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Donilon Lays Out U.S. Strategy on Libya

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011 – National Security Advisor Tom Donilon laid out the administration’s strategy on Libya during a conference call from the White House yesterday.

Underlying the strategy is a point that President Barack Obama has made clear, that Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi “has lost legitimacy to lead, he’s lost the confidence of his people and should leave,” Donilon said.

Libya’s ruler is isolated, the national security advisor said, and the strategy is aimed at seeing Gadhafi depart.

“First, we did work to ensure that the international community spoke with one voice on this, the United States, the Europeans, the U.N., the Arab League, African Union and others deliver a clear message,” Donilon said.

The large number of nations condemning Gadhafi demonstrates his isolation, he said.

The United States led with strong sanctions against Libya, Donilon said, including freezing more than $32 billion of the Gadhafi regime’s assets.

“We’ve coordinated additional sanctions with our European partners and they have enhanced those sanctions just in the last day or so,” he said.

The president also made it clear that the world will hold members of the Gadhafi regime accountable before the International Criminal Court, Donilon said.

“And we are going to be expanding these designations along the way, including using our intelligence assets to monitor Libyan activities,” he said.

Gadhafi’s minions who are executing his plans “need to think very carefully about this,” Donilon said. “They need to think about what they’re doing to their fellow citizens and they need to think about what the consequences are.

“Walking away now versus participating,” he continued, “is the difference between the international community pursuing them to justice, and all the way, and a different future.”

U.S. officials are in direct contact with anti-Gadhafi regime officials through a variety of channels, Donilon said.

“We’re coordinating directly with them to provide assistance and determine the best ways we can support their aspirations and understand their leadership structures and their intentions,” he said. “We want to hear from them about the situation on the ground, what their plans are, what their recommendations are.”

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton intends to meet with opposition representatives next week, Donilon said, and the United States is prepared to send diplomats to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

“This will be helpful to our understanding of the situation on the ground, allow us to facilitate humanitarian assistance,” he said.

Meanwhile, Donilon said, the United States is providing humanitarian assistance to the Libyan people and those leaving Libya.

The United States also is pursuing a range of military options, Donilon said, in conjunction with allies. NATO is increasing the number of ships in the central Mediterranean. NATO defense ministers also agreed to move ahead with detailed operational planning on two projects: humanitarian relief and more active enforcement of the arms embargo.

NATO defense ministers also are continuing plans for the full range of possibilities including a no-fly zone, the national security advisor said.

“These plans will be presented next week at NATO,” he said.

Earlier this week NATO agreed to put AWACs up over the Mediterranean around the clock to expand surveillance and coordination.

The NATO defense ministers stressed that any action had to have a sound legal basis and regional support.

“It’s not just regional rhetorical support,” Donilon said. “We’re going to be seeking actual support by those nations -- the Arab League, the [Gulf Cooperative Council] and the African nations -- to participate in any of these efforts as they go forward.”

The United States will also work in the closest way possible with the European Union to address the situation, the national security advisor said.

“Beyond this, we’re exploring additional sanctions by the United Nations Security Council resolution that will permit more active steps,” he said. “As we develop scenarios, as we develop planning in response to the situation on the ground, if we need additional United Nations Security Council authorities we will go get that.”

The situation in Libya is fluid and won’t be resolved overnight, Donilon said.

“But I think looking at our efforts here … we’ve acted quite swiftly and steadily to ramp up our efforts” concerning Libya,” he said.

 

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The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

3/14/2011 11:06:25 AM
It should be remembered that Libya is located on the Med, which is a major shipping route. If Qadaffi becomes desperate, he may institute a no-ship policy which attacks shipping with fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, small boats like those of the Somali pirates, and mine laying equipment . The extent of his missile capability is not known or mentioned by the press, so it is difficult to anticipate his missile response. It may be assumed that since our response to Somali pirates has been ineffective, efforts to thwart a Libyan blockade would be even less effective since the takeover of ships would not be involved by the Libyans, but merely sinking them would suffice. I
- Leonard Clapp, Wilmington,DE

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