Rebels Flee, But Obama Says 'We Are Slowly Tightening The Noose On Gaddafi'
As fighting, bombings and fires raged ten hours ahead in Libya, President Barack Obama refused to fully throw his support behind the rebellion against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
Obama said he would considering intervening in Libya only if the situation worsened to the point that "defenseless civilians" were being attacked.
Rebels, though, were leaving cities such as Ras Lanuf and hunkering down in their strongholds such as Benghazi.
As the N.Y. Times analyzed the situation:
"This emphasis on pragmatism over idealism has left Mr. Obama vulnerable to criticism that he is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab street protesters.
Some say he is failing to bind the United States to the historic change under way in the Middle East the way that Ronald Reagan forever cemented himself in history books to the end of the cold war with his famous call to tear down the Berlin Wall."
Division within the E.U. and NATO has already prevented the international organizations from pushing for a no-fly zone or anything more stringent than economic sanctions on Libya. On Friday, Libyan rebel leaders urged E.U. hold-outs to rethink their resistance to a no-fly zone.
On Thursday night, Gaddafi's son told TIME about the rebels: "Their backbone is broken. We have airplanes, reconnaissance, telling us they are escaping everywhere. They have no future."