Muammar Gaddafi’s better armed and organized troops reversed the westward charge of rebels yesterday as world powers meeting in London piled pressure on the Libyan leader to step down.
A conference of 40 governments and international bodies agreed to press on with a NATO-led aerial bombardment of Libyan forces until Gaddafi complied with a U.N. resolution to end violence against civilians.
It also set up a contact group comprising 20 countries and organizations, including Arab states, the African Union and the Arab League, to coordinate international support for an orderly transition to democracy in Libya.
“All of us must continue to increase the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Gaddafi regime through other means as well,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after the London talks finished.
“This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Gaddafi that he must go.”
The United States, Britain and Qatar suggested that Gaddafi and his family could be allowed to go into exile if they took up the offer quickly to end six weeks of bloodshed.
Washington and Paris also raised the possibility of arming the rebels, although both stressed no decision had been reached.
Details fuzzy on Obama’s policies
President Barack Obama may have seized the initiative with his lofty defense of military action in Libya but he has left more questions than answers about his emerging “Obama doctrine” and what it means for other crises in the Middle East.
Embedded in Obama’s televised response to critics of his Libya policy Monday night was an attempt to set forth his rationale for intervening militarily in some conflicts but not in others.
Obama used his speech to outline part of a broader Middle East strategy that aides have been crafting for weeks to try to counter complaints that his administration has struggled to keep pace with turmoil sweeping the Arab world.
But he was short on specifics and failed to even mention Yemen, Syria or Bahrain, the latest hot spots where popular revolts threatening autocratic rulers could have major implications for U.S. policy.