Libyan foreign minister defects while Obama authorises covert action

US President Barack Obama has authorised the use of covert US support for the Libyan rebels, as forces loyal to President Muammar Gaddafi pushed the poorly-disciplined rebels out of several recently-taken towns.

His signature has been widely reported as the first stage of authorising the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to arm the rebels, however neither the CIA or the US State Department would confirm the decision.

Obama never ruled out providing direct assistance, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar have expressed support for arming the rebels.

“It’s fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons into Libya, we probably could. We’re looking at all our options at this point,” Obama told US media.

Involvement of Western powers in Libya following the UN Security Council’s resolution has escalated from initially disabling Gaddafi’s air defenses in order to provide a no-fly zone, to attacking armour columns threatening rebel-held towns, and now to providing direct assistance to opposition forces.

Meanwhile, Gaddafi’s Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, also the head of the country’s infamous intelligence service, has defected from the Libyan dictator and arrived in London via Tunisa.

Koussa reportedly told waiting UK officials that he was “no longer willing” to represent Gaddafi’s government.

The US was also this week grappling with the fallout of an article in Rolling Stone magazine and German newspaper Der Spiegel, concerning a rogue army unit in Afghanistan accused of killing three civilians for sport and cutting off their fingers as trophies.

Photos collected by the soldiers showed members of the Fifth Stryker Brigade posing with the dead bodies. The soldiers involved reportedly killed the civilians and planted ‘drop weapons’ near the bodies, claiming they were enemy combatants.

After a concerted effort to repress the photos from publication, the Pentagon has apologised and claimed the images are “in striking contrast to the standards and values of the United States Army.”

Five soldiers have been charged with murder and are being tried in a military court.


Obama announces end to Iraq war

United States President Barack Obama has declared an end to the seven-year American combat mission in Iraq, saying that the United States had met its responsibility and it was now time to turn to domestic problems.

In a prime-time address from the Oval Office, the New York Times observed Obama balancing praise for the US troops who fought and died in Iraq with his conviction that getting into the conflict had been a mistake in the first place.

“But he also used the moment to emphasise that he sees his primary job as addressing the weak economy and other domestic issues — and to make clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer,” the NYT wrote.

“We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq, and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home,” Obama said. “Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it’s time to turn the page.”

“Over the last decade, we have not done what is necessary to shore up the foundation of our own prosperity. We have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. This, in turn, has shortchanged investments in our own people, and contributed to record deficits. For too long, we have put off tough decisions on everything from our manufacturing base to our energy policy to education reform. As a result, too many middle class families find themselves working harder for less, while our nation’s long-term competitiveness is put at risk.”

Read more

US President’s address


Secret US military Afghanistan files released by Wikileaks

200,000 pages of secret US military files concerning the war in Afghanistan have been released by the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, and simultaneously published online by the UK Guardian, US New York Times and German Der Speigel.

The news organisations have been examining the documents for weeks, after receiving them from Wikileaks which is headed by Australian Julian Assange.

Read more


Five men arrested for assault on Hithadhu in Seenu Atoll

Five men have been arrested on Hithadhu in Seenu Atoll for attacking another group of men while they were watching world cup inside an abandoned house, reported SunFM.

SunFM reported that three men were injured during the incident.

One of the three men was seriously injured and was treated in the Intensive Care Unit of the local hospital.

Police are further investigating the case.