WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (UPI) — Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi could be ousted within hours, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said Sunday.
“It’s a matter of hours, if not days,” McCain told the CBS News program “Face the Nation.”
Rebel forces were reported Sunday pushing to 7 miles west of Tripoli after overrunning a major military base that defended the Libyan capital. Gadhafi said in a broadcast audio message he would never surrender and pledged to emerge “victorious” from the impending Tripoli battle.
“I believe that it’s nearing the end,” McCain told the program. “And it’s going to be a big challenge forming a new government, uniting a country that has never known democracy. We’ve seen the difficulties with other countries who made this transition.”
But the world “will be rid of a guy who has the blood of Americans on his hands, we will be rid of a guy who has practiced the worst kind of brutalities. And now it’s going to be up to us and the Europeans,” McCain said.
Ending Gadhafi’s rule will also send a message to Syrian President Bashar Assad, who has advanced a deadly military campaign against restive cities, prompting international outrage that included Washington and Western allies calling last week for Assad to step down.
Syrian protesters have sought Assad’s resignation, as well as an end to extrajudicial killings and torture, equal rights for Syria’s ethnic and religious groups, and broad political freedoms, including freedom of speech, the press and assembly.
“This Arab Spring is echoing all over the world, from Russia to China to Israel to — and being manifested in a lot of different ways,” McCain said.
“Since that young man burned himself to death in Tunisia, we are seeing a vastly changed world,” he said. “And we are going to have to make some adjustments.”
Tunisia’s uprising was sparked by the self-immolation of 26-year-old street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi Dec. 17 and led to the ousting of President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali Jan. 14.