Babylon & Beyond

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LIBYA: Obama expresses concern about transition

August 22, 2011 | 11:56 am

Obama President Obama interrupted his vacation on Martha's Vineyard Monday to address events in Libya.

Although the president expressed confidence in NATO forces and the international coalition's response so far, he voiced concern about a potentially bloody transition from the longtime rule of Moammar Kadafi.

“The rights of all Libyans must be respected,” he said, noting that "fierce fighting" has continued and that Libya is "at a tipping point."

He said Kadafi could reduce the bloodshed by relinquishing power and calling on his forces to lay down their arms.

But Obama, who has been monitoring events in Libya from Massachusetts, said much of the country had clearly moved beyond Kadafi's grasp.

“The future of Libya is in the hands of its people,” Obama said. “This much is clear: the Kadafi regime is coming to an end.”

Obama credited “an unprecedented coalition” of international powers with stripping the Libyan leader of arms and cash until “his forces were steadily degraded.”

“We have shown what we can achieve when we act together as equal partners,” he said, noting that “NATO has once more proved that it is the most capable alliance in the world.”

At one point, Obama appeared to be addressing the Libyan people.

“Your revolution is your own,” he said. “Now the Libya that you deserve is within reach.”

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama leave a restaurant in Oak Bluffs, Mass., on Martha's Vineyard. Credit: Carolyn Kaster/Associated Press