United States recognises Libya rebels
Rebel leaders won recognition as the legitimate government of Libya from the United States and other world...
Rebel leaders won
recognition as the legitimate government of Libya from the United
States and other world powers on Friday in a major boost to the rebels'
faltering campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi.
Western nations said they also
planned to increase the military pressure on Gaddafi's forces to press
him to give up power after 41 years at the head of the North African
Recognition of the rebels,
announced by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a meeting in Turkey
of the international contact group on Libya, is an important diplomatic
step which could unlock billions of dollars in frozen Libyan funds.
decision comes as reports are circulating that Gaddafi has sent out
emissaries seeking a negotiated end to the conflict, although he himself
has remained defiant in his public utterances.
Istanbul conference attended by more than 30 countries and
international bodies also agreed road map whereby Gaddafi should
relinquish power and plans for Libya's transition to democracy under the
rebel National Transitional Council (TNC).
an interim authority is in place, the United States will recognise the
TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal
with it on that basis," Clinton said.
decision to recognise the rebels, who have been waging a five-month
military campaign against Gaddafi, meant the Libyan leader had no option
but to stand down, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said.
contact group statement added: "... the formation of an interim
government should be quickly followed by the convening of a National
Congress with representatives from all parts of Libya."
U.N. Secretary-General's special envoy to Libya, Abdul Elah Al-Khatib,
will be authorised to present terms for Gaddafi to leave power, but the
British foreign minister said military action against Gaddafi would be
stepped up at the same time.
The political package to be offered Gaddafi will include a cease-fire to halt fighting in the five-month-old war.
rebel spokesman said he did not expect a cease-fire until Gaddafi had
been defeated and rejected suggestions of a pause in the fighting during
the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins at the start of August.
Shammam, press secretary for TNC said: "Prophet Muhammad had great
battles during Ramadan in Mecca, so there is nothing religious that will
keep us from fighting for our freedom."
Secretary William Hague told Reuters that at the same time as al-Khatib
pursues a political settlement, "the military pressure on the regime
will continue to intensify."
Libya contact group, established in London in March, is trying, at its
fourth meeting, to find a political solution that would persuade Gaddafi
China and Russia, which
have taken a softer line towards Gaddafi, were invited to the contact
group meeting for the first time, but decided not to become involved.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he hoped a political solution could emerge by the start of Ramadan.
rebels urgently need cash and contact group members should consider
opening credit lines to the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) in
Benghazi, he said.
He also backed a
rebel proposal for the release of $3 billion (1 billion pounds) of
frozen Libyan assets to alleviate a "grave" humanitarian situation
during Ramadan in areas of Libya controlled by the rebels and by
U.S. officials said the
decision to extend formal diplomatic recognition marked an important
step towards unblocking more than $34 billion in Libyan assets in the
United States but cautioned it could still take time to get cash
Speaking in The Hague on
Thursday, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen called on alliance members to
provide more warplanes to bomb increasingly elusive Libyan military
Britain said it was
sending four more Tornado reconnaissance planes to beef up the NATO
mission. Such aircraft have become vital as Gaddafi's forces have hidden
their armour and artillery from NATO warplanes.
said its warplanes had on Thursday destroyed a Libyan army armoured
personnel carrier near Zlitan, west of the rebel stronghold of Misrata.
British aircraft had so far damaged or destroyed more than 500 Libyan military targets including command and control sites.
as the campaign has progressed, the regime is increasingly attempting
to conceal troops, equipment and headquarters, often in populated
areas," a British military spokesman, General Nick Pope, said.
On the ground, rebel fighters have been unable to make much progress against pro-Gaddafi forces of late.
the front line near the rebel stronghold of Misrata in the west, rebel
fighters were digging in against mortar fire from pro-Gaddafi forces,
sheltering in large concrete water pipes brought up by bulldozer to
serve as makeshift protection.
One fighter, who gave his name as Bashir, said: "Whenever we have ammunition, we move forward. But now we are not moving."
a 19-year-old student, said: "It's not the Grad missiles we are afraid
of. They are easy. It's the mortars we are afraid of."
commanders in the village of Al-Qawalish, about 100 km (60 miles) west
of Tripoli, said they were massing their forces for an advance east
towards the town of Garyan, which controls access to the main highway to
the capital, but they have struggled to hold their positions in recent
is not clear whether Gaddafi intends to fight on in the hope of keeping
his grip on the territory round Tripoli or seek an exit strategy that
guarantees security for himself and his family, but he is not seen
having any future role in Libya.
are starting to look past Gaddafi. He's going to go, and the meeting
can be a useful place to take stock of and prepare for that transition,"
one senior U.S. official told reporters aboard Clinton's plane before
landing in Istanbul.
week, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said emissaries from Gaddafi's
government in contact with NATO members had said that Gaddafi was ready
to quit, but U.S. officials were unconvinced.
Gaddafi himself, in his latest speech on Libyan television on Thursday evening, said he was staying put.
"I will fight until the end," he said. "The end of NATO will be in Libya."