Obama threatens force if UN resolution not complied with
US RESPONSE:PRESIDENT BARACK Obama explicitly threatened to use military force against Col Muammar Gadafy yesterday, less than 24 hours after the UN Security Council passed Resolution 1973 granting the international community authorisation to attack Libya.
“Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable,” Mr Obama said. “If Gadafy does not comply with the resolution . . . the resolution will be enforced through military action.” Mr Obama said he did not take the decision to send servicemen into action lightly, but the US “will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security”.
He said he believed action was necessary and stressed that the US “will not be acting alone.” The conditions dictated by the US, Britain, France and the Arab League were the following, Mr Obama said: “A ceasefire must be implemented immediately . . . All attacks against civilians must stop. Gadafy must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misurata and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.”
The president said he had asked defence secretary Robert Gates to co-ordinate planning with the military. Secretary of state Hillary Clinton is to travel to Paris today to meet European and Arab allies. “We will provide the unique capabilities that we can bring to bear . . . including enabling our European allies and Arab partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone,” Mr Obama said.
The likelihood that Col Gadafy would commit atrocities, the danger of a humanitarian crisis and “the calls of the Libyan people for help” justified US action, Mr Obama said.
Earlier in the day at the state department, after a meeting with Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore, Mrs Clinton cast doubt on the ceasefire declared yesterday morning by the Libyan government. “This is a fluid and dynamic situation,” she said. “We are going to be not responsive or impressed by words. We would like to see actions on the ground. And that is not yet at all clear.”
Asked whether the goal was to overthrow Gadafy, or merely to stop violence against civilians, Mrs Clinton said twice the crisis must be managed “one step at a time”, a phrase repeated by Mr Gilmore when he spoke to journalists outside the state department.
Does Ireland support the French and British plan to take over Libyan airspace and destroy that country’s defence assets? “What Ireland would support is the United Nations,” Mr Gilmore replied. “It is very encouraging that the UN has adopted a decisive resolution on this issue. Ireland has always been supportive of the UN . . . Let us hope that the adoption of that resolution will ensure that there is a ceasefire.”