News Archives

Deputy Spokesperson Toner on the Sentencing of 20 Medical Professionals in Bahrain

We are deeply disturbed by the sentencing today of 20 medical professionals by the National Safety Court in Bahrain. We understand that the cases can be appealed and transferred to a civilian appellate court. We continue to urge the Bahraini Government to abide by its commitment to transparent judicial proceedings, including a fair trial, access to attorneys, and verdicts based on credible evidence conducted in full accordance with Bahraini law and Bahrain’s international legal obligations.

We are also concerned about trials of civilians, including medical personnel, in military courts and the fairness of those proceedings. We have repeatedly shared our position regarding Bahrain’s judicial proceedings with the highest levels of the Bahraini Government.

We call on the Government of Bahrain and all citizens to create a climate conducive for reconciliation, meaningful dialogue, and reform that, as President Obama said on September 21, will bring peaceful change that is responsive to the aspirations of all Bahrainis.


Spokesperson Nuland on the Ongoing Political Situation in Yemen

The United States takes note of the Gulf Cooperation Council’s (GCC) September 23 statement and joins it in expressing deep concern about the current situation in Yemen. We again express our sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones as a result of recent violence. We urge all parties to cease violence and exercise maximum restraint. We support the GCC’s call for the formation of a committee to investigate events that resulted in the deaths of innocent civilians. Too many Yemenis have lost their lives and each day that passes without a peaceful and orderly transition is another day that the Yemeni people are forced to live in an unstable environment that threatens their security and livelihood.

The Yemeni government must immediately address the democratic aspirations of its people. The Yemeni people have made clear their desire for a peaceful and orderly transition that is responsive to their calls for peace, reconciliation, prosperity, and security.

We again urge President Saleh to initiate a full transfer of power without delay and arrange for presidential elections to be held before the end of the year within the framework of the GCC initiative. The Yemeni people have suffered enough and deserve a path toward a unified, stable, secure, and democratic Yemen. We will continue to work with the GCC and others in the international community to support the Yemeni people’s aspirations.


Remarks by President Obama at High-Level Meeting on Libya

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Good morning. Mr. Secretary General, on behalf of us all, thank you for convening this meeting to address a task that must be the work of all of us — supporting the people of Libya as they build a future that is free and democratic and prosperous. And I want to thank President Jalil for his remarks and for all that he and Prime Minister Jibril have done to help Libya reach this moment.

To all the heads of state, to all the countries represented here who have done so much over the past several months to ensure this day could come, I want to say thank you, as well.

Today, the Libyan people are writing a new chapter in the life of their nation. After four decades of darkness, they can walk the streets, free from a tyrant. They are making their voices heard — in new newspapers, and on radio and television, in public squares and on personal blogs. They’re launching political parties and civil groups to shape their own destiny and secure their universal rights. And here at the United Nations, the new flag of a free Libya now flies among the community of nations.

Make no mistake — credit for the liberation of Libya belongs to the people of Libya. It was Libyan men and women — and children — who took to the streets in peaceful protest, who faced down the tanks and endured the snipers’ bullets. It was Libyan fighters, often outgunned and outnumbered, who fought pitched battles, town-by-town, block-by-block. It was Libyan activists — in the underground, in chat rooms, in mosques — who kept a revolution alive, even after some of the world had given up hope.

It was Libyan women and girls who hung flags and smuggled weapons to the front. It was Libyans from countries around the world, including my own, who rushed home to help, even though they, too, risked brutality and death. It was Libyan blood that was spilled and Libya’s sons and daughters who gave their lives. And on that August day — after all that sacrifice, after 42 long years — it was Libyans who pushed their dictator from power.

At the same time, Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one. I said at the beginning of this process, we cannot and should not intervene every time there is an injustice in the world. Yet it’s also true that there are times where the world could have and should have summoned the will to prevent the killing of innocents on a horrific scale. And we are forever haunted by the atrocities that we did not prevent, and the lives that we did not save. But this time was different. This time, we, through the United Nations, found the courage and the collective will to act.

When the old regime unleashed a campaign of terror, threatening to roll back the democratic tide sweeping the region, we acted as united nations, and we acted swiftly — broadening sanctions, imposing an arms embargo. The United States led the effort to pass a historic resolution at the Security Council authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people. And when the civilians of Benghazi were threatened with a massacre, we exercised that authority. Our international coalition stopped the regime in its tracks, and saved countless lives, and gave the Libyan people the time and the space to prevail.

Important, too, is how this effort succeeded — thanks to the leadership and contributions of many countries. The United States was proud to play a decisive role, especially in the early days, and then in a supporting capacity. But let’s remember that it was the Arab League that appealed for action. It was the world’s most effective alliance, NATO, that’s led a military coalition of nearly 20 nations. It’s our European allies — especially the United Kingdom and France and Denmark and Norway — that conducted the vast majority of air strikes protecting rebels on the ground. It was Arab states who joined the coalition, as equal partners. And it’s been the United Nations and neighboring countries — including Tunisia and Egypt — that have cared for the Libyans in the urgent humanitarian effort that continues today.

This is how the international community should work in the 21st century — more nations bearing the responsibility and the costs of meeting global challenges. In fact, this is the very purpose of this United Nations. So every nation represented here today can take pride in the innocent lives we saved and in helping Libyans reclaim their country. It was the right thing to do.

Now, even as we speak, remnants of the old regime continue to fight. Difficult days are still ahead. But one thing is clear — the future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people. For just as it was Libyans who tore down the old order, it will be Libyans who build their new nation. And we’ve come here today to say to the people of Libya — just as the world stood by you in your struggle to be free, we will now stand with you in your struggle to realize the peace and prosperity that freedom can bring.

In this effort, you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America. Today, I can announce that our ambassador is on his way back to Tripoli. And this week, the American flag that was lowered before our embassy was attacked will be raised again, over a re-opened American embassy. We will work closely with the new U.N. Support Mission in Libya and with the nations here today to assist the Libyan people in the hard work ahead.

First, and most immediately: security. So long as the Libyan people are being threatened, the NATO-led mission to protect them will continue. And those still holding out must understand — the old regime is over, and it is time to lay down your arms and join the new Libya. As this happens, the world must also support efforts to secure dangerous weapons — conventional and otherwise — and bring fighters under central, civilian control. For without security, democracy and trade and investment cannot flourish.

Second: the humanitarian effort. The Transitional National Council has been working quickly to restore water and electricity and food supplies to Tripoli. But for many Libyans, each day is still a struggle — to recover from their wounds, reunite with their families, and return to their homes. And even after the guns of war fall silent, the ravages of war will continue. So our efforts to assist its victims must continue. In this, the United States — the United Nations will play a key role. And along with our partners, the United States will do our part to help the hungry and the wounded.

Third: a democratic transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just. President Jalil has just reaffirmed the Transitional National Council’s commitment to these principles, and the United Nations will play a central role in coordinating international support for this effort. We all know what is needed — a transition that is timely, new laws and a constitution that uphold the rule of law, political parties and a strong civil society, and, for the first time in Libyan history, free and fair elections.

True democracy, however, must flow from its citizens. So as Libyans rightly seek justice for past crimes, let it be done in a spirit of reconciliation, and not reprisals and violence. As Libyans draw strength from their faith — a religion rooted in peace and tolerance — let there be a rejection of violent extremism, which offers nothing but death and destruction. As Libyans rebuild, let those efforts tap the experience of all those with the skills to contribute, including the many Africans in Libya. And as Libyans forge a society that is truly just, let it enshrine the rights and role of women at all levels of society. For we know that the nations that uphold the human rights of all people, especially their women, are ultimately more successful and more prosperous.

Which brings me to the final area where the world must stand with Libya, and that is restoring prosperity. For too long, Libya’s vast riches were stolen and squandered. Now that wealth must serve its rightful owners — the Libyan people. As sanctions are lifted, as the United States and the international community unfreeze more Libyan assets, and as the country’s oil production is restored, the Libyan people deserve a government that is transparent and accountable. And bound by the Libyan students and entrepreneurs who have forged friendships in the United States, we intend to build new partnerships to help unleash Libya’s extraordinary potential.

Now, none of this will be easy. After decades of iron rule by one man, it will take time to build the institutions needed for a democratic Libya. I’m sure there will be days of frustration; there will be days when progress is slow; there will be days when some begin to wish for the old order and its illusion of stability. And some in the world may ask, can Libya succeed? But if we have learned anything these many months, it is this: Don’t underestimate the aspirations and the will of the Libyan people.

So I want to conclude by speaking directly to the people of Libya. Your task may be new, the journey ahead may be fraught with difficulty, but everything you need to build your future already beats in the heart of your nation. It’s the same courage you summoned on that first February day; the same resilience that brought you back out the next day and the next, even as you lost family and friends; and the same unshakeable determination with which you liberated Benghazi, broke the siege of Misurata, and have fought through the coastal plain and the western mountains.

It’s the same unwavering conviction that said, there’s no turning back; our sons and daughters deserve to be free.

In the days after Tripoli fell, people rejoiced in the streets and pondered the role ahead, and one of those Libyans said, “We have this chance now to do something good for our country, a chance we have dreamed of for so long.” So, to the Libyan people, this is your chance. And today the world is saying, with one unmistakable voice, we will stand with you as you seize this moment of promise, as you reach for the freedom, the dignity, and the opportunity that you deserve.

So, congratulations. And thank you very much. (Applause.)


U.S. Condemns Use of Force Against Civilians, Calls for Peaceful Transition in Yemen

Statement delivered during the Interactive Dialogue with the OHCHR Mission to Yemen

Madame President,

The United States would like to thank the Office of the High Commissioner for its work, including its visit to Yemen. The High Commissioner’s report calls attention to many important human rights concerns that have developed in Yemen.

The United States remains concerned by recent human rights violations committed in Yemen, particularly the excessive force used against peaceful protesters and civilians.

The United States acknowledges the Office of the High Commissioner’s recommendations, as outlined in this report, particularly calls to end attacks against peaceful protesters and other civilians, as well as to take steps to ensure the protection of vulnerable populations, such as displaced persons, and peaceful demonstrators. In addition, the United States strongly supports the High Commissioner’s call on the international community to urge all Yemeni parties to refrain from the use of violence.

Today’s discussion on Yemen comes against the backdrop of increasingly disturbing reports of additional violence. According to news reports from Saana, yesterday government forces opened fire with anti-aircraft guns and automatic weapons on thousands of protestors. The United States condemns the use of excessive force against peaceful protestors and civilians in Yemen.

Last week President Saleh delegated to the vice president the authority to bring to an end the political crisis. We urge vice president Hadi to take immediate action to implement the transition and bring an end to the bloodshed. The United States believes that now is the time for an immediate, peaceful and orderly transition that meets the aspirations of the Yemeni people and bring those responsible for crimes committed against peaceful protestors and other civilians to justice.

Thank You Madame President.


Secretary Clinton on a Smart Power Approach to Counter terrorism

Thank you. Thank you very much, President Travis. And it is, for me, a great personal pleasure to be in this new facility for John Jay. I had the opportunity to visit John Jay when it wasn’t quite as light-filled as this atrium is but knowing that it was always fulfilling its mission. And to come back here today to be with all of you is a singular honor.

I’m also very honored to be here with so many friends and colleagues, people who I had the great experience of working with over the last ten years as a senator, now as Secretary of State, people who made a real difference to this city, this state, the country, and indeed the world. And I think about our time together and the work that we did, and it fills me with great gratitude that I had such an opportunity to be just a small part of what so many of you have done in the days and years since 9/11.

I know that this is a time when we are meeting here in New York amid a looking-back as well as a looking-forward, and with the news last night of a specific credible, but unconfirmed, report that al-Qaida again is seeking to harm Americans and, in particular, to target New York and Washington. This should not surprise any of us. It is a continuing reminder of the stakes in our struggle against violent extremism no matter who propagates it, no matter where it comes from, no matter who its targets might be. We are taking this threat seriously. Federal, state, and local authorities are taking all steps to address it.

And of course, making it public, as was done yesterday, is intended to enlist the millions and millions of New Yorkers and Americans to be the eyes and the ears of vigilance. Of course, people should proceed with their lives and do what they would do ordinarily, but to be part of this great network of unity and support against those who would wreak violence and evil on innocent people.

I could not think of a better place to discuss this topic than here at John Jay. For decades you have trained many of New York’s leaders in law enforcement and public service, including many who are working right now around the clock to keep our cities safe and secure during this anniversary weekend. And as President Travis has reminded us, ten years ago, John Jay lost more students and alumni, many of them first responders, than any other educational institution in the country. And you became one of the few institutions to offer a master’s program in the study of terrorism. Because as John Jay has recognized, the way we understand the meaning of that terrible day, which brought out the best of humanity alongside the worst, will help determine how we meet the continuing challenge of terrorism, which remains an urgent question not only for the United States, but indeed for the world.

This memorial, which is fashioned from steel salvaged from the north tower will serve as a reminder here at John Jay of what this city and our country went through not only on 9/11 with the memories of the twisted girders and the shattered beams looming above the pile, not only the faces and images of firefighters and police officers and construction workers and volunteers who responded immediately and who stayed to dig through the rubble, but it will also remind us of the resilience of our city and our country and the fortitude that we have shown in picking ourselves up, going on with our lives, and dealing with the serious questions we face.

When I first visited Ground Zero on September 12th with Senator Schumer and Mayor Giuliani and Governor Pataki, the air was thick, and many of us wore masks that were meant to protect us who were only there for a matter of hours from what was in the air. But as I watched the firefighters emerging from the – behind the curtain of darkness, the soot that covered them, they weren’t wearing masks; they were focused on the job in front of them. When I returned a week later, the rescuers were still there. It was raining that day, but they hadn’t stopped. They stayed right there looking for their comrades, looking for the hundreds of others whom they never had known in life but would try to recover in death.

At a family assistance center on Pier 94, I began to meet with and work with families who were cradling photos of their missing loved ones. There are some wounds that never fully heal that we all live with for the rest of our lives, and there are those who have shown how strong they have been in the face of their pain and their loss and have moved forward to lead with new purpose to help build a better future.

There were not very many survivors, as you remember, but I tried to meet with them. I remember visiting one at St. Vincent’s who had been so profoundly injured by a part of the airplane falling on her. I remember going to the rehabilitation center up in Westchester where a number of the burn victims had been moved. I was very honored to work with these survivors, one of whom, Lauren Manning, has been very much front and center in my mind because of the book that she has just published, and her husband Greg, who is with us. Although she was badly burned, through fierce willpower and character, she fought her way back and reclaimed her life. And now she and Greg have two wonderful young sons. In her book, Lauren writes that we may all, in fact, we all will be touched by adversity as we go on our life’s journey, but we can refuse to be trapped by it.

And that is what emerged so powerfully on September 11th and all the days that followed – compassion, courage, and character as strong as one can imagine and even stronger than the steel that were in the towers. We learned something about what makes this city great and what makes this country exceptional.

New Yorkers worked hard to sustain that spirit. Sally Regenhard went to work to make sure that her son Christian would be remembered and that his death would lead to changes in the way that we build skyscrapers, and the Christian Regenhard Center for Emergency Response Studies is here at John Jay. Jay Winuk and David Paine, in memory of Jay’s brother, began My Good Deed. And now hundreds of thousands of Americans and people around the world are trying to channel their remembrance into positive acts on behalf of others. Dr. David Prezant and Dr. Kerry Kelly from the fire department immediately understood what was necessary to track the health of our firefighters and began to compile the most extraordinary record of what happened to those who were there every day and the price that they paid, even though they would not take back a second of what they did.

So we have some examples of those who have helped us make sense of what is almost beyond understanding. And New Yorkers worked hard to sustain that spirit as the days turned into months and then years. The young man who was my press secretary at the time, after going down to Ground Zero with me, going to meet family members, volunteered for the military. Thousands signed up for the fire and police departments, and we did come together to help those who grew sick as a result of their time at Ground Zero. And this week, a new medical study has documented the high rates of cancer among New York firefighters exposed there. So the work is not done. We still have heroes to honor, friends to care for, family to love. And there is also other unfinished business for us as a nation.

On that day, Americans pledged to do everything in our power to prevent another attack and to defeat the terrorists responsible. As a senator from New York, I stood with the 9/11 families who called for a commission to investigate the attacks and recommend reforms. Then we worked together to begin implementing them.

Ten years later, we have made important strides. Our government is better organized. Our defenses are safer than on 9/11. But we still face real threats, as we see today, and there is more work to be done. As the members of the 9/11 Commission recently reported, a number of their major recommendations remain unfulfilled. For example, much-needed radio frequencies have not yet been allotted to first responders to allow them to communicate effectively in a crisis – an issue that I worked on for years in the Senate and is long overdue for completion.

As President Obama has said over the last decade, our government also sometimes went off course, failed to live up to our own values, but we never lost sight of our mission, and we set aside those detours to stay focused, and we made progress. As we move forward, we are determined not to let the specter of terrorism darken the national character that has always been America’s greatest asset.

The United States has thrived as an open society, a principled nation, and a global leader. And we cannot and will not live in fear, sacrifice our values, or pull back from the world. Closing our borders, for example, might keep out some who would do us harm, but it would also deprive us entrepreneurs, ideas, and energy, things that help define who we are as a nation, and ensure our global leadership for years to come.

Before 9/11, the commission found that America did not adapt quickly enough to new and different kinds of threats, and it is imperative that we not make that mistake again. It is also imperative that we adapt just as quickly to new kinds of opportunities, that we not be paralyzed or preoccupied by the threats we face, that we not squander our strengths.

So we keep our focus not only on what we are fighting against – on the terrorist networks that attacked us that day and continue to threaten us – but also on what we are fighting for – for our values of tolerance and equality and opportunity, for universal rights and the rule of law, for the opportunity of children everywhere to live up to their God-given potential. That’s a fight we can be confident of and a mission we can be proud of. So today, after a decade of learning the lessons of 9/11, let’s take stock of where we stand and where we need to go as a nation.

We find ourselves in a moment of historic change and opportunity. The war in Iraq is winding down. The war in Afghanistan has entered a transition phase. Millions of people are pushing their nations to move away from repression that has long fueled resentment and extremism. They are embracing universal human rights and dignity. And this has discredited the extremist argument that only violence can bring about change. Against this backdrop, the death of Usama bin Ladin has put al-Qaida on the path to defeat. And as President Obama has pledged, we will not relent until that job is done.

Earlier this summer, the Administration released its National Strategy for Counterterrorism. It makes very clear we face both a short-term and a long-term challenge. First, to keep up the pressure on al-Qaida and its network. Second, to face down the murderous ideology that fueled bin Ladin’s rise and that continues to incite violence around the world. To meet these challenges, our methods must match this unique moment. And we need to apply hard-learned lessons.

We have seen that precise and persistent force can significantly degrade even an enemy as elusive as al-Qaida. So we will continue to go after its leaders and commanders, disrupt their operations and bring them to justice.

But we’ve also learned that to truly defeat a terror network, we need to attack its finances, recruitment, and safe havens. We need to take on its ideology, counter its propaganda, and diminish its appeal, so that every community recognizes the threat that extremists pose to them and they then deny them protection and support. And we need effective international partners in government and civil society who can extend this effort to all the places where terrorists operate.

To achieve these ends requires smart power, a strategy that integrates all our foreign policy tools – diplomacy and development hand-in-hand with defense – and that advances our values and the rule of law. We are waging a broad, sustained, and relentless campaign that harnesses every element of American power against terrorism. And even as we remain tightly focused on the terrorist network that attacked us 10 years ago, we’re also thinking about the next 10 years and beyond, about the next threats, about that long-term ideological challenge that requires us to dig deeply into and rely upon our most cherished values.

I want to speak briefly about these elements of our strategy. First, the operational side: You all know about the bin Ladin raid. It was 10 years in coming. It was a great tribute to the thousands of Americans and others around the world who worked with us. The United States has made great strides over the past decade in capturing or killing terrorists and disrupting cells and conspiracies. In line with the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, we’ve broken down bureaucratic walls so we can act on threats quickly and effectively. We’ve also taken steps to protect against new cyber dangers and to prevent terrorists from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. That remains the gravest threat facing our country and the world. I will not go through all of our actions on this front.

We have talked about the necessity of bringing the world together around a common cause of preventing the proliferation of nuclear material into the hands of extremists. And President Obama held the first-ever Nuclear Security Summit to try to enlist leaders from across the world for this common goal. As we pursue our campaign on these various fronts, we will always maintain our right to use force against groups such as al-Qaida that have attacked us and still threaten us with imminent violence. In doing so, we will stay true to our values and respect the rule of law, including international law principles guiding the use of force in self-defense, respect for the sovereignty of other states, and the laws of armed conflict.

When we capture al-Qaida members, we detain them humanely and consistent with international standards. And when we do strike, we seek to protect innocent civilians from harm. Terrorists, of course, do exactly the opposite. And just as we will not shy away from using military force as needed, we will also use the full range of law enforcement tools. Those who argued in the past that the fight against terrorism was a military matter and not appropriate for law enforcement posed a false choice. It is and it must be both. Look at the superb work that the New York Police Department has done to keep this city safe over the last 10 years and the work they are doing again today.

This also means putting terrorists on trial in civilian courts, which have time and again shown their effectiveness at convicting terrorists, including many right here in New York, without endangering our local population. And we will use, where appropriate, reformed military commissions, because a lawful system that makes use of both civilian courts and reformed military commissions sends an important message to the world that the rule of law plays an essential role in confronting terrorism, and that it works.

In fact, the AP just did a recent study that there have been 120,000 arrests around the world in the last 10 years of terrorists, and 35,000 convictions. Thanks to our military intelligence and law enforcement efforts over the last decade, al-Qaida’s leadership ranks have been devastated. Virtually every major affiliate has lost key operatives, including al-Qaida’s number two just this last month.

But we must be clear about the threat that remains. Cities such as London and Lahore, Madrid, and Mumbai have been attacked since 9/11. Recently, Abuja was added to this list. Thousands of innocent people, the majority of whom are Muslims, have been killed. And we know, as we have known for 10 years, that despite our best efforts, there is no such thing as perfect security. So while we have significantly weakened al-Qaida’s core leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan, today we are reminded they can still conduct regional and international attacks and inspire others to do so. And the threat has become more geographically diverse, with much of al-Qaida’s activity devolving to its affiliates around the world. I have long described al-Qaida as a syndicate of terror, not a monolith, and this is becoming truer every day.

For example, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula is reaching far beyond its base in Yemen and seeking to carry out attacks like its attempts to bring down cargo and passenger planes bound for the United States. Other extremist groups in the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan not only continue to protect al-Qaida’s remaining leadership; they are plotting attacks like the failed Times Square bombing. And from Somalia, al-Shabaab is looking to carry out more strikes like last July’s suicide bombings that killed 76 people in Uganda during the World Cup.

So even as we mark the progress we have achieved, which has been substantial since 9/11, we cannot afford to ignore these continuing dangers. We need to take a smart and strategic approach that recognizes that violent extremism is bound up with nearly all of today’s other complex global problems. It can take root in zones of crisis and poverty, flourish under repression and in the absence of the rule of law, spark hatreds among communities that have lived side by side for generations, and exploit conflict within and between states.

These are all challenges that we face in the 21st century, and they demand global cooperation and, first and foremost, American leadership. So just as counterterrorism cannot be the sole focus of our foreign policy, it does not make sense to view counterterrorism in a vacuum. It must be integrated into our broader diplomatic and development agendas. And we should appreciate that while working to resolve conflicts, reduce poverty, and improve governance, those are valuable ends in themselves, but they also advance the cause of counterterrorism and national security. That is why I have more fully integrated the State Department and USAID into the fight.

We have emphasized innovation. For example, we are now using sophisticated new biometric screening tools to improve border security and the visa process, including electronic fingerprints, facial recognition, and on an experimental basis even iris scans.

We have renewed our alliances and forged new counterterrorism partnerships. Together, we are using all the tools in our arsenal to go after the support structure of al-Qaida, including finances, ideology, recruits, and safe havens.

This is not easy, of course, and we are clear-eyed about how much we can accomplish and how fast. But we will not stop until we do everything possible to prevent recruits and illegal transactions. And we will certainly not solve all the problems of every failed state, nor should we try. But we can make it harder for al-Qaida to fill its ranks and its coffers while ramping up pressure from new and more effective partners.

Let’s look at finances, because we know illicit cash pays for terrorist training camps, propaganda, and operations. So cutting off the money is essential. It’s a step toward shutting down the network itself. That’s why the United States worked with scores of countries to put in place tough new legislation and help many of them disrupt illicit financial networks. Because of the successes that we’ve had in this area, terrorists are moving out of the formal financial system and increasingly funding their operations through criminal activity, especially kidnapping for ransom. Many of those ransoms have been paid by governments, which only encourages more kidnapping and undermines our counterterrorism efforts. So we are urging our partners around the world to embrace a no-concessions policy.

Even more than the money, what sustains al-Qaida and its affiliates is the steady flow of new recruits. They replace the terrorists we kill or capture, and they plan new attacks. Over the last 10 years, we’ve learned about how al-Qaida and its affiliates find these new members, about the process of radicalization, and the community dynamics that offer them support and protection. Slowing recruitment is a difficult task, but it begins by undermining extremist appeal. And it continues with highly targeted interventions in recruiting hot spots. That’s one reason why the Administration has worked from its first days in office to restore our standing in the world, to bring our policies in line with our principles. This is not about winning a popularity contest. It’s a simple fact that achieving our objectives is easier with more friends and fewer enemies.

One of the first things I did after arriving at the State Department was to appoint a special representative to Muslim communities around the world and to step up our engagement in the most crucial media spaces. We put our people – especially Arabic, Urdu, Dari speakers – on key channels like Al Jazeera and others to explain U.S. policies and counter at least some of the widespread misinformation out there. There was this idea that it was – it would be a waste of our time to go on channels and go onto websites to refute and rebut what was being said, but we’re in a fight, and I’m not going to let people say things about us that are not true. If they want to say things about us that are true, we’ll explain that. But to make up stuff, to be accusing us of things that are totally outlandish and outrageous, was just unacceptable. You’re the only way we will get into the conversation where it matters most, and we have to show up. I sometimes get asked by members of Congress: I saw an American diplomat on X, Y, or Z; why? It’s because that’s where people are. That’s where we need to be. I make no apologies for that.

It is with this in mind that we developed and launched the new Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, which is tightly focused on undermining the terrorist propaganda and dissuading potential recruits. The center is housed at the State Department, but is a true whole-of-government endeavor. It has a mandate from the President. And as part of this effort, a group of tech savvy specialists – fluent in Urdu and Arabic – that we call the digital outreach team are contesting online space, media websites and forums where extremists have long spread propaganda and recruited followers. With timely posts, often of independent news reports, this team is working to expose al-Qaida’s and extremists’ contradictions and abuses, including its continuing brutal attacks on Muslim civilians. This effort is still small, but it is now growing.

Take, for example, a short video clip that the team put together earlier this year. First, we hear a recording of al-Qaida’s new leader, Zawahiri, claiming that peaceful action will never bring about change in the Middle East. Then we see footage of protests and celebrations in Egypt. The team posted this video on popular websites and stirred up a flurry of responses. Like “Zawahiri has no business with Egypt; we will solve our problems ourselves,” wrote one commentator on the website Egypt Forum. Another on Facebook said those are people no one listens to anymore. Now, we won’t change every mind with these tactics, but we know from extremists in our own country that they are recruited by and influenced by websites. So we’re going to do everything we can to be in that fight for their minds and their hearts, and we are ratcheting up the pressure.

Now, this playbook is still being written. But the more we learn about al-Qaida’s structure and methods, the more we have homed in on a number of specific recruiting hotspots, not just online but particular neighborhoods, villages, prisons, and schools. We have found that recruits tend to come in clusters, influenced by family and social networks. By focusing on these hotspots in cooperation with our partners, we can begin to disrupt the recruiting chain.

There is no silver bullet, to be sure, but the United States, especially USAID, has long experience with development projects that actually improve people’s lives, create new economic opportunities, increase confidence in local communities. We have seen around the world, including in certain areas of Pakistan and Yemen, that this kind of work can begin diminishing the appeal of extremism.

This is a job that calls for a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. So we are pursuing micro-strategies that include credible local leaders and are driven by local needs and informed by local knowledge. For example, in the triangle between Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia where famine and conflict have opened the door to extremists, we are exploring a new partnership with the Kenya Muslim Youth Association. They will organize small learning circles around mainstream religious scholars, who will help provide counseling to young people who have been radicalized. This is a small project, one of many we’re doing, but it’s taking on a big challenge, and it’s a start, and we will keep learning and adapting and keep convincing others to join with us.

Civil society and the private sector have important roles to play. Groups such as Sisters Against Violent Extremism, a group of women in 17 countries around the world who have risked their lives to tell terrorists that they are not welcome in their communities. They have written newspaper articles in Yemen, held workshops for young people in Indonesia, brought Indian and Pakistani women together to show a united front. These women know they will not stop extremism everywhere, but they refuse to sit on the sidelines. Local authorities and civil society often are better positioned than we are to provide services to their people, disrupt plots, and prosecute extremists, and they often bear the brunt of terrorist attacks.

Especially as a threat from al-Qaida becomes more diffuse, it is in the interest of the United States to forge closer ties with the governments and communities on the front lines and to help them build up their counterterrorism capacity. We need to expand our efforts to build an international counterterrorism network that is as nimble and adaptive as our adversaries’. So we have launched a diplomatic offensive to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation on counterterrorism. We have a broad and ambitious agenda, and to carry out this work, I am upgrading our office devoted to counterterrorism to a full-fledged bureau within the State Department.

Last year the State Department trained nearly 7,000 law enforcement and counterterrorism officials from more than 60 countries. Working with the United Nations and other multilateral organizations, we have supported capacity building in Yemen, Pakistan, and other frontline states. Indonesia offers a good example of how this kind of partnership can pay off. When Jakarta decided to form an elite counterterrorism unit, the State Department provided training and equipment. Experts from the FBI and the Department of Justice shared their experience with police and prosecutors.

Indonesia’s invigorated law enforcement effort has disrupted plots, tracked down, arrested, and in some cases, killed al-Qaida-affiliated terrorist leaders, including some of those responsible for the Bali bombing. And Indonesian prosecutors and courts have successfully tried and convicted hundreds of terrorists. We need to expand this cooperation worldwide. As the foreign minister of the UAE wrote yesterday, we need a comprehensive global mission to eradicate terrorism and violent extremism.

But until now, there’s been no dedicated international venue to regularly convene key counterterrorism policy makers and practitioners from around the world. So later this month, we will take another significant step forward by establishing a new global counterterrorism forum. We’re bringing together traditional allies, emerging powers, and Muslim-majority countries around a shared counterterrorism mission in a way that’s never been done before. Turkey and the United States will serve as founding co-chairs and we will be joined by nearly 30 other nations. Together, we will work to identify threats and weaknesses, devise solutions, mobilize resources, share expertise and best practices.

This will improve international coordination, but it will also help countries address terrorist threats within their own borders and regions. We will work to eliminate safe havens and identify the most effective messages to counter violence extremism. The forum will assist countries that are transitioning from authoritarian rule to democracy and the rule of law. It will provide support as they write new counterterrorism legislation and train police, prosecutors, and judges to apply the laws in keeping with universal human rights.

So as we deepen our bilateral and multilateral counterterrorism relationships, the United States has clear expectations for our partners. In some cases, by necessity, we are working with nations with whom we have very little in common except for our desire to defeat al-Qaida and terrorism. We make it a point to underscore our concerns about upholding universal rights. We demonstrate through our own example the effectiveness of doing so.

Unfortunately, some countries, even some friends, allow their territory to remain relatively permissive operating environments for terrorist financiers and facilitators. And yet some who undermine our work by fomenting anti-Western sentiment and exporting extremist ideologies to other Muslim communities even as they try to battle terrorists in their own country. Funding madrassas that preach violence and recruit terrorists, distributing textbooks that teach hate, will only accelerate the growth of extremism. This is like planting weeds in your garden and then acting surprised when they choke the flowers. It is counter-productive and ultimately self-defeating, and we will continue to argue against such practices in public and private. We will work with others to extend the success we have had in disrupting the financing of terrorism and will do all I can to try to make sure that more and more countries join this fight.

So all the efforts I have described – the pressure on al-Qaida’s leaders, the campaign to deny it funding, recruits, and safe havens, the diplomatic effort to build local capacity and international cooperation – they have put al-Qaida on the defensive. But as important – in fact, even more important, I would argue – has been the blow delivered by the people themselves of the Middle East and North Africa. People across the region are charting a different course than the one that bin Ladin claimed was the only way forward. There is no better rebuke to al-Qaida and its hateful ideology. They are increasingly irrelevant in a region now more concerned with forming political parties than hearing another extremist rant.

It is true that the future is uncertain and it’s still possibly going to be exploited by extremists. Security forces are distracted and disorganized. Weapons are missing. We know from experience that democratic transitions can be hijacked by new autocrats or derailed by sectarians. How this moment plays out, and what happens in these transitions, will have profound consequences for our long-term struggle against violent extremism.

But we believe that democracies are better equipped than autocracies to stand up against terrorism for the long term. They offer constructive outlets for political grievances, they create opportunities for upward mobility and prosperity that are clear alternatives to violent extremism, and they tend to have, over time, more effective governing institutions. So it is very much in the interest of the United States to support the development of strong and stable democracies in the region. That is what we are doing, and we are trying to assist both the people and the transitional governments to create economic opportunity and embrace the rule of law.

And it is equally important that the United States continues to live up to our own best values and traditions. The people of these nations are looking at us with fresh eyes, and we need to make sure they see us as a source of opportunity and hope, as a partner, not an adversary.

So as we stand here on the brink of the anniversary of 9/11, we can remember how the world rallied around us in our very difficult time. And we can recall that many were long accustomed to distrusting us, but they reacted on a human level to such an unimaginable crime. We came together as a nation, with a sense of purpose and unity. There were no lines dividing us. We celebrated our diversity – including the many contributions of Muslim Americans – and we showed deep compassion that has always been at the core of the American character.

Today the world is watching us again and seeing whether we will summon up that spirit, that core American spirit, to meet the many challenges that face us here at home and around the world. I am honored to represent our country in every place on the globe. America is exceptional. We are exceptional for our creativity and our openness. We draw people from everywhere. We are exceptional for our unwavering commitment to secure a more just and peaceful world, for our willingness, especially when it matters most, to put the common good ahead of ideology, party, or personal interest.

American leadership is still revered and required. And when old adversaries need an honest broker or fundamental freedoms need a champion, the international community looks to us. When a famine threatens the lives of millions in East Africa or floods sweep across Pakistan, people look to America. They see what we sometimes miss amid all the noise coming out of Washington: America is and remains a beacon of freedom, a guarantor of global security, a true opportunity society, a place to excel, a country of possibility where ideas hatched in a college dorm room can grow into a multibillion dollar business.

The source of our greatness is more durable than many people seem to realize. Yes, our military is by far the strongest and our economy is by far the largest. Our workers are the most productive. Our universities, like this one, are the gold standard. Our values are solid. But we have real challenges, and we have to step up and deal with them. But there should be no doubt that America has the capacity to grow our economy, solve our problems, and renew our global leadership.

Ultimately, this doesn’t rest on the shoulders of a president or a secretary of state alone. It rests on the shoulders of the American people. We have to be ready to recapture that spirit of service and solidarity and to find the common ground that unites us as Americans. We have to be ready to recommit to the project of building our country together. I think we’re prepared to believe that we have no limits to what we can achieve if we do just that. I believe we’re ready.

But I also know that if we want to be the country that we believe in, that we find to be so attractive and aspirational, then we have to accept responsibility and we have to be ready, because more than the daring night raids or the successful prosecutions or the persistent diplomacy or the targeted development, what will keep us safe and keep us strong and keep us great is each of us signing on to be part of that American future.

Thank you all very much.


Spokesperson Nuland on Escalating Violence in Blue Nile State of Sudan

The United States is deeply concerned about the fighting that broke out September 1 between the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the forces of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army-North (SPLM/A-N) in Blue Nile State in Sudan, as well as the ongoing troop mobilization on both sides. We call on both parties to cease hostilities and for the SAF to end aerial bombings. We also call on both parties to protect civilians and engage in dialogue to prevent further escalation of violence.

These clashes in Blue Nile follow fighting that has been ongoing since June 5 between the SAF and SPLM/A-North in Southern Kordofan, about which we also remain deeply concerned. The United States continues to call on both sides to allow unfettered humanitarian access and human rights monitoring of affected populations in Southern Kordofan, as well as Blue Nile.

The spread of fighting into Blue Nile further highlights the urgent need for negotiations between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North to reach a political settlement that brings peace and stability to Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile. In this regard we are particularly disappointed that there has been no follow through after the meeting between President Bashir and SPLM/N Chairman Malik Agar in Khartoum on August 21. We also reiterate the need for a peaceful relationship between Sudan and South Sudan and for resolution of outstanding issues between the two countries.


Ambassador Donahoe Says HRC Vote Shows Growing Consensus that Assad has Lost Legitimacy to Govern

The passage today of the Human Rights Council resolution on the Human Rights Situation in Syria sends several important messages:

Ambassador Donahoe speaks with journatlists after Adoption of HRC Resolution on Syria. Photo by U.S. Mission Geneva.

Ambassador Donahoe speaks with journatlists after Adoption of HRC Resolution on Syria. Photo by U.S. Mission Geneva.

First, there is a very strong and growing consensus in the international community that Assad has lost legitimacy to govern and must step down.

The outcome manifests the extent to which he is now isolated.

Second, through this resolution, the international community sent a clear message to the Syrian people: We will not stand by silently as innocent civilians and peaceful protesters are slaughtered by security forces. We are working to ramp up pressure on the Syrian authorities to help ensure that the violence ends.

We have not been fooled by empty promises of reform and engagement.

Actions speak louder than words: the continuing atrocities have sent a loud and clear message to us all that Assad’s promises cannot be trusted.

The Commission of Inquiry established by the resolution will ensure that evidence of atrocities will be uncovered and those responsible will be identified and held accountable.

Today’s outcome is a victory for the Syrian people.


Statement by the President on Libya

THE PRESIDENT:  Good afternoon, everybody.  I just completed a call with my National Security Council on the situation in Libya.  And earlier today I spoke to Prime Minister Cameron about the extraordinary events taking place there.

The situation is still very fluid.  There remains a degree of uncertainty and there are still regime elements who pose a threat.  But this much is clear:  The Qaddafi regime is coming to an end, and the future of Libya is in the hands of its people.

In just six months, the 42-year reign of Muammar Qaddafi has unraveled.  Earlier this year, we were inspired by the peaceful protests that broke out across Libya.  This basic and joyful longing for human freedom echoed the voices that we had heard all across the region, from Tunis to Cairo.  In the face of these protests, the Qaddafi regime responded with brutal crackdowns.  Civilians were murdered in the streets.  A campaign of violence was launched against the Libyan people.  Qaddafi threatened to hunt peaceful protestors down like rats.  As his forces advanced across the country, there existed the potential for wholesale massacres of innocent civilians.

In the face of this aggression, the international community took action.  The United States helped shape a U.N. Security Council resolution that mandated the protection of Libyan civilians.  An unprecedented coalition was formed that included the United States, our NATO partners and Arab nations.  And in March, the international community launched a military operation to save lives and stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks.

In the early days of this intervention the United States provided the bulk of the firepower, and then our friends and allies stepped forward.  The Transitional National Council established itself as a credible representative of the Libyan people.  And the United States, together with our European allies and friends across the region, recognized the TNC as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.

Qaddafi was cut off from arms and cash, and his forces were steadily degraded.  From Benghazi to Misrata to the western mountains, the Libyan opposition courageously confronted the regime, and the tide turned in their favor.

Over the last several days, the situation in Libya has reached a tipping point as the opposition increased its coordination from east to west, took town after town, and the people of Tripoli rose up to claim their freedom.

For over four decades, the Libyan people have lived under the rule of a tyrant who denied them their most basic human rights.  Now, the celebrations that we’ve seen in the streets of Libya shows that the pursuit of human dignity is far stronger than any dictator.  I want to emphasize that this is not over yet.  As the regime collapses, there is still fierce fighting in some areas, and we have reports of regime elements threatening to continue fighting.

Although it’s clear that Qaddafi’s rule is over, he still has the opportunity to reduce further bloodshed by explicitly relinquishing power to the people of Libya and calling for those forces that continue to fight to lay down their arms for the sake of Libya.

As we move forward from this pivotal phase, the opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just.  As the leadership of the TNC has made clear, the rights of all Libyans must be respected.  True justice will not come from reprisals and violence; it will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.

In that effort, the United States will be a friend and a partner.  We will join with allies and partners to continue the work of safeguarding the people of Libya.  As remaining regime elements menace parts of the country, I’ve directed my team to be in close contact with NATO as well as the United Nations to determine other steps that we can take.  To deal with the humanitarian impact, we’re working to ensure that critical supplies reach those in need, particularly those who have been wounded.

Secretary Clinton spoke today with her counterparts from leading nations of the coalition on all these matters.  And I’ve directed Ambassador Susan Rice to request that the U.N. Secretary General use next month’s general assembly to support this important transition.

For many months, the TNC has been working with the international community to prepare for a post-Qaddafi Libya.  As those efforts proceed, our diplomats will work with the TNC as they ensure that the institutions of the Libyan state are protected, and we will support them with the assets of the Qaddafi regime that were frozen earlier this year.  Above all, we will call for an inclusive transition that leads to a democratic Libya.

As we move forward, we should also recognize the extraordinary work that has already been done.  To the American people, these events have particular resonance.  Qaddafi’s regime has murdered scores of American citizens in acts of terror in the past.  Today we remember the lives of those who were taken in those acts of terror and stand in solidarity with their families.  We also pay tribute to Admiral Sam Locklear and all of the men and women in uniform who have saved so many lives over the last several months, including our brave pilots that have executed their mission with skill and extraordinary bravery.  And all of this was done without putting a single U.S. troop on the ground.

To our friends and allies, the Libyan intervention demonstrates what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one — although the efforts in Libya are not yet over.  NATO has once more proven that it is the most capable alliance in the world and that its strength comes from both its firepower and the power of our democratic ideals.  And the Arab members of our coalition have stepped up and shown what can be achieved when we act together as equal partners.  Their actions send a powerful message about the unity of our effort and our support for the future of Libya.

Finally, the Libyan people:  Your courage and character have been unbreakable in the face of a tyrant.  An ocean divides us, but we are joined in the basic human longing for freedom, for justice and for dignity.  Your revolution is your own, and your sacrifices have been extraordinary.  Now, the Libya that you deserve is within your reach.  Going forward, we will stay in close coordination with the TNC to support that outcome.  And though there will be huge challenges ahead, the extraordinary events in Libya remind us that fear can give way to hope and that the power of people striving for freedom can bring about a brighter day.

Thank you very much.


Ambassador Donahoe: The Syrian People cannot Wait

Thank you Madame President.

Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe addresses the U.N. Human Rights Council Special Session on Syria, August 22, 2011. State Dept. photo by Eric Bridiers.

Ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe addresses the U.N. Human Rights Council Special Session on Syria, August 22, 2011. State Dept. Photo by Eric Bridiers.

For the second time this year, we join a special session on the human rights situation in Syria to make clear the international community’s grave and growing concerns over the rapidly deteriorating situation there.

We condemn in the strongest terms, the ongoing slaughter and callous brutality unleashed by the Assad regime against the Syrian people.

The Syrian government’s abuses have been condemned by leaders in the region and from every region of the world. Increasingly, the international community is speaking with one voice to denounce the Syrian regime’s horrific violence.

The condemnation from Syria’s neighbors shows that the Assad regime is more isolated than ever.

Our message to the Syrian Government is clear: We will not turn a blind eye as you deliberately and ruthlessly imprison, torture, and kill your own citizens.

To the brave people of Syria who are demanding freedom and dignity, we send the message that the world stands by you, and we will not ignore your plight.

The human rights situation in Syria is extremely grave and deteriorating. The death toll continues to rise. Regime security forces continue to engage in house-to-house raids, mass arrests, and the torture of prisoners. We have heard multiple accounts from human rights groups of the Assad regime’s security forces interrogating and abusing detainees in large facilities such as stadiums and factories. There are also credible reports of detainees being tortured to death and of bodies returned to families bearing signs of torture.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict also reported this week of allegations that children have been tortured by security forces.

The United States deplores Assad’s campaign of ever-increasing brutality and terror against unarmed innocents, which may amount to crimes against humanity. The regime’s horrific actions – the systematic violence, the mass arrests, and the outright murder of civilians – show its disdain for the will of the Syrian people, and for the calls of the Arab League, the Gulf Cooperation Council, regional leaders and the international community to end the violence immediately.

Assad’s chosen course also defies the clear demands contained in the UN Security Council’s Presidential Statement. And the regime’s continued assault on civilians flies in the face of a commendable initiative by the Turkish government, which warned the Assad regime that it must halt its attacks on civilians immediately and unconditionally.

This is not the work of the fictional “armed gangs” invoked by Assad’s propagandists. The regime has made a conscious choice to continue to deploy security forces throughout the country to prevent demonstrations, to attack civilians, and to arrest activists and protesters on a massive scale. The Assad regime has no intention of ceasing its violent attacks against the Syrian people.

We welcome the recent report of the Syria Fact Finding Mission, called for at this Council’s April 29 Special Session. We also welcome the statements made by the Security Council, including the August 3 Presidential Statement. Today we must take firmer actions to halt the ongoing crackdown against the Syrian people. The United States supports the call for an international, transparent, independent and prompt investigation into alleged violations of international human rights law by Syrian authorities. And we will work with our partners so that those responsible for crimes will be held accountable, either through the courts of a democratic Syria or through international processes.

The Syrian people cannot wait. As President Obama said last week, “the time has come for President Assad to step aside… We recognize that it will take time for the Syrian people to achieve the justice they deserve. There will be more struggle and sacrifice. It is clear that President Assad believes that he can silence the voices of his people by resorting to the repressive tactics of the past. But he is wrong…It is time for the Syrian people to determine their own destiny, and we will continue to stand firmly on their side.”

Thank you.


Ambassador Donahoe Speaks out on Syria Ahead of Special Session of HRC

Ambassador Donahoe: We are here today because the Human Rights Council is going to hold an urgent session on the human rights crisis in Syria.  As you know, this is the second time we have been required to hold an exceptional session about the human rights situation in Syria in just the last few months.

Ambassador Donahoe speaks to the media outside the HRC on the situation in Syria. State Department photo by Eric Bridiers.
Ambassador Donahoe speaks to the media outside the HRC on the situation in Syria. State Dept. photo by Eric Bridiers.

I would like to make three quick points.  One is about the human rights situation; second about the emerging international consensus on the loss of legitimacy of the Assad regime; and third, what do we expect as the outcome of today.

On the human rights situation, everyone knows that the human rights crisis has deteriorated significantly in the last few weeks.  The High Commissioner for Human Rights has come out and indicated that there are credible allegations of systematic and widespread human rights violations that may amount to crimes against humanity.

The Special Representative of the Secretary General on Children in Armed Conflict has let us know there are credible allegations of torture of children.

We have credible allegations that Assad has used tanks.  We have documentary evidence that they’ve used tanks, machine guns, grenades and snipers against peaceful protesters, human rights defenders, et cetera.  Innocent civilians are being massacred.

I don’t think there’s any doubt in the mind of anyone that the situation has deteriorated significantly.

Second, we see an emerging consensus in the international community.  There’s growing unity and resolve that Assad must go.  He’s lost the legitimacy to rule the Syrian people.  This special session that we are about to hold was called for by a strong majority of council members, well above the number we needed to call a special session.

Importantly, we have the support of four Arab neighbors of Syria — Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

Secondly, as you all know, the Arab League has spoken out, the OIC has spoken out, the EU has spoken out to get Assad to stop the violence, and our President, President Obama, has asked Assad to step down and allow the Syrian people to move toward a peaceful future.

It is clear that Assad is isolated and I think today’s session will underscore that point.

What do we expect as an outcome?  The purpose of today’s session is to increase pressure on the Assad regime, to get Assad to step down, and to allow the Syrian people to move forward.

The specific outcome we hope for is the establishment of a Commission of Inquiry (COI) to investigate facts on the ground in Syria and to bring the Syrian authorities who are responsible for the atrocities to account.

We believe the establishment of a COI is the gold standard in the human rights world and we think this will send a strong message to the Assad regime that the allegations against them are very serious.

With that, I’ll take a couple of questions.

Question: I’d like to have your reaction on what is happening [in Libya] yesterday and if it will reflect on this session today on Syria.

Ambassador Donahoe: The first comment is that every situation is different, and I do not want to draw direct conclusions about the situation in Syria from what has happened in Libya.

That said, I will say the indications overnight are somewhat hopeful about the situation in Libya.  President Obama has recognized the TNC (Transitional National Council) as the legitimate authority in Libya.  He has expressed hope that the TNC will continue to demonstrate leadership in moving the Libyan people to a democratic future.

Last, I will say, I have to comment that we did in February of this year hold a comparable special session on the crisis in Libya where we also established a Commission of Inquiry, and that Commission of Inquiry was able to enter Libya and to document atrocities by the Gadhafi regime.  So in that sense it is relevant.

Question: What about the latest developments, your commentary about the latest developments of the situation in Libya with Gadhafi that is practically unchaining his tanks against Tripoli population?

Ambassador Donahoe: Could you repeat that question?

Question: What is your commentary about the latest developments of the situation in Libya, because Gadhafi is probably going down, but now is unchaining his tanks against the population as many agencies reported.

Ambassador Donahoe: First off the facts on the ground in Libya are changing moment by moment and I do not want to get ahead of the story.  The indications we have are that there is the prospect that it’s moving in a positive direction.  However, Gadhafi has made manifest his brutality against his people for the last number of months, so we cannot let our guard down and assume that that’s over.

Question: Does the U.S. support the call for the Security Council on Syria, the Security Council to seize the ICC, to refer the matter of Syria to the ICC?

Ambassador Donahoe: First off, the United States absolutely supports accountability for the Syrian atrocities against the Syrian people.  That’s the first thing.  We would support either having that accountability take place in institutions in a new democratic Syria if possible, or in the appropriate international bodies.

I will say that today at the Human Rights Council we are not authorized to call for a move to the ICC.  However, as it moves to the Security Council I am sure that everyone will take up the allegations very seriously.

Thank you.


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