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Terrorism & Security

UN Security Council hits Qaddafi with sanctions, war crimes investigations

The unanimous Security Council decision increases international pressure on Col. Muammar Qaddafi's regime in Libya as President Obama calls for Qaddafi to leave power immediately.

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RFE adds that the wheels are in motion for further sanctions against Libya, both in the UN and elsewhere. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is set to meet with President Obama this week to discuss further UN and US measures against Libya -- which could include a no-fly zone over Libya that many have called for -- while the UN General Assembly will consider a vote to remove Libya from its seat on the UN Human Rights Council. Also, the European Union issued a statement supporting the UN measures and announcing its own sanctions are in the works.

The UN decision comes down the same day that Mr. Obama issued the first public statement by a US official calling for Qaddafi's ouster. The Associated Press reports that, in a statement summarizing a telephone conversation between Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama called for Qaddafi to step down and be held accountable for his regime's violence against Libyan citizens. "The president stated that when a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now," the statement said.

The statement, which also announced US sanctions against Libya, comes after criticism of the Obama administration for not coming out more forcefully against the Libyan dictator's brutal crackdown. But The Washington Post reports that the White House's timing of the announcement was carefully made, to ensure the safety of American citizens in Libya.

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The US Embassy and other diplomatic posts in Tripoli, reopened only five years ago, comprise a series of lightly protected compounds and trailers. The guards there were Libyan, not the US Marines posted outside most embassies. And an armed and angry Libyan opposition was approaching the city from the east, as hundreds of Americans awaited evacuation across rough seas.

Administration officials said the diplomats in Tripoli told them that, in the words of one official, "certain kinds of messaging from the American government could endanger the security of American citizens." There were fears that Americans could be taken hostage.

The White House's relative silence also belied the "feverish diplomatic work and a head-versus-heart debate" going on behind the scenes, writes the Post. The administration planned a broad strategy to address the violence in Libya, rallying the strong UN sanctions and working to prevent a repeat of past international response to mass killings.

"Certainly, if we were sniping at one another or revealing divergent interests, Qaddafi would likely take that as a green light," said [Samantha Power, the National Security Council's senior director for multilateral affairs and human rights], who cited divisions at the United Nations and between the United States and European allies in confronting genocide in Rwanda and Bosnia.


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