CNN CNN


 

Return to Transcripts main page

CONNECT THE WORLD

International Conference on Libya

Aired March 29, 2011 - 16:00:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CAMERON, BRITAIN PRIME MINISTER: We're all here united in one purpose and that is to help the Libyan people in their hour of need.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BECKY ANDERSON, HOST: As the battle rages for Libya, the world meets to map out its future.

The air strikes continue to rain down, but just what are the allies hoping to achieve?

Could Gadhafi become a target or should he be offered a safe passage out?

And as the world watches all this, will the public patience finally run out?

Tonight, those are the questions we're asking as we connect the world.

Well, welcome to a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson outside Lancaster House in London, where international diplomats spent the day in crisis talks on Libya. We're going to talk to some of the key players tonight to get their sense of what the future holds and whether they're any closer to an end game or exit strategy.

Well, one thing is clear -- they all want Moammar Gadhafi to go.

The question is, how?

Well, Libyan rebels fighting to oust Gadhafi were dealt a setback today, forced to retreat on the road to Tripoli after coming under attack. The battle underscoring the superior firepower of Gadhafi's forces even after coalition air strikes.

Well, conference delegates from more than 40 countries and organizations today agreed those air strikes will continue until Gadhafi complies with a U.N. mandated cease-fire.

But some of the most pressing questions of this conflict remain unanswered tonight -- should Gadhafi himself be targeted?

Should he be allowed into exile and should the allies arm the rebels?

Well, CNN's Atika Shubert was following that for us.

But let's have a listen first to what Hillary Clinton had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: It is our interpretation that 1973 amended or overrode the absolute prohibition of arms to anyone in Libya so that there could be legitimate transfer of arms if a -- a country were to choose to do that.

As I said, we have not made that decision at this time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, the British foreign secretary took a similar line earlier on today, acknowledging the issue had been discussed, but was not - - he said not part of today's agreement.

Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM HAGUE, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: The subject has been raised, of course, by -- by -- by the interim transitional National Council. But it's not part of any agreement today. The United Kingdom takes into account the U.N. Security Council resolutions on this. That -- those resolutions, in our view, apply to the whole of Libya.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right, we're going to do more on what came out of this conference shortly.

First, let's check the latest on the ground in Libya. The battle lines again shifting, after rebels were forced to give up control of Bin Jawad and flee to Ras Lanuf, reversing their charge toward Tripoli.

Well, the opposition now said to hold the yellow shaded area, from Ras Lanuf east toward Egypt, while Gadhafi's regime holds the area in green, from Sirte west to the Tunisian border. Witnesses -- witnesses in Misrata say government forces are continue a fierce assault there. They're describing, quote, "absolute and utter carnage." This amateur video is said to show just some of the recent fighting.

Well, in the capital, meantime, loud explosions we heard during the day for the first time since the coalition bombing campaign began. Let's get there.

Nic Robertson joining us with more from Tripoli -- Nic, what can you tell us at this point?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, those three explosions unusual, because this is the first time we've heard these three -- heard explosions, bombs lending here during daylight hours. They all fell within a minute of each other. The third explosion was the loudest.

We are close to the center of the city here. We could here them clearly. So perhaps they were within two to five miles of where we're located. We don't know what was the target. We don't know what damage was done.

But we do know that just before the air -- just before the bombs fell, we heard aircraft flying quite low over here, coalition aircraft. That is also new. That's the loudest and lowest we've heard them flying here, and, again, flying through daylight hours. So an indication that they feel confident that they can fly relatively safely above this capital -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Nic, stay with me.

I want to bring in a couple of guests at this point and come back to you for your thoughts on what's been achieved today here in London.

Joining me now, Paula Newton, who's been covering this story, of course, for CNN and a regular guest on this show, Fawaz Gerges, from the London School of Economics.

Let me start with you -- Paula.

We heard some of what Hillary Clinton and the foreign secretary, William Hague, had to say today out at this meeting.

Should we consider this meeting here in London a success, would you say?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think it depends what your goals are in Libya, in terms of if you think it was a success. I think the leaders themselves who were here thought it was a success. And the reason is they were able to show that all of them around the table, and that includes some significant elements from the Arab community, were here to say yes, we're on board -- one single message to Gadhafi.

After that, Becky, it's all uncharted territory. We got different views on whether or not to arm the rebels, some different views on what to do with Gadhafi if he leaves Libya, some different views about what to do on the ground and how far to actually negotiate with the rebels.

Still a lot of work to be done here...

Becky.

ANDERSON: Lots of talk here not just about military intervention, of course, about politics and diplomacy, as well. The prime minister, David Cameron, in Britain, saying that he was looking for the maximum political and diplomatic unity from the delegates here.

Did he get that?

FAWAZ GERGES, PROFESSOR, PROFESSOR OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Well, I mean it was a show of unity. The idea was really to show that the international community is united, because, as you well know, in the last few days, there was a great deal of bickering between Turkey and France, between the United States and its European allies.

I think this is -- this is not the real question. The question is, has today's meeting achieved any major concrete results?

Is there an agreement of mind about what to do about Libya and, in particular, concrete steps to deal with the complexity of the situation?

Any political vision, any political horizon to deal with the gravity of the situation in Libya?

I did not hear this particular -- I mean vision today.

ANDERSON: All right.

NEWTON: You know, they made a lot about the fact that the U.N. has assigned an envoy to go to Libya. But still, on a lot of different questions, they have a long way to go. And, you know, they're all talking about, perhaps, trying to find some kind of exile for Gadhafi. Well, the bottom line is, Becky, he says he's not going anywhere and they have not had any substantive talks with anyone in the inner circle.

And all we hear on the ground from Libya is the fact that there seem to be more civilians in jeopardy in more city centers.

ANDERSON: Nic, let me bring you back in at this point.

You've heard what my two guests here, Paula Newton and Fawaz Gerges, had to say.

How will what has happened in London today play out for the Libyan people?

ROBERTSON: Well, I think we're already seeing it play out. I mean even if the meeting in London was going ahead and even as Moammar Gadhafi was mulling over what President Obama had said the night before, he was taking the offensive to the rebels in Misrata and in the east of the country.

So it seems his mind is made up for the time being, at least. He's going to continue the fight. It's not clear where he thinks it will end. He said he wants to reunite the country. That seems like a really vain thought at the moment, that it's very unlikely to happen.

But for the moment, he seems repaired to his fight -- fight. And even his inner circle don't really know what decisions he's going to make. I talked to a very senior diplomat here a couple of days ago who knows Gadhafi well. And he says Gadhafi has made mistakes handling this situation, handling everything that's led up to the current crisis.

But nobody can predict -- even those that know him well can't predict what decisions he's going to make. But one thing seems clear. This is a man who is not going to trust the international community one step. People here tell us the reason for that, since 2003, since sort of coming in from the cold, since getting rid of his weapons of mass destruction, since doing business with the United States, Britain, Italy, France, etc. He thought that he could begin to trust or have a better relationship with the West.

He's realized now that was completely false thinking, if ever he believed it. Certainly now, he would -- he wouldn't before, we're told, that he would be allowed to sort of go and write a new future for himself in some African country in exile. He would fear and believe that he would be chased wherever he went and put on trial in some European court. And that, for him, is obviously a non-starter.

So that's the mind set here at the moment I think that we see -- Becky.

ANDERSON: Yes, interesting.

All right, Nic, thank you for that.

Nic Robertson on the ground in Tripoli.

My guests with me tonight, Paula Newton, CNN correspondent on this story, and Fawaz Gerges, will stay with me, as we move through this hour.

We've got a lot more coming up on this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

Straight ahead, they're taking control of the mission in Libya -- I sat down with the secretary-general of NATO, who told me what the group will do in the days ahead and what it won't.

Then, the most powerful diplomats in the world come together in London. But deep divisions remain about the way forward in Libya.

And later, the mood at home -- we'll gauge the level of support for military action in Europe and beyond.

You're watching CNN.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MARCH 28, 2011)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In this particular country, Libya, at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence, an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, U.S. President Barack Obama speaking on Monday about his decision to use military force in Libya.

Welcome back to a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson coming to you live tonight from Central London, where representatives from the most powerful nations in the world have been meeting in the building behind me to discuss what the future holds for Libya.

Well, as Mr. Obama said, the U.S. is part of a large coalition which has been pounding the military positions of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi for 10 days. That coalition is made up of several European countries, plus the U.S., Canada, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Well, the U.S. has been leading the charge so far, firing nearly 200 Tomahawk missiles into Libya and flying about 1,000 air missions overhead.

But now that NATO is taking over, with the goal of controlling the entire mission by the end of the week, CNN's Diana Magnay reports from Command Center in Naples in Italy.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So far, it's been the U.S. military that's done the bulk of the heavy lifting in Libya, flying more than half the strike missions that have turned Gadhafi's forces in their tracks, firing all but seven of the roughly 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles that have laid waste to his air defense capabilities over the past 11 days.

Throughout, the U.S. commander-in-chief has opted to remain low key about the extent of U.S. leadership, only this Monday explaining this Libyan mission to the American public.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM MARCH 28, 2011)

OBAMA: Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries, the United States of America is different. And as president, I refuse to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAGNAY: But Operation Odyssey Dawn was a coalition of 15 countries, called to arms by France and the UK, some countries launching air strikes against loyalist targets, others limiting their role to implementation of a no-fly zone over Eastern Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP COURTESY BOW TIE TV)

CAMERON: It is, I believe, quite clear that allied operations have had a significant and beneficial effect. We have stopped the assault on Benghazi and helped to create conditions in which a number of towns have been liberated from Gadhafi's onslaught. He can no longer terrorize the Libyan people from the air.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MAGNAY: Now, control and command shifts from the USS Mount Whitney to NATO.

(on camera): Allied Joint Force Command here in Naples is the new heart of the mission. Canadian General Charlie Bouchard its new operational commander, with a host of U.S. and naval assets belonging to member states at his disposal, plus fighter jets from the UAE and Qatar.

(voice-over): NATO has been brief about the nature of its mission.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: Our mandate is very clear. We are there to protect civilians against attacks, no more, no less, and -- and -- and that's -- that will be our focus.

MAGNAY: As the rebels push west, helped by coalition air strikes, NATO's actions will likely speak louder than its words when it shows exactly what civilian protection means on Libya's front lines.

Diana Magnay, CNN, Napes, Italy.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, earlier, I sat down with the secretary-general of NATO to talk more about the mission in Libya.

And I began by asking him when NATO will be completely ready to take full control.

This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RASMUSSEN: We are ready from tomorrow morning, Wednesday morning...

ANDERSON: And what is the mission, as you understand it?

RASMUSSEN: It is to implement fully the U.N. resolution and -- and that is to protect civilians against any attack.

ANDERSON: The Russians have said that intervention in what they see, essentially, as an internal civil war isn't sanctioned by the U.N. resolution. They say, effectively, the international coalition has been acting as the rebels' air force.

Do you agree?

RASMUSSEN: No. NATO is there to implement the U.N. resolution. That is, to protect civilians against any attack. And we stay impartial. The U.N. resolution applies to both sides in this conflict.

ANDERSON: You have said that NATO is there to protect the civilian people, not to arm them, am I correct?

RASMUSSEN: Yes. We participate in the enforcement of an arms embargo that is to prevent an inflow, influx of arms into Libya.

ANDERSON: And yet the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Ambassador Susan Rice, has said that arming the rebels isn't out of the question.

RASMUSSEN: Well, we are enforcing the arms embargo in full compliance with the U.N. Security Council resolution.

ANDERSON: If Gadhafi takes his fight to the cities, how can NATO ensure that the people that they are there to protect won't get hurt?

RASMUSSEN: I know that our commanders will do their utmost to avoid civilian casualties.

ANDERSON: What's the exit strategy here?

RASMUSSEN: Well, at the end of the day, it's -- it's a political question, if you are thinking about the political solution in -- in -- in Libya, as far as NATO is concerned and our operation, it will end when there is no threat against the Libyan population.

ANDERSON: Does that mean NATO won't be arming the rebels, correct?

RASMUSSEN: We are there to enforce an arms embargo.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: All right, the NATO chief speaking to me earlier.

You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, where international allies are meeting in London today.

But how aligned are they?

Divisions remain within the coalition about what they are actually hoping to achieve in Libya.

And Gadhafi in exile -- if that happens, who will take him in?

Those stories and more, up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back to a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD.

I'm Becky Anderson coming to you from London, outside the building where world leaders met today to discuss the crisis in Libya.

Well, you just saw there some images of rebel success. And while it looks like they are united in their goal, it seems the same can't be said about the allies involved in this war. Divisions do remain about what coalition forces are actually hoping to achieve in Libya.

And as CNN's Matthew Chance reports, many fear this indecision may put victory out of reach.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): So far, coalition air power over Libya has achieved plenty, say commanders, toward their stated goal of protecting civilians from pro-Gadhafi forces. But it's gone even further, helping turn the tide of battle. Libya's ragtag rebels, backed by alliance warplanes, making stunning advances in recent days.

But behind the success, allied divisions over the limits of their intervention may have placed a NATO victory, for the moment, out of reach.

BARACK SANNER, HUSI: I think a victory is very difficult to come by when it's going to be on the back of consensus. We're trying to create the lowest common denominator between different parties in the international community. We can't even put together military objectives that are decisive.

CHANCE: There's debate, for instance, over the role of the NATO-led force now that pro-Gadhafi troops appear in retreat and officials are playing down the idea of a quick win.

(on camera): Western officials have been talking up the possibility of a stalemate as an acceptable outcome, allowing the division of Libya between Gadhafi and rebel control. But that would leave the current mission there open-ended and worse, large areas of the country and its population under Gadhafi's rule, giving him a free hand to crack down.

Isn't a real victory for the allied the removal of Colonel Gadhafi from power, regime change?

SANNER: Absolutely. It's Gadhafi's presence and his possession that poses an awful threat to the rebels and a heightened potential for mass slaughter.

CHANCE (voice-over): It is, say Western officials, the strategic aim, if not the objective of the current U.N. mandated mission. But few doubt that unless Gadhafi goes, victory in Libya cannot be won.

Matthew Chance, CNN, London.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

ANDERSON: So what will happen is Moammar Gadhafi -- if he was thrown out of power and out of Libya?

That's the question, of course. There have been murmurings of a link with Italy.

To talk more about this, I'm joined by CNN's Paula Newton -- and, Paula, you've spoken, I know, to the Italian foreign minister today.

What did he say?

NEWTON: The key thing here is that he says there's not any success in actually getting a hold of Gadhafi or his inner circle in the last few days. The point of doing this, trying to encourage him, there is no way out here, you must get out of the country, we have some ideas of where you can go.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FRANCO FRATTINI, ITALIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: We have been talking about the importance of, I would say, politically forcing Gadhafi to leave the country. So far, we didn't get, not yet, a formal proposal, a formal offer. We will have to insist on finding an appropriate solution, maybe if we will be finding states that are available to that, with the help of African Union, maybe, or other countries that can propose a viable solution.

NEWTON: Why Africa?

Why -- you were saying before they have the political conditions that are (INAUDIBLE)?

FRATTINI: Yes, because I see African Union having a quite good leverage on Gadhafi and his family. But I wouldn't exclude other countries in the Arab world capable to exert a sort of pressure.

What is very important is to stand united as the international community and to keep pressure.

NEWTON: Which countries in the Arab world do you think are best suited?

FRATTINI: Well, if you want to succeed, you have to keep confidential such kind of information.

NEWTON: How do you reconcile the fact that many want to see Colonel Gadhafi in front of the International Criminal Court?

FRATTINI: Well, nobody can guarantee impunity. Exile doesn't mean impunity. This is a very important (INAUDIBLE)...

NEWTON: But if you're Colonel Gadhafi, why would you take a deal like that from the international community, if they can't guarantee...

FRATTINI: Well, because the...

NEWTON: -- you immunity?

FRATTINI: -- well, because he will understand sooner or later that in his country, there is no safe place for him. This is the -- this is the right moment where he will decide to leave. Maybe when people from the inner circle will start with defections. This is the moment.

NEWTON: You've had -- Italy has had a close relationship with Libya in commercial terms.

Have you had any luck in getting through to those of his inner circle to press this message to him?

FRATTINI: No. We -- we don't have direct talks, direct contact with the inner circle. But the message we are passing is the message to the people of Benghazi, to the people of Tripoli. We Italians love the Libyan people. We are not linked to the government of Gadhafi now. We don't consider him as a possible interlocutor. On the contrary, I believe the time has come for the transitional National Council of Benghazi to take the lead and to launch a national reconciliation political process to bring together all the local tribes and all the possible, potential, future political formations in order to have a real constitutional assembly, because in Libya, as you know, there is no constitution.

NEWTON: Do you know who you're negotiating with, though, right now?

I mean U.S. intelligence -- a U.S. commander just said that there is some proof that there might be some element -- elements of al Qaeda among the opposition.

FRATTINI: Well, I spoke many times with to Mr. Jalil as well as to Mr. Jibril, the two responsible of the Council. They acknowledged in the first phase of the revolution, there were people from -- linked to extremist groups that tried to contact them. Now, they are safe. Now they are free. I trust them, I have to say. I consider them as a credible interlocutors.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Credible interlocutors, Franco Frattini speaking there to you earlier.

NEWTON: The issue here, the issue of immunity. Even if Gadhafi -- Gadhafi were thinking about it, with countries like France saying, look, he has to go to the inter -- the International Criminal Court, very unlikely they will get him to another country. But they're trying.

ANDERSON: All right, Paula, good stuff.

All right, thank you very much, indeed.

When it came to deciding on military intervention in Libya, Germany, of course, abstained from the U.N. vote. But the country believes Gadhafi must go if there's to be a democratic future for the people of Libya.

But how do you achieve that without military action?

I put this to the German foreign minister earlier.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

GUIDO WESTERWELLE, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: One thing is clear, that there is no way back for Colonel Gadhafi, for his family and for his system. And for us, it's clear that Libya should stay united. So the idea, probably, of the system of Gadhafi and probably of himself, that there could be an agreement or an arrangement, is wrong.

Libya will have a peaceful and democratic future and a prosperous future, but only without this dictator, without Gadhafi.

ANDERSON: So you are looking for regime change in Libya?

WESTERWELLE: Absolutely right. I agree to this position. We think it is necessary that this man steps down and that Libya has the chance for a free and fair democratic development.

ANDERSON: If that meant, though, putting boots on the ground, as Ambassador Susan Rice has suggested could still happen, would you agree with that?

WESTERWELLE: Once again, please?

I'm sorry. I'm not sure I understood you.

ANDERSON: If regime change in Libya, which you say you agree with, meant putting boots on the ground, is that something you would agree with?

WESTERWELLE: You know that there is a clear international law. This is the resolution of the Security Council. And once again, I think we should not discuss every variety at the moment or every possibility. We are reluctant, this is what we said in the whole discussion, and we want to support, of course, the development of Libya, but beyond military intervention.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: And the voice of Germany, there. You're watching a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD from here in London, where delegates met earlier on in the building behind me to discuss the future for Libya.

Well, coming up, we're going to take you back to the battlefield in the North African country, where government forces have stopped a rebel charge towards Tripoli, forcing opposition fighters to reverse. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANDERSON: Welcome back. This is a special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD on the future for Libya. After a day of talks by some 40 delegates held here in the building behind me, for delegates from all over the world.

Coming up in the next half hour, we'll go to our correspondent in Libya for you for the latest on the ground there.

And how do you feel about your country's involvement in the conflict? We're going to gauge public opinion on the war there.

And what's next for Syria's president? Protests mount against him and, now, his government has quit.

Those stories coming up. First, let's get you a very quick check of the headlines as ever at this point in the show.

Workers at Japan's Fukushima Daichi nuclear power plant are trying to cool rods and reactors while minimizing toxic waste. The plant is running out of room to store sea water that's being used to prevent a meltdown since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Syrians turned out to show their support for President Bashar al Assad after his government resigned. He's trying to contain unrest in several cities. Mr. Assad is expected to address the nation on Wednesday.

A Yemeni government official now says 150 people were killed in Monday's explosion at an ammunition factory. At least 85 others were wounded. The state news agency says that the local governor blamed al Qaeda for the blast.

And Iraqi officials say at least 45 people were killed and 95 more wounded after a gunman took over control of a government building in Tikrit. The gunmen, reportedly wearing police uniforms, fought with other police there.

Those are the headlines this hour here on CNN.

All right, let's get back to Libya, now. Even with air support from some of the world's most powerful militaries, Libyan rebels are struggling, not only to take new ground, but to hold on to what they have.

Now, a fierce government assault forced opposition fighters to retreat, today, from Ben Jawad and Ras Lanuf. Arwa Damon was there as the front line shifted. She'd now in Ajdabiya, and joins us with an update. Arwa?

ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Becky. It's been a bitter disappointment for the opposition, here, that up until the last 48 hours, had had a fairly easy time advancing towards the west. They initially hoped that they would have reached Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte by now, but what we have seen has been a reversal of their momentum.

We caught up with them just outside of Ben Jawad as they were coming under heavy artillery, rocket, and tank fire. They were not able to hold that front, though they did manage to fight against Gadhafi's military for around eight hours before they were beaten back all the way to the oil tower of Ras Lanuf.

And there, again, on the western outskirts of the town for a number of hours, we saw incoming rounds, we heard the explosions, smoke was rising, the opposition trying to fire back with artillery, rocket-propelled grenades, multiple-barrel rocket launchers, but struggling to hold on to the land, to that critical town in the face of Gadhafi's military machine.

What they did experience as they were moving westward was not just Gadhafi's military coming up to confront them, but also the residents in these areas, as they neared Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the residents, they say, armed by Gadhafi himself, moving in and shooting at them from buildings, driving them out of key locations.

This most certainly is a very different dynamic to this battlefield, the opposition that had hoped it would be able to take this fairly quickly all the way to Tripoli, now having to realize that this is going to be a very long and bloody battle, Becky.

ANDERSON: A very long and bloody battle. Arwa Damon, there, on the ground for us. Arwa, we thank you for that.

Meanwhile, the prime minister of Libya's opposition council, Mahmoud Jibril, has met with the US Secretary of State here in London in a meeting earlier today. Hillary Clinton says they discussed the need for a political solution in Libya.

It was the second meeting in less than two weeks between Clinton and the Libyan interim national council, a spokesman for the opposition council addressing the media after the meeting, outlining the organization's manifesto.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GUMA EL-GAMATY, UK COORDINATIOR, LIBYAN INTERIM NATIONAL COUNCIL: The real aspirations of the Libyan people are to be free, to live under -- a constitutional democratic system, where there is rule of law, all essential freedoms are guaranteed, and people can fulfill their potential and realize their aspirations.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: All right. So, the voice, there, of the opposition. Not everybody, of course, recognizing the rebel national council as the representatives of what they see as a new Libya going forward.

We're joined again, now, by Fawaz Gerges to talk about Libya's opposition council and what appears to be growing international support, specifically and importantly, perhaps, from Qatar, earlier. One of the first Arab nations to recognize this organization as representative of Libya at this point. But they don't have everybody's support, by any stretch.

FAWAZ GERGES, LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS: Only two states, France and Qatar. The United States and Britain and other states say they deal with governments, with states, not with -- a unit, particular political groups.

But the reality is, the big question is, not whether the world recognized the opposition. The question is, how organized is the opposition? In terms of decision-making, in terms of institutional structure, in terms of command and control, you've seen the situation in Libya over the last few days. Tremendous, tremendous social upheaval and fracturing.

The big point -- I mean, you and I and all of us, we talk about shall the international community provide Gadhafi with immunity. What we have not talked about is how divided Libya is.

That is, the question is not Moammar Gadhafi versus the rebel and the opposition. The reality is, Becky -- and this is the big question, and the sad question -- Gadhafi would not have survived as long as he has without having a limited but potent base of support.

The reality is, Libya is divided. You have tribes who are supporting Gadhafi, and that's why, what Secretary Clinton said today is extremely critical, the need for a political solution. The need not only to offer or to suggest that somehow the international community will provide Gadhafi with a way out of Libya, but political engagement with the other half.

How big is the segment that supports Gadhafi, 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent? Should they -- shouldn't the opposition basically build bridges to the segment, the loyalists who are supporting Gadhafi? Reassure the segment that, basically, if the opposition enters Sirte or enters Tripoli, there will be no acts of revenge, there will be no retaliation, no massacre.

ANDERSON: A lot of building to be done. Fawaz, stay with me, you're going to talk once again with us as we move through this hour.

Still to come, the mood at home. How the military action in Libya is being received by you the people in the countries that are taking part. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROWD CHANTING IN ARABIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: Well, those protests right here in London just a few hours ago outside this international conference on Libya. "Down, down, Gadhafi!" they chanted, voicing their support for coalition forces.

You're back with us here outside the building where the delegates, representatives of world leaders were mapping out a future for Libya inside the conference. Today on the streets, public opinion on international involvement seems to be divided.

Barely half of Americans thought the president made the right decision in intervening, that is according to the latest national survey, at least, by the Pew Research Center, while 60 percent see a fairly lengthy involvement in the Libyan operation.

Well, let's take a look, now, at what sort of support -- public support -- other coalition leaders should be expecting. Have a listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): I'm Atika Shubert in London and, while the politicians are inside talking, out on the streets, the British public is divided. In a poll in the "Independent" newspaper today, just 43 percent of respondents approve of British forces in action in Libya, 47 percent are opposed. Here's what some people had to say on the streets of London.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I would support military intervention, because I think they need to get rid of Gadhafi. He's there too long.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it should happen much earlier. I think that that would prevent much -- many people dying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I mean, I don't really have a lot to say about it, but I would say no, I don't support it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're involved in too much already. We've got Afghanistan and we've got Iraq going on, so, not too keen.

SHUBERT: One of the biggest concerns, that Libya could become the next Iraq. More than 70 percent of respondents said they are concerned that Libya could become a prolonged war, like Iraq.

JIM BITTERMANN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): In France, the country which ten days ago took the lead in forming the military coalition against Colonel Gadhafi, and which carried out the first bombing run to protect civilians, public opinion continues to run strongly in favor of the military operation.

According to a recent opinion poll, two out of three French believe it's the right thing to do. It's the kind of thing you hear all the time out on the streets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I regret that France, like the UN, and like other European countries, intervened a bit late, because it's not that long ago that people were cozying up him, and now they want to overthrow him. It's a bit hypocritical.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When there is a revolution somewhere, when a dictator tries to kill his people, France had to do something. It's a tradition.

BITTERMANN: That kind of favorable opinion runs through the political class, as well, with party leaders on all sides of the political spectrum saying they support military operations against Colonel Gadhafi.

But the government and military are much more vague when it comes to the exact cost of military operations in Libya, saying that much of that money would have been spent anyway on training missions, that airmen are just getting a taste of a real shooting situation instead of an exercise. Jim Bittermann, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: A sense of the picture, then, in the UK and in France. Our Middle East analyst Fawaz Gerges with me again. Is this an operation that is supported across the Arab world?

GERGES: I think so. Initially, there was a widespread support for this particular operation. In particular, to rescue Benghazi, to save tens of thousands of Libyans.

Remember, Becky, Gadhafi is one of the most hated leaders even in the Arab world and, given the air of spring, there's a great -- there was a great deal of support for Western intervention.

But the reality is, the longer the war continues, the longer the protracted conflict, the more bombs are being, basically, thrown on Libya, more and more Middle Easterners will begin to ask questions.

ANDERSON: And without an exit strategy, it's going to be tough.

GERGES: You're absolutely correct. What we are seeing in Libya, and sadly to say it, you have now the beginning of a protracted conflict. Libya is deeply divided along two lines, the rebels in the east and Gadhafi's forces in the west. And I fear that if the west arms the opposition as some of the voices have been raised, you are talking about a protracted civil war as a protracted conflict.

ANDERSON: When I talked to the NATO chief earlier on today, he said that arming the troops is not his job, there. Arming the rebels is not. He's there, the NATO force, to protect the people, not arm the people.

But we heard Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today questioning whether there isn't a role for arming the rebels within that UN resolution.

GERGES: You're absolutely correct. American officials and commanders have made it very clear, all options on the table, including arming the opposition.

Even in Britain itself and in France itself and, in fact, the longer the conflict continues, you're going to see more voices in the United States and the West, let's arm the opposition. This will be pouring fuel on a raging fire, protracted civil war, indeed.

ANDERSON: One of the other unanswered questions, today, really is, will the international community force Gadhafi out and, if he were to go, where would he go? Now, you'll hear every voice here at the meeting today saying he should go. But again, the UN resolution doesn't allow for regime change. What's the view from the Arab world, though?

GERGES: Well, the Arab world would like the Libyans to be in charge. And this is really -- you asked me the question about the views of the Arab world. Initially, there was a widespread support for the operations. Now, more and more critical voices are being asked.

Just listen to what the Turks are saying. Think of the -- basically, the bickering between Turkey and France. It tells you a great deal, that the more bombs are being thrown on Libya, the more critical voices will emerge in the Arab world.

And this is why, in fact. The more escalation, the bad in terms of public relations and public perceptions in the Middle East.

ANDERSON: How long has this military coalition got, then?

GERGES: Ironically, people -- even the Americans and the Brits and the French -- nobody knows. It's open-ended. That's Secretary Gates, Defense, he said it's open-ended, and this tells you there is no exit strategy. This tells you this is no way out.

And this is the -- and that's why in the United States there is no -- not much public support, 45 percent of Americans oppose this particular intervention. And, in fact, more and more -- not just Arabs and Middle Easterners -- more and more Americans and Brits and French will begin to ask questions if this particular conflict in Libya becomes protracted and develops into civil war.

ANDERSON: This is open-ended at this point. Fawaz, we thank you very much, indeed.

Coming up, sweeping resignations in Syria's government. The latest attempt to control an uprising there when this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD continues. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NASSER JUDEH, JORDANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: In Jordan, we've had protests and demonstrations for many, many years, and they are part of the process of freedom of expression in Jordan. And protests and demonstration are issue-oriented, by and large, and they are, by and large, very, very peaceful and orderly. We have had a democratic process that is vibrant and dynamic for over 90 years, now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANDERSON: The foreign minister of Jordan, speaking to me earlier today, promising that what's happening in other Middle Eastern countries would never happen to his.

Welcome back to this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD, coming to you live from central London, where diplomats from the most powerful countries in the world are meeting to discuss the way forward in Libya.

And as the Jordanian foreign minister knows, the Libyan revolt is not an isolated case. It started with a revolution in Tunisia, rolled across the region, and is changing the world forever. CNN's Nima Elbagir reports.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In Syria, the demonstrations continue. President Bashar al Assad has gone down the now-familiar route for an Arab autocrat in trouble. He dissolved his government in support of marchers' million-man marches across the country.

Whether that'll be enough to save him is still unclear, but the unthinkable has happened. The strongest of the Arab world's strong men is looking shaky.

While the opposition vows to fight on, the United States has been at pains to point out that the intervention in Libya doesn't mean that every Arab uprising is guaranteed the same support.

HILLARY CLINTON, US SECRETARY OF STATE: Each of these situations is unique. If there were a coalition of the international community, if there were the passage of a Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): But the reality, say experts, is that a precedent has now been set.

MARCO VICENZINO, GLOBAL STRATEGY PROJECT: Each situation is different. Obviously, in the case of Libya, there was a greater convergence amongst the interests of the major powers. That's the key thing, also, is that there has to be a convergence of interests. It makes one more vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): That doesn't mean the autocrats are stepping gracefully aside. In Bahrain, the Pearl Roundabout in Manama was razed to the ground by the government. What had become the symbol of a nation's defiance destroyed just days after the Gulf Corporation Council forces rolled into Bahrain to help protect Bahrain's security.

SHEIKH KHALID BIN AHMED AL KHALIFA, BAHRAIN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): There is no opposition to speak of. There are popular demands, and there are those who sought to exploit them to deny the legitimacy of the government and take the country down a dangerous road.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): In nearby Yemen, things have escalated further after a militant strike at an army ammunition dump. The attack has been blamed on al Qaeda, strengthening the embattled Yemeni president's claims that he's the only one capable of keeping extremists at bay.

After appearing on the verge of stepping down, he's now back on Arabic news channels reiterating that he is the only option.

(MEN CHANTING IN ARABIC)

ELBAGIR (voice-over): In Libya, the NATO air strikes continue and, across the Arab world, they're being closely watched by both demonstrators and those being demonstrated against. Nima Elbagir for CNN in London.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANDERSON: Well, the revolts may look different in each country, and the government responses are certainly varied, as we've seen, but we are seeing common themes in each of these uprisings. Fawaz Gerges joining me, now, for some final thoughts on the unrest in the region. Fawaz?

GERGES: The democratic virus is mutating. There is really a great Arab awakening. There is no Middle Eastern regime that is immune today. Remember, two weeks ago, what did President Assad say? The upheaval will never reach Syria.

Today, the foreign minister of Jordan, what did he tell you? Jordan is immune.

From Egypt to Tunisia to Libya to Yemen to Syria to Jordan to Morocco to Algeria, people are rising up. They would like to be free, they want transparent government, they want bread and butter. It's truly one of the most social revolutions in world history.

ANDERSON: But could Libya be the dirtiest?

GERGES: Absolutely. Libya is very dirty. Libya is very tragic, because you have a thug ruling Libya. Yemen is also another country on the brink of civil war. But whoever believed a few weeks ago that the turmoil would migrate to Syria? Surely, I did not believe so.

ANDERSON: One of the things that struck me today, Paula, when we were covering this meeting together, was that even though there was this sort of veil of unity, to a certain extent, and it's deeper and wider, as far as the coalition is concerned, I can't remember a story for some time where there was such divisions across the EU, across the G-8, and across NATO as to what happens next.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: But didn't it so expertly open up the wounds, the cracks that were there already? Any of these alliances are quite fragile, when you come down to it.

You know, Becky, in speaking to a lot of the different governments, whether it was Germany or Turkey or Italy or -- anybody who was at that table, those issues were key for them. And in order to get them together and actually come up with a plan on the ground, this is not going to be easy going forward, especially, as Gerges says, this is going to be very, very messy on the ground for the civilians caught in the crossfire.

ANDERSON: We've already heard mumblings of discontent, grumblings of discontent from the Turks. I know you spoke to the foreign minister just before this show started. If there was one message from him today, what was it?

NEWTON: "Talk to us. Listen to us. Include us." What he was very keep about was, watch that language. He said, "When you guys talk about the Western alliance, what does that mean? That there's an Eastern enemy? It looks -- makes it look so much like a crusade.

If there's a piece of advice that any analyst looking at this is saying right now, it's OK, the US, you want to step back? Step back. France, Italy, you've had your shot, step back. Do what you can to facilitate, let Turkey lead more of an African-Arab alliance to see what they can do on the ground. They're ready to do it, Becky. Let's see if they can.

GERGES: Truly, what we need now is not just the Western alliance be in charge. We need the Italians, the African Unions, and the Arab states to be engaged fully on the ground. They are closest to Libya. They know Libya.

Remember today, we talked about the conference in London. Where were the Libyans? Not even a single Libyan present in the conference. Who are to determine the future of Libya? And that's why Italy, the African Union, and the Arab states should go on the ground and talk to Libyans and try to bridge the divide between the various components of Libyan society.

ANDERSON: Fawaz and I were talking earlier about just how long this will take. We asked every commentator that we could, today, every delegate that we could get our hands on, "What's the exit strategy here? What's the end game?" Paula, did you get any answers?

NEWTON: No. Who would have an answer to that? No one is willing to go on the record and answer, and they're warning people already, this will be a long campaign.

But gosh, spending all that time on NATO air bases and at NATO headquarters, think about Afghanistan. And they are still dealing with that mission, and that's what everyone wants to avoid. They will do what they can to take some advice and negotiate on the ground to try and get out as quickly as possible.

GERGES: I fear we are beginning to see -- beginning to see a protracted conflict in Libya that could, basically, escalate into a protracted civil war that would provide Gadhafi more ammunition to stay in Libya.

ANDERSON: With that, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you very much, indeed, Fawaz Gerges, our Middle East analysts, a regular guest on this show. And of course, Paula Newton, one of CNN's correspondents here on the story out of London.

I'm Becky Anderson reporting from London. I'll be back in the studio tomorrow with a focus on CNN's Freedom Project, our year-long series of reports on modern-day slavery. And we want you to get involved in that. Head over to cnn.com/freedom and submit an i-Report telling us why slavery matters where you live and why you want to help us stop it. We're going to use some of your reports on the program later this week.

For tonight, that's all for this special edition of CONNECT THE WORLD. I want to leave you with some of the images we've been seeing coming out of Libya, where rebels are still fighting for freedom, and the Gadhafi regime is trying to hold on. Thanks for watching. The world news headlines and "BackStory" will follow this short break. Good night.

END