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

African States Push to Keep Boko Haram Offline

Central African telecoms ministers working with Nigeria to block all videos posted by Boko Haram in effort to blunt Nigerian militant group's propaganda More

Falling Oil Prices, Internet-Savvy Youth Pose Challenge for Gulf Monarchies

Across the Gulf, younger generations are putting a strain on traditional politics More

Philippines Call Center Workers Face Challenges

Country has world’s largest business process outsourcing, or BPO, industry, employing some one-million workers 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

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