WASHINGTON (FinalCall.com) – NATO-supported rebel forces strengthened their grip on Libya’s capital city Tripoli and battled Libyan Government forces and supporters in Misrata and in Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s hometown Sirte at Final Call press time.
But the deposed leader remained at large and Transitional National Council (TNC) forces continued their search for him with the help of Western powers intelligence agencies and unmanned drone aircraft.
While the Arab League officially recognized the TNC government, the African Union (AU) on the other hand, meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia resolved that it will not recognize the TNC rebels, as the legitimate government in Tripoli, according to All Africa.com. In a statement issued on his return from an AU summit, South African President Jacob Zuma said article 30 of the Constitutive Act of the AU, states that governments that come into power through unconstitutional means, would not be allowed to participate in the AU. “We cannot act outside of that,” he said.
Instead, President Zuma said all groups claiming authority must come together and negotiate a peaceful process that will lead to the formation of an inclusive transitional government and democracy in Libya.
President Zuma returned from Addis Ababa Aug. 27 where he chaired the 291st Peace and Security Council meeting of the AU. He said the AU believed that its roadmap for a negotiated resolution of the six-month-old civil war was still relevant for Libya. “We need inclusivity, a situation where all groups involved in the conflict sit around the table and solve the problem together,” he said in a statement issued by the presidency.
At the same time, the government of Zimbabwe told the Libyan ambassador and his embassy staff in Harare to leave the country after they defected to the Transitional National Council. President Robert Mugabe’s side of the Zimbabwe coalition government said the pulling down of the old Libyan flag was illegal.
The Foreign Affairs ministry said Zimbabwe had relations with the Gadhafi government not the TNC, which it does not recognize. “If the ambassador of the embassy of the Libya Jamahiriya in Harare and his staff defect to the National Transitional Council, they will cease to have legal status in Zimbabwe and will be requested to leave the country immediately,” the ministry said in a statement. “Flying the flag of the National Transitional Council in Harare is an illegal act.”
Libyan rebel leaders asked their NATO sponsors Aug. 29 to keep up pressure on Col. Gadhafi and his scattered supporters and to protect those struggling to restore electricity and water to the battle-scarred capital of Tripoli.
TNC head Mustafa Abdul-Jalil told senior NATO envoys meeting in the Gulf Arab nation of Qatar that Col. Gadhafi, “can still cause trouble,” the Associated Press reported from Tripoli. “Qaddafi is still capable of doing something awful in the last moments,” Mr. Abdul-Jalil told military chiefs of staff and other key defense officials from NATO nations including France, Italy and Turkey. “Even after the fighting ends, we still need logistical and military support from NATO,” he added. NATO has been bombing Libyan loyalist forces and assisting the rebellion since March under a United Nations mandate to purportedly “protect Libyan civilians.”
U.S. participation was the key element driving the NATO policy, which drove the U.N. Security Council’s decision permitting Western intervention on the side of the rebels, according to Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress.
“U.S. involvement in the Libyan conflict was hotly debated in Congress and across the country,” Rep. Ellison wrote in an op-ed for CNN.com. “Americans were understandably weary of war and not happy about a third conflict. We should acknowledge President Barack Obama’s leadership and the contribution of our foreign policy to change in Libya.”
Going forward, the UN Secretary General is proposing up to 200 military observers, to begin a multi-national force led by two member states, up to 190 U.N. police, and additional elections and other civil staff, according a confidential report leaked to Matthew Russell Lee of InnerCityPress.com.
The report estimates that Gross Domestic Production could decline as much as 47 percent, and it puts frozen Libyan assets at $150 billion, and recommends that many of the assets not be sold and be quickly returned to Libya. Ironically, the report offers some praise of the Gadhafi government, Mr. Lee wrote. “…for example in the fields of health and education. It speaks of ‘reforms’ by Saif al-Islam, now indicted by the International Criminal Court, and former Prime Minister Ghanem.”
The report “asserts that the (TNC) opposition engaged in some killings and property seizures, even constituting war crimes, and like Qaddafi used child soldiers. It several times expresses doubt about Qaddafi’s ‘alleged’ use of foreign fighters or mercenaries.
“The report assumes at a minimum sending military and police advisers and liaisons, saying that ‘no specific [Security] Council mandate would be required for these type of tasks.’
“It flatly says that ‘the Security Council’s protection of civilians’ mandate implemented by NATO does not end with the fall of the Qaddafi government and, therefore, NATO would continue to have some responsibilities,” according to Mr. Lee.
The report was apparently written by UN Special Adviser Ian Martin, and was obtained by InnerCityPress after the UN denied requests to release it, even to UN member states.