The Cable

Libyan Ambassador: NTC will start transition now

Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) will begin its handover of power and set up elections following the death of Muammar al-Qaddafi, the Libyan ambassador to Washington told The Cable.

"That's what they declared before and that's what they have to do now. Now they have to start work for the election and the institution building for the new Libya," said Ambassador Ali Aujali today.

Aujali also outlined the help that Libya was seeking from the U.S. government and the American business community in the wake of Qaddafi's death. The NTC wants U.S. assistance in training its military, protecting its borders, and setting up the foundations of the new government and civil society. He invited American companies to participate in the reconstruction of Libya.

"Qaddafi was the one who was always an issue and an obstacle to a relationship based on confidence and mutual interest," Aujali said.

He specifically called for U.S. medical aid for injured Libyan fighters, a proposal that senators such as John McCain (R-AZ) have also supported.  Medical assistance was part of the $11 million aid package that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced on her visit to Tripoli earlier this week.

(Clinton learned of Qaddafi's death over her Blackberry during a stop in Afghanistan earlier on Thursday.)

Aujali said that Qaddafi was killed by rebel militias and his death was not related to any NATO airstrike missions. He also said that he had heard, but could not independently confirm, that Qaddafi's son Saif al-Islam was dead.

"These types of regimes always end in tragedy," he said.

The Libyan embassy in Washington is tasked with expressing the NTC's gratitude to its American interlocutors for the role the United States played in the months-long struggle against the Qaddafi regime.

"Thanks to the U.S. and NATO and the Arab countries that supported us and came forward to help the Libyan people," Aujali said.

President Barack Obama made brief remarks about Qaddafi's death at the White House this afternoon and called for a quick formation of an interim government and a stable transition to Libya's first free and fair elections.

"You have won your revolution and now we will be a partner as you forge a future that provides dignity, freedom, and opportunity," he said "For the region, today's events prove once more that rule by an iron fist inevitably comes to an end."

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The Cable

Kerry: Qaddafi’s death a victory for Obama

The death of deposed Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi vindicates the Obama administration's multilateral military strategy in Libya, according to Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry (D-MA).

"The United States demonstrated clear-eyed leadership, patience, and foresight by pushing the international community into action after Qaddafi promised a massacre," Kerry said in a statement. "Though the administration was criticized both for moving too quickly and for not moving quickly enough, it is undeniable that the NATO campaign prevented a massacre and contributed mightily to Qaddafi's undoing without deploying boots on the ground or suffering a single American fatality."

Some have argued that the Obama administration was pushed into military intervention in Libya by the international community, led by the French and the British. Regardless, Kerry emphasized that he was one of the voices that supported the intervention.

"This is a victory for multilateralism and successful coalition-building in defiance of those who derided NATO and predicted a very different outcome," he said.

Kerry's statement also referenced his Wall Street Journal op-ed published in March, in which he defended the NATO-led action and made clear that it never had the goal of forcing Qaddafi from power.

"The military intervention was not directly intended to force Qaddafi from power, but the international community will remain united in maintaining diplomatic and economic pressure on a thug who has lost any legitimacy he ever possessed," Kerry wrote at the time.

Kerry's counterpart, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), expressed hope that the new Libyan government's foreign policy would be more Western-leaning.

"If Qaddafi is confirmed dead and his loyalists defeated, it marks a critical moment for the Libyan people to turn their nation away from its grim past as a rogue state and toward a future of freedom marked by alliances with the United States, Israel, European democracies, and other responsible nations," she said in her own statement.

Both Kerry and Ros-Lehtinen urged the National Transitional Council government to adhere to standards of political inclusion, transparency, and move quickly toward establishing a democracy.

 "The Libyan people must seize this opportunity to realize their democratic aspirations and not squander it through factional fighting over the political spoils," Ros-Lehtinen said. "The new leaders must demonstrate a commitment to working with the U.S., and to securing control over dangerous weapons and rooting out extremist groups."