Libya: Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy vow Gaddafi must go


Inside the crowded Misrata hospital

The leaders of the US, the UK and France have said in a joint letter that there can be no peace in Libya while Muammar Gaddafi stays in power.

Barack Obama, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy say Nato must maintain military operations to protect civilians and maintain pressure on Col Gaddafi.

To allow him to remain in power would "betray" the Libyan people, they write.

Signs of division remain within Nato, which is struggling to find additional combat aircraft for its strikes.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague met his US counterpart Hillary Clinton at a Nato summit on Friday, before telling the BBC he was "hopeful" more aircraft could eventually be found.

Only a few of Nato's 28 members - including France, the UK, Canada, Belgium, Norway and Denmark - are conducting air strikes.

Italy is thought to have been identified as a key potential contributor.

In Libya on Friday there were unconfirmed reports of rocket strikes by pro-Gaddafi forces on the western rebel-held city of Misrata.

Rebels in Misrata have been holding out against attacks for two months, but Mr Hague stressed that Nato needed to act swiftly to prevent a "massacre" in the city.

The BBC's Orla Guerin, who entered Misrata on Thursday, said staff at a hospital there were battling to treat civilians injured by mortars and rocket fire.

'Pariah state'

The letter from the three leaders, published in the UK's Times newspaper as well as the International Herald Tribune and France's Le Figaro, was an attempt to show a united front against Col Gaddafi.


The letter comes at a time of growing unease at the failure of Western military action to dislodge Mr Gaddafi and tensions within Nato over the reluctance of certain members to do more.

The three leaders clearly feel that this is an important moment to present a united front and they are saying that it is not enough simply to protect Libyan civilians.

Apart from a handful of raids in recent days, the US has allowed British and French warplanes to take the lead, concentrating instead on a variety of support roles. President Obama would prefer to keep it that way, and the latest opinion polls suggest that an overwhelming majority of Americans agree.

Signed by US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the letter says Libyans in cities like Misrata and Ajdabiya continue to suffer "terrible horrors at Gaddafi's hands".

While the coalition has no mandate to remove Col Gaddafi by force, "it is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in power", the leaders say.

To allow him to remain in power "would be an unconscionable betrayal" of Libya's people, they argue, and would make Libya both "a pariah state [and] a failed state".

Nato pilots are enforcing a UN resolution to establish a no-fly zone and to protect civilians in Libya. The country has effectively been split between forces for and against Col Gaddafi since a revolt against his rule began in mid-February.

"So long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds," the letter continues.

"Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders."

The letter holds out the prospect of reconstruction for Libya with the help of the "UN and its members".

But French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet, speaking on French radio, conceded that ousting Col Gaddafi would be "certainly" beyond the scope of the existing UN resolution, and could require a new Security Council vote.

New fighting

Fighting on the ground, as well as Nato bombing missions, has continued while politicians debate the way forward.

Rebels said a rocket attack in Misrata by pro-Gaddafi forces killed 23 people on Thursday, and there were new reports of rocket fire into the city on Friday morning. Neither account could be confirmed.

The BBC's Orla Guerin entered the besieged western Libyan city, visiting a hospital and finding the intensive care unit full of people with serious injuries and multiple shrapnel wounds.

They including a six-year-old girl, our correspondent says. Doctors say 80% of those killed or injured in Misrata are civilians.

The hospital is struggling to keep pace with the attacks, and its emergency ward is a tent in the car park, she reports. Patients are rushed in and out to make way for new arrivals.

Medical supplies are coming ashore here but there has been heavy shelling in the port area, raising fears that Col Gaddafi wants to cut this last link to the outside world, she adds.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 188.

    It would be a lot simpler to create a Libyan Free State for all Libyans who do not support Gaddaffi and give it UN protectorate status so that Gaddaffi cannot invade it. Regime change was not part of the mandate.It might be easier to separate the country from the man than the man from the country.Maybe when there is a clear choice more Libyans will join the rebels but at present this is unlikely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 187.

    If usa,france,uk and Nato get successful in Libya.I mean take off Gaddafi and his family to international court and let Libya people should they own goverment that must be very good for Libya people in the future. and people in the world can see the Nato look like and all the goverment in the world must respect them people and really work for them people and respect the world and rule of law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 186.

    106. David Traynier
    >>> The Americans attacked Iraq to overthrow the legitimate goverment of Saddam Hussein (regime change - not WMDs, not terrorist links). The French refused to help. Now the pathetic French must grovel for US help to overthrow the legitimate government of Libya. The Americans should indeed refuse to help the French commit war crimes in Libya. I hope that this bankrupts France.

  • rate this

    Comment number 185.

    " David Traynier: I accept that an existing, authorised peace-keeping force giving effect to the results of a democratic election is qualitatively different to the US, UK, and France deciding to forcibly change the government of Libya against the will of a substantial portion of its population, yes"

    But you don't know how many support Gaddafi and how many don't. They haven't been asked unlike CI.

  • rate this

    Comment number 184.

    Forceful and with highly doubtful motivation, the former powers of the World (FR,UK,US) are trying to remain "in the saddle". Do these "leaders" really think that the world is so gullible? I personally am offended by the double standards, the false information from the press, the loss of numerous civilian lives as the rebels use their fellow citizens as human-shields. Iraq was not bloody enough?

  • rate this

    Comment number 183.

    David Bale @ “If Gaddafi turns his arms directly upon attacking the UK. or France etc., then there is a defined reason to respond”

    You mean like blowing up a commercial airliner over say Scotland or Niger?

  • rate this

    Comment number 182.

    So the West as in "White" again makes decisions on behalf of humanity.

    After all the mayhem you have caused over the last millenia, have you no shame?

    Having said that, shame on the rest for giving that Gaddafi a free pass

  • rate this

    Comment number 181.

    @ 164. Vinny C

    I'm liking the idea of a Brummie uprising, whose with me??

  • rate this

    Comment number 180.

    I really wish we hadn't engaged in military operations there. On the one hand, Gadaffi's treatment of his own people (and particularly the indiscriminant brutality toward children) is utterly deplorable. On the other hand, we are blamed if we respond. And who else will? Are the AU or Arab League leading intervention? They were vocal in their condemnation, but that's cheap if you don'y act upon it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 179.

    Hello Nato!! I think they do very good work becouse we have alot of problem in the world some goverment use power in the wrong way so the world must have justic and take that people to punish.I think in Libya Gaddafi goverment do big mistake so he and his family must take punish and I want Nato must to faster and send military in ground too. becouse we can not wait for Gaddafi killer

  • rate this

    Comment number 178.

    "Diogenes-NFFC: With an estimated 10-12% (maybe 15% just to be generous) of ALL Libyans supporting the rebels"

    Oh, so you have managed to run a free and fair election that others have failed to do?

    This isn't about who has most support but about ensuring constitutional methods and the rule of law apply to all in Libya to ensure the regime has legitimacy: regime installation not regime change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 177.

    Question here is why Gadhaffi must go now? why we didn't do anything before? Gadhaffi trusted us & he paid enormous amount of money for Lockerbie bombing which they never did & dismantled all his weapon plans & what he gets: "He must go". One thing is for sure from now on no one will trust us, becuase our Leaders are hypocrites, liars & after oil & money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 176.

    Let's cut to the inevitable chase - this is all about oil - again. The 'west' wants to secure Libya's lot whilst at the same time settling an old score, with most of the oil infrastructure being to the west where Gaddafi has his tribal stronghold, arms dumps and mountains of money. The 'rebels' are in the east. What right do other countries have to determine an internal affair? None.

  • rate this

    Comment number 175.

    This is madness. Another war. Breaking all the UN rules. Just steamrolling over the UN resolution No.1973 just as before with Iraq. Wicked. What is this really all about? Must be oil I guess.

  • rate this

    Comment number 174.

    "David Traynier: As an armchair lawyer, I understand the concepts of universality and precedent."

    But also that there are at least two legal opinions on every subject. That's why they make a lot of money arguing why their case is not covered by a universal provision and is different from a precedent already set. In Libya they are arguing that UNSCR 1973 covers what they are attempting to do.

  • rate this

    Comment number 173.

    "Doomcaster: Ivory Coast = no riches & nothing to gain. US & UK not interested. 1000+ people allowed to be hacked to death"

    The French intervened in Ivory Coast (their former colony) as Britain did in its near neighbour Sierra Leone (our former colony) in 2000 to restore order and constitutional government. Both interventions had UN backing and neither has oil.

  • rate this

    Comment number 172.

    There is a 'scope creep' in their vision and mission. Vow to protect the civilians first; You three and NATO can think of removing the leader later.

  • rate this

    Comment number 171.

    If what has been stated in above article is correct - i.e. doctors saying 80% of those killed or injured in Misrata are civilians and its hospital's emergency ward is a tent in the car park - then anyone with a human heart can only agree with the letter by Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy. Gaddafi is obviously willing to inflict maximum carnage on his own people in order to stay in power - he has to go.

  • rate this

    Comment number 170.

    Let's answer the "why not Zimbabwe? Oh it has no oil" argument. To successfully overthrow Mugabe via military means would require the active agreement of its neighbours (especially South Africa) to both the principle (which they don't) and to provide military bases and overfly rights to any UN force (which they haven't). This is as true now as it was in 1965 with UDI. It would fail militarily.

  • rate this

    Comment number 169.

    @142. Total Mass Retain

    I accept that an existing, authorised peace-keeping force giving effect to the results of a democratic election is qualitatively different to the US, UK, and France deciding to forcibly change the government of Libya against the will of a substantial portion of its population, yes.


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