U.S. General Wesley Clark (Ret.), explains that the Bush Administration planned to take out 7 countries in 5 years
– Libyan rebels loaned £800m in fight to force Gaddafi’s departure (Guardian, June 9, 2011):
Western and Arab governments pledge funds and fuel at Abu Dhabi meeting on Libya’s future
Western and Arab governments have pledged more than £800m to support Libya’s rebel administration as they seek to keep the pressure on Muammar Gaddafi’s regime and prepare for the era after his departure.
Italy announced a loan of €400m (£355m) in cash and fuel for the National Transitional Council (NTC) to be drawn from frozen Libyan state assets, while France offered a €290m loan. Qatar and Kuwait said they would to set up a $260m fund for the rebels, who have been fighting loyalist forces on several fronts since the February uprising, and are headquartered in eastern Libya. Turkey also promised financial support.
The pledges were made in Abu Dhabi, where more than 30 countries and groups were meeting to discuss Libya’s future. As more Nato bombs fell on Tripoli, where Gaddafi is in hiding, it emerged that efforts were still under way to persuade him to leave the country.
Trinidad Jiménez, Spain’s foreign minister, said Turkey and South Africa were working on Gaddafi’s exit even though he has repeatedly pledged – as recently as Tuesday – to die rather than leave.
“We still don’t even know if Gaddafi will accept a negotiated exit, but of course there are many countries willing to facilitate this because it will end the conflict,” Jimenez told reporters in Abu Dhabi. “Finding a place for him is now the critical issue, since everyone has agreed he has to go.”
Senegal’s president, Abdoulaye Wade, also appealed to Gaddafi to stand down, and offered to help ease his departure.
“I can be one of those who help you pull out of political life and the sooner you leave the better, to save the lives of Libyans,” Wade said on a visit to Benghazi, the rebel capital.
Gaddafi and his family have been forced underground by Nato’s bombing campaign against command centres and military sites. The operation has escalated this week, with air strikes day and night. But alliance defence ministers were warned on Thursday that without extra assets and participants the campaign could falter.
“Those who are bearing the brunt of the strike burden are increasingly pressed,” said Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, at a meeting in Brussels. “I think they’ll be able to sustain it. But the question is just how much more painful it becomes, if other countries that have the capabilities […] don’t step up.”
Only eight of 28 Nato member states are involved in the bombing campaign. France and Britain are doing most, while Norway, Denmark, Belgium, Italy and Canada are also heavily involved. The US is supplying the intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance air capacity as well as most of the air-to-air refuelling needed to keep the campaign running.
At a closed meeting of Nato defence ministers on Wednesday, Gates singled out the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey for refusing to take part in the strikes. He also voiced his exasperation with Germany and Poland, which have refused to commit to any aspects of the Libyan operations.
Liam Fox, the defence secretary, amplified the criticism. “We will await their responses to what were uncompromising and crystal-clear messages,” he said. “We need to show Colonel Gaddafi that not only is there no lack of resolve, but also that there is no lack of capacity.”
In addition to the military pressure, international criminal court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said on Wednesday he had evidence linking Gaddafi to mass rape by government soldiers, and was considering bringing charges on the issue. Moreno-Ocampo has already asked the court to issue arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and Libya’s spy chief, Abdullah Senussi, for crimes against humanity while trying to crush the rebellion. He said there was some evidence that Libya had acquired impotency drugs “to enhance the possibility to rape women”.
In Tripoli government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim described the accusation as “the same old nonsense”.
“Unfortunately many people accuse us cheaply of many crimes, and they refuse to come on the ground and investigate, not only on the charge of rape but to many, many charges,” he said. “This tells you there is a plan behind every charge. People do not want to listen and see with their own eyes, they just want to charge us.”
Meanwhile, in Abu Dhabi, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, set the tone for the third and latest meeting of the international “contact group” when she spoke of the need to work “through the UN to plan for the inevitable: a post-Gaddafi Libya”. Abdurrahman Shalgham, one of the most senior defectors from the regime, predicted rebel forces will reach Tripoli within “some weeks”.
British officials highlighted the participation at the meeting for the first time – albeit as observers – of South Africa and Egypt. South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, has played a key role in seeking to mediate with Gaddafi; Egypt, still in the aftermath of its own revolution, has been reluctant to get involved in Libyan affairs.