Gaddafi ‘ delu­sional’

US, UK tighten screws as strong­man fal­ters

Townsville Bulletin - - World Snapshot -

THE United States branded Muam­mar Gaddafi ‘‘ delu­sional’’ and moved naval and air forces into po­si­tion around Libya, stiff­en­ing the in­ter­na­tional bid to drive the tee­ter­ing strong­man from power.

Wash­ing­ton also clamped a freeze on $ US30 bil­lion ($ A29.5 bil­lion) in Libyan as­sets – the largest such haul ever hooked by sanc­tions and openly goaded key Gaddafi aides to de­fect. It said ‘‘ ex­ile’’ was an op­tion to end his de­fi­ance.

Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s team sought to weaken Mr Gaddafi on mul­ti­ple fronts, as in­ter­na­tional pres­sure on his frag­ile regime mul­ti­plied and op­po­si­tion forces bore down on his Tripoli strong­hold amid re­ports of new vi­o­lence.

Mean­while, Bri­tain an­nounced that it had foiled a plan by Libyan Gaddafi to move mint Libyan ban­knotes worth £ 900 mil­lion ($ A1.44 bil­lion) out of Bri­tain.

‘‘ The Chan­cel­lor of the Ex­che­quer ( fi­nance min­is­ter) in­ter­vened to block the de­par­ture of £ 900 mil­lion ‘ THEY LOVE ME’: Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Chris­tiane Aman­pour with Mr Gaddafi in notes des­tined for Libya,’’ Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron said.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment an­nounced it was freez­ing Libya’s Bri­tish-held as­sets and the money was im­pounded be­fore it could leave the coun­try.

Libyan am­bas­sador to the US, Ali Au­jali, who de­fected, has been re­placed by a pro-Gaddafi diplo­mat.

Mr Gaddafi has punched his own rhetor­i­cal counter-of­fen­sive, procl ai ming i n an i nter­view with for­eign out­lets that his peo­ple loved him. ‘‘ They love me all. They would die to pro­tect me,’’ he said in an in­ter­view with West­ern jour­nal­ists in a Tripoli restau­rant, laugh­ing off sug­ges­tions that he might leave Libya as the White House aired the prospect of ex­ile for him.

‘‘ It sounds just frankly delu­sional, when he can talk and laugh to an Amer­i­can and ( an) in­ter­na­tional jour­nal­ist while he is slaugh­ter­ing his own peo­ple,’’ US am­bas­sador to the UN Su­san Rice said at the White House. ‘‘ It only un­der­scores how un­fit he is to lead and how dis­con­nected he is from re­al­ity.’’

There have al­ready been dis­cus­sions in Wash­ing­ton about what to do with Gaddafi in ex­ile.

Ms Rice said Wash­ing­ton was al­ready con­tact­ing Libyan op­po­si­tion groups, though was not yet ready to recog­nise any of them.

State Depart­ment spokesman Philip Crowley added: ‘‘ He should get out of his tent and see what’s re­ally hap­pen­ing in his coun­try’’. Ear­lier, Sec­re­tary of State Hil­lary Clin­ton led the US diplo­matic thrust in Geneva, meet­ing with for­eign min­is­ters at the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil.

‘‘ The peo­ple of Libya have made them­selves clear: it is time for Gaddafi to go – now, with­out fur­ther vi­o­lence or de­lay,’’ she said, ac­cus­ing him of un­leash­ing ‘‘ mer­ce­nar­ies and thugs’’ on pro­test­ers.

The Pen­tagon was mov­ing naval and air forces into po­si­tion near Libya, as West­ern coun­tries weigh pos­si­ble mil­i­tary in­ter­ven­tion, and of­fi­cials dis­cussed a pos­si­ble ‘‘ no fly’’ zone to pro­tect civil­ians.

US com­man­ders could turn to the USS En­ter­prise air­craft car­rier, cur­rently in the Red Sea, and the am­phibi­ous ship the USS Kearsarge, bristling with a he­li­copter fleet and about 2000 marines.

The force could also launch hu­man­i­tar­ian mis­sions as fears grow of a refugee cri­sis sparked by Libyans flee­ing gov­ern­ment re­pres­sion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.