The day after the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1973 demanding an end to the violence perpetrated against civilians by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, and authorizing the use of force, President Barack Obama explained that Mr. Gadhafi faces a choice:
"The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Gadhafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi; pull them back from Adjadbiya, Misrata and Zawiya; and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya."
These terms are not negotiable, said Mr. Obama. If the Libyan leader refuses to comply, the international community will impose consequences, enforcing the resolution through military action, and a no-fly zone over Libya.
President Obama authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition committed to protecting Libyan civilians. That coalition met in Paris this weekend, bringing together many European and Arab partners to closely coordinate enforcement of the resolution with the United States.
Mr. Obama said the enforcement measures that will be put in place to protect the civilian population of Libya do not include the deployment of U.S. ground troops in Libya, and promised that the U.S. will continue to help the Libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully.
"This is just one more chapter in the change that is unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa," said President Obama. From the start, he added, the U.S. has made it clear that it is opposed to violence and supports the political and economic change the people of the region deserve.
"But ... change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power," said President Obama. "Ultimately it will be driven by the people of the Arab world. It is their right and their responsibility to determine their own destiny."