Libya:‘recall UN Security Council’

by our Arab Affairs correspondent

LIBYA is urging Russia to call an emergency session of the UN Security Council meeting to halt the continuing NATO onslaught, which this week included an attempt to kill the Libyan leader in an air attack on his Tripoli compound.

Fierce fighting continues between loyalist troops and rebel militias along the eastern coastal road to Benghazi and around the besieged rebel-held port of Misrata in west of the country. The Libyan Government has begun to distribute weapons among the population in anticipation of a NATO land invasion.

Back in London, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned the Cabinet that Britain “must prepare for the long haul” in Libya, following talks in Washington between Defence Secretary Liam Fox and Pentagon chief Robert Gates. And a UN team has arrived in the Libyan capital to investigate allegations of human rights violations by both sides since the start of the conflict in February.

Libyan government forces withdrew from central Misrata this week to allow humanitarian aid to reach the rebels who control the docks and the centre of the city. But the loyalists have warned that if the rebels continue to prolong the fighting the Libyan army will give local tribal militias a free hand to take the town.

leave the city

Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said that the Libyan army will leave the city and the local tribes and people will have to try to work out a solution to the problems either through force or negotiations.

And the Nato offensive is escalating despite calls from Russia, China and much of the Third World for an immediate ceasefire to pave the way for a dialogue to end the civil war.

Libya urged Russia on Tuesday to call an emergency meeting of the Security Council to discuss what it called the “colonial and crusader aggression against Libyan civilian sites, and the attempt to target leader Muammar Gaddafi”.

The Libyan government has accused Nato of trying to assassinate Gaddafi after the coalition sent at least two large guided bombs into the sprawling office, residential and military complex where he lives in Tripoli, destroying offices and a library. Three people were killed and 45 were injured in the attack, 15 of them seriously.

‘no attempt’

US imperialism says there was no deliberate attempt to kill Gaddafi during the air raid and Washington is leaving most of the running to Britain, France and Italy.

But the Obama administration has issued new decrees to allow the rebels to sell oil within their control and US firms to engage in transactions involving oil, oil products and natural gas, as long as the exports benefit the rebel “Transitional National Council”.

The Americans have also ordered the supply of up to $25 million-worth of surplus government stock to the Libyan rebels. The “non-lethal” aid will include vehicles, ambulances, medical equipment, body armour, radios and ready meals.

Meanwhile reactionary Republican US senator John McCain, the highest profile American politician to visit the rebel held provincial capital of Benghazi since the start of the conflict, has called for the use of more air power to prevent what he called a humanitarian crisis in Libya. “If you are really in this to prevent a humanitarian disaster, the only way you can prevent it is to have Gaddafi not able to inflict it,” McCain declared.

McCain and fellow senators Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham called on the Obama administration to step up operations in Libya. On his return from Benghazi McCain told reporters that he was glad to see Predator drones being used in the attacks on Libya and that it was important for the United States “to play a greater role in the air power side”.