News / Africa

Panetta Says Gaddafi’s Days 'Are Numbered'

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) take part in a televised conversation at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, August 16, 2011
US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta (R) take part in a televised conversation at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, August 16, 2011

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Libyan rebels are advancing toward Tripoli from the east and west, and there now is a sense that Moammar Gadhafi's days in power “are numbered.” Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed Libya, Syria and other Middle East issues at a public forum in Washington.

The Libyan rebels have been claiming battlefield advances in recent days. Panetta’s comments, though, were the first by a senior Obama administration official in that span suggesting Gadhafi’s position is indeed eroding.

Appearing with Clinton at Washington’s National Defense University, Panetta said Libyan opposition forces in the west are advancing along the coast toward Tripoli, and rebels in the east are advancing on Brega, a gateway to the capital.

Signs of regime's deterioration

The Pentagon chief said a combination of factors, including this week’s reported defection of Libyan Interior Minister Nasser al-Mabruk Abdullah, point to a decline in Gadhafi’s fortunes.

“Gaddafi’s forces are weakened. And this latest defection is another example of how weak they have gotten," said Panetta. "So I think, considering how difficult the situation has been, the fact is that the combination of NATO forces there, the combination of what the opposition is doing, the sanctions, the international pressure, the work of the Arab League, all of that has been very helpful in moving this in the right direction. And I think the sense is that Gaddafi’s days are numbered.”

Clinton downplayed reported splits within the Libyan rebel movement, and hailed what she said was the first “NATO-Arab alliance” providing military and political support for anti-Gaddafi forces. She also expressed satisfaction that it is not a case of the United States in the lead with everyone else on the sidelines.

Strength in numbers


In that same vein, she said, it is really not of central importance whether the United States has called for the departure of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

“It is not going to be any news if the United States says Assad needs to go. Okay, fine, what’s next? If Turkey says it, if [Saudi] King Abdullah says it, if other people say it, there is no way that the Assad regime can ignore it,” she said.

The appearance by Clinton and Panetta before military officers and other students at the Defense University came a day after suicide attacks and car bombings in Iraq killed 60 people and raised new concerns about the Baghdad government’s ability to maintain security after the U.S. troop withdrawal.

Iraq's security issues

Both officials said the Obama administration intends to adhere to the commitment to withdraw all combat troops by the end of the year, though Panetta said it is ready to consider an Iraqi request for a continuing training presence.

“We are leaving by the end of the year. Our combat mission is over. The discussions now are what kind of assistance we can continue to provide with regard to training, with regards to other assistance that can be provided. We have done it with other countries. We have done it with other countries in that region. And I think this would be what I would call a normal relationship.”

Clinton said the idea of a U.S. training presence past the end of the year is a discussion Iraqis are having internally and are “beginning to have” with the United States.

You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More