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Sunday, June 12, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Lawmakers withdrawing support for Libya rebels over lack of cooperation

WASHINGTON — Congress is dismayed over the behavior of the rebel movement in Libya.


House and Senate members have been concerned over the refusal of Libyan rebels to cooperate with Congress. They said Congress has sought to win guarantees from the rebels that they would establish democracy and transform Libya into a strong ally of the United States.

"Being a senior member of [House] Foreign Affairs Committee and being the author of the resolution to support the uprising, it is disappointing that I'm withdrawing my support for the Libyan resistance movement," Rep. Dana Rohrabacher said.

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Rohrabacher, an early supporter of the revolt, cited the rebel refusal to issue a commitment to repay the United States for the military mission against the regime of Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi. Rohrabacher, a leading Republican, was part of a delegation of six House members who met rebels in Libya earlier this month, Middle East Newsline reported.

Other House members expressed concern that the Libyan rebels were linked to Al Qaida. They said Al Qaida and other insurgency groups were buying surface-to-air missiles and other weapons captured by the rebels from Gadhafi arsenals.

At a news conference on June 9 in Qatar, Rohrabacher said he was expressing congressional unease over the Libyan rebel movement, which has received hundreds of millions of dollars from Arab allies. The House member from California said his request to the rebels was based on the assessment that the United States could no longer afford major military missions.

"The United States right now is going broke, we are spending one and half trillion dollars every year for the last three years more than what we are taking in," Rohrabacher said. "This means that we are on the edge of a major economic crisis now. And it's not right for us to borrow money from China or anywhere to give it to the people of Libya to help them when they want freedom."

Rohrabacher was the author of a resolution introduced in March that recognized the rebel Transitional National Council as the "legitimate representative of the Libyan people and nation." He said that Libya would become an extremely rich nation once Gadhafi was replaced.

"The compromise that I have been trying to work out is that the Libyan revolutionaries agree that once they win their freedom they would repay the U.S. for the expenses in helping them in their freedom," Rohrabacher said. "I think it's a reasonable request."

Congress has been told that NATO air strikes have significantly weakened the Gadhafi regime. But House and Senate members warned that the United States has failed to recruit an international coalition to stabilize a post-Gadhafi Libya.

"I think there are some signs that if we continue the pressure, if we stick with it, that ultimately Gadhafi will step down," CIA director Leon Panetta said.

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