Press Statement

STATEMENT: CAP on Recent Developments in Libya

Washington, D.C. – As world leaders respond to the news of the further weakening of Qaddafi’s control of Libya, the Center for American Progress released the following statement:

With reports of the Qaddafi regime’s imminent fall, instead of perpetuating unnecessary bloodshed, Qaddafi must finally accept the will of the Libyan people and step down. The opposition’s willingness to turn those indicted, including Qaddafi, over to the International Criminal Court at The Hague will be an important indicator of the opposition’s commitment to justice and accountability. The sooner this occurs, the sooner the Libyan people, with the help of the international community, can begin rebuilding their lives and their country.

After four decades of tyranny and repression, Libyans now have the chance to redefine their country as one not founded on repression, violence, and fear, but on peace, justice, and freedom. The eventual defeat of the Qaddafi regime also sends an important message to dictators throughout the region, including Syria’s Bashar al-Assad: The future lies with the people, not with violent authoritarian regimes.

Once Qaddafi falls, the hard work will begin. In the days immediately after his departure, steps must be taken to maintain public order and avoid retributive attacks. Going forward, plans to create a transparent political process, build a disciplined and professional security force, encourage a free media and robust civil society, and establish sustainable democratic institutions are essential.

On the economic front, the management of Libya’s oil and gas reserves must be transparent and democratic. Once production is up and running, revenues should be used to help rebuild national infrastructure, strengthen economic prosperity, and enable all Libyans to realize their benefits. And the return of the nation’s financial assets abroad, which were frozen when Qaddafi launched an assault on his own people, must be handled judiciously and expeditiously to enable the new government to make the investments needed to revive a war-torn economy.

In the face of a potential atrocity, the Obama administration and its NATO and Arab allies moved quickly to shore up support for a significant multilateral approach to the crisis, which included vital backing from the Arab League and United Nations Security Council. But it was the enormous sacrifices and dedication of the Libyans themselves, many of whom lost their lives in the battle for freedom, that brought us to this watershed moment.

The Obama administration used its resources carefully and wisely. It kept an unusual international coalition together in support of Libyan freedom, allowed each of the coalition partners to provide their contributions to the best of their ability, and in the end, by acting as part of a coalition the United States accomplished more than unilateral action would have provided.

Now is the time for the Obama administration to continue this international engagement, along with regular congressional consultations, to ensure the Libyan people have the support they need to rebuild their country and transition to a legitimate, stable, and inclusive democratic nation. This is also a time to recognize that NATO remains a viable, effective organization with which the United States can work with allies to protect its interests and global security.

To speak with CAP experts on developments in Libya, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202-481-8181 or [email protected].