Wednesday, 13 April 2011

US says replacing Qadhafi is paramount

The US administration, having pulled back from NATO-led air strikes, has continued to maintain that the replacement of Colonel Mu'ammar Qadhafi, as well as resumption of essential utilities to besieged areas such as Misrata, is paramount.

In an independent trip, the maverick former congressman Curt Weldon, who has previously courted controversy in the US for his stance on Libya, visited Tripoli at the regime's invitation and met Sa'adi Qadhafi. The trip was privately financed by US firm Worldwide Strategic Energy and is rumoured to have been planned from the Libyan end by Sa'adi.

On his return to the US, Weldon has been backing the idea that the Leader could step aside to allow Saif Al-Islam to take Libya forward into a period of constitutional change. He claims that this plan now has the backing of Sa'adi.

Official US engagement in Libya has been provided in the form of US envoy Chris Stevens who had previously worked at the US Embassy in Tripoli and has been in Benghazi since 5th April. The Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) has been pressing Stevens on their claim for the monies that have been frozen by the US Treasury following UN and US sanctions, and are asking Washington to release a portion of the funds in order to tackle some of the shortages faced by Libyans, particularly medical supplies.

Although the US is understood to be considering the matter, it is clear that there are concerns over the manner in which the money could be spent, including fears over Islamic elements inside the rebel group.

On 8th April, the US also widened the circle of those affected by economic sanctions. Five more members of the Qadhafi regime have been added to the list, including National Oil Corporation (NOC) head Dr Shukri Ghanem and Prime Minister Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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