UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Key Libyan diplomats disowned Moammar Gadhafi's regime on Monday and the country's deputy U.N. ambassador called on the longtime ruler to step down because of its bloody crackdown on protesters.
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The Libyan ambassador to the United States also said he could no longer support Gadhafi, the ambassador to India planned to resign, and the ambassador to Bangladesh quit to protest the killing of family members by government troops. Almost all Libyan diplomats at the United Nations backed deputy ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi's pleas to Gadhafi to end his 40-year rule and to the international community to intervene.
The U.N. spokesperson's office said late Monday that the Security Council had scheduled consultations on the situation in Libya for Tuesday morning. Earlier, Dabbashi had called for an urgent meeting of the Security Council to take action to stop the bloodshed.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he hopes that "the Security Council will take this matter on an urgent basis," according to a transcript of his remarks at a Los Angeles news conference released by the U.N. spokesperson's office.
Ban said it was up to the Security Council to decide whether to call for some sort of "no-fly zone" over Libya to protect protesters from attacks by Libyan aircraft.
As diplomatic support for Gadhafi began to crumble, Dabbashi warned that if he doesn't leave, "the Libyan people will get rid of him."
Gadhafi's security forces unleashed the most deadly crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, with reports Monday that demonstrators were being fired at from helicopters and warplanes. After seven days of protests and deadly clashes in Libya's eastern cities, the eruption of turmoil in the capital, Tripoli, sharply escalated the challenge to Gadhafi.
Ban expressed outrage late Monday at the reported aerial attacks and said the "violence against demonstrators must immediately stop."
"I have seen very disturbing and shocking scenes, where Libyan authorities have been firing at demonstrators from warplanes and helicopters," Ban told reporters in Los Angeles. "This is unacceptable. This must stop immediately. This is a serious violation of international humanitarian law."
Ban said he had spoken to Gadhafi earlier Monday to urge him to end the violence and respect the human rights of demonstrators.
Libya's ambassador in Washington, Ali Adjali, told BBC World that the reports of firing from warplanes spurred his decision not to support the government any more.
"To me it is a very sad moment seeing Libyans killing other Libyans," he said. "I'm not supporting the government killing its people. ... I'm (not) resigning Moammar Gadhafi's government, but I am with the people. I am representing the people in the street, the people who've been killed, the people who've been destroyed. Their life is in danger."
Dabbashi, the deputy U.N. ambassador, also said he and the U.N. diplomats were not resigning because they served the people of Libya and not the regime.
"This is in fact a declaration of war against the Libyan people," he told reporters, surrounded by a dozen Libyan diplomats. "The regime of Gadhafi has already started the genocide against the Libyan people."
Libya's U.N. Ambassador Mohamed Shalgham was not present at Dabbashi's press conference. He told the U.N. correspondent for the pan-Arab newspaper, Al-Hayat, that all diplomats at Libya's mission supported Dabbashi "excluding me." Shalgham said he was in touch with the Gadhafi government and was trying "to persuade them to stop these acts."
Libya's ambassador to Bangladesh, A.H. Elimam, resigned to protest the killing of family members by government soldiers in Libya, said a senior official at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Elimam informed the foreign ministry about his resignation late Monday.
In New Delhi, an Indian diplomatic official told the AP that the Libyan ambassador to India intends to resign. However, as of Tuesday morning the ambassador, Ali al-Essawi, had not officially met with the foreign ministry to turn in his credentials.
Earlier, al-Essawi told the BBC he was resigning because of "massive violence against Libyan civilians." Abdel-Moneim al-Houni, who resigned Sunday as Libya's ambassador to the Arab League in Cairo, demanded that Gadhafi and his commanders and aides be put on trial for "the mass killings in Libya."
"Gadhafi's regime is now in the trash of history because he betrayed his nation and his people," al-Houni said in a statement.
A Libyan diplomat in China, Hussein el-Sadek el-Mesrati, told Al-Jazeera, "I resigned from representing the government of Mussolini and Hitler."
Libyan embassies in Tokyo and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, were closed Tuesday, according to non-diplomatic workers who answered the telephones.
Gadhafi appeared very briefly on Libyan state television early Tuesday to attempt to show he was still in charge and dispel rumors that he had fled.
Gadhafi is reportedly using mercenaries against the protesters and Dabbashi urged the international community to impose a no-flight zone "on the cities of Libya so no mercenaries, no supplies of arms will arrive to the regime."
Dabbashi also urged the international community to establish safe passage for medical supplies from neighboring Tunisia and Egypt to get across the borders to Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, which was the scene of the heaviest fighting. By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters.
"We also call on the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by Gadhafi against the Libyan people," Dabbashi told the Associated Press.
The best scenario, he said, "is to have him before the court, to prosecute him and to know from him everything about the crimes he committed before, whether it is ... the genocide he is committing now or the disappearance of certain important personalities... and all the other crimes he has committed during the 42 years in power."
Dabbashi also called on all countries to refuse entry to Gadhafi if he tries to escape and to monitor financial transactions if he tries to send money outside Libya.
Some 70 human rights groups called for immediate international action "to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people."
The groups urged the U.N. Security Council to meet and take action to protect Libyan civilians from "crimes against humanity," and they urged the U.N. General Assembly to suspend Libya from membership on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.
The signatories included the U.S.-based National Endowment for Democracy, Physicians for Human Rights, Geneva-based UN Watch, and groups from many other countries including South Africa, Switzerland, India, Nigeria, Germany, Pakistan, Venezuela and Britain.
03/11/2011 6:31 PM EST
U.S. Extends Sanctions On Libya
Reports the AP:
The Obama administration extended its Libya sanctions to more Gadhafi family members and close advisers on Thursday, blacklisting business with the Libyan leader's wife, four of his children and his chief of military intelligence.
The Treasury Department froze the assets of nine Libyans in all as part of the strategy to peel off Moammar Gadhafi's closest advisers while punishing those who remain loyal to the regime even as it commits human rights violations.
The sanctions come on top of those previously announced by the administration, which accounted for $32 billion in Libyan government assets blocked in the United States.
03/11/2011 5:33 PM EST
Sarkozy Calls For Air Strikes If Gaddafi Attacks Civilians
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has called for airstrikes against Gaddafi forces if the leader attacks civilians. According to the Guardian:
Nicolas Sarkozy has called for targeted air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's regime if his forces use chemical weapons or launch air strikes against civilians.
As the EU foreign policy chief, Lady Ashton, warned that a no-fly zone could risk civilian lives in Libya, the French president told an emergency EU summit in Brussels that air strikes may soon be justified.
"The strikes would be solely of a defensive nature if Mr Gaddafi makes use of chemical weapons or air strikes against non-violent protesters," Sarkozy said. The French president qualified his remarks by saying he had many reservations about military intervention in Libya "because Arab revolutions belong to Arabs".
03/11/2011 5:06 PM EST
Dutch Helicopter Crew Freed
A Dutch helicopter crew taken captive in Libya has been freed and sent to Greece. The BBC is reporting:
The two men and one woman arrived in Athens on a Greek military transport plane hours after a son of Muammar Gaddafi announced their release.
Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said Libya would hold on to the crew's Lynx helicopter.
The woman pilot, Yvonne Niersman, took part in a mission last year to free a German ship from Somali pirates.
Ms Niersman and her fellow crew members were captured in Libya after flying in from the Dutch warship Tromp, anchored off the coast.
Read the entire report here.
03/11/2011 4:43 PM EST
McCain Praises Moroccan King
Senator John McCain praised Morocco's King Mohammed VI for his pledge to introduce democratic reforms. According to the AFP:
"This new reform agenda builds on the king's long-standing commitment to lead Morocco to a future of reform and modernization, and it could ensure that the Kingdom of Morocco will continue to stand as a positive example to governments across the Middle East and North Africa," said McCain.
03/11/2011 3:40 PM EST
Gaddafi Offers Amnesty To Rebels
Reuters is reporting that Gaddafi is now offering to offer amnesty to those rebels who lay own arms.
03/11/2011 3:28 PM EST
2 Protesters Killed In Tunisia
The AP reports:
Tunisia's Interior Ministry says a new eruption of violence between police and protesters has killed two people and injured 20.
The ministry says on its Facebook page that police fired tear gas and demonstrators threw stones and gasoline bombs.
The statement says two protesters were killed in the incident in Metlaoui, a mining town in the center of the Mediterranean country.
The violence comes as Tunisia's interim government is trying to restore stability after deadly protests that drove out longtime leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January. That prompted uprisings around the Arab world.
03/11/2011 2:39 PM EST
Berlusconi Says Hardline With Gaddafi A Mistake
Berlusconi is saying that the West may have made a mistake by taking a hardline against Gaddafi, which may have backed the Libyan leader into a corner. Reports Reuters:
The hardline stance taken by major powers against Muammar Gaddafi may have backed the Libyan leader into a corner and prevented a quiet exit, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Friday. Speaking after a special meeting of EU leaders, Berlusconi, one of Gaddafi's closest friends in Europe until the current upheaval, said the chances of persuading him to give up power voluntarily now appeared to have disappeared.
"Once someone put forward the idea of bringing Gaddafi before the International Criminal Court, I think the idea of staying in power became entrenched with him and I don't think anyone can make him change his mind," he told reporters.
Read the entire report here.
03/11/2011 2:16 PM EST
Who Are The Libyan Rebels?
The AP is reporting that the rebels fighting Gaddafi forces are amateurs, but deeply committed to the cause:
Moammar Gadhafi has ruled Libya since long before the 25-year-old was born, and he hates the dictator enough to risk his life by fighting for the ragtag rebel force battling government troops along a desolate highway on the North African country's Mediterranean coast.
"I will fight forever. I will die or win, like Omar Mukhtar," said Salem, invoking the legendary Libyan hero who fought Italian occupiers in the 1930s, was ultimately executed, and has become a symbol for the new revolutionaries.
The front-line force trying to advance toward Gadhafi's stronghold in the capital Tripoli is surprisingly small. Not counting supporters who bolster them in the towns along their path, it is estimated at 1,500 at most — Libyans from all walks of life, from students and coffeeshop owners to businessmen who picked up whatever weapons they could and joined the fight. No one seems to know their full size, and they could be picking up new members all the time.
Its ramshackle nature explains the dramatic lurches the fighting has taken. Last week, they took control over a stretch of Mediterranean coastal land that included major oil installations in the ports of Brega and Ras Lanouf. They charged enthusiastically further west, reaching within a few dozen miles of Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, a bastion of support for the leader of 41 years.
03/11/2011 1:03 PM EST
Gaddafi Forces Show Signs Of Victory
Reports the AP:
Moammar Gadhafi's regime has gained momentum with the capture of a key city near Tripoli after days of fierce fighting with rebels.
The battle for Zawiya has emerged as a key test in the government's ability to maintain its hold on the Libyan capital and surrounding areas.
The government had claimed victory on Wednesday, but the rebels who are seeking to oust Gadhafi said fighting was ongoing.
An Associated Press reporter, who was escorted with other journalists into the city on Friday, says the main square that had been the center of resistance is clearly in government control.
03/11/2011 12:47 PM EST
Obama On Libya
Obama noted all of the sanctions and property seizures that have already been implemented against Gaddafi, saying, "Across the board, we are tightening the noose on Gaddafi." He says that NATO is discussing potential military actions in Libya, including a no-fly zone, and will meet on Tuesday. He said that a position will be created for a liaison to speak with Libyan opposition groups. He said that the international community had moved quickly to isolate Gaddafi.
Obama said that no options have been taken off the table so far. In response to a question about whether it would ever be acceptable to the U.S. for Gaddafi to stay in power, Obama stated that "it is in the U.S.' interest and the interest of the Libyan people for Gaddafi to leave." He added, however, that when making a decision to engage militarily, he would weigh the "costs and benefits."