President Obama, World Leaders Discuss Options In Libya As Gaddafi Continues Hold On Tripoli
In separate conversations with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, British Prime Minster David Cameron, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, Obama "expressed his deep concern with the Libyan government’s use of violence which violates international norms and every standard of human decency, and discussed appropriate and effective ways for the international community to immediately respond," a White House statement said. "The leaders discussed the range of options that both the United States and European countries are preparing to hold the Libyan government accountable for its actions, as well as planning for humanitarian assistance. The leaders agreed to maintain close consultations on this issue going forward.
The U.S. is working on building an international consensus as it figures out what specific actions to take against Libya's government.
Reuters reported: "U.S. officials said specific steps could include seeking stronger U.N. Security Council action, including possible sanctions, support for calls to suspend Libya from the U.N. Human Rights Council, and creating and enforcing a no-fly zone to prevent further government attacks.
"Other measures under consideration including suspending Libya's export licenses, freezing the assets of certain Libyan individuals including members of the Gaddafi family, sending humanitarian relief and increasing the ability to broadcast into Libya, the officials said."
"What we have said is we're not going to specify which options are on or off the table. We're discussing a full range of options," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.
On Thursday, reports surfaced that funds for Col. Moammar Gaddafi are expected to be seized in Britain within the next few days. It's believed Gadaffi has billions in the country.
The Telegraph reported: "In total, the Libyan regime is said to have around £20 billion in liquid assets, mostly in London. These are expected to be frozen as part of an international effort to force the dictator from power. A Whitehall source said: 'The first priority is to get British nationals out of Libya. But then we are ready to move in on Gaddafi's assets, the work is under way. This is definitely on the radar at the highest levels.'"
With oppposition forces growing stronger by the day, Gaddafi and his supporters have been isolated to parts of Tripoli and central Libya.
"Maj. Gen. Soliman Mahmoud Al-Obeidy, who commands army units based in the eastern city of Tobruk, allied with rebel forces Wednesday and vowed to combine his troops with opposition volunteers for the push to Tripoli."
Gaddafi, who has vowed to fight until the "last drop of blood", still controls a fearsome arsenal, including chemical weapons and scud missiles.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington D.C. officials are wary:
"The level of instability in Libya, and Col. Gadhafi's history of brutality, continues to make the U.S. focus on the arms and chemical agents that remain."
Gaddafi had dismantled the beginnings of a nuclear weapons program and some of its other munitions as part of a 2003 agreement with President George W. Bush. But the man has already deployed aerial gunships and high-caliber ammunition upon the opposition.
An anti-Gaddafi coalition continues to hold Libya's second-largest city, Benghazi, and some semblance of normalcy has returned there. The Guardian reported:
"Benghazi is now being run by a makeshift organising committee of judges, lawyers and other professionals who have sent out young people to direct traffic and restore basic order."
Meanwhile, rebels also control the country's southern oil fields, Libya's economic lifeblood. Production has slowed to 1/4 of its normal rate as opposition forces focus internally. Employees of many of the largest oil production facilities have fled the country.
More than 100 Libyans were killed and 400 wounded in battle Thursday. Gaddafi's use of mercenaries to fight his enemies has astonished the world. Gaddafi again addressed the country via state television, blaming Osama bin Laden and hallucinogenic drugs for taking hold of the minds of young Libyans:
"Their ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe. They are criminals ... is it logical that you let this phenomenon continue in any city? ... We do not see what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia happening in Libya, ever!"