GOP splitting over U.S. role in Libya and Afghanistan

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Republicans are facing a widening fissure over the U.S. role on the world stage as party leaders decide whether to confront President Obama this week over his policy toward Libya.

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and other congressional Republican leaders have said that U.S. involvement in NATO’s bombing campaign, which hit the 90-day mark Sunday, violates the War Powers Act. The House could seek to cut off money for the war as it takes up the annual Pentagon spending bill this week.

Several of the party’s potential presidential candidates have called for the U.S. to quit the fight in Libya and questioned the depth of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan.

Other Republicans have begun pushing back, criticizing what they see as a growing isolationist agenda within the party. The result is that Republicans, once relatively unified on foreign policy issues, now have a division that parallels the long-standing split in Democratic ranks.

The New York Times reports:

Since the United States handed control of the air war in Libya to NATO in early April, American warplanes have struck at Libyan air defenses about 60 times, and remotely operated drones have fired missiles at Libyan forces about 30 times, according to military officials.

The most recent strike from a piloted United States aircraft was on Saturday, and the most recent strike from an American drone was on Wednesday, the officials said.

While the Obama administration has regularly acknowledged that American forces have continued to take part in some of the strike sorties, few details about their scope and frequency have been made public.

The unclassified portion of material about Libya that the White House sent to Congress last week, for example, said “American strikes are limited to the suppression of enemy air defense and occasional strikes by unmanned Predator” drones, but included no numbers for such strikes.

The New York Times reports:

Reports that a guard at the hotel housing foreign journalists here had been fatally shot sent a tremor of anxiety through the Qaddafi government’s media operation on Monday.

While Qaddafi loyalists said the guard accidentally shot himself with his own weapon while eating a late dinner at the end of the hotel two days earlier, at least two people working for the government said on the condition of anonymity that he was killed by rebel snipers.

The guard had been assigned to protect a prominent state television commentator known for his outspoken criticism of the rebels. The commentator, Yousef Shakeer, had taken refuge with his family inside the safety of the hotel because of rebel death threats against him.

In a brief interview, Mr. Shakeer said the government had identified his would-be assassin as a past member of the Libyan Islamist Fighting Group, a jihadist group that dates back years, and he affirmed the government’s account that the guard accidentally shot himself on Saturday night.

While the details of the shooting could not be confirmed, it came amid growing reports of episodes of violence between local rebels challenging the government of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and his security forces. Some Tripoli residents said Monday that the sense of danger from the ground was compounding the effect of the escalation of NATO strikes from above.

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