News / Africa

Panetta Offers US Support for Libya's Transition to Democratic Rule

U.S. Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, center, is greeted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, before the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey,  Dec., 16, 2011.
U.S. Sec. of Defense Leon Panetta, center, is greeted by Turkish President Abdullah Gul, right, before the start of their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, Dec., 16, 2011.
Luis Ramirez

The U.S. defense secretary heads to Libya on Saturday, becoming the first American defense chief to visit the country. Leon Panetta plans to offer Libya's interim leaders Washington's support for their efforts to transition the country to democratic rule. Our correspondent is traveling with the defense secretary and has this report from Ankara.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visits Libya months after a popular rebellion assisted by the U.S. and NATO drove out longtime ruler Muammar Qadhafi. He says he is going to get a first-hand look at the situation after the revolution and pay tribute to those who carried it out.

Libya's new leaders have been working to bring together factions and forge institutions, including an army, but that effort is proving difficult.

A recent gunbattle between army troops and members of a militia near the Tripoli airport and other violence raised questions of whether the country is able to transition to a stable democracy any time soon.

On the eve of his visit to Tripoli, Panetta told reporters in the Turkish capital he has confidence that transition will happen.

"There are going to be challenges here," said Panetta. "There are going to be difficulties, but I think any country like Libya that was able to do what they did and show the courage that they did in making the changes that took place there, I'm confident that ultimately they're going to be able to succeed in putting a democracy together."

The defense chief said Washington is ready to offer assistance to Libya's new leaders, but only if and when they request it. He cautioned against giving the appearance that the United States is trying to dictate how Libya should set up its new government.   

"The last thing you want to do is to try to impose something on a country that has just gone through what the Libyans have gone through," he said. "They have earned the right to try to determine their future.”

Panetta said a transition will take time.

"They are working through some very difficult issues to try to bring that country together. It's not going to be easy," he said. "This is tough. This is not a country that has a tradition of democratic institutions and representative government. This is going to take some work but the indications I have that they are making progress trying to bring the tribes together, trying to bring the country together in order to establish the institutions that must be put in place so that the Libyan people will have the opportunity to have elections, to have representative government. "  

Panetta's stop in Tripoli comes after he briefly stopped Baghdad briefly this week to mark the formal end to the U.S. war in Iraq.  He also visited Afghanistan, where he said the U.S. Is winning the war on extremists.   

On Friday, Panetta met with Turkish officials and discussed the need for the international community to pressure Syria's leadership to - in his words - “do the right thing” by allowing democratic change and an end to human rights abuses.

He also praised Turkey - a member of NATO - for allowing the installation of a NATO missile defense radar system on its territory.  The system, designed by the U.S., is part of a shield to guard NATO countries against a missile attack from Iran.

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid