of the Bush Administration to such a degree that they are paralyzed to act even against a dictator as reviled and blood-stained as Gaddafi, and even though it would not require the deployment of U.S. troops.”The Wall Street Journal continues to state that “Mr. Obama won’t lead the world because he truly seems to believe that U.S. leadership is morally suspect. But if Mr. Obama thinks George W. Bush was unpopular in the Arab world, he should contemplate the standing of America—and the world reputation of Barack Obama—if Gaddafi and his sons slaughter their way back to power.”