Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney, 3/7/2011
Q Jay, can you confirm these reports that the U.S. is asking Saudi Arabia to arm the rebels?
MR. CARNEY: I have nothing for you on that, no.
Q Well, in connection with that, even if you can’t -- actually, is there any other country that the U.S. might be asking to provide arms to the rebels?
MR. CARNEY: Not that I’m aware of. And, again, on the issue of arming, providing weapons, it is one of the range of options that is being considered. But I think that we, again, are talking about a matter of days and weeks here since this situation began. And when you talk about arming the rebels -- now, we have -- we are pursuing a number of channels to have conversations and discussions with the opposition groups and individuals as we try to learn more about what they are pursuing, what they want; and that they also believe what the -- we believe the Libyan people want, which is a government that is representative, that is responsive to the Libyan peoples’ legitimate grievances and respects their rights.
I think, again, speaking more generally, you have to be very cognizant of, when you pursue these options, what it is you’re trying to accomplish. And I think that it would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya. We need to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we’re pursuing. And, again, I would refer you to the fact that we are reviewing and implementing actions with great haste.
...Q Could I pursue Jill’s a little bit more? Because there are actual -- there are reports overseas that Saudi Arabia has been asked by the United States to send weapons to the rebels. Is that specific option on the table, asking Saudi Arabia to send them weapons?
MR. CARNEY: I would simply say that the option of providing military assistance is on the table because no options have been removed from the table. So I won’t get into the means that that -- by which that would occur. I would, however, point you to my comments in response to Jill’s question.
...Q Chief of Staff Daley said yesterday that a no-fly zone is not a video game. Is the President worried that some people pushing for this are underestimating the potential cost in blood and treasure?
MR. CARNEY: I would say simply that it is important to be very aware of the complexities of creating and enforcing a no-fly zone. It remains very much on the table, but everyone involved in the discussions needs to be aware of what that means, both in terms of the logistics and the implementation that I think Secretary Gates talked about last week -- and also the cost. Again, it’s on the table, it’s a serious option, but it is, literally, a serious option, and it’s not a simple one that you can simple say, oh, let’s have a no-fly zone, snap your fingers and it happens.