The Cable

Rubio to Syria’s Bashar al-Assad: You’re next, buddy

The death of Muammar al-Qaddafi today shows what's in store for the leadership of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, which will probably be the next group of tyrants to be thrown out of office and potentially killed, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), told The Cable.

"If you're the leaders of Syria, you're looking at today's events as a preview of what your future may hold," Rubio said in a Thursday interview.

"I believe that dictators in that region are unsustainable," he said. "The Syrian regime is doomed and it's just a matter of time, whether it's weeks, months, or even a year, their position is unsustainable. The people there want a better life. They're tired of living under this ineffective, incompetent, and repressive regime. And so, I think their days are numbered."

He called on the Obama administration to ratchet up the pressure on the Syrian government and redouble its efforts to convince other countries to do the same.

Rubio wasn't ready to endorse the idea of an internationally imposed no-fly zone over Syria, as his colleague, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), did earlier this month in an interview with The Cable.

"There are major differences between Syria and Libya," Rubio said, claiming that the Syrian regime isn't using planes to attack its people and the Syrian opposition hasn't asked for an international military intervention.

"I think it's important that if you're assisting someone that you know who they are and that they are asking for your help," he said.

Earlier on Thursday, Rubio told Fox News that the bulk of the credit for the success of the military effort in Libya belongs to the British and the French, and that if President Barack Obama had acted faster, Qaddafi's death would have come months ago.

"It's the French and the British that led on this fight and probably even led in the strike that led to Qaddafi's capture and death," Rubio said."[President Obama did] the right things but he just took too long to do it and didn't do enough of it."

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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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