The U.S. President Barack Obama today signals the return of America to the forefront of the international effort in Libya, writing a joint article with David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy in which the three leaders commit their countries to pursue military action until Col Muammar Gaddafi has been removed from power.
The three Western leaders emphasized their commitment to the military campaign in a joint article: “So long as Gaddafi is in power, NATO and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds.”
“Britain, France and the United States will not rest until the United Nations Security Council resolutions have been implemented and the Libyan people can choose their own future,” the three leaders write in a joint op-ed published in several papers this morning, including the international edition of The New York Times.
The article declared that Gaddafi must “go and go for good”, citing that “Gaddafi has promised to carry out terrorist attacks against civilian ships and airliners. And because he has lost the consent of his people any deal that leaves him in power would lead to further chaos and lawlessness.”
In the piece, the three leaders acknowledge the legal constrictions but suggest they must overcome them: “Our duty and our mandate under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Qaddafi by force.”
The joint statement also said: “It is unthinkable that someone who has tried to massacre his own people can play a part in their future government. The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted such an arrangement. “It would be an unconscionable betrayal.”
Yesterday Gaddafi was seen driving through Tripoli on what seemed to be a victory parade. His soldiers bombarded the city of Misrata with shells. In their article the three leaders call the attack on Misrata a “medieval siege … to strangle its population into submission”.
They write: “The brave citizens of those towns that have held out against forces that have been mercilessly targeting them would face a fearful vengeance if the world accepted [Gaddafi staying]. It would be an unconscionable betrayal.
“So long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds … Britain, France and the United States will not rest until the UN security council resolutions have been implemented and the Libyan people can choose their own future.”
The joint pledge came as Nato admitted that the refusal of Italy, Spain and Holland to allow their combat planes to carry out ground strikes is causing the alliance to lose momentum in attacks on Col Gaddafi’s forces.
Moreover, Gerard Longuet, the French defense minister told French radio that removing Gaddafi would be difficult if not impossible, since it is beyond the beyond the scope of the existing UN resolution on Libya.
The New York Times reported on its publication that the article originally began as a collaboration between Cameron and Sarkozy, coinciding with the prime minister’s trip to Paris on Wednesday to discuss the military action.
A draft was sent to the White House as a courtesy, prompting a request from Obama to add his name. Diplomatic sources said that only minor changes were made to accommodate him. [via The Telegraph (UK), IB Times and The Guardian (UK)]