President Obama said firmly today the Arab League gave an important endorsement of a United Nation's resolution approving a no-fly zone and he expects Arab nations "absolutely" will be part of the mission.
"The Arab League specifically called for a no-fly zone before we went to the United Nations," Obama said at a press conference while traveling in Chile, where he dismissed concerns today over the Arab League getting cold feet and wanting to back out of its commitment to the no-fly zone over Libya.
Asked whether Arabs will be part of the mission, Obama said "Absolutely, and we are in consultations as we speak."
The President added, "As I said, there are different phases to the campaign. The initial campaign, we took a larger role because we've got some unique capabilities; our ability to take out, for example, Gadhafi's air-defense systems are much more significant than some of our other partners."
Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa did an about-face not long after the no-fly zone was imposed on Gadhafi over reports of civilian casualties. Moussa threatened to withdraw the 22-member group's backing for the action.
So UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had to do some hand-holding with Moussa today, meeting with the Arab League's boss to urge him to remain committed to protecting Libyans from Gadhafi's wrath.
"Now, it is imperative that the international community continue to speak with one voice to fully implement the Security Council resolutions. Thousands of lives are at stake. We could well see a further humanitarian emergency," Ban said after emerging from discussions with Moussa.
"We are moving quickly to take effective action. On Saturday in Paris, I and Secretary-General Moussa met with world leaders to coordinate our plans. Secretary-General Moussa, I welcomed your contributions and that of the other Arab leaders who attended that session," Ban said looking at the Arab leader. "Egypt and the Arab League are standing with the international community and the United Nations at this critical time for the region."