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Updated: March 1, 2011 12:50 IST

Qadhafi losing control over Libya: Clinton

PTI
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Demonstrators display the old Libyan flag during anti-Qadhafi protests, in Benghazi, on Monday.
AP Demonstrators display the old Libyan flag during anti-Qadhafi protests, in Benghazi, on Monday.

Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi is increasingly losing control over his country and now he appears to be in control of a small part of the capital Tripoli, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said.

“The situation for Qadhafi is worsening... he is in control of a smaller part of the country, really now probably only a part of Tripoli. But he still has allies who are not yet turning against him, and we are trying to send very clear messages that that needs to happen,” Ms. Clinton told the BBC News in an interview.

Ms. Clinton said the U.S. and its international partners are looking at all forms of action and nothing is off the table.

“We want to be prepared in the event that some other steps are necessary,” she said.

At the same time, she acknowledged that the option of use of military force is a very difficult decision to make for many reasons. “First of all, none of the countries with whom I’ve consulted today put that at the top of the list because it’s always fraught with uncertainty. And in a country like Libya, where we don’t have enough information to know exactly what is happening on the ground, it would be particularly difficult,” she said.

“At the same time, we know that this violence must end. And if we can take action that would expedite its end, we have to consider that,” Ms. Clinton asserted.

“We do believe that, according to pilots who chose to disobey orders they were given that certainly the Qadhafi regime tried to direct certain actions from the air against targets on the land. We also have heard of additional accountings concerning limited but unmistakable efforts using helicopters and the like,” she said.

“But it is unclear at this time, and we don’t want to make any decisions based on anecdotes. What we do know is that most of the violence is on the ground. And frankly, that’s one of the drawbacks of a no-fly zone is, as we learned in Iraq when we ran a no-fly zone in northern Iraq, sometimes absolutely horrible regimes decide that that means it’s open fire on the ground. So this is a much more complicated decision matrix than it might at first appear,” she said.

Ms. Clinton said the United Nations Security Council resolution slapping sanctions on the Qadhafi regime is a step toward ending the violence, because what it does is to send a clear message, not just to Mr. Qadhafi, who may or may not be listening, but to the people around him, people who may want to live longer, people who may no want to be pariahs, people who have a stake in ending the violence.

“So I think that the message of what we are doing is part of an overall international effort to end the violence,” she said.

“In addition, there will be other steps taken to freeze the assets, to prevent access to those assets, so that Qadhafi can’t use them to perpetuate and escalate the violence, which is something we’re worried about,” she said.

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