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A lack of weapons, ammunition add to the Libyan unrest
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JEREMY HOBSON: Well the House of Representatives is hoping to finalize a $650 billion defense spending bill today. And after a vote yesterday, funding for Libyan rebels who are trying to oust leader Muammar Gaddafi won’t be part of it. That means no weapons and no training for the Libyan rebels from the U.S.
For more on the significance of this, let’s bring in the BBC’s Paul Danahar, who joins us from Misrata, Libya. Paul, good morning.
PAUL DANAHAR: Good morning.
HOBSON: Well, how do you think this vote in the U.S. House is going to be felt among the rebels? Is it important to them?
DANAHAR: It’s very important because the key thing they need here are arms and ammunition. They have plenty of men willing to fight. Often they’re going to the front lines sharing rifles. So they kind of staggered approach to this war is simply due to the fact that when they collect enough ammo, they can fight. When they can’t, they stay where they are. And there’s a lot of impatience from Western people to get this thing moving and it won’t move until there’s more things to shoot with.
HOBSON: Well, if they’re not going to get weapons with help from the United States, where are the rebels getting the money for the things they need?
DANAHAR: Well some of the ammunition is coming from Benghazi, some they’re capturing on the ground, and some is being bought. And it’s being bought by the local leaders and the businessmen who moved with the public here against Gaddafi. So it’s very much a localized affair here.
HOBSON: Paul, how long do you think this fight against Gaddafi is going to continue?
DANAHAR: It’s going to continue, I suspect, for many weeks. We’ve got Ramadan coming up in August, and that worries the rebels a lot because it means that they’re fighters are not going to have full strength during the day when they want to be fighting because they will have been up all night because they fast during the day. So I think it will drag on for quite a while and the thing that will keep it dragging on is a lack of ammunition and a lack of arms in the hands of the rebels.
HOBSON: The BBC’s Paul Danahar in Misrata, Libya. Paul thanks so much.
DANAHAR: You’re welcome.
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