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Obama: Aftermath of Gaddafi overthrow, 'worst mistake as president'

Obama: Aftermath of Gaddafi overthrow, 'worst mistake as president'

Libya

US President Barack Obama has said the worst mistake of his presidency was a lack of planning for the aftermath of the 2011 toppling of Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

“Probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya,” Obama said in an interview by Fox News on Sunday.

He said, however, that intervening in Libya had been “the right thing to do”.

The US and other countries carried out strikes designed to protect civilians during the 2011 uprising.

But after the former Libyan president was killed, Libya plunged into chaos with militias taking over and two rival parliaments and governments forming.

Militants from the Islamic State gained a foothold, and Libya became a major departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe.

A month ago, Obama admitted that Libya has been a “mess” since the fall of Gaddafi, but blamed UK Prime Minister David Cameron and other European leaders for the chaos.

“Sarkozy wanted to trumpet the flights he was taking in the air campaign, despite the fact that we had wiped out all the air defences and essentially set up the entire infrastructure for the intervention.”

“At that point, you’ve got Europe and a number of Gulf countries who despise Gaddafi, or are concerned on a humanitarian basis, who are calling for action. But what has been a habit over the last several decades in these circumstances is people pushing us to act but then showing an unwillingness to put any skin in the game … free riders,” Obama criticized in an interview with the Monitor.

Given Libya’s proximity to the European continent, he expected his counterparts to invest more in the follow-up to the military campaign, the US President claimed.

A UN-backed national unity government arrived in the capital Tripoli earlier this month but is waiting to take charge.