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Coffman Says Qaddafi’s Death Brings New Concerns

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Rep. Mike Coffman (credit: CBS)

Rep. Mike Coffman (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Rep. Mark Coffman says the death of Muammar Qaddafi is a “great day for the Libyan people but we don’t know if it’s a great day for the American people yet.”

He says it’s not clear yet “if there will be a governance in Libya that will reflect the needs of our security interests in the region.”

Coffman sits on the House’s Armed Services Committee and says he doesn’t see the United States in a nation-building role in Libya at this time.

Coffman says he thinks the US could provide some humanitarian assistance for those who need it in Libya “without really putting our forces at risk.”

He also said he’s concerned about the estimated 20,000 or more shoulder fired surface-to-air missiles that are in Libya.

“Not only are they a threat to civil aviation, but they are a threat to our own armed troops particularly serving in Afghanistan,” Coffman said. “If they fall into al Qaeda’s hands they will be used against us to knock out our helicopters as well as our fixed wing aircraft, and that was the game changer in Afghanistan when we gave those same weapons to the Soviets.”

Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colorado, a member of the Armed Services and Intelligence Committees, said our involvement should continue to be measured.

“I think the model that was applied in supporting Libyan freedom fighters but not taking the lead has worked quite well,” said Udall.

Middle East experts said Qaddafi’s death will allow Libya to move forward with a Democratic government.

Dr. Shaul Gabbay with the University of Denver, said this event is as important as capturing Saddam Hussein, with one big difference.

“This has been done by the Libyans themselves. Namely, they take the responsibility and the actions in toppling the regime, which says very much about where the Middle East is today. Mainly that the people themselves want and are able to move their country to a better place,” said Gabbay.

MORE From CBSNews.com: Qaddafi dead after Sirte battle, PM confirms

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