Viewpoints: Rebels Face a Post-Gaddafi Libya, August 26, 2011

Reuters, Aug. 26 – The United States on Thursday distanced itself from efforts to hunt down Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, saying neither U.S. assets nor NATO forces were targeting the fugitive strongman. … NATO's mission, as authorized by the United Nations, is to protect Libyan civilians—not take out Gaddafi, even as he becomes the focus of the apparent final chapter in the rebel overthrow of his regime. … At the Pentagon, spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan said, "I'm not speaking for any other national authorities—whether any of our partner nations might be doing something—but NATO itself, and the U.S. as part of it, are not." 

Guardian, Aug. 26 – Loyalist extremists still threaten the stability of Tripoli and checkpoints have appeared in every neighborhood. Barricades and roadblocks manned by civilians stop each car as it passes, sometimes searching it for weapons. Although this is a major inconvenience—what should be a 30-minute trip can now take up to four hours—it is an important step to restoring some kind of civil law and order in the city. Considering the obstacles and the huge number of sacrifices that have been made, the 17 February revolution has done well to get to where it is now but as one of the fighters told me: "It is easy to burn and destroy things as we have done to Gaddafi, but the real revolution starts when we try rebuild Libya."

The Christian Science Monitor, Aug. 26 – There is a sense of anarchy as rebel fighters, strained by months of street fighting—some in casts and bandages—try to maintain some semblance of order as the National Transitional Council (NTC) sets up shop in the capital. The NTC held a press conference in Tripoli last night, formally announcing that it was moving its base of operations from the eastern city of Benghazi to Tripoli. The council, which has been recognized by Western governments as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people, has laid out detailed plans for the transition period. Those plans include securing the capital, establishing a government presence in Tripoli, and transitioning to an elected government within eight months. They also outline a national reconciliation program to make sure Gaddafi supporters have a place in society, as well as just trials for those who committed crimes during his regime.

AFP, Aug. 26 – The West must release all Libya's frozen assets in order for a new government to succeed following the uprising against the 42-year-rule of Muammar Gaddafi, a senior Libyan rebel figure said Friday. "There will be high expectations after the collapse of the regime. The frozen assets must be released for … the new government to be established after the Gaddafi regime," said Mahmud Jibril, number two in the rebels' National Transitional Council (NTC). He was speaking, through an interpreter, at a news conference with Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu the day after senior diplomats of the Libya Contact Group met in Istanbul and underlined the need to empower the NTC with legal, political and financial means to form an interim government.
Businessweek, Aug. 25 – The head of Libya's rebel Cabinet arrives in Italy for talks Thursday with Premier Silvio Berlusconi on his second stop on a European diplomatic tour aimed at securing the release of billions of dollars in frozen Libyan assets. Mahmoud Jibril meets with Berlusconi in Milan the day after laying out plans in Paris for the governing of Libya after the fall of Moammar Gaddafi's 42-year autocratic regime. The Libyan opposition says they urgently need at least $5 billion in frozen assets to pay state salaries, maintain vital services and repair critical oil facilities. The U.N. Security Council, meanwhile, is preparing to vote this week on a resolution that would release $1.5 billion in Libyan assets in U.S. banks that the world body froze to thwart Gaddafi's ability to wage war on his people. Analysts estimate that as much as $110 billion are frozen in banks worldwide.
PanARMENIAN.Net, Aug 26 – The United States and South Africa have reportedly reached a deal to allow the release of $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets, to be used by the country's opposition-run council for urgent humanitarian aid, VOA News reported. Those assets had been blocked under U.N. sanctions against the government of Moammar Gadhafi. But U.S. officials said the money is urgently needed to provide fuel, food, clean water and other essential services to the Libyan population. … “Today, the Libya Contact Group held a meeting in Istanbul to demonstrate our continued commitment to Libya and to focus on the urgent financial needs of the TNC. The Contact Group called for an expedited process to lift sanctions on Libyan assets. The United States supports this call,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Euronews, Aug. 25 – Foreign oil companies are chomping at the bit [in post-Gaddafi Libya], but even they admit that it is too early to consider restoring output. Experts predict that it will take the country two years to reach full-output. The Italian oil giant ENI has been in almost daily contact with the higher echelons of the rebellion. But the French firm Total could be rewarded after strong French support for the uprising. Also in the running are Qatar Petroleum and the Swiss company Vitol, Britain’s BP and Austria’s OMV alongside the Anglo-Dutch Shell and Conocophillips from the U.S. Russia and China may well loose out after failing to back international moves to support the rebels. Both were big players in the country under Gaddafi, but their future role is in doubt. Still contracts signed by Gaddafi will be honoured.
CNN, Aug. 26 – There is something else that makes the Nafusa rebels different from those who fought in the east: Many of them are Berbers.Taking advantage of the uprising against Gaddafi, Libya's Berber minority, around 10 percent of the population, is engaged in a cultural revival. The teaching of Berber language courses and the airing of radio broadcasts, acts punishable by torture or even death only a few months ago, are now openly practiced and Berber activists are adamant about preserving their newfound freedom. How this will play out is anybody's guess. What is clear is that language rights will be a key issue going forward not only in a post-Gaddafi Libya, but also in Morocco and Algeria, where much larger Berber communities live.
The Sydney Morning Herald, Aug. 26 – Syria's al-Assad rightly should be the next target for a Libya-style international campaign. So far, however, the consensus among analysts is that the people of Syria are on their own. Likewise, so are the protest movements in Bahrain and Yemen—in great part because Washington's key regional ally, Riyadh, does not want its neighborhood to be a freedom kind of place.
IPS, Aug. 24 – Both the U.S. and the European Union called for the first time last week for Assad to step down and, as with Libya, Washington has also imposed sweeping economic sanctions, notably in the energy sector, against Assad's regime, which the E.U. is expected to replicate in the coming days. Western nations also led the campaign to gain the U.N. Security Council’s condemnation of Assad's efforts earlier this month and persuaded the U.N. Human Rights Council this week to create a special Commission of Inquiry to investigate the situation in Syria—apparently with an eye to eventually preparing a case against key figures in the regime for referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC). … However, most analysts here still discount the possibility that the U.S. or NATO will eventually intervene militarily against the regime as they did in Libya.

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