President Barack Obama said Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s reign is nearing its end under pressure from sanctions and the intervention of an international military force.
The “noose has tightened” around Qaddafi as “people around him are starting to recognize that their options are limited and their days are numbered,” Obama said on the “CBS Evening News,” one of three interviews he gave to broadcast networks yesterday.
“We’ve got to ratchet up our diplomatic and our political pressure on him,” Obama said. “So that at some point he makes a decision to leave.”
Obama’s network interviews follow a March 28 nationally televised address in which he said the U.S. committed its armed forces to a United Nations-backed mission in Libya to protect civilians from troops loyal to Qaddafi, who has been battling opposition groups for control of the country.
In the interviews with the news shows on ABC and NBC, along with CBS, Obama said the criteria he outlined for military involvement in Libya cannot be compared with the situation in Syria, another site of anti-government protests, or elsewhere in a region that has been swept by anti-government protests.
“Each country in this region is different,” Obama told NBC. “Libya was a unique situation.”
In the interview with ABC, Obama said it is time for Qaddafi to show that he understands he has lost legitimacy in the eyes of the Libyan people, and that it would then be up to the international community to help determine how he should leave power.
“I certainly will be supporting him being removed from power, and we’re going to have to examine what our options are after that,” Obama said. “The process of actually getting Qaddafi to step down is not going to happen overnight.”
On NBC, Obama said the U.S. and its allies are still assessing the individuals and groups leading the revolt against Qaddafi. He said he has neither ruled in nor ruled out the option of arming the rebels.
“We’re not taking anything off the table at this point,” he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in London yesterday meeting with representatives from other nations that are trying to forge a postwar blueprint for Libya as troops loyal Qaddafi dug in to block rebels advancing on his hometown of Sirte.
Clinton today is to be among the administration officials giving U.S. lawmakers classified briefings in Washington about the military mission in Libya. Republicans and Democrats alike have raised questions about the operation’s costs, goals and time frame.
Obama taped all three interviews in New York, where he was attending a dedication of the U.S. mission to the United Nations, named for former Commerce Secretary Ronald H. Brown.
In his remarks at the building’s dedication ceremony Obama said that “our conscience and our common interests” compelled the U.S. and allies to act in Libya and uphold the responsibility of all nations to promote peace and protect human rights.
“History teaches us that nations are more secure and the world is more peaceful when nations meet these responsibilities,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing in Libya.”
While in New York, Obama attended two events for the Democratic Party. He helped raise $1.5 million at a dinner for the Democratic National Committee and then thanked about 250 donors at a separate event.
At the first event, Obama told supporters the U.S. was going through “a challenging time,” and that he wouldn’t be able to do his job as president “if I didn’t know that I have a lot people rooting for me.”