The U.S. is working with the Libyan opposition leaders on a post-Qadhafi scenario in the North African country, the White House has said. Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama told Congressional leaders that there are no plans to use the U.S. military to assassinate Muammar Qadhafi.
“We are working in a variety of ways to reach out to the opposition in Libya, to advise them on what a post-Qadhafi Libya would best look like,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters on Friday.
“We believe that the government which is most responsive to the aspirations and grievances of its people will be the most successful,” he said.
Mr. Carney said consultations with the Libyan opposition are part of the U.S. policy, but at the same time categorically ruled out sending ground troops to Libya.
Defending the decision to start military operations early, he said it was taken to protect the people of the country. “Colonel Qadhafi’s forces were about to move on Benghazi and wreak horrible damage and kill many, many Libyans, had the President waited for Congress to come back, had he taken more time to debate and consult on this issue, I think there’s very little doubt that Benghazi would have fallen and that many people would have died,” he said.
“And the President believes very strongly that he made the right decision,” Mr. Carney said.
Mr. Carney reiterated America’s position that Mr. Qadhafi needs to leave as he is no longer legitimate adding that the “Libyan leader is menacing his own people, using violence against his own people.”
The military mission that is described in Security Council Resolution 1973 goes beyond just the no-fly zone and it includes the civilian protection piece that enables the coalition to do more to protect civilians than the no-fly zone allowed in northern Iraq, he said.
“We are engaged in a host of actions, unilaterally and multilaterally, that are designed to put pressure on Qadhafi, to put pressure on those around him, with the aim that he will take the decision or those around him will take the decision that he has to go,” Mr. Carney said.
“We don’t have crystal balls here and I can’t predict what the future will bring but we will stay focused on those measures even as the military mission reaches benchmarks of success and as the transfer occurs we will continue with those tools that we have to put pressure on Qadhafi and his regime,” he said.
No plans to kill Qadhafi: Obama
President Barack Obama briefed top Congressional leaders about his policy on Libya during which he said there were no plans to use the military to assassinate Mr. Qadhafi.
“The President and his team provided an update on accomplishments to date, including the full transfer of enforcement of the ‘no-fly’ zone to NATO, and yesterday’s unanimous agreement among NATO allies to direct planning for NATO to assume command and control of the civilian protection component in accordance with UNSCR 1973,” the White House said in a statement after the meeting.
Mr. Obama answered multiple questions from the Members of Congress, the White House said, adding that the discussion lasted approximately one hour. Mr. Obama told the lawmakers that there are no plans to use U.S. military to assassinate the Libyan leader despite his administration’s policy of seeking regime change in the North African country, the Politico reported.
The hastily arranged briefing came amid fierce criticism from Capitol Hill of the President’s decision to strike Libya’s defences. “There was a discussion of how we have other ways of regime change,” Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told Politico. “It’s not our role to do anything at this point from a kinetic point of view. It is our goal for regime change, but we’re not going to do it from a kinetic point of view,” he said.
More than 20 top U.S. lawmakers were present at the White House briefing.
“The Speaker appreciates the update today, but still believes much more needs to be done by the administration to provide clarity, particularly to the American people, on the military objective in Libya, America’s role, and how it is consistent with US policy goals,” House Speaker John Boehner’s spokesman Michael Steel said.