Obama calls Libya his ‘worst mistake’

  • HT Correspondent, Washington
  • Updated: Apr 12, 2016 10:32 IST
US President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the economy in the White House press briefing room in Washington. (REUTERS)

US President Barack Obama has said that not planning for the aftermath of the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammer Gaddafi was his worst mistake in office.

The chaos that followed Gaddafi’s exit in 2011 led to the killing of four Americans at their diplomatic mission in Benghazi, including ambassador Christopher Stevens, in 2012.

“Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya,” Obama told Fox News on Sunday, when asked about his worst mistake as president.

This is not the first time Obama has spoken of his disappointment over Libya, the chaos that followed US-led intervention. He called it a “mess” in an earlier interview.

The handling of the Libyan situation, particularly the Benghazi attacks by terrorists in September 2012, continues to haunt his administration and then secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

Clinton, who is now running for the White House, continues to face allegations, not supported by facts, from critics and rivals of not doing enough to protect the Benghazi mission.

After Gaddafi’s exit and his death at the hands of a lynch mob while in hiding, Libya fell into utter chaos, with groups of militants taking control of various parts of the country.

A parliament was elected in 2012, and a new prime minister. Elections were held for a new parliament in 2014, but elements from the previous legislature refused to leave. As a result, Libya now has two parliaments and two governments. Efforts have been continuing, under the aegis of the United Nations, to reconcile the governments and form a national unity government.

In the same interview, when asked above about his biggest achievement, Obama said, “Saving the economy from a great depression (that started a year before he took office).” His best day in White House? The day he signed the Affordable Care Act into law, a campaign promise that seeks to overhaul the country’s health insurance system, extending coverage to all. And his worst day? “The day we traveled up to Newtown after Sandy Hook,” Obama said, referring to the massacre of 20 first-graders and six adults at Sandy Hook school in 2012.

arack Obama says the biggest mistake of his presidency was the lack of planning for the aftermath of the fall of late Libyan leader Muammmer Gaddafi, with the country spiraling into chaos and grappling with violent extremists.

Reflecting on his legacy in a Fox News interview aired Sunday, Obama said his “worst mistake” was “probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”

Last month, Obama made a searing critique of British Prime Minister David Cameron and former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy for their roles in the bombing campaign they led in Libya.

Cameron became “distracted” and Sarkozy wanted to promote his country during the 2011 NATO-led military intervention, Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic magazine.

Since the downfall of Gaddafi, who was killed in a popular uprising, Libya descended into near-anarchy, ruled by rival militias vying for power while the Islamic State group has gained influence in the country.

The head of a UN-backed unity government arrived earlier this month in Tripoli to begin garnering support for his government.

Obama also reflected on some of the best moments of his tenure as president -- due to end in January -- in the Fox News interview.

“Saving the economy from a great depression” was his biggest accomplishment, he said.

As for the best day in the White House?

“The day that we passed health care reform,” Obama said.

“We sat out on the Truman Balcony with all the staff that had worked so hard on it and I knew what it would mean for the families that I’d met who didn’t have health care.”

The president said his worst day in the White House was when he traveled to Newtown, Connecticut, after a gunman shot 20 young children and six adult staff members at an elementary school in December 2012.

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