U.S. Warships Advance Closer To Libya, Tension Still On the Rise
The USS Kearsage and USS Ponce assault ships have entered the southern mouth of the Suez Canal accompanied by tugs for secure passage and are travelling towards the Mediterranean, a canal official reports. Additionally, the USS Barry destroyer moved through the Suez Canal on Monday and has already arrived in the southwestern Mediterranean.
The action of U.S. ships is a result of a release on Monday by the government stating that ships and planes alike would be moving closer to Libya for possible humanitarian efforts as threats increase within the divided country. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates stated that no agreements for use of force have been made with NATO, nor is it the time for the States to be entering into another Middle Eastern war. Gates also stressed that even so, no options were off the table.
While Washington has little influence over the events taking place in Libya, they have instated a record $30 billion freeze on Libyan assets. The freeze and now deployment of U.S. vessels asserts their disapproving stance towards Muammar Gaddafi's regime.
There are currently random bombings taking place in Libyan town of Brega, an integral oil export terminal. Incidents like this have production of oil fields in the fuel rich country down to a trickle with 50% of foreign companies closing their operations to seek safety. Business at refineries and ports has drastically decreased. Libyan oil exports do not fully account for the rising barrel prices, though, with the country only accounting for 2% of the world’s crude output.
The fear that the uprisings stemming from Egypt, Tunisia and now Libya has the potential to further destabilize other OPEC countries, like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, is what is creating the uncertainty of the oil market.