CBSN

"One voice" at Libya conference sounds dissonant

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodam Clinton listens to a question during a news conference after the Libya Conference at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London Tuesday March 29, 2011.
Pool,AP Photo/Toby Melville
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodam Clinton listens to a question during a news conference after the Libya Conference at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London Tuesday March 29, 2011.
Pool,AP Photo/Toby Melville

At the international conference on Libya, held Tuesday in London, the mostly Western coalition running things presented the world two public faces of the Libyan opposition. One lives in London, the other in Washington. Both claimed to represent Libya's National Transitional Council. Both spoke fluent English. They presented a document to reporters entitled: A Vision for a Democratic Libya.

The other Libyan opposition leader in town, Mahmoud Jibril, was seen only briefly shuttling between meetings with foreign leaders, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

At the opening of the conference, Clinton said all of those gathered around the table must "speak with one voice."

But Arab leaders weren't doing a lot of talking. Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim bin Jabor Al Thani did appear at a press conference with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and provided a glimpse into the ambivalence of the Arab world over the events in Libya.

He admitted Arab involvement was "not so big or concrete" and said he hoped it would increase. But he admitted no one was trying to push other Arab countries to participate. Though the Arab league backed the U.N. efforts, there was a lot of infighting, he said.

Coming out of the conference the world clearly saw the now NATO-led resolve in Libya, but not so clearly the Arab position or even the clear goals of the Libyan opposition. It's still uncertain who comprises the "opposition" and a senior Obama administration official said that is particularly true of the rebel fighting force. Who are they? What are they fighting for? Are they unified in their goals?

At the conclusion of the summit, Secretary of State Clinton admitted, "We don't know as much as we'd like to know."