White House Won’t Rule Out Military Aid to Topple Gadhafi

By Fred Lucas | February 28, 2011 | 11:54 AM EST

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, Monday Feb. 28, 2011. The 27-nation bloc agreed an arms embargo, asset freeze and visa ban against Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi on Monday. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Washington (CNSNews.com) – Exile is one option for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Monday. When asked if the United States would consider military aid to help topple the regime, Carney said “all options remain on the table.”

President Barack Obama was meeting with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the White House on Monday to discuss sanctions and other potential actions against the Gadhafi government.

Gadhafi has ordered the toughest crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators of any Middle Eastern leader whose rule is threatened by anti-government uprisings. The regime’s violent response prompted the United States, Britain and the U.N. Security Council to sanction Libya over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the French government announced Monday that France was sending two planes with humanitarian aid to the city of Benghazi, an opposition stronghold in eastern Libya. And the European Union on Monday imposed its own arms embargo, visa ban and other sanctions on the Gadhafi regime.

Over the weekend, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Gadhafi to step down and “call off the mercenaries.”

“I think it's way too soon to tell how this is going to play out, but we're going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States,” Clinton was quoted as saying in Geneva.

Shortly before noon on Monday, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. is sending aid teams to Libya's borders with Egypt and Algeria to help refugees.

Carney said Monday that the “president’s position has been clear and stark about the need for a transition from the Gadhafi regime now.

“We are actively reaching out to those in Libya who are working to bring about a government respects the rights and a peaceful aspirations of the Libyan people,” Carney told reporters. “It’s premature to make decisions about recognizing one group or the other. Our focus is on helping the Libyan people. I would point to the statement over the weekend about our belief that Col. Gadhafi should step down.”

Carney said “exile is an option” for Gadhafi, but he added, “That’s a bit of speculation I’m not ready to get into.”

Another reporter asked whether the United States would consider military aid to help topple Gadhafi’s government.

“We have talked about the fact that all options remain on the table,” Carney said. “We have obviously announced a robust series of sanctions. To make any decisions of that kind would be premature.”

The opposition to Gadhafi includes units of the country’s army, which holds most of the eastern half of Libya and much of the oil infrastructure and some cities. Gadhafi, believed to be in the capital of Tripoli, is backed by security forces better armed than the military, the Associate Press reported.