Developing: UN implements no-fly zone over Libya, French aircraft confirmed
UPDATE 12:45 p.m.: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appeared at the podium in Paris at 12:25 p.m. EST. She said that the Libyan government had “lost all legitimacy,” and listed the broad coalition of support for U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, demanding a cease-fire in Libya.
“Yesterday, President Obama said very clearly that if Gaddafi failed to comply with these terms, there would be consequences,” Clinton said. “There has been some talk from Tripoli of a cease-fire, but the reality on the ground tells a very different story. Colonel Gaddafi defies the world. His attacks on civilians go on.”
“This is a fluid and fast-moving situation, which may be the understatement of the time,” Clinton said. “People have a lot of questions about what next, and what will we be doing. This is a broad international effort. The world will not sit idly by while more innocent are killed…We are standing with the people of Libya and we will not waver in our efforts to protect them.”
In response to a press question, Clinton said, “Gaddafi does not approve of democracy.”
Clinton said multiple times that the United States has “unique capabilities” to enforce the cease-fire, but said they would not deploy ground troops to Libya. “There should be no question of our commitment,” she said.
“Americans and people around the world watched with growing concern as Libyan civilians were gunned down by a government that had lost all legitimacy,” Clinton said. “Colonel Gaddafi’s campaign of violence against his own people must stop…Now the Gaddafi forces face unambiguous terms: A cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks on civilians must stop.”
In addition to the violence, Clinton said the cease-fire included requirements that the country’s infrastructure be re-implemented, including gas and water services being turned on in all parts of the country.
Clinton commended Arab nations for their support, calling their efforts and leadership “crucial.”
“They have sent another strong message by being here today,” she said of the Arab leaders.
Of Bahrain, she said, “Violence is not, and cannot be the answer. A political process is.” Clinton also cited a “decades-long friendship with Bahrain that we expect to continue long into the future,” and called for a “peaceful, positive dialogue” with Bahrain’s crown prince.
UPDATE 12:15 p.m. EST: President Barack Obama took to the podium from Brasilia, Brazil, where he is on a tour of South American countries, just after noon EST. Brazil abstained from Thursday’s U.N. vote to impose a no-fly zone over Libya.
Most of Obama’s remarks centered around his visit to Latin America, but he did say he was briefing President Dilma Rousseff on the U.N.’s military intervention in Libya.
“Yesterday, the international community demanded an immediate cease-fire in Libya,” Obama said. “Our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear. The people of Libya must be protected. Our coalition is prepared to act, and act with urgency.”
10:50 a.m.: French President Nicolas Sarkozy spoke to the press from Paris just before 11 a.m. EST. He confirmed that there would be U.N.-mandated military action to implement a no-fly zone over Libya in response to the violence and broken cease-fire in the country.
Sarkozy said that all participants in Saturday’s Paris summit, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, British Prime Minister David Cameron, an African Union representative, a European Union representative and Arab leaders, endorsed the plan.
French state officials have confirmed the presence of French fighter jets flying over Libya, and Sarkozy said it is “our duty to respond to [the Libyan peoples’] anguished appeal….in the name of the universal conscience.”
“There is still time for Gaddafi to avoid the worst,” Sarkozy said. “All those concerned must now face up to their responsibilities…France is resolved to shoulder its role before history.”
“The doors of diplomacy will open once again when the aggression stops,” Sarkozy said.
On Friday, President Barack Obama said that Libya must implement a cease-fire, calling it “non-negotiable.” By Saturday morning, there were already reports of violence in rebel-held parts of the country.
According to the New York Times, Gaddafi warned world leaders against intervening via letters delivered Saturday morning, before Sarkozy’s statement.
“Libya is not yours. Libya is for all Libyans,” Colonel Qaddafi wrote in a letter addressed to Mr. Obama and a second to President Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain, and Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations. One of his government spokesman read the letters to the news media:
“This is injustice, it is clear aggression, and it is uncalculated risk for its consequences on the Mediterranean and Europe.
You will regret it if you take a step toward intervening in our internal affairs.”