The events in Libya this week have heartened the world. The situation remains fluid, but it is clear that the Qadhafi era is coming to an end, opening the way for a new era in Libya—one of liberty, justice, and peace.
We join the Libyan people in celebrating the courageous individuals who have stood up to a tyrant and defended their homes and communities against Qadhafi’s violence.
The United States and the international community have stood by the Libyan people during many difficult days in the last six months. Together, we prevented a massacre, and we supported the people’s efforts to gain their freedom. We will continue to support them as they take on the regime elements that still pose a threat to Libya’s future – and as they address their humanitarian needs and rebuild their nation. The Libyan people made this revolution and they will lead the way forward, but they deserve our help. Libya’s future is not guaranteed. Considerable work lies ahead.
The coming days and weeks will be critical. The United States and its partners are moving quickly and decisively on several fronts.
Earlier this week, I spoke by phone with the Chair of the Transitional National Council, Mustafa Mohammed Abdul Jalil, to express our support for the TNC’s efforts and to discuss next steps. I also hosted a conference call of foreign ministers of many of the member nations of Libya Contact Group, to coordinate our efforts – humanitarian, financial, diplomatic, and otherwise – on behalf of the Libyan people. Today, the Libya Contact Group held a meeting in Istanbul to demonstrate our continued commitment to Libya and to focus on the urgent financial needs of the TNC. The Contact Group called for an expedited process to lift sanctions on Libyan assets. The United States supports this call.
Today, we have secured the release of $1.5 billion in Libyan assets that had been frozen in the United States. This money will go toward meeting the needs of the people of Libya. We urge other nations to take similar measures. Many are already doing so.
As funds are released, we look to the Transitional National Council to fulfill its international responsibilities and the commitments it has made to build a tolerant, unified democratic state—one that protects the universal human rights of all its citizens. It is critical that the TNC engage swiftly with communities and leaders across Libya to ensure order, provide critical basic services to the people, and pave the way for a full democratic transition. Libya’s future will be peaceful only if the leaders and people of Libya reach out to each other in a spirit of peace. There can be no place in the new Libya for revenge attacks and reprisals.
The TNC also has obligations to the international community. We will look to them to ensure that Libya fulfills its treaty responsibilities, that it ensures that its weapons stockpiles do not threaten its neighbors or fall into the wrong hands, and that it takes a firm stand against violent extremism. At the same time, we call on Qadhafi, his family, and his supporters to bring an end to their continuing violence for the sake of the Libyan people and Libya’s future.
From the beginning, the United States has played a central role in marshalling the international response to the crisis in Libya. Together with our partners, we have saved thousands of lives and helped confront a ruthless, erratic dictator who was poised to slaughter his own people in order to hold on to power. The United States will stand with the Libyan people and our international partners in the weeks and months ahead, to help as Libyans write the next chapter of their history.