Sen. Joe Lieberman issued the following statement tonight on the developments in Libya:
“The liberation of Tripoli that is at last happening now marks a historic turning point in the Arab Spring and a victory for the advance of freedom globally. For the first time, a Middle Eastern dictator who tried to hang onto power by unleashing the most brutal possible violence is being deposed by his own people. The collapse of the Qaddafi regime thus sends a clear message to other autocratic regimes throughout the region — from Damascus to Teheran — that their day of reckoning too shall come.
“The liberation of Libya is an achievement that belongs first and foremost to the Libyan people, whose bravery and determination has forever changed the course of their history, and ours. This is also a victory for the United States and our NATO allies, whose use of military force stopped Qaddafi when he was on the brink of slaughtering his own people and empowered them to secure their destiny for themselves. America should be proud of the role we have played.
“While we join the Libyan people in celebrating this moment, we also know from history that the fall of a dictator does not guarantee the emergence of a successful, stable democracy in its wake. We also know that decisions and actions made in the immediate days and weeks ahead will carry consequences for years to come. For this reason, it is critical for the U.S. to redouble our assistance to and coordination with the Transitional National Council.
“In particular, we must support the new Libyan authorities to ensure they are able to prevent acts of retribution, initiate a credible process of national reconciliation, secure weapons depots and critical infrastructure, protect vulnerable populations, establish security and rule of law in Tripoli and throughout Libya, and begin the broadest possible outreach across Libyan society for an inclusive and transparent political transition. I am encouraged by the statements of Council leaders in recent days, instructing their forces to treat captured Qaddafi forces in accordance with the Geneva Conventions and pledging to protect the rights of all people in a post-Qaddafi Libya. These are precisely the right messages and reinforce the confidence of the international community in the TNC.
“Although I am optimistic that the Libyans will be able to shoulder the bulk of the transition to democracy on their own, I also hope that the U.S. and its allies will make available any and all assistance they request, including a civilian international monitoring mission.
“Qaddafi and his remaining loyalists also have a choice now. Rather than inflicting further pointless bloodshed and suffering, it is time for them to accept the will of the Libyan people and give up peacefully, before it is too late. There should be no doubt, anyone who persists in pursuing violence will be defeated.
“The liberation of Tripoli is a great step forward on the long and difficult path of the Libyan people to freedom. We recognize that journey is still far from complete, and that there are still many perils and pitfalls ahead. But as long as the Libyan people continue on this path, they should know that America will stay by their side as a friend and ally.”