U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following statement regarding the end of the Qadaffi regime in Libya:
"The end of the Qadaffi regime in Libya is a victory for the Libyan people and for the broader cause of freedom in the Middle East and throughout the world. This achievement was made possible first and foremost by the struggle and sacrifice of countless Libyans, whose courage and perseverance we applaud. We also commend our British, French, and other allies, as well as our Arab partners, especially Qatar and the UAE, for their leadership in this conflict. Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Qaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.
"The uprising in Libya was inspired by the peaceful protest movements that succeeded in toppling long-ruling autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year. But while Presidents Mubarak and Ben Ali left office quickly, Qaddafi adopted a radically different approach -- attempting to preserve his regime by unleashing the most brutal possible violence. Qaddafi's fall should now send a clear message to dictators throughout the region and beyond that this strategy will fail. In particular, that is a lesson for Bashar al Assad, and we are confident that his regime will soon join Qaddafi's on the ash heap of history.
"We also recognize that, while Qaddafi is gone, much of the hard work of consolidating a real and sustainable transition to democracy in Libya still lies ahead. The Libyan people have won their freedom, but now they must build the durable institutions necessary to keep it, including a transparent and inclusive political process, a free and independent media, an impartial system of justice and the rule of law, a free economy, and unified, professionalized security forces that answer to civilian authority. In addition, it will be essential in the days ahead for Libyan authorities to do everything necessary to prevent acts of revenge or retribution, and to begin the difficult but vital process of national reconciliation.
"While Libya's future will of course be made by the Libyan people themselves, the United States must lead the international community to provide the support that our Libyan friends need. We must remain engaged with the Transitional National Council and move expeditiously to release the assets of the Qaddafi regime so they can be used for the benefit of the Libyan people and the reconstruction of the country. The community of democratic nations must also provide technical advice and assistance, as requested by the Transitional National Council, to help Libya organize free and fair nationwide elections and to begin the process of drafting a new democratic constitution that protects the rights of all Libyans. These will be indispensible steps in Libya's transition to democracy.
"Ultimately, our intervention in Libya will be judged a success or failure based not on the collapse of the Qaddafi regime, but on the political order that emerges in its place. Today marks a big step forward for the Libyan people towards freedom and democracy. As they continue on this journey, America must continue to stand with them."