Italy rejects Qaddafi, recognizes Libyan rebel government
Italy today became the third nation to recognize Libya's rebels as the legitimate government, dealing a blow to attempts by Muammar Qaddafi and his sons to negotiate a diplomatic settlement.
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In mid-March the Arab League voted in favor of a no-fly zone. On March 17 the UN Security Council authorized such a zone and “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. And two days later US and French jet fighters and cruise missiles began targeting Libya’s air defense systems and loyalist armor on the ground preparing to storm the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Libya's critical transition
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The government spokesman in Tripoli says the recent inconclusive back-and-forth on the battlefield – in which disorganized rebels swept forward 150 miles, only to be pushed back quickly by Qaddafi forces – showed that military conquest by either side was not likely or imminent.
Diplomacy may now have a chance because “the so-called alternative to the Libyan government is so pathetic, not unified and weak, and lacking any real structure,” says Ibrahim.
Spokesman: Qaddafi's 'future is the country's future'
“We’ve been aware for some time that we need to develop the country politically, economically and culturally,” he continues. “And any peace deal that includes improvement of our system is accepted – even with some radical suggestions, we accept it – but it has to be done from within Libya. No one can impose conditions.”
But pushing aside Qaddafi to make way for rule by his sons should not be negotiable, he adds.
“We look at the leader as the historic and symbolic figure of Libya, he doesn’t have any official position to step down from – he’s not the president, or the king, or the sultan of this country; he’s the leader of the revolution,” says Ibrahim. “Any reform in the country could take place without affecting the position of the leader…because his future is the country’s future.”
Such middle ground does not exist for the rebels, who are now reported by Al Jazeera English and other media to be receiving training, weaponry, and communications gear from the CIA, British and Egyptian special forces, and Qatar.
As the rebels begin to forge themselves into a more competent force, and leaders from Europe to the Middle East state clearly that Qaddafi must go, the rebels see little space anymore for in-house tinkering by embattled family members like Seif al-Islam.
“People thought he was a reformer but since the revolution began, he has shown his true colors. He is a carbon copy of his father,” said rebel spokesman Abdulmelah.
RELATED: Libya timeline (updated daily)