Sunday, August 21, 2011

Obama: Libya slipping from grasp of tyrant

President Barack Obama said Sunday night following a day of dramatic developments in Libya that the situation there has reached a "tipping point" and that control of the capital was "slipping from the grasp of a tyrant." He called on Moammar Gadhafi to accept reality and relinquish power.
Obama issued the statement after conducting a conference call with members of his national security team, who had provided him with updates throughout the day.
"The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Moammar Gadhafi and his regime need to recognize that their rule has come to an end," Obama said in a statement issued while on vacation in Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. "Gadhafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all."
He had told reporters earlier Sunday that he would not make a statement "until we have full confirmation of what has happened."
Libyan rebels who raced into Tripoli on Sunday met little resistance as Gadhafi's defenders melted away and his 42-year authoritarian rule quickly crumbled. Euphoric fighters celebrated with residents of the capital in Green Square, the symbolic heart of the fading regime. Gadhafi's whereabouts were unknown, though state TV broadcast his bitter pleas for Libyans to defend his regime.
Opposition fighters captured his son and one-time heir apparent, Seif al-Islam, who along with his father faces charges of crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court in the Netherlands. Another son was in contact with rebels about surrendering, the opposition said.
"Tonight, the momentum against the Gadhafi regime has reached a tipping point. Tripoli is slipping from the grasp of a tyrant," Obama said in the statement. "The Gadhafi regime is showing signs of collapsing. The people of Libya are showing that the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator."
The United States has joined other countries in recognizing the rebel forces, the Transitional National Council, as the legitimate government in Libya.
Obama called on the rebels "at this pivotal and historic time" to demonstrate the leadership needed to steer the country through a transition by respecting the rights of the Libyan people, avoiding civilian casualties, protecting state institutions and pursuing a transition to democracy that is "just and inclusive" for all of the country's people.
"A season of conflict must lead to one of peace," the president said.
Obama said the U.S. would remain in close contact with the TNC and work with its allies and partners around the world to protect the Libyan people and support a peaceful shift to democracy.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta were also kept updated throughout the day, officials said.
For the past two days, senior U.S. diplomats have had intensive discussions with the Libyan opposition, and with European and NATO allies, about the evolving situation. Ivo Daalder, the U.S. ambassador to NATO, and Philip Gordon, the top American diplomat for Europe, have been consulting with their counterparts.
Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, the top American diplomat for the Mideast, returned to Cairo on Sunday after two days in Benghazi, the de facto rebel capital. On Saturday, while in Benghazi, Feltman warned that "the best-case scenario is for Gadhafi to step down now ... that's the best protection for civilians."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Feltman's trip underscored continuing U.S. efforts to encourage the rebels "to maintain broad outreach across all segments of Libyan society and to plan for post-Gadhafi Libya."More...

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