The NATO chief has said he was confident that time was running out for Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, despite the prolonged stalemate between his forces and rebels who seek his ouster.
But Anders Fogh Rasmussen also acknowledged the brutal war that has raged for nearly two months would be resolved politically, not militarily. "The game is over for Gaddafi. He should realise sooner rather than later that there's no future for him or his regime," the NATO secretary-general told CNN's "State of the Union" program yesterday. "We have stopped Gaddafi in his tracks. His time is running out.
He's more and more isolated." Given the "wind of change" sweeping across North Africa and the Middle East, the death of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and the growing pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan, the former Danish prime minister said he was "very optimistic" that Gaddafi would ultimately lose his decades-old grip on power. NATO forces have kept up an air bombing campaign against Libyan military targets since March, but have failed so far to prevent Gaddafi from killing scores of his own people in rebel-held towns and cities -- the stated goal of a UN resolution authorising the allied mission.
"First of all, we have to realise that there is no military solution. We will need a political solution" to break the stalemate, said Rasmussen. But he also recognised it was "hard to imagine the attacks, the outrageous and systematic attacks against Libyan people, will stop as long as Gaddafi remains in power." The United States led the bombing campaign in its first week but has since relinquished lead operational control to the transatlantic military alliance. US President Barack Obama has also called for Gaddafi to relinquish power.