Obama on Libyan Violence: ‘Entire World Is Watching’
President Barack Obama condemned the recent violence in Libya as “outrageous and unacceptable” and called on the international community Wednesday to “speak with one voice” in support of the Libyan people.
With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at his side at the White House, Obama said his administration has been “working around the clock” to monitor the situation in Libya, where major political protests have broken out against the government. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has urged his supporters to attack anti-government demonstrators, which has resulted in protesters being killed and injured.
“Like all governments, the Libyan government has the responsibility to refrain from violence. It must be accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities,” Obama said. “This is not simply a concern of the United States. The entire world is watching.”
The president announced that Clinton will travel to Geneva on Monday to consult with members of the United Nations Human Rights Council on the situation in Libya. William Burns, the undersecretary for political affairs at the State Department, will also travel to Europe to meet with several U.S. allies, the president said.
The changes taking place in Libya and throughout the area are “being driven by the people of the region,” not by the United States or any other foreign power, Obama said. The protests that have taken hold in Egypt, Tunisia and other countries in recent weeks represent “the aspirations of people seeking a better quality of life,” he added.
The recent violence in Libya has also drawn condemnation from Capitol Hill. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) unveiled a resolution Wednesday condemning Gadhafi’s regime. It calls for suspending arms sales to Libya, launching an investigation into crimes against humanity and suspending Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council.
“Gadhafi has never been a friend to the United States. Now he is showing he’s not even a friend to the people of Libya. In fact, he’s more willing to gun down Libyans than listen to them,” said Menendez, who sits on the Foreign Relations Committee.
“The United States must stand by the Libyan people as they seek the rights deserved by all peoples,” he added.