The United States continues its role as a coalition partner in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya -- an effort to protect the Libyan people from the marauding forces of Colonel Muammar Gadhafi. At the same time, the U.S. is pursuing a three-pronged political and economic strategy aimed at ending the oppressive rule of Gadhafi.
The international community is united in calling on Gadhafi to step aside. He and his family have lost all legitimacy. Turkey has joined the chorus demanding that he leave immediately. The British, Italians and French have expelled pro-Gadhafi diplomats, as the U.S. did in March. Gadhafi and his leadership are currently under a no-fly zone, an arms embargo, asset freeze and travel bans. The regime's isolation is growing by the day.
At the same time, the United States is pursuing a strategy to support the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people. As U.S. Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said in recent Congressional testimony, the Libyan people "deserve a successful transition to democracy just as much as their neighbors in Egypt and Tunisia." Many different U.S. officials have met with members of the Libyan opposition, including the Transitional National Council, or TNC. "Although it will be important to ensure that words are matched by actions," said Mr. Steinberg, "we have been encouraged by the TNC's public statements on democracy, treatment of prisoners, human rights, and terrorism." In light of these commitments, the U.S. is providing up to $25 million for the provision of non-lethal items to the TNC.
The third policy priority in Libya is to protect civilians. The U.S. is engaged in significant humanitarian efforts to help those in need inside Libya and those who have fled the violence. The U.S. has provided more than $53 million in humanitarian assistance, which helps to evacuate and repatriate third-country nationals, care for refugees on Libya's borders and deliver food and medicine.
Gadhafi knows what he needs to do: the violence must end; his troops must withdraw from the cities they have entered; humanitarian goods must be allowed to move freely; and finally, Gadhafi must go. It's the only way for the people of Libya to achieve a more democratic future and greater prosperity.