Obama Says Gaddafi’s Exit From Libya Is Inevitable

By Dialogo
May 23, 2011

Muammar Gaddafi will inevitably leave power, U.S. President Barack Obama said after NATO intensified its bombing campaign against government objectives and announced that it had sunk eight Libyan warships.

Obama’s statement was part of a speech addressed to the Middle East, where a series of uprisings this year has overthrown the governments of Tunisia and Egypt and inspired a three-month-old revolt in Libya that is seeking to overthrow Gaddafi.

“Time is working against Gaddafi. He does not have control over his country. The opposition has organized a legitimate and credible Interim Council,” Obama said in Washington.

“When Gaddafi inevitably leaves or is forced from power, decades of provocation will come to an end, and the transition to a democratic Libya can proceed,” the president said, defending his decision to engage in military action against the Libyan leader’s administration.

His comments echoed the words of NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who said that military and political pressure is weakening Gaddafi and will eventually lead to his fall.

Acting under a UN mandate, NATO allies, including France, Great Britain, and the United States, are conducting air attacks with the aim of preventing Gaddafi from using military force against civilians.

Alliance planes sank eight warships in nighttime attacks on the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums, and Sirte, NATO said in a statement.

“Given the escalating use of naval assets, NATO had no choice but to take decisive action to protect the civilian population of Libya and NATO forces at sea,” said Rear Adm. Russell Harding, the deputy commander of the alliance’s mission in Libya.

Libyan officials took journalists to the port of Tripoli, where a small vessel was burning and giving off smoke, and cast doubt on whether the ships attacked by NATO were involved in clashes.

Mohammad Ahmed Rashed, general manager of the Tripoli port, said that six vessels were struck by missiles.

The ships, five of which belonged to the coast guard, together with one larger vessel, had been undergoing maintenance since the conflict began, the official told the press, adding that the port was still operating and could handle commercial traffic.