Mission not accomplished till Gaddafi in power: Obama

Prez Obama has said the US mission in Libya will be incomplete till Gaddafi remains in power.

Updated: Mar 23, 2011, 09:31 AM IST

Washington: US President Barack Obama ruled
out any changes in the Operation Odyssey Dawn for Libya till its ruler Muammar Al Gaddafi was in power or till the time he changed his approach towards his own people.

"As long as Gaddafi remains in power, unless he changes
his approach and provides the Libyan people an opportunity to
express themselves freely and there are significant reforms in
the Libyan government, unless he is willing to step down, that
there are still going to be potential threats towards the
Libyan people," Obama said.

The US President was responding to a question about the
duration of the Libyan mission at a joint press availability
with his counterpart Mauricio Funes of El Salvador in San
Salvador.

"I think fairly shortly we are going to be able to say
that we`ve achieved the objective of a no-fly zone. We will
also be able to say that we have averted immediate tragedy,"
he said.

Obama said US will continue to support the efforts to
protect the Libyan people, but will not be in the lead.
"That?s what the transition that I discussed has always
been designed to do. We have unique capabilities. We came in,
up front, fairly readily, fairly substantially, and at
considerable risk to our military personnel.

And when this transition takes place, it is not going to
be our planes that are maintaining the no-fly zone.

It is not going to be our ships that are necessarily
involved in enforcing the arms embargo. That`s precisely what
the other coalition partners are going to do," he said.

This is the reason why building this international
coalition has been so important because it means that the US
is not bearing all the cost.

"It means that we have confidence that we are not going
in alone, and it is our military that is being volunteered by
others to carry out missions that are important not only to
us, but are important internationally.

We will accomplish that in a relatively short period of
time," he said.

Obama argued that it is in America`s national interest to
act against authoritarians like Gaddafi who train their guns
against their own people.

"We’ve already seen what happened in Egypt and Tunisia --
peaceful transitions. We have a huge national interest in
making sure that those are successful because if Egypt can
make a transition from an autocratic regime to a democracy, if
Tunisia can make those same changes, they become models for a
peaceful transition that at some point may be adopted by other
countries in the region," he argued.

"Not only do we have a humanitarian interest, but we also
have a very practical interest in making sure that the changes
that are sweeping through that region are occurring in a
peaceful nonviolent fashion," Obama said.

"When we can have some impact on that with a relatively
modest contribution as part of a broader international effort,
then I absolutely believe that the costs are outweighed by the
benefits, and that is what drove my decision.

And that`s why I think that we need to make sure that we
see this through effectively," Obama argued.

PTI