Tuesday 6 December 2016

Target Gaddafi directly to end war, NATO is urged

Toby Harnden in Washington

Published 25/04/2011 | 05:00

A Libyan girl cries after arriving at the Benghazi port from Misrata during an evacuation operation yesterday. Photo: REUTERS
A Libyan girl cries after arriving at the Benghazi port from Misrata during an evacuation operation yesterday. Photo: REUTERS

Western leaders have called for Nato to target Colonel Muammar Gaddafi directly, to prevent the bombing campaign in Libya from descending into stalemate.

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The calls came as Gaddafi was reported to have strengthened his grip on power by repatriating billions of dollars in overseas assets that should have been frozen by UN sanctions.

There was growing pressure yesterday for coalition military strikes against Gaddafi. US senator Lindsey Graham said the quickest way to end the stalemate was to "cut the head of the snake off". He said: "The people around Gaddafi need to wake up every day wondering, 'Will this be my last?'"

US senator John McCain, who visited Libya at the weekend, also said that Gaddafi should be targeted but argued that it was more important to increase American firepower over the country.

Allies

"The US has got to play a greater role on the air power side," he said. "Our Nato allies neither have the assets, nor frankly the will -- there's only six countries of the 28 in Nato that are actively engaged in this situation."

William Hague, the British foreign secretary, also refused to rule out using remote-controlled American drones to kill Gaddafi. Mr Hague said "who and what is a legitimate target depends on their behaviour". However, he denied that there was a stalemate in Libya and ruled out proposals to partition the country.

The European Union and America have barred access to more than €41bn in Libyan bank accounts and funds, but other nations have done little to prevent Gaddafi and his associates from accessing money.

Gaddafi has moved billions of dollars back to Tripoli since the rebellion began in mid-February, according to European, American and UN officials.

The full scale of his sanctions evasion is unknown, partly because many of his investments in financial institutions are not in his own name.

The circumvention of the sanctions has complicated Nato's efforts to end the Libyan leader's four decades in power. His ability to siphon off cash has also hampered attempts to persuade his advisers and military commanders to flee.

Kenya and Turkey are among the countries with strong economic ties to Libya that have resisted carrying out the freeze mandated by UN Security Council resolutions in February and March.

China, India and Russia, three of the world's biggest economies, have resisted European and US attempts to expand the sanctions. They argue that such actions could damage their own industries.

A UN diplomat said that "only a handful" of governments had reported back to the Security Council enforcement committee, which oversees the sanctions, that they had blocked access to Libyan assets. Under UN rules, governments do not have to report their efforts to comply with sanctions until late June.

The diplomat said the four-month delay "is a major weak flank in the system" and Gaddafi "understands the system".

Forces loyal to Gaddafi unleashed a barrage of shells and rockets at Misrata yesterday, countering Libyan government claims that the army was holding its fire into the western city. Despite the barrage, which doctors say killed 32 and wounded dozens in two days, rebels said they drove the last pro-government forces from the centre of Libya's third-largest city.

The battle for Misrata, which has claimed hundreds of lives in the past two months, has become the focal point of Libya's armed rebellion against Gaddafi since fighting elsewhere is deadlocked. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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