WASHINGTON, April 15, 2011 — NATO nations will continue operations against the regime in Libya until Moammar Gadhafi leaves power, the leaders of the United States, Great Britain and France wrote in an article published in their countries today.
President Barack Obama, Prime Minister David Cameron and President Nicolas Sarkozy described why the United Nations and an international coalition intervened and what they believe needs to happen for Libya to find peace.
The three men said the military mission still has not changed: to enforce a no-fly zone over the country, enforce an arms embargo on Gadhafi’s regime and protect the people of Libya from the depredations of Gadhafi’s forces.
The three said it is important to remember why the international community is involved. The Libyan people, following the example of the people of Tunisia and Egypt, rebelled against Gadhafi. The Libyan dictator responded with force.
“The Arab League called for action. The Libyan opposition called for help. And the people of Libya looked to the world in their hour of need,” the three leaders wrote. “In an historic resolution, the United Nations Security Council authorized all necessary measures to protect the people of Libya from the attacks upon them.”
The United States led an international coalition that “halted the advance of Gadhafi’s forces and prevented the bloodbath that he had promised to inflict upon the citizens of the besieged city of Benghazi,” the leaders wrote. But the NATO action didn’t totally stop Gadhafi’s forces, they added.
“The people of Libya are still suffering terrible horrors at Gadhafi’s hands each and every day,” the leaders wrote. “His rockets and shells rained down on defenseless civilians in Ajdabiya. The city of Misrata is enduring a medieval siege, as Gadhafi tries to strangle its population into submission. The evidence of disappearances and abuses grows daily.”
The U.N. mandate does not call for the ouster of Gadhafi by force, the men noted. “But it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi in power,” they said. “It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. It would be an unconscionable betrayal.”
Gadhafi remaining in power also would “condemn Libya to being not only a pariah state, but a failed state too,” they wrote.
The Libyan dictator has promised to carry out terrorist attacks against civilian ships and airliners. “And because he has lost the consent of his people, any deal that leaves him in power would lead to further chaos and lawlessness,” the leaders wrote. “We know from bitter experience what that would mean. Neither Europe, the region, or the world can afford a new safe haven for extremists.”
A path exists to peace to a Libya without Gadhafi “that preserves Libya’s integrity and sovereignty, and restores her economy and the prosperity and security of her people,” the men wrote, beginning with a genuine end to violence.
The regime has to pull back from the cities it is besieging, including Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zintan, and regime forces must return to their barracks, the leaders wrote. “However, so long as Gadhafi is in power, NATO must maintain its operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds,” they said.
The path to peace means a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process, the leaders wrote.
“In order for that transition to succeed, Gadhafi must go, and go for good,” they said. “At that point, the United Nations and its members should help the Libyan people as they rebuild where Gadhafi has destroyed — to repair homes and hospitals, to restore basic utilities, and to assist Libyans as they develop the institutions to underpin a prosperous and open society.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)