President Barack Obama says Moammar Gadhafi’s forces “have been degraded,” but the Libyan tyrant might try to “hunker down,” and the United States and its allies have other ways of getting at him – and forcing him to leave.
“Gadhafi may try to hunker down – and wait it out – even in the face
of a no-fly zone – even though his forces have been degraded,” Obama said in a CNN interview Tuesday. “But keep in mind that we don’t just have military tools at our disposal, in terms of accomplishing Gadhafi’s leaving: We put in place strong international sanctions, we’ve frozen his assets, we will continue to apply a whole range of pressure on him.
“But with respect to the military action – that specifically is done under the U.N. Security Council resolution, and calls for maintaining the no-fly zone, and ensuring that the people of Libya aren’t assaulted by their own military,” Obama said.
Obama was asked whether the United States and its allies will give military support to the Libyan rebels.
“Obviously we’re discussing with the coalition what steps can be taken,” Obama said. “I think that our hope is, that the first thing that happens once we clear this space, is that the rebels are able to start discussing how they organize themselves, how they articulate their aspirations for the Libyan people and create a legitimate government.
“Potentially, what we may see, that all the enthusiasm the Libyan people had for a change in government – that was occurring a few weeks ago – but that Gadhafi, through just brutal application of force made people fearful, that that can resurface,” he continued. “And it may be that it’s not a matter of military might, but instead an idea that has come to the Libyan people, that it’s time for a change that ends up ultimately sweeping Gadhafi out of power.
“But we’re going to be examining all our options,” Obama said. “But our first task right now, is to shape the environment, so that Gadhafi’s forces can’t attack his own people, maintain the no-fly zone. And the United States role once that environment is shaped is actually significantly reduced, because we have a broad-based international coalition – including Arab states – that believes in the same thing that we do.”
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