Obama confident Gaddafi will step down

2011-03-30 07:54

Washington - US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday he was confident that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi would "ultimately" step down and warned he had not ruled out supplying arms to rebels seeking to oust him.

Obama said the "noose is tightening" around the Libyan strongman, but noted it did not appear yet that Gaddafi was seeking to negotiate an exit from Libya, despite a fierce bombardment of his forces by an international coalition.

The president gave interviews to three network television news shows as part of a firm defence of his Libya strategy, which included an address to Americans on Monday and coming appearances by his national security team in Congress.

Obama's comments reflected an apparent attempt by US and allied forces to raise intolerable pressure on Gaddafi and his forces to drive him from power.

"Our expectation is that as we continue to apply steady pressure, not only militarily but also through these other means, that Gaddafi will ultimately step down," Obama said in his interview with NBC.

Obama cautioned in his speech to Americans on Monday, however, that though he would use force to protect civilians, an effort to oust Gaddafi by force would replicate the carnage and financial cost of the Iraq war.

His comments on Tuesday followed a major international conference on next steps in Libya in London where Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told AFP that participants had "unanimously" agreed Gaddafi should leave Libya.

Intense outside pressure

But Frattini said, as yet, no nation had made a formal proposal to offer Gaddafi exile.

Obama told ABC News that those around Gaddafi were being given cause to rethink their positions as his regime came under intense outside pressure.

"I think what we're seeing is that the circle around Gaddafi understands that the noose is tightening, that their days are probably numbered, and they are going to have to think through what their next steps are," Obama said.

Obama also confided that he was thinking through the idea of arming opposition rebels in Libya, though had yet to make a final decision.

"We're looking at all our options at this point," he said. "We are examining all options to support the opposition," he told ABC.

"I'm not ruling it out. But I'm also not ruling it in," he added on NBC, but cautioned that though Washington's knowledge of the identity, goals and make-up of the rebels was improving, it was not yet comprehensive.

Those members of the Libyan opposition who had met top US officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, had been fully "vetted," he said. But some opposition individuals may be unfriendly to the United States, he added.

"That's why I think it's important for us not to jump in with both feet. But to carefully consider what are the goals of the opposition," Obama told CBS.

Arms from “friendly” friends

Any decision to arm Libyan rebels would cause intense international debate over whether an international arms embargo on Libya would preclude such action.

Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has said the language of the embargo would not allow the supply of weapons. The White House has said, however, it believes the text does offer latitude to send arms to rebels.

Earlier, France's Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said his country was prepared to hold discussions with its allies over the possibility of supplying military aid to the opposition movement.

And rebel forces said late on Tuesday that French and US diplomatic envoys were headed to Benghazi, and said they were trying to procure arms from "friendly nations".

  • Jakob - 2011-03-30 08:03

    I'M confident obama and his whole family will die of aids... these retards, how long do they think they can deceive the world?

      theoldmanofthemountains - 2011-03-30 09:07

      Ombama die of AIDS? And you're calling him a retard? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black...

      Tokzik - 2011-03-30 11:13

      I think the answer is: As soon as people stop running their mouths without solid facts to back their statements!

  • wmutahi - 2011-03-30 08:10

    Gaddafi might leave but then what next for the country?. The rebels/opposition are to say the least disorganised and showing no signs of real leadership. This is where one wonders if the international community think tanks really do any thinking. We saw the same happening in Iraq, there was no "after saddam strategy" and the country completely disintegrated. The same case is about to happen in Libya should Gaddafi be ousted, there is no "after Gaddafi strategy" and Libya might disintegrate into chaos. The US might arm the rebels but as long as they are not organised and show signs of leadership and potential to take control of the country, this will be a disaster.

      theoldmanofthemountains - 2011-03-30 09:07

      Couldn't agree with you more!

  • Christina De carvlho - 2011-03-30 12:08

    Obama is a chop! He should focus on his own country and leave his armies and weapons out of other countries businesses.

  • pages:
  • 1