Posted by on March 18, 2011 in Blog

Following Muammar Gaddafi’s threats to “show no mercy” as his forces advanced towards Benghazi, the UN Security Council passed resolution 1973, imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. This was followed by a statement from President Barack Obama a few moments ago in which he explicitly spelled out the international community’s ultimatum to Gaddafi: cease your advance towards Benghazi and stop using force against civilians, or face military action.

President Obama kicked off his speech by saying that Gaddafi had “lost the confidence” of his own people and the legitimacy to lead, noting that he has chosen large scale repression and violence against his people in an effort to stay in power. Obama said that there was every reason to believe that, left unchecked, Gaddafi would commit atrocities in Benghazi; creating a humanitarian crisis, overrunning the spirit of democracy, and destabilizing the region.

It was under these ominous prospects and the “potential for mass murder” that the international community, including the US, UK, France, and the Arab League, imposed strong punitive measures through the UNSC and, in the words of President Obama, presented Gaddafi with a “choice” to meet conditions that are “not negotiable” or face military strikes. Seemingly believing that Gaddafi can only stay in power through the use of large scale violence, and by forcibly revoking his ability to employ such violence, the US and the international community are further pressuring Gaddafi to let go of the reigns of power and allow the wave of change sweeping the region to continue. “This is just one more chapter in the change unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa,” he said.

Obama noted that the US will not deploy ground troops in Libya, but would contribute “unique capabilities” to help stop the violence if military action became necessary. Gaddafi is unlikely to challenge the international community directly, but is also unlikely to simply give up his reign over Libya. This leaves him with very little space in the middle to figure out how he can stay in power.

Towards the closing of his remarks today, President Obama said,

I want to be clear: The change will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power. Ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the Arab world. It is their right, and their responsibility, to determine their own destiny.

With such backing from the international community, the Libyan people may now be finally empowered to rid themselves of 42 years of Gaddafi’s hold on power.

You can watch President Obama’s remarks by clicking here.

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