Washington: NATO will take command of the military operations currently underway in Libya on Wednesday, US President Barack Obama has said.
In his address to the nation on his policy on Libya, Obama yesterday said the most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone.
"Last night NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday," he said, adding that going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to US allies and partners.
"I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gaddafi`s remaining forces. In that effort, the US will play a supporting role, including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications," he said.
Because of this transition to a broader NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation to our military and to American taxpayers will be reduced significantly, Obama noted.
"So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do," he said.
"That`s not to say that our work is complete. In addition to our NATO responsibilities, we will work with the international community to provide assistance to the people of Libya, who need food for the hungry and medical care for the wounded. We will safeguard the more than USD 33 billion that was frozen from the Gaddafi regime so that it`s available to rebuild Libya. After all, this money doesn`t belong to Gaddafi or to us; it belongs to the Libyan people, and we`ll make sure they receive it," Obama said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is travelling to London where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than thirty nations, he said, adding that these discussions will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Gaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve.
"Because while our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people. Now, despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Gaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous," he said.