Thursday, March 31, 2011
On the show tonight because he is the one who convinced Sarkozy to take up the free Libyan cause, he said that he told the French President that there were French flags flying in Benghazi, and if Sarkozy did nothing, there would be blood on the French flags. What a dramatic image! Uncomplicated and true.
That same Mrs. Clinton has come up in recent polls with her highest approval ratings to date. According to Gallup, 40% among Republicans, 62% among Independents, and 92% among Democrats, It seems to me that it might be time for the DNC to do what I long have said they would need to do and should do: get on their knees and beg her to run in 2012 for the top office which they wrongly prevented her from doing in 2008. While they are kneeling, they should pray that she will say yes. Side note: HRC is certain to have plans for domestic troubles about which she currently cannot speak.
Yes, I think it is high time for a woman to shatter that glass ceiling, and the woman who has always been meant to do that is Hillary Rodham Clinton. DNC, talk to her.
Announcing the New Special Envoy for Sudan
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DC
March 31, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Good afternoon, everyone. I’m very pleased to be here this afternoon to introduce Ambassador Princeton Lyman as our new special envoy for Sudan. I’m also delighted to welcome his wife, Lois, and to thank her for being a partner as she has been throughout your very distinguished career to the service that you render our country, Princeton.
Now, Ambassador Lyman is taking over the helm of our important work as the special envoy to Sudan from another very dedicated public servant, Scott Gration. And Scott has been instrumental to our work in Sudan over the last two years. We are absolutely delighted that the President has nominated him to be our next Ambassador to Kenya, and we will continue to rely on his passion and skills for the people of the region, and we thank you for your service.
This is a critical moment in Sudan’s history. Two months ago, in a peaceful display of democratic values, the people of Southern Sudan expressed their clear unequivocal choice. They want to live in a free, independent country, and now we look forward to a peaceful separation of these two states in July. The Government of Sudan played an important role by creating the conditions that allowed voters to express their will without fear, intimidation, or coercion. And since the vote, the government has continued to move this process forward with the same spirit of cooperation.
But as Princeton and I were just discussing with Assistant Secretary Johnnie Carson, who’s been our partner in this endeavor, there is still so much work to be done and so much in the way of challenges that lie ahead. One of the most important tasks is to end the conflict in Darfur and to alleviate, and hopefully end, the suffering of its people. I continue to call on all parties to come together immediately to reach a peaceful solution. To do this, all parties should join the peace process in Doha. The Liberation and Justice Movement, the Justice and Equality Movement, and the Government of Sudan must engage in direct face-to-face negotiations and reach a settlement that includes a ceasefire.
Now is the time for meaningful dialogue that produces concrete results. The United States is committed to working with the international community to bring all parties together, to end the suffering and conflict, and forge a lasting peace that will contribute to the better days ahead for the people of both the North and the South.
We are also concerned about the dangerous standoff in the Abyei region of Sudan. We call on both sides to take immediate steps to prevent future attacks and restore calm. Violence is simply unacceptable. The deployment of forces by both sides is in violation of the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and undermines the goodwill from January’s referendum, which was a very important foundation for the peaceful future of Sudan. Before July’s deadline, as outlined by the CPA, both sides must reach an agreement on Abyei that meets the needs of all communities in the region and is consistent with the CPA’s Abyei protocol.
The United States is committed to the peace, security, and prosperity of both the North and the South, which is why the President has chosen Ambassador Lyman for this important job. His experience as U.S. Ambassador during South Africa’s transition from apartheid to democracy will prove invaluable during the next few months. His diplomatic skills were on display during the mediation talks between the North and South, and he is well positioned to advise the Sudanese people at this critical juncture. With Princeton guiding our efforts, the United States will continue to support both sides as they work to fulfill the CPA and make the transition to independence. In this new role, Ambassador Lyman will help the Sudanese people make good on the work they’ve already accomplished.
Now, we understand the peaceful separation of these two states will be difficult, but we believe there is a clear path to a stronger, more stable, and peaceful future. I know that Princeton is really so committed to this, ready to go. He has the confidence of both President Obama and myself, he’s got a great team that will be backing him up and working with him, and we just want to thank you for taking on yet another challenge that is important not only to the people of Sudan, but to the United States as well.
I almost resent, Vice President Bush, your patronizing attitude that you have to teach me about foreign policy.
– Geraldine Ferraro SOURCE: The New Republic
On this last day of Women's History Month 2011, we sadly put to rest a woman who made American history. In 1984, Geraldine Ferraro ran for Vice President of the United States. She was the first woman to do so, and on the campaign trail as well as in the debates she did us proud. She was brilliant, beautiful, and tough, much like the presidential candidate she chose to support 23 years later. Hillary Clinton attended Geraldine's funeral mass at St. Vincent Ferrer Church this morning. It was a private funeral, but cameras caught her arrival.
We will miss you, Gerri. Thank you for your service and for all you did for women. We will never forget you or the history you made.
Public Schedule for March 31, 2011
Public ScheduleWashington, DCMarch 31, 2011
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON:
9:30 a.m. Secretary Clinton attends the funeral mass for Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, in New York City.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
3:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton meets with President Obama at the White House.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY WHITE HOUSE)
3:50 p.m. Secretary Clinton announces the new U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan, in the Treaty Room at the Department of State.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Remarks at a Ceremony Celebrating the Negotiation of Agreements Between the United States and 100 Open Skies Partners
March 30, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you very much. And it’s a real pleasure for me to welcome you to the Benjamin Franklin Room here on the eighth floor of the State Department as we celebrate the negotiation of agreements between the United States and 100 Open Skies partners. I’d like to extend my appreciation to all the negotiators, government officials, members of the airline and airport industries, the labor community, and other stakeholders in this 100-strong partnership who came to mark this special occasion with us.
I'm also delighted that Secretary Ray LaHood, who is one of the leaders in many of our Open Skies agreements, our State Department team with Under Secretary Bob Hormats, Assistant Secretary Jose Fernandez, and of course, all the excellent negotiators led by Kris Urs. I want to especially acknowledge both Congresswoman Granger and former Secretary Maneta and a number of ambassadors who are here from our Open Skies partners. I want to extend a special greeting to Colombian Ambassador Gabriel Silva, whose country became our 100th partner last November. So thank you so much. (Applause.)
Now, I don’t need to tell this audience that we know what the benefits are of these Open Skies agreements. They not only allow us to cross great distances, which I have been doing a lot of recently, but also to open up markets, create jobs, allow people in far -removed countries to interact, share information, and build businesses together.
For too long, however, restrictive agreements between governments cut off all of these potential connections. They kept airlines from entering certain markets. They forced shipping companies to fly inefficient routes with half-empty airplanes. And, by stifling competition, they kept air fares artificially high.
That's why the Department of State and Department of Transportation negotiated the first Open Skies Agreement, with the Netherlands, in 1992. Now, today, we have agreements with countries in every region of the world, from major economies, such as Japan, Canada and the European Union, to smaller but equally important countries such as El Salvador and Senegal. And on the President’s recent trip to Latin America, we concluded our new agreement with Brazil, our 101st partner. And we look forward to expanding these partnerships around the world.
In each case, an Open Skies agreement has powerful benefits – fewer government restrictions, more competition, more jobs in the air and on the ground; more people trading, exchanging and interacting; cheaper flights, more tourists, new routes to new cities – so that we now have passengers and shippers enjoying direct services between cities like Las Vegas and Seoul, or Phoenix and Montreal.
Just consider for a minute what this agreement with one country, Colombia, will mean. Now, one of Colombia’s biggest exports – fresh-cut flowers – will make it to the flower stands of the United States even faster because shippers will now have more direct access to more American cities. And on the U.S. side, our computers, sensitive electronics, and spare parts for all types of equipment will make it to Colombia more quickly and efficiently. And with more direct services between more points, we’ll see more recreational and business travel between our two countries.
Now, Open Skies agreements have another big plus: They deepen relationships between people in very personal ways. I’m a big believer in people-to-people diplomacy, and this is actually a means toward achieving that. It’s what I call citizen diplomacy, and it’s one of the ways we can meet the challenges of the 21st century. Building a continuous airborne corridor of prosperity around the world is one of our goals.
Now, I unfortunately will have to leave, so I’m going to miss Ray’s remarks because, as Ray and Kay well know, I just came from a classified briefing on Libya to the House and I have to be at the Senate for a classified briefing to the Senate at 4:30. And as a former member, I know I’d better not be late. (Laughter.) So I’m going to now turn the podium over to Department of Transportation Assistant Secretary Susan Kurland, who will follow me and will introduce Ray. But let me once again thank you all for what you’ve done to make this moment possible, and thank you for coming to celebrate with us. (Applause.)
When the U.S. joined the U.N. Human Rights Council, some people were angry that we would sit on a panel where Libya was a member. My, how things change. The State Department released the following statement and a fact sheet marking the second anniversary of U.S. membership. Here is a picture of the SOS just because....
The United Nations Human Rights Council
Press StatementMark C. Toner
Acting Deputy SpokesmanOffice of the SpokesmanWashington, DCMarch 30, 2011
The United States is pleased to note the landmark achievements of the most recent session of the UN Human Rights Council.
This session included bold, assertive action by the Council to highlight the deteriorating human rights situation in Iran by establishing a new Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in that country, the first country-specific mandate created by the Council since it came into being. The Council also charted a new course for global efforts to condemn intolerance, discrimination, and violence based on religion or belief while protecting and promoting freedom of expression. The Council established a Commission of Inquiry to examine serious abuses and violations of human rights in Cote d’Ivoire, and extended the Council’s scrutiny of the ongoing serious human rights abuses in Burma. And in conjunction with the session, the United States led a ground-breaking effort to get 85 UN member-states to join a statement supporting the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. Taken collectively, the actions taken by the 16th Human Rights Council represent a significant positive change in the Council’s trajectory.
However, much work remains to be done to ensure that the Council realizes fully its intended purpose. In particular, the United States remains determined to take all possible steps to end the Council’s biased and disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it. We also will continue to work to thwart the efforts to elect as Council members governments that clearly do not merit membership given their own human rights records. And the United States remains determined to continue to push the Council to address a broad range of urgent and serious human rights concerns worldwide. To this end, the United States Government intends to pursue a second term on the Council at the Human Rights Council elections in New York in May 2012.
We believe that U.S. engagement in the Human Rights Council has directly resulted in real progress. In our two years on the Council, we’ve not been happy with every outcome, and have firmly denounced Council actions we disagree with, but the Council has made important strides. Much work remains to be done for the Human Rights Council to sustain the gains of the last two years and to fully realize its potential, and the United States looks forward to continuing our efforts to do so.
Key U.S. Accomplishments at the UN Human Rights Council
Fact SheetWashington, DCMarch 30, 2011
This September will mark the two-year anniversary of U.S. membership on the United Nations Human Rights Council. U.S. engagement at the Council has led to a number of new mechanisms to spotlight and address serious human rights concerns and focused international attention to some of the world’s most egregious human rights abusers. Much work remains before the Council can fully realize its mandate as the international community’s focal point for the protection and promotion of human rights. The United States will continue to work hard to diminish the Council’s biased disproportionate focus on Israel. The United States maintains a vocal, principled stand against this focus, and will continue its robust efforts to end it.
Key accomplishments over the past two years include:
DEEPENING ENGAGEMENT IN COUNTRY SITUATIONS
Iran: The Council took bold, assertive action to highlight Iran’s deteriorating human rights situation by establishing a Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in Iran. The rapporteur will investigate and report on abuses in Iran and call out the failure of the Iranian government to meet its human rights obligations.
Cote d’Ivoire: U.S. leadership led to a Special Session on the situation in Cote d’Ivoire, sending Laurent Gbagbo a clear message that the world is watching what he does and that atrocities and human rights violations would not go unnoticed. At its most recent session, the Council established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these abuses and amplified the international community’s unequivocal message that President Ouattara must be allowed to serve as the elected head of state.
Libya: The United States played a pivotal role in convening the Council’s Special Session in February 2011 during which the Council condemned the recent human rights violations and other acts of violence committed by the Government of Libya, created an independent Commission of Inquiry to investigate those violations, and recommended to the UN General Assembly that it suspend Libya’s membership rights on the Council. The UN General Assembly acted on that recommendation several days later.
Kyrgyzstan: The United States worked with Kyrgyzstan to draft and galvanize support for the first-ever resolution to address human rights violations there in the wake of the killings and abuses that took place in June 2010. It called for a credible investigation by the Government and international assistance for victims and requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights to provide follow-up reporting. The resolution paved the way for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate these events.
Guinea: The United States led the Council to adopt several resolutions on Guinea. The Council condemned the September 2009 violence, welcomed the High Commissioner for Human Rights’ decision to open a country office, and requested technical assistance from the international community for the transition to democracy, which produced concrete results on the ground.
Tunisia: The United States worked with the EU and the interim government of Tunisia to adopt a resolution that welcomed the process of political transition that has started in Tunisia, invited the UN to provide technical assistance to the transitional process in Tunisia, and encouraged the government of Tunisia to implement recommendations of the High Commissioner from its report on its mission earlier this year.
Burma: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Burma. The Special Rapporteur plays a critical role in reporting on the ongoing human rights abuses in Burma, including calling for a commission of inquiry into the situation.
North Korea: The United States has worked to ensure the continuation of the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in North Korea. While the government of North Korea strongly opposes this mandate, the number of votes in favor of the resolution increased this year, demonstrating the level of international concern with the situation there.
Sudan: The United States led efforts to renew the mandate of the Independent Expert tasked with monitoring human rights throughout Sudan, including Darfur, over the Sudanese government’s strong opposition.
INITIATING CONCRETE ACTION TO DRIVE HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITIES
Protecting Freedom of Assembly and Association: The U.S. Government co-sponsored a resolution to create the first-ever Special Rapporteur to protect Freedom of Assembly and Association, to monitor crackdowns on civil society groups and advance protection of the right to free assembly and association through its vigilant exposure of state conduct.
Combating Discrimination Against Women: The United States championed the establishment of a Working Group of Independent Experts to prevent Discrimination Against Women; the five independent experts will address discrimination against women in law and practice. One of the experts is the first Israeli citizen to be appointed by the Human Rights Council President to a special mechanism.
A Strong Statement on LGBT Rights: The United States led a group of 85 countries to sign a statement entitled “Ending Acts of Violence and Related Human Rights Violations Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity.” It represents a landmark moment in UN efforts to highlight human rights abuses faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people around the world.
DEFENDING CORE PRINCIPLES
Protecting Freedom of Expression in the Context of Religious Intolerance: The United States was instrumental in galvanizing support for a consensus resolution that marks a sea change in the global dialogue on countering offensive and hateful speech based upon religion or belief. The “Combating Discrimination and Violence” resolution underscores the vital importance of protecting freedom of expression and ends the divisive debate over the highly problematic concept of “defamation of religions.”
Public Schedule for March 30, 2011
Public ScheduleWashington, DCMarch 30, 2011
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
2:30 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers a classified briefing to Members of the House of Representatives, on Capitol Hill.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
4:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood host a ceremony celebrating the negotiation of agreements between the United States and 100 Open Skies partners, in the Ben Franklin Room at the Department of State.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
5:00 p.m. Secretary Clinton delivers a classified briefing to Members of the Senate, on Capitol Hill.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Remarks After the International Conference on the Libyan Crisis
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateForeign and Commonwealth Office
London, United Kingdom
March 29, 2011
SECRETARY CLINTON: All set? I apologize for my voice.
Good afternoon and I want to begin by expressing certainly our gratitude to the prime minister and the foreign secretary and the entire government for hosting this important conference. I’ve just concluded a very full day of business covering an array of issues with a broad range of counterparts.
I began the day with a meeting with Dr. Jibril and two other representatives of the Libyan Transitional National Council to hear their perspective on the situation in Libya. We talked about our efforts to protect civilians and to meet humanitarian needs and about the ongoing coalition military action in support of Resolution 1973. We also discussed the need for a political solution and transition in Libya, and I reiterated the support of the United States on behalf of President Obama for the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people, and our commitment to helping them achieve those aspirations.
I also had the opportunity to meet with both Prime Minister Cameron and with Foreign Minister Hague. I expressed the United States’ gratitude for the critical leadership that the United Kingdom has shown in building an effective international response to the crisis in Libya. We consulted on the way forward, the military, political, and humanitarian dimensions. And we also discussed events and broader trends across the Middle East and North Africa and our joint efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
I had the opportunity also to consult with a number of other counterparts about Libya because today’s conference is taking place at a moment of transition, as NATO takes over as leader of the coalition mission, a mission in which the United States will continue to play an active, supporting role. Some of our coalition partners announced additional support and contributions today, which we welcomed.
In addition to our joint military efforts, we discussed the need for progress in Libya along the three nonmilitary tracks: First, delivering humanitarian assistance; second, pressuring and isolating the Qadhafi regime through robust sanctions and other measures; and third, supporting efforts by Libyans to achieve the political changes that they are seeking.
We also agreed on a structure for decision making going forward on both the military and political tracks. On the military side, we agreed that the North Atlantic Council with coalition partners fully at the table will be the sole provider of executive direction for NATO operations, similar to the ISAF approach for Afghanistan. On the political side, we agreed to establish a contact group to offer a systematic coordination mechanism and broad political guidance on the full range of efforts under Resolutions 1970 and 1973. And as I’m sure you just heard from the prime minister of Qatar, Qatar has agreed to host the first meeting of the contact group, along with the UK.
In a series of side meetings, I also had the chance to discuss a number of issues, including Syria. I expressed our strong condemnation of the Syrian Government’s brutal repression of demonstrators, in particular the violence and killing of civilians in the hands of security forces. I also discussed efforts that are undertaken by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, particularly our joint effort to pass a resolution at the Human Rights Council that promotes tolerance and respect as well as free expression. And we greatly appreciate the OIC hosting a meeting of the International Contact Group on Afghanistan and Pakistan in Jeddah. I was also able to consult on a number of regional matters, including, of course, Libya with Foreign Minister Davutoglu of Turkey.
So it was a full day for all of us. We came to London to speak with one voice in support of a transition that leads to a brighter future for the Libyan people. I’m very pleased with the progress that we have made both today and in the days preceding it, and grateful for everyone who participated in the conference and in the broader effort in Libya. I think we are making a lot of progress together, and we could not do it unless we were representing the international community as we are.
So with that, I’d be happy to take your questions.
MODERATOR: Our first question is from Andy Quinn of Reuters.
QUESTION: Madam Secretary, in your meeting today with Dr. Jibril, I was wondering, were you able to make any concrete offers of assistance to them, either through turning over the $33 billion in Libyan funds that have been frozen in the United States, or in discussing possible arms transfers?
And Admiral Stavridis told the Senate today that intelligence shows flickers – he called – he used the word “flickers” of al-Qaida in the Libyan opposition. How great a concern is that? And is that part of the U.S. debate over any potential arms transfers to the transitional council?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Andy, first of all, we have not made any decision about arming the rebels or providing any arms transfers, so there has not been any need to discuss that at this point. We did discuss nonlethal assistance. We discussed ways of trying to enable the Transition National Council to meet a lot of their financial needs and how we could do that through the international community given the challenges that sanctions pose but recognizing that they obviously are going to need funds to keep themselves going. We discussed a broad range of matters and certainly their presentation, which some of you may have seen earlier today, as to what kind of civil society and political structure they are trying to build in Libya are exactly in line with what they have consistently said were their goals. Their commitment to democracy and to a very robust engagement with people from across the spectrum of Libyans is, I think, appropriate. We do not have any specific information about specific individuals from any organization who are part of this, but of course, we’re still getting to know those who are leading the Transitional National Council. And that will be a process that continues.
MODERATOR: Our next question is from Sam Coates of the Times of London.
QUESTION: Two things. First of all, is it your understanding that the UN Resolution 1973 makes it illegal to supply arms to the Libyan rebels, or do you think there could be some room for maneuver of that should it get to that?
And secondly, it’s quite striking when the rebels were talking earlier today, none of their names are public apart from three or four of the 30-odd of them, and they clearly have access – they have quite a lot of power and access to a lot of funds through oil money. Do you think that they should be more transparent in terms of declaring who they are, where they’re from, what kind of groupings they come from, and how they’re using the money?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, as to the first question, it is our interpretation that 1973 amended or overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya so that there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a country were to choose to do that. As I said, we have not made that decision at this time.
Secondly, I do think that greater transparency will, of course, be expected and will be delivered. But I think you have to put this into context. I mean, this is a very fast-evolving, but by no means settled, structure that they are trying to build. They also claim to have a number of people who are willing to work with them from central and western Libya who, for security reasons, cannot yet be named.
So I do think that this is a work in progress. And just as with respect to Andy’s question, we don’t know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know. We’re picking up information. A lot of contact is going on, not only by our government but many governments that are part of the coalition. So we’re building an understanding, but at this time, obviously, it is, as I say, a work in progress.
MODERATOR: Jay Solomon of the Wall Street Journal.
QUESTION: Thank you. I have a question regarding Syria. Over the weekend, you gave an interview where you said how many members of Congress viewed President Asad as a reformer. Is that your position? Because you know there’s been well-documented cases of Syrian support for terrorist groups, allegations it’s pursued atomic weapons, and some in Congress said that Syria actually poses a greater threat to the United States – its national security – than Libya does. Is it the Obama Administration’s position now that it can work with President Asad to instigate or initiate some of the reforms that its people are clearly calling for? Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, Jay, as you rightly pointed out, I referenced opinions of others. That was not speaking either for myself or for the Administration. We deplore the crackdown that is occurring in Syria and we call on Syria, as we have throughout the last months, to respect the rights of its citizens, to allow people to protest peacefully, to work toward political and economic reform that would be to the benefit of the Syrian people.
So there is no difference in how we view this than how we have viewed the other incredible sequence of actions that we’ve seen in North Africa and in the Middle East. And we hope that there is an opportunity for reform. We hope there’s an opportunity for reform in all of these countries. We want to see peaceful transitions. We want to see democracies that represent the will of the people.
So I think that we’re, like the Syrian people, waiting and watching to see what comes from the Syrian Government. They dismissed the cabinet today, which resigned en masse. And as we have said so many times before, we support the timely implementation of reforms that meet the demands that Syrians are presenting to their government, such as immediately eliminating Syria’s state of emergency laws, which has been in effect for a long time.
It is up to the Syrian Government, it is up to the leadership, starting with President Bashir Asad, to prove that it can be responsive to the needs of its own people. So we’re troubled by what we hear, but we’re also going to continue to urge that the promise of reform, which has been made over and over again and which you reported on just a few months ago – I’m a reformer, I’m going to reform, and I’ve talked to members of Congress and others about that, that we hear from the highest levels of leadership in Syria – will actually be turned into reality. That’s what we’re waiting and watching for.
MODERATOR: And the final question from Duncan Gardham of the Daily Telegraph.
QUESTION: Hi, I wondered how you view the situation in Libya at the moment. There seems to be a bit of almost ping-pong going on. The rebels seem to be withdrawing from some areas today. How do you see the situation evolving in Libya? How long do you see it lasting? And if you’re talking to Qadhafi, what are his options? He can obviously try and stay or he can face the ICC, but is there a third option where he could travel to another country?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, first, I think that what we are seeing in Libya is a strengthening of the opposition, a consistent and very persistent effort by the opposition to try to hold ground which they have had and to regain ground which they have lost. Unfortunately, we are also seeing with Qadhafi a continuing pressure on the rebels, on his people, a willingness to use force. We had reports today of continuing military action by Qadhafi’s forces in Misrata and elsewhere. So this is a volatile, dynamic situation that is unfolding.
We accomplished a lot in a very short period of time. We clearly believe, as President Obama said last night, that we prevented a massacre in Benghazi, that we were able to stop the military advance that was moving rapidly from west to east, and that we sent a clear message through the international community’s willingness to enforce a no-fly zone and protect civilians that that kind of ruthless behavior by a leader toward his own people would not be tolerated. This has happened so quickly that we’re now facing questions like the ones you ask, but I’m not sure that we know exactly when we will get to any change in attitude by Qadhafi and those around him.
As you know, there’s a lot of reaching out that is occurring, a lot of conversations that are going on, and as the Arab League has said, it’s also obvious to everyone that Qadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead. So we believe he must go. We’re working with the international community to try to achieve that outcome. He will have to make a decision. And that decision, so far as we’re aware, has not yet been made.
You probably know that the secretary general’s special envoy will be going to Tripoli and Benghazi, once again to urge Qadhafi to implement a real ceasefire that is not going to be immediately breached by his own forces, to withdraw from those areas that he has taken by force, and to look for a political resolution, which could include his leaving the country. So, I mean, all of this is in play. And many of the nations that were here in London today are working together to try to gather information, to share the impressions each has with the conversations that are coming from Tripoli and from those close to Qadhafi about what is or isn’t being considered.
So I expect to see things continue to move in a positive direction. But I can’t by any means give you any sort of timeline. That is just not sensible at this point. We don’t have enough information to do that.
MODERATOR: Thank you all very much.
Remarks at the International Conference on Libya
RemarksHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateLancaster House
London, United Kingdom
March 29, 2011
Thank you very much, Prime Minister, and thanks to you and your government for the critical leadership effort you have demonstrated in our common effort. Thanks too to France, which has been at the forefront of this mission, including by hosting many of us last week in Paris, and really thanks to everyone around this table. We have prevented a potential massacre, established a no-fly zone, stopped an advancing army, added more partners to this coalition, and transferred command of the military effort to NATO. That’s not bad for a week of work at a time of great, intense international concern.
The United States has been proud to stand with our NATO, Arab, and European partners. We’ve been responding to the appeals of the Libyan people and to the Arab League’s call for urgent action. And we have joined with countries around the world, including all three countries representing Africa on the United Nations Security Council, to pass two strong resolutions. So this has been truly an international effort and a reflection of our shared concern for the safety of civilians and our support for the legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people.
Well, we meet now in London at a turning point. NATO has taken command of enforcing the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. On Sunday, it agreed to take on the additional responsibility of protecting civilians. Last night, President Obama expressed his full confidence that this coalition will keep the pressure on Qadhafi’s remaining forces. I second that confidence. This coalition military action will continue until Qadhafi fully complies with the terms of 1973, ceases his attacks on civilians, pulls his troops back from places they have forcibly entered, and allows key services and humanitarian assistance to reach all Libyans.
But beyond our military efforts, all of us are called to continue to work together along three tracks: First, delivering desperately needed humanitarian assistance; second, pressuring and isolating the Qadhafi regime through robust sanctions and other measures; third, supporting efforts by Libyans to achieve their aspirations through political change. On the humanitarian front, under the leadership of the United Nations, we will work with NATO, the EU, other international organizations and regional partners to deliver assistance.
The coalition military campaign has made it possible for more help to get through. For example, a convoy organized by the World Food Program was able to reach Benghazi this weekend with 18 tons of supplies, including food and blankets. But a great deal more aid is needed and we have to work quickly and cooperatively to assess and respond. Beyond the humanitarian crisis, we know long-term progress in Libya will not be accomplished through military means.
All of us have to continue the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Qadhafi regime. This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Qadhafi he must go, that sends a strong message of accountability, and that sharpens the choice for those around him. It also includes financial pressure through the vigorous enforcement of sanctions authorized under Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973.
As President Obama said last night, while our military mission is focused on saving lives, we must continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to the Libyan people. Now, we cannot and must not attempt to impose our will on the people of Libya, but we can and must stand with them as they determine their own destiny. And we have to speak with one voice in support of a transition that leads to that time. We agree with the Arab League that Qadhafi has lost the legitimacy to lead. We agree with the African Union on the need for a democratic transition process. And we support UN Special Envoy Khatib’s planned travel to Libya following this conference to assess conditions and report to the international community.
We believe that Libya’s transition should come through a broadly inclusive process that reflects the will and protects the rights of the Libyan people. The Transitional National Council and a broad cross-section of Libya’s civil society and other stakeholders have critical contributions to make. Earlier today, I had the opportunity to meet with senior representatives of the council and to talk about the path forward. The UN, the African Union, the Arab League, the OIC, and the EU all have important roles to play. And through this, the United States will join the international community in our commitment to the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and national unity of Libya.
This is a time of great change for Libya, for its neighbors across the region and around the world. Under different governments, under different circumstances, people are expressing the same basic aspirations – a voice in their government, an end to corruption, freedom from violence and fear, the chance to live in dignity, and to make the most of their God-given talents. Now, we know these goals are not easily achieved, but they are, without question, worth working for together. And I’m very proud that this coalition has come to this place at this time to try to pursue those goals. Thank you very much.
Public Schedule for March 29, 2011
Public ScheduleWashington, DC
March 29, 2011
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Secretary Clinton is on foreign travel in London, United Kingdom. Accompanied by Under Secretary Burns, Assistant Secretary Feltman and Assistant Secretary Gordon, Secretary Clinton attends an international conference to discuss the Libyan crisis. Click here for more information.
10:00 a.m. LOCAL (EST + 5 hours) Secretary Clinton meets with Libyan Transitional National Council Member Mahmoud Jibril Ibrahim, in London, United Kingdom.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
11:00 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with British Foreign Minister Hague, in London, United Kingdom.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
11:45 a.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton holds a bilateral meeting with British Prime Minister David Cameron, at 10 Downing Street in London, United Kingdom.
(POOLED CAMERA SPRAY)
12:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton participates in the International Conference on Libya Military Contributors' Meeting, at Lancaster House in London, United Kingdom.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST)
2:15 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton delivers remarks at the International Conference on Libya Political Meeting, at Lancaster House in London, United Kingdom.
(MEDIA DETERMINED BY HOST)
3:30 p.m. LOCAL Secretary Clinton meets with Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, at Lancaster House in London, United Kingdom.
(CLOSED PRESS COVERAGE)
TBD Secretary Clinton holds a press availability in London, United Kingdom.
(OPEN PRESS COVERAGE)
Monday, March 28, 2011
Secretary Clinton's Remarks: Women Senators Calling for Renewed Focus on Women's Rights in North Africa and the Middle East
Women Senators' Resolution Calling for Renewed Focus on Women's Rights in North Africa and the Middle East
Press StatementHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateWashington, DCMarch 28, 2011
I thank Senator Snowe and all the women Senators for shining a spotlight on the critical role women continue to play in the dramatic events sweeping North Africa and the Middle East. I fully agree that women must be included in every aspect of political and institutional reform, because we know that no government can succeed if half its population is excluded from the process. This resolution underscores our current efforts to build capacity for good governance, allow all citizens to participate, and ensure that the human rights of all, including those of women, are respected. The U.S. State Department will continue to work with Congress as we together stand in support of the women in the region who are demanding that their voices be heard.
Public Schedule for March 28, 2011
Public ScheduleWashington, DCMarch 28, 2011
SECRETARY OF STATE HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON
Secretary Clinton departs for foreign travel to London, United Kingdom.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
(Mark Toner is still carrying the press responsibilities. Still no sign of Michael Hammer. I wonder if he is real?)
Background Briefing on the North Atlantic Council's Meeting on Libya
Special BriefingSenior Administration OfficialVia TeleconferenceMarch 27, 2011
OPERATOR: Thank you all for standing by. Welcome to our conference. At this time, your lines have been placed on listen-only for today’s conference. During the question-and-answer portion of our call, you will be prompted to press *1 on your touchtone phone. Please be sure to record your name plus affiliation to ask your question. The conference is also being recorded and if you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time.
I will now turn the conference over to Mr. Mark Toner. Sir, you may proceed.
MR. TONER: Thank you and thanks to everyone for joining us on a Sunday afternoon. As many of you already know, NATO allies decided to take on the civilian protection piece of UN Security Council Resolution 1973, in addition to providing command and control to the no-fly zone, and enforcing the arms embargo.
And here to walk us through today’s decision and some of the aspects moving forward to give us perspective is [Senior Administration Official]. And just going forward, this call is on background and he will, from here on out, be known as Senior Administration Official.
So without further ado, [Senior Administration Official], do you want to go ahead and --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Absolutely. Thanks, Mark and thanks all for joining us. As those of you who were on the call on Thursday may remember, at that point I mentioned that we had a political agreement to put the entire military aspects of UNSCR 1973 under NATO command and control to make it a NATO mission. That’s what we now did formally this evening here in Brussels.
From this moment on forward, NATO will be in command not only of the no-fly zone, not only of enforcing the arms embargo, but now also of the civilian protection mission. When you think about it, for an organization of 28 states, getting to consensus given where we were just a few days and weeks ago, we moved with extraordinary speed. Ten days ago is when the UN enacted its Security Council resolution that provided for the no-fly zone and the enforcement of the arms embargo and the civilian protection. And it’s just eight days ago that military operations started.
But today, we did – the President said we wanted – he wanted to do when we were going to do it. We were going to take the lead in the initial period, providing our unique capabilities to shape the battlefield, but then within days, we would hand over control of that operation to others. And that’s what we accomplished today in NATO with all 28 allies now agreeing that not only the no-fly zone, not only the arms embargo, but also the civilian protection mission would come under NATO – under NATO command, under NATO control, and on NATO political guidance.
So that’s the important message of what we did today, and I think at this point, I’d be happy to take some questions.
MR. TONER: Great. Operator, we’re ready to take questions.
OPERATOR: Thank you. At this time, if you would like to ask a question, please press *1 on your touchtone phone. Please be sure to record your name and affiliation to ask your question. Once again, it is *1 and please record your name and affiliation at this time.
Our first question comes from Elise Labott with CNN. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Thank you for doing this, [Senior Administration Official]. Can you talk about the rules of engagement in terms of when it goes beyond the no-fly zone and protecting the civilians? Is that done by the commander of NATO who – and will there be separate commanders for the no-fly zone and the kind of no-fly plus aspects of this?
And we’ve been hearing a little bit about caveats that some nations will have to participate in some operations or all operations. Can you talk a little bit about that? Thanks.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Absolutely. Thanks, Elise. The rules of engagement were agreed today first by the military committee and then by the North Atlantic Council. So we have a set of rules of engagements. They have been agreed. And now it’s over to the commanders to implement the mission within those rules of engagement as best as they can agree.
The fact is that every country agreed to these rules of engagement, as you have in every military operation. We’re not going to come back to the NAC or to any political decisions about how and when we’re going to implement the mission. This is now over to the commanders within the rules. Those rules allow for the continuation of the mission as it has been conducted, which is the implementation of UNSCR 1973 – no more, no less. And I must say we had no debates, frankly, about the rules of engagement.
In terms of the commanders, the – this mission will come under the same command structure and the same command arrangements as the no-fly zone. Indeed, what we did is we changed and amended the existing no-fly zone plan to include the mission for civilian protection. So we’re still operating under the same plan with the same commander (inaudible). The Supreme Allied Commander Europe General – Admiral Jim Stavridis is in charge and the – as he is of all NATO operations. And the joint task force commander is a three-star from – general from Canada, General Charles Bouchard. He is in charge of all aspects of the NATO operation, including the arms embargo.
With respect to caveats, I think the way to look at it is that not every country within NATO will contribute to every part of the mission. Some countries don’t have air forces. In fact, some countries don’t have militaries, like Iceland, so it is impossible for them to participate in the civilian protection mission. And a variety of countries have decided that they will contribute in different ways. Some will contribute in the arms embargo, some with the no-fly zone, some in the civilian protection mission. And that’s the way alliances operate. It’s why you want to do this in an alliance so you can bring together the collective capacity of the alliance in order to fulfill the entire mission across the spectrum of operations.
QUESTION: But just – a quick follow-up, just to put the finest point on it possible, there’s no nation that can object to these kind of additional measures in terms of air strikes on troops? And basically, just not every country has to participate in that; is that --
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Correct.
QUESTION: -- a good way of looking at it?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah. I mean, the way to put it is that we have made a decision that this is a mission that NATO is taking on. It is now over to the commanders and the individual troops to fulfill that mission in – within the agreement that we reached at 28. And some countries have decided that they may not participate in all aspects of the mission, but NATO as a whole, working with partners from around the world, including from the region, will fulfill the entire mission and will do so in a coordinated and single command-and-control manner.
QUESTION: Okay. Thanks.
MR. TONER: Next question.
OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Ilhan Tanir with Turkish Press. Your line is open.
QUESTION: [Senior Administration Official], I had a quick follow-up on the same question, actually. We know that there were strong Turkish objections to the aerial bombing under Qadhafi’s forces. How did you overcome these objections at this moment?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We frankly didn’t hear of any objections; what we – from Turkey or anybody – any other ally. What we heard was a strong preference, one that was shared by Turkey, to have the entire operation – the no-fly zone and the civilian protection, as well as the arms embargo and support for humanitarian assistance – to have all of that conducted by NATO. That was Turkey’s position, it was the position of a lot of countries, and that is, in fact, the position that the North Atlantic Council took today.
From this one moment on forward, the entire operation with respect to military – the use of military force will be under NATO command. That is Turkey’s position. It is now the position of all 28 nations in NATO.
QUESTION: I’m going to do one more quick follow-up and please forgive me for my ignorance. Does it mean that in an event that NATO commanders decide to take a target on Qadhafi forces, all the members, the NATO members, have to agree on every single attack?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: No, it doesn’t mean that. It – what it means is that NATO has agreed to take on the mission of protecting civilians, and that mission will be executed in the – by the commanders in the best way they judge possible. It means, in practice, that NATO will conduct the military operation in a way that is very similar to the way the coalition has conducted it up to this point, and no more but also no less.
And we – all 28 allies, every single one, agreed that that should be the case. And if it is judged by the commanders that there’s a need to bomb forces of the Libyan regime, then the forces of the Libyan regime will be bombed, and no one is going to be able or in a position to challenge that. That is a military judgment to be made by the military authorities, and we, as an alliance, agreed today to give the supreme allied commander of Europe that authority.
QUESTION: Thank you.
MR. TONER: The next question.
OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Mary Beth Sheridan with The Washington Post. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Thanks. Thanks a lot, [Senior Administration Official]. I just wanted to make sure I understood when you talk about the civilian protection mission – we’ve obviously seen this in action in terms of troops – regime troops and tanks and so on being targeted outside of, I think, Misrata, Ajdabiyah and so on. But how far does it go? In other words, were the rebels – if the rebels arrive at (inaudible), if they arrive at the outskirts of Tripoli, would all those places also be covered in this civilian protection mandate?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, the mandate is very simple. It is to protect civilian and civilian-populated areas from attack. And any forces that are attacking or threatening to attack civilians will be subject to targeting by NATO in exactly the same way they’re subject to targeting by the coalition today, or up to this point.
So the mission is clear. It’s about protecting civilians and civilian-populated areas against the threat of actual attack. And that mission, which was the same mission that existed from last Saturday until this point, is the mission that NATO now takes on. It will do so with the same means – no more, no less. The specific question of where, how, when military forces may be engaged are operational questions that the military commanders will have to decide on a case-by-case basis, and certainly not something that some – a political person or a diplomat like me is going to get involved in.
MR. TONER: Great, next question.
OPERATOR: It comes from Courtney Kube with NBC News. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you for doing this. I’m sorry, I’m still unclear on two things – the command structure and also the – protecting the civilian population. So in the command structure, is it fair to say that Admiral Stavridis is now taking essentially the role that General Ham has been playing?
And then also, specifically on the protecting civilian population, you’ve said several times now that there will be no more and no less as far as who is involved. As far as assets, I’m assuming you mean enforcing these – the no-fly zone and whatnot. But does that mean the U.S. is still going to be participating, actively participating, in both air strikes and enforcement of the no-fly zone flying missions over Libya?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks, Courtney, for your question because that allows me to clarify something that’s important.
First on command and control, you’re exactly right. We’re moving from Admiral – from General Ham to Admiral Stavridis. General Ham was the coordinator of the coalition. As the President said, we want to hand off that responsibility to others. Today, we agreed to hand it off to NATO, and the NATO – commander of NATO is the supreme allied commander, and he is now tasking his Joint Task Force Commander, General Bouchard, to take control of this mission. And it’s General Bouchard who’s going to run this operation from here on forward.
On the protection of civilians and when I say “No more, no less,” what I mean is not – has no relationship to who will do it, but what we will do. So it was not meant to be in any way a comment on who would do it. When I say under NATO we’re going to do no more and no less than we did under the coalition, it’s with respect to which targets to hit, how to hit them, and what the mission is.
In terms of the assets, one of the reasons you want to put this into NATO is that you will be able to rely on a great deal, a great number of allies who, up to this point, while wanting to participate in the operation, were unwilling to do so until it came under NATO. And there are a number of allies who have made very clear that they will participate, but they wouldn’t participate as part of the coalition. And indeed, there were a number of coalition partners who said this has to come under NATO and it has to come under NATO quickly.
So what we will see now is more countries participating, and that will allow the United States to be part of a much larger effort rather than having to take the lead. That’s why we wanted to hand it off in a matter of days, and we have now done that.
QUESTION: Will those more countries participating include more Arab participation?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: We will seek as many Arab and regional partners to participate, and we’re continuing the process of engaging with Arab countries to bring them into this operation. One of the advantages of using NATO is that NATO has established procedures, established practices of working with non-NATO countries, including many in the Arab world, in order to bring them into established operations. So they have a political visibility on what’s happening as well as military participation. And I would expect that in the coming days and weeks, we will see more and more non-NATO members joining this effort.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: You’re welcome.
MR. TONER: Our next question, and I think we’ve got time for just a couple more.
OPERATOR: It comes from Margaret Warner with PBS NewsHour. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, [Senior Administration Official]. Thank you for doing this. I want to go back to Mary Beth’s question because it seems to me there is a difference between whether the rebels are on defense, which is where they have been, say, in Ajdabiyah, and if they go on offense. Say if they go to Sirte, we’re there, the government forces are the ones who hold the civilian-populated area and the attackers, if you will, will be the rebels, or if they were to get to Tripoli. In that situation where rebels are on offense against civilian-populated areas held by the government, will they get an assist from NATO bombing?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I’ll answer, Margaret, the same way as I did for Mary Beth, which is our mission is to protect civilians against the threat or actual use of military force. So when civilians are being attacked or threatened to be attacked, those who are doing the attacking or threatening are the ones who are going to be subject to military action.
It’s been very clear up to this point that it is the regime of Colonel Qadhafi that is engaged in horrendous acts against civilians, and therefore, it is those forces that are being targeted. But the mission is clear. It’s about the protection of civilians and civilian-populated areas. It is not anything more or anything less than that. And as long as civilians are being threatened, as long as civilians are being attacked, there is a very legitimate military mission, which is to make sure that those who are doing the attacking or those who are doing the threatening are being – are unable to continue their actions.
QUESTION: But if I can follow up, I mean, that still doesn’t really answer my question. If you’re in a situation in which it is really the rebel army against Qadhafi forces and civilians are not directly involved or targeted at that moment, are you assisting the rebels?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Well, I’ll answer the same way, and I think that will explain it. When civilians are attacked, those doing the – those attacking the civilians are a legitimate target and will be targeted by NATO. If there is a threat to attack civilians and civilian-populated areas, that is what we will go after. So civilians need to be threatened or attacked for NATO to take military action, as indeed the coalition has done so up to this point. That’s the mission we have had up to this point, and that’s the mission that NATO is now taking on. It’s the same mission in the same way.
QUESTION: All right.
MR. TONER: Thank you. This is --
QUESTION: Would you say civilians in Sirte are being threatened or attacked?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Sorry, Margaret, I didn’t hear it.
QUESTION: Would you say civilians in Sirte currently are being threatened or attacked?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: I don’t follow the operational details, so I don't know exactly where we are on this, and I’d leave that open to the commanders. They’ve got a clear mission and they need – now need to execute it.
MR. TONER: Thank you. This will be our last question.
OPERATOR: It comes from Adam Levine with CNN. Your line is open.
QUESTION: Hi, thank you for doing this. If I could follow up, so are you saying that if rebels are advancing and they (inaudible) an activity that threatens or endangers civilians by starting fighting, rebels are fair targets for the alliance?
And my – just another question also: How will NATO coordinate or interact with the rebel groups?
SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Right now, all the threatening and striking of civilians is being done by Qadhafi forces, and that’s the focus. But our mission is clear. It’s about protecting civilians first and civilian areas. That – first and foremost, and that’s what it’s about. And NATO has just taken on that mission.
In terms of coordinating with rebel forces, no, our mission is to protect civilians. It’s not about the rebels. It’s about the protection of civilians and civilian populations. That’s what UNSCR 1973 mandated and that’s the mandate that NATO is now taking on.
MR. TONER: Great. Well, thank you all so much and especially to our Senior Administration Official for walking us through this decision today. Everybody have a good remainder of their Sunday and thank you again.
OPERATOR: That does conclude today’s conference call. We thank you all for participating. You may now disconnect and have a great rest of your day.
Interview With Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation
InterviewHillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of StateSecretary of Defense Robert GatesWashington, DCMarch 27, 2011
QUESTION: Good morning again. And we are joined in the studio by the Secretary of State and the Secretary of Defense.
Madam Secretary, let me start with you. Tens of thousands of people have turned out protesting in Syria, which has been under the iron grip of the Asad for so many years now, one of the most repressive regimes in the world, I suppose. And when the demonstrators turned out, the regime opened fire and killed a number of civilians. Can we expect the United States to enter the conflict in the way we have entered the conflict in Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: No. Each of these situations is unique, Bob. Certainly, we deplore the violence in Syria. We call, as we have on all of these governments during this period of the Arab Awakening, as some have called it, to be responding to their people’s needs, not to engage in violence, permit peaceful protests, and begin a process of economic and political reform.
The situation in Libya, which engendered so much concern from around the international community, had a leader who used military force against the protestors from one end of his country to the other, who publically said things like, “We’ll show no mercy. We’ll go house to house.” And the international community moved with great speed, in part because there’s a history here. This is someone who has behaved in a way that caused grave concern in the past 40 plus years in the Arab world, the African world, Europe, and the United States.
QUESTION: But, I mean, how can that be worse than what has happened in Syria over the years, where Bashar Asad’s father killed 25,000 people at a lick? I mean, they open fire with live ammunition on these civilians. Why is that different from Libya?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, I --
QUESTION: This is a friend of Iran, an enemy of Israel.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, if there were a coalition of the international community, if there were the passage of Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal – but that is not going to happen, because I don't think that it’s yet clear what will occur, what will unfold.
There’s a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities and then police actions, which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.
QUESTION: Secretary Gates, you have strongly condemned Bashar Asad and said he must learn from Egypt. I think it’s fair to say he didn’t pay much attention to you.
SECRETARY GATES: Well, that’s not a surprise. (Laughter.) No, what I --
QUESTION: Should he step down?
SECRETARY GATES: What I said in – when I was in the Middle East was that the lesson should be – that should be taken from Egypt was where a military stood aside and allowed peaceful protests and allowed political events to take their course. That’s basically the lesson that I was talking about with respect to Asad. In terms of whether he should stand down or not, these kinds of things are up to the Syrians, up to the Libyans themselves.
QUESTION: This whole region is in turmoil now, trouble in Bahrain, in Yemen, whose governments have been allies of ours in the fight against terrorism. Now there are demonstrations in Jordan, one of our closest allies in the Arab world. How do we decide which of these countries we’re going to help and which ones we’re not?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, we’re trying to help them all. I mean, there’s a lot of different ways of helping. We have certainly offered advice and counsel. I think the role that the United States played in Egypt, for example, particularly between our military, between Secretary Gates, Field Marshal Tantawi, between Admiral Mullen and his counterpart, was only possibly because of 30 years of close cooperation.
So we have to look at each situation as we find it. We don’t have that kind of relationship with a country like Syria. We just sent back an ambassador for the first time after some years. And as you recall, the Administration decided we needed to do that because we wanted somebody on the inside. The Congress was not so convinced that it would make a difference. Each of these we are looking at and analyzing carefully. But we can’t draw some general sweeping conclusions about the entire region.
QUESTION: Well, let’s talk about Libya a little then. We have – the UN resolution is in place. It’s established the no-fly zone. NATO is going to take over the operations there. But it does not call for regime change, and the President has said that Mr. Qadhafi has to go. That seems a bit contradictory.
SECRETARY GATES: I don't think so. I think what you’re seeing is the difference between a military mission and a policy objective. The military mission is very limited and restricted to the establishment of the no-fly zone and for humanitarian purposes, to prevent Qadhafi from being able to use his armed forces to slaughter his own people. That’s it. And one of the things that I think is central is you don’t in a military campaign set as a mission or a goal something you’re not sure you can achieve. And if we’ve learned anything over the past number of years, regime change is very complicated and can be very expensive and can take a long time. And so I think the key here was establishing a military mission that was achievable. It was achievable on a limited period of time and it could be sustained.
QUESTION: There are some people in the Pentagon quoted in various newspapers as saying this no-fly zone may last for three months or so. How long do you think this is going to be in place?
SECRETARY GATES: I don't think anybody has any idea.
SECRETARY CLINTON: But Bob, I think it’s important to take a step back and put this into context. When the Libyan people rose up, as their neighbors across the region were doing, and said look, we want to see a transition, it was after 42 years of erratic and brutal rule. Qadhafi’s response was to basically not just ignore but to threaten and then to act on those threats. Our country, along with many other countries, were watching this unfold.
The United States Senate passed a resolution calling for a no-fly zone on March the 1st. As Bob reminded everybody, there’s a difference between calling for it and actually enforcing it. When the Security Council, in a really stunning vote of 10 to 5, 10-4, 5 abstentions, said look, take all necessary measures to fulfill this mission of protecting the Libyan people, it was a mission that the United States, of course, was going to be in the forefront of because of our unique capabilities. But look at the coalition of European, Canadian, Arab countries that have come together to say we’re going to make sure that we protect these civilians.
The military mission is not the only part of what we’re doing. We have very tough sanctions that are ferreting out and freezing Qadhafi and Qadhafi family assets. We have a lot of diplomats and military leaders in Libya who are flipping, changing sides, defecting because they see the handwriting on the wall. We have an ongoing political effort that is really picking up steam to see if we can’t persuade --
QUESTION: So --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- others to convince Qadhafi to leave. So, we see the planes going up, but that is just a piece of an overall strategy.
QUESTION: Well, do you think it’s going well then? I mean, would you give it good marks so far?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Oh, I think it’s going very well.
SECRETARY GATES: I think the military mission has gone quite well. I think we have been successful a lot. There was never any doubt in my mind that we could quickly establish the no-fly zone and suppress his air defenses. But I think what has been extraordinary is seeing a number of different countries using their combat aircraft in a way to destroy some of his ground forces. That really involves and extraordinary discrimination of targets.
And I pushed back when I was in Russia last week against the comments that both Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev had made about civilian casualties. The truth of the matter is we have trouble coming up with proof of any civilian casualties that we have been responsible for, but we do have a lot of intelligence reporting about Qadhafi taking the bodies of people he’s killed and putting them at the sites where we’ve attacked. We have been extremely careful in this military effort. And not just our pilots but the pilots of the other coalition air forces have really done and extraordinary job.
QUESTION: He is taking bodies and putting them in places --
SECRETARY GATES: We have a number of reports of that.
QUESTION: In more than one place, or --
SECRETARY GATES: Yes.
QUESTION: How many places?
SECRETARY GATES: We just get various reports on that.
QUESTION: Well, let me ask you this. There are reports that we may arm the rebels. Is that, in fact, going to happen?
SECRETARY CLINTON: There’s been no decision about that. We are in contact with the rebels. I’ve met with one of the leaders. We have ongoing discussions with them. We’ve sent both the ambassador that was assigned to Libya plus a young diplomat to have this ongoing dialogue with the opposition. But there’s a lot of ways that we can assist them, and we’re trying to discuss that with our allies in this effort. And we will be when I go to London on Tuesday.
QUESTION: Let me just ask you this. Under this arms embargo and the resolution and so forth, could you, if you decided you needed to do that and wanted to do it, could you do it under the current --
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: -- resolution?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes.
QUESTION: You believe you could?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Yes, and the reason is because there is an arms embargo against the Qadhafi regime that was established in the first resolution, Resolution 1970, which applied to the entire country. In the follow-on resolution, 1973, there is an exception if countries or organizations were to choose to use that.
QUESTION: Let me ask you this, Mr. Secretary. We say it's time for Qadhafi to go. You say that the military part of this, the no-fly zone, is going well. But I don't think anybody really believes that this rag-tag group of resistance fighters, as brave as they are, could actually topple this man, who has these tanks and artillery and that.
SECRETARY CLINTON: He has a lot fewer now than he did a week ago.
QUESTION: Well, exactly. But how’s the thing going on the ground? And do you really think that these people could topple him without some kind of help from the outside?
SECRETARY GATES: Well, first of all, we prevented him from moving on toward Benghazi. Those forces were destroyed. We have evidence that he is withdrawing from Ajdabiyah and back further to the west. Because we’re not only striking his armor, we’re striking his logistics and supplies and things like that.
And just to Secretary Clinton's point, we have things in our toolbox in addition to hammers. And so there are a lot of things that can go on here. His military can turn. We can see – we could see elements of his military turning, deciding this is a no-win proposition. The family is splitting. Any number of possibilities are out there, particularly as long as the international pressure continues and those around him see no future in staying with him.
QUESTION: Well, having said all of that, do you think that's what is going to happen here? I mean can he – can these people really do this with just some help from up in the sky?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Bob, I know how concerned people are. And obviously, the President will speak to the country Monday night, answer, I think, a lot of those concerns. This -- the Security Council acted a week ago Thursday. The effort to enforce a Security Council resolution is barely a week old. We’ve already seen quite significant progress on the ground. And Bob just said, we believe, based on the intelligence and what our military is seeing, the Qadhafi forces are withdrawing, moving to the west.
Yes, this is not a well-organized fighting force that the opposition has. But they are getting more support from defectors, from the former Libyan Government military, and they are, as Bob said, very brave, moving forward, and beginning to regain --
QUESTION: Well --
SECRETARY CLINTON: -- ground that they lost when Qadhafi was brutalizing them by moving toward Benghazi.
So, this is a really short period of time in any kind of military effort, but I think the results on the ground are pretty significant.
SECRETARY GATES: I would just underscore the military attacks began, essentially, a week ago, last Saturday night. And don't underestimate the potential for elements of the regime themselves to crack.
QUESTION: All right.
SECRETARY GATES: And to turn. I mean it isn't just the opposition in Benghazi --
QUESTION: So you think his days are limited?
SECRETARY GATES: I wouldn't be hanging any new pictures if I were him. (Laughter.)
QUESTION: What would be an acceptable outcome? You want him out, but would you be satisfied if the country wound up partitioned or something of that nature?
SECRETARY CLINTON: I think it's too soon to predict that. One of the reasons why we are forming a political contact group in London this coming week is because we want to get a unified political approach, just as we have forged a unified military approach.
And as both Bob and I have said, there are many ways that this could move toward the end state. If you think about what happened in the 90s, it took a while for Milosevic to leave, but you could see his days were numbered, even though he wasn't yet out of office. And so there is a lot of ways that this could unfold.
What is clear is that Qadhafi himself is losing ground. He has already lost legitimacy. And the people around him, based on all of the intelligence and all of the outreach that we ourselves are getting from some of those very same people, demonstrate an enormous amount of anxiety. And that will play itself out over time.
SECRETARY GATES: Could I just make a broader point, Bob? We get so focused on these individual countries. I think we have lost sight of the extraordinary story that is going on in the Middle East. In the space of about two months, we’ve probably seen the most widespread dramatic change in the tectonic plates, if you will, politically, in that region since, certainly, the drive for independence in the 50s, and perhaps since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire nearly a century ago. In virtually every country in the region there is turbulence. And we are in dark territory.
I mean, even the changes in Eastern Europe in 1989 took place from a period from February to December – to November. And so when you think back of what has happened in just two months, this is really an extraordinary challenge for the Administration and, frankly, for other governments around the world in terms of how do we react to this, how do we deal with this. And I think the key, and where the President has tried to establish the principle, is here are our principles, here’s what we believe in, but then we’ll deal with each country one at a time, because we have to deal with the specific circumstances. But we can't lose sight of the historic and dramatic nature of what's going on and the fact there are no predetermined outcomes.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And there are no perfect options. We are choosing among competing imperfect options. I mean if we were sitting here, and Benghazi had been taken, and tens of thousands of people had been slaughtered, and hundreds of thousands had fled, some of them over the border to Egypt, destabilizing Egypt during its particularly delicate transition, we would be sitting here, and people in the Congress and elsewhere would be saying, "Well, why didn't we do something?"
So the problem is we are trying to, within the broader context of this extraordinary movement toward aspirations that are universal that people in the Middle East and North Africa are demanding for themselves, to support the broader goals but to be very clear about how we deal with individual countries as we stand for our values and our principles but have to take each one as it stands and where it is headed.
QUESTION: Well, I want to thank both of you for your insights.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you.
QUESTION: We really appreciate it.
SECRETARY GATES: Thank you.
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