US recognition of Libya rebels could bring more funds
At an Istanbul meeting, Secretary of State Clinton announced US recognition for Libya's rebels and pledged more aid to help them oust Muammar Qaddafi.
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And along the western Nafusah mountains, the town of Qawalish and its large military base – which sits astride a strategic supply route for the Libyan capital, Tripoli – was first captured by rebel forces a week ago, then briefly lost, then captured again.Skip to next paragraph
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Rebels there are training and capturing and receiving more military hardware, though it is not clear if they can move easily out of the mountains to positions
where pro-Qaddafi forces are dug in.
“You’re going to see more military activity in the next days and weeks,” said TNC spokesman Mahmoud Shamman in Istanbul. “Now we are on the front entrance of Brega, and we have very furious resistance from Qaddafi troops there, and I think by tomorrow Brega will be under our control.”
Nato reported striking five targets in Brega overnight.
"We assured them…we are heading toward a democratic constitutional state,” said Mr. Shamman. “We want to have an elected government, our roadmap [is] talking about constitutional committee and constitutional council which would lead the country for a period time.” He said the TNC planned for elections within a year.
But the top priority for the rebels is cash for a region that risks a shutdown within weeks without financial replenishment. The biggest expectation for the Istanbul meeting?
“Funds, funds, funds,” said Shamman, adding that commitments added up to $700 to $800 million, but that only $100 million had been received. The TNC’s current needs, he said, are $3 billion.
“We need to help our people. We are happy with the commitments, but we would like to see a mechanism that becomes a reality, the reality is the key question.”
The final statement of the contact group noted that “military means alone cannot resolve the crisis” in Libya, and promised to help “alleviate the Council’s urgent need for cash particularly for sustaining public services and maintaining basic living conditions among the people.”
Contact group foreign ministers vowed to help, by providing money or loans, and keeping up political and military pressure.
“Politically, the isolation on Mr. Qaddafi and the family is absolutely clear,” said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini. “We had to combine political isolation with a very clear decision on how and when he leaves power. Today you will see the final document, where the contract group recognizes the TNC as the interlocutor representing the Libyan people, so no other option but Qaddafi leaves."