Friday, May 6, 2011

Rebels Want US To Kill Gadahfi Just Like Bin Laden

Matter Of Time

Libyan leader Muammar Gadahfi's life should end just like al Qaeda’s Osama bin Laden, a Libyan rebel spokesman said on Thursday. “We would be very happy if that were to happen and we are waiting for the next step. We want the Americans to do the same to Gaddafi,” said rebel military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Bani.
Colonel Ahmed Bani.

"We know Osama bin Laden is fighting against us, he is our enemy also,” he said, adding that Libyan rebels had evidence al Qaeda sympathizers had been fighting against them.

Unless NATO, including the United States, get more serious, Libya’s liberation war could turn into a prolonged, bloody stalemate. Col. Muammar el-Gadahfi is ruthless, and rebel forces are weak and disorganized. NATO still has the military means to help tip the balance if it can summon the unity and the will.

In their latest horror, Gadahfi forces rained shells this week on the rebel-held port area of Misurata, trying to keep international relief vessels from unloading humanitarian supplies. The civilian death toll from the war is already estimated in the thousands, while streams of desperate refugees keep pouring into Tunisia, Egypt and Europe. The alliance needs to get its act together.

President Obama was right to hand over this mission to Canadian and European command once the initial American strikes had shattered Libyan air defenses. But crucial momentum was lost in the transition. Coordination with rebel fighters was initially poor, leading to friendly fire disasters. The string of defections from the Gaddafi inner circle came to an end, as government forces dug in.

 NATO allies, particularly Britain and France, have the high performance fighters that can carry the main burden of the air campaign. But the Pentagon needs to send America’s specialized low-flying attack planes, the A-10 and the AC-130, back into action against Libyan Army tanks. These are far more effective at destroying enemy vehicles and avoiding friendly ones.

Colonel Gadahfi has left no question about his willingness to murder civilians. Bombing strikes against military command centers, including Gadahfi compounds, are well within the United Nations Security Council’s mandate. They need to continue, though innocent Gadahfi family members should not be deliberately targeted.

Washington and other capitals need to do more intelligence work to figure out how to peel away more important Libyan players — and what mix of pressures and inducements need to be brought to bear.
 Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan

 And NATO needs to start speaking with one clear voice. We were pleased to hear Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, finally declare that Colonel Gadahfi must “immediately step down.” But Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany remains on the sidelines. All of the public squabbling has played into Colonel Gadahfi’s hands, reinforcing his claims that NATO doesn’t have the stomach or the sticking power.

Events in Libya pose a more direct threat to Europe than to the United States. Europe relies heavily on Libyan oil and a prolonged crisis will cause serious shortfalls in Italy and other countries. European leaders are already fighting over which country will take Libyan (and Tunisian) refugees, leading panicky French politicians to partially shutter their previously open border with Italy.

With no quick resolution in sight, the international community must extend a financial lifeline to beleaguered rebel-held regions. Diplomats from 22 NATO and Arab countries met in Rome on Thursday to consider rebel requests for urgent financial assistance. There are legal obstacles to immediately releasing the roughly $30 billion in frozen Gadahfi regime assets to rebel authorities in Benghazi. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged to expedite that process.

At Thursday’s meeting, diplomats also said they were creating an international fund to channel humanitarian and financial assistance to rebel areas. The United States, Qatar and Kuwait promised generous contributions. European nations and other affluent Arab countries should do the same, with strict monitoring mechanisms put in place to make sure the aid goes to its intended recipients.
Meanwhile, Turkey said it was evacuating staff from its embassy in Tripoli after attacks by angry Libyans on European embassies in the city following a NATO airstrike that killed a son of leader Gadahfi.

“We decided to evacuate our embassy in Tripoli temporarily due to security reasons,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters. “Our ambassador to Tripoli has travelled safely to Tunisia in the morning. Turkey is closely monitoring the changing security conditions in Libya”.

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