Libya’s UN Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham addressing the UN Security Council:
Ambassador Shalgham’s press conference:
The New York Times reports:
The United States closed its embassy in Tripoli on Friday and announced plans to impose unilateral sanctions against Libya, including the freezing of billions in government assets, as the Obama administration made its most aggressive move against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi since his security forces opened fire on protesters.
Just minutes after a charter flight left Tripoli carrying the last Americans who wanted to leave Libya, officials markedly toughened the administration’s words and actions against Colonel Qaddafi, announcing that high-ranking Libyan officials who supported or participated in his violent crackdown would also see their assets frozen and might, along with Colonel Qaddafi, be subject to war crimes prosecution.
“It’s clear that Colonel Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people,” said the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, in a briefing that was delayed to allow the plane to take off because the Americans feared that the Libyan leader might harm the passengers. “His legitimacy has been reduced to zero.”
With Colonel Qaddafi killing more of his people every day in a desperate bid to remain in power, it was not clear that these actions would do much to mitigate the worsening crisis. Sanctions, for instance, take time to put in place, and every other option comes with its own set of complications. Colonel Qaddafi, increasingly erratic, has seemed to shrug off outside pressure, becoming even more bizarre — with charges that protesters are on drugs — in the face of the world’s scorn.
John Simpson reports:
In a BBC interview, Interior Minister Gen Abdel Fattah Younes al-Abidi says Col Gaddafi’s regime is collapsing and will last only a few more days.
Having known the colonel for 47 years, Gen al-Abidi says he will not surrender.
“Either he will commit suicide or he will resist till he falls,” he says.
Gen al-Abidi was sent to Benghazi at the end of last week to oversee the suppression of the demonstrations here.
Instead, he rang Col Gaddafi and persuaded him not to use warplanes to crush the protesters.
After this evidence that he was changing sides, there seems to have been an attempt to assassinate him.
Col Gaddafi actually announced the general’s death in a speech on Libyan television, but it was a bodyguard who died instead, in a shooting incident in Benghazi.
All this persuaded the general to come over to the uprising. At present he is living in a secret house on the outskirts of Benghazi.
Protesters shot at in downtown Tripoli, February 25:
The Wall Street Journal reports:
The Obama administration’s response to the Libyan crisis continued to face charges of being timid from Libyans and American foreign policy experts. Many Libyan dissidents voiced exasperation with the White House’s unwillingness Friday to call for Col. Gadhafi to step down or deploy military forces.
“What are they waiting for?” said Ali Rishi, a Libyan dissident based in Boston, who has previously advised the State Department on Libya policy. “The longer they wait, the more Gadhafi will feel emboldened to continue what he’s doing.”
U.S. officials said Washington’s response was hampered by fears that American diplomatic staff in Tripoli could be targeted by Col. Gadhafi. On Friday, the U.S. succeeded in temporarily removing its remaining staff by ferry and air. Mr. Carney said the announcement of sanctions came less than a half-hour after the last personnel left Libya.
U.S. and European officials discounted the prospect of NATO taking military action. In Brussels on Friday, ambassadors of the 28 NATO allies met to discuss the crisis and agreed only to monitor events, according to diplomats and officials. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday the situation in Libya couldn’t be considered a direct threat to NATO or its members.