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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid