Obama: Gadhafi death is warning to iron-fist rulers


[UPDATE] See video below.

President Barack Obama hailed Muammar Gadhafi’s death as a warning to authoritarian leaders across the Middle East that iron-fisted rule “inevitably comes to an end” and as vindication for his cautious U.S. strategy on Libya.

Obama joined U.S. politicians and ordinary Americans in welcoming the demise of Gadhafi, who was for decades regarded as a nemesis of American presidents, and he also sought to claim some of the credit for the Libyan strongman’s downfall.

“This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya,” Obama told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.

Obama made clear that he considered Gadhafi’s death a vindication of his “leading from behind” strategy that had drawn criticism at home for casting the United States in a support role in the NATO air assault in Libya.

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“Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we have achieved our objectives,” Obama said in a televised statement to Americans already weary of long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. reaction reflected a tortured history with Gadhafi, viewed in the United States as a villain for his government’s links to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Scotland and a 1986 disco bombing in Berlin that targeted U.S. troops.

Obama also touted Gadhafi’s death as a warning to other authoritarian rulers in Middle East where revolts have already upended longtime leaders in Egypt and Tunisia.

Washington is pressing for further sanctions against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over his harsh crackdown on democracy protests.

“For the region, today’s events prove once more that the rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end,” Obama said.

Obama said the United States would be a partner to Libya’s interim government and urged a swift transition to democratic elections, but he made no specific promises of aid.

Relatives of American victims of the flight blown up over Lockerbie, Scotland by Libyan agents 23 years ago said justice was served with Gadhafi’s death as he fled his home town and final bastion. [ID:nL5E7LJ3ZE]

“I hope he’s in hell with Hitler,” said Kathy Tedeschi, whose first husband Bill Daniels was among the 270 people killed in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

Additional reporting by Caren Bohan, Tabassum Zakaria, John Whitesides, Michelle Nichols; Editing by Doina Chiacu

Obama respond to Gadhafi death


[UPDATE] President Barack Obama said on Thursday the United States would be a partner to Libya following the death of Muammar Gadhafi and said the NATO mission in the North African country would “soon come to an end.”

“This marks the end of a long and painful chapter for the people of Libya who now have the opportunity to determine their own destiny in a new and democratic Libya,” he told reporters in the White House Rose Garden.

Obama also said the death of Gadhafi, as reported by Libyan authorities, was significant in the Arab world where protests have provoked the fall of long-standing dictators. “The rule of an iron fist inevitably comes to an end,” he said.

[Oct. 20, 11 am] President Barack Obama will say publicly on Thursday that he believes deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi is likely dead, an administration official said.

“In his remarks, the president will cite the fact that Libyan officials have announced Gadhafi’s death. We have also received similar reports through diplomatic channels and have confidence in this reporting,” a White House official said.

[Oct. 20, 9:50 am] U.S. officials on Thursday scrambled to check reports that deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi had died after being captured near his hometown of Sirte following months of civil war.

Gadhafi was wounded in the head and legs as he tried to flee in a convoy that came under attack from NATO warplanes at dawn, a senior official with Libya’s National Transitional Council told Reuters.

A senior Obama administration official said the U.S. was working to confirm the reports.

“We’re working on it,” the official said.

Gadhafi’s death followed months of NATO military action in Libya that began over a government crackdown against pro-democracy protesters inspired by protests in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt that ended in the overthrow of long-standing autocratic leaders.

The United States led the initial air strikes on Gadhafi’s forces but quickly handed the lead over to NATO, while taking a secondary role to Britain and France.

The NATO bombing campaign helped Libya’s rebels take power.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday became the most senior U.S. official to visit Tripoli since Gadhafi’s four-decade rule ended in August.

Clinton hailed “Libya’s victory.” But her visit was marked by tight security in a sign of worries that the country’s new rulers have yet to establish full control over the country.

Gadhafi was wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of ordering the killing of civilians.

He was believed to be hiding deep in Libya’s Sahara desert. His wife, two sons and a daughter fled to neighboring Algeria shortly after Tripoli fell to rebel forces in August.

Reporting by Matt Spetalnick, Alister Bull, Jeff Mason, Laura MacInnis and David Morgan; Editing by Vicki Allen

International Criminal Court: Gadhafi planned civilian killings


The International Criminal Court has evidence Muammar Gadhafi’s government planned to put down protests by killing civilians before the uprising in Libya broke out, the ICC’s prosecutor said on Tuesday.

The peaceful protests that erupted on Feb. 15 descended into civil war as Gadhafi’s forces first fired on demonstrators, then violently put down the uprisings that followed in the west, leaving the east and the third city of Misrata in rebel hands.

NATO-led air power is now holding the balance in Libya, preventing Gadhafi’s forces overrunning the seven-week old revolt, but unable for now to hand the rebels outright victory.

Read more at Haaretz.com.

U.S. warns Libya over possible military action [VIDEO]


United States President Barak Obama condemned embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gadhafi Friday, warning that the U.S. will take military action if Gadhafi does not comply with the terms iterated in the UN Security Council resolution passed Thursday.

The U.S. president called on Gadhafi to implement a complete cease-fire immediately, saying that this means “all attacks against civilians must stop. Gadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Adjadbiya, Misrata and Zawiyah.”

He also called on the Libyan leader to reestablish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas and allow humanitarian assistance to reach the people of Libya.

Video courtesy of PBS NewsHour.

Read more at Haaretz.com.