Top US Senators warn Libya crisis may be exploited by Qaeda
Washington: Backing President Barack Obama's
call for Muammar Gaddafi to quit, two top US Senators have
asked authorities here to work with global community to ensure
that the Libyan ruler resigns as soon as possible, warning
that a protracted stalemate in the strife-torn country may
allow al Qaeda to exploit the chaos.
"It is stated US policy that Gaddafi must go, so now it
is critical for the United States, together with our friends
and allies, to ensure that he does go as quickly as
possible," the Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman said in
a joint statement.
A protracted and bloody stalemate in Libya would not only
be an unnecessary humanitarian disaster with the potential to
destabilise a critical region, it could also create space for
al Qaeda and its extremist allies to exploit the chaos, they
"If Gaddafi is able to remain in power, it would send a
dangerous message that dictators should respond with brutal
violence to the peaceful protest movement for universal rights
that is sweeping the region and beyond," the Senators said.
There have been numerous ideas put forward by Gaddafi's
opponents in recent days about how the world might help them
survive and prevail -- including imposition of a no-fly zone,
recognition of a provisional government, provisioning of
humanitarian assistance and various forms of security
assistance, they noted.
"Which of these we pursue should be determined after
urgent consultation with our international partners, including
the Arab League, the African Union and NATO, but most of all
the Libyan opposition forces themselves (determine it) -- and
based on the effectiveness, speed and feasibility of
implementation. But we should be prepared to support all of
them if they hasten the end of bloodshed."
Noting that the US must not be passive at this critical
moment in history, McCain and Lieberman said that from Bosnia
to Rwanda, "we know that the international community has in
the past been too slow to react to situations like the one
unfolding in Libya -- with awful and unspeakable costs in
human life. For both moral and strategic reasons, we must not
repeat this mistake."
Applauding measures adopted by the US and its partners so
far to ratchet up pressure on the Gaddafi regime, including
imposition of both unilateral and multilateral sanctions, the
regime's eviction from the UN Human Rights Council, its
suspension from the Arab League and the referral of its case
to the International Criminal Court, the Senators, however,
remained deeply concerned about the situation in Libya.
"Despite the measures adopted by the international
community, the Gaddafi regime still appears to be entrenched
in Tripoli and news reports indicate that Gaddafi's forces are
carrying out a campaign of terror against Libyan civilians.
"We are also deeply concerned that Gaddafi's forces have
launched offensives, including the use of air power, against
the opposition in the liberated areas of Libya," the Senators