By Arab News
Libya will know no peace so long as Qaddafi and his family remain there
France, Qatar and Italy have recognized the Benghazi-based Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya. The Kuwaiti Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Salem Al-Sabah is reported as saying that that Kuwait also intends to do so. In the next few days, other countries will follow suit.
It is time for all the states of the GCC, in a single move, to do the same. The reasons are compelling. It is not just that Libya is a future natural firm ally for the GCC – politically, as a fellow moderate Arab state, and economically, as a fellow Arab oil producer. It is matter of political morality and necessity. Breaking links with the brutal Qaddafi regime and sending its representative packing says that the GCC stands on the side of justice in Libya. Normally, that is not on option when brutal regimes are firmly in control of their countries. But in this case, there is a choice. Moreover, making that choice will have an effect on the outcome. The more countries that recognize the opposition, the greater the pressure on the regime to collapse.
Such a move, which should happen within days, has also to include measures to ensure that Libyan state assets are frozen and held for the benefit of the Libyan people rather than the Libyan regime. That has not yet happened in all GCC states.
Recognizing the TNC also should include giving it all the support it requires. There are humanitarian, practical and financial needs, although significantly it is free Libya that has the oil and selling it. It is now in business, unlike Qaddafi.
There will be other implications in making the final break with Qaddafi. His ambassador in Riyadh is also Libya’s representative to the OIC. Although the OIC secretariat has made it clear where its stands on Libya with its condemnations of the regime’s killing of citizens, the issue of who represents the country is more complex. The only way to address that is by temporarily suspending its representation.
There are those who say it would be dangerous to break with Qaddafi because no one can know who will end up in control of the country. What is wrong with that? It is for the Libyan people to make that decision. The opposition is committed to making that happen. As for suggestions that Al-Qaeda is waiting in the wings, that Libya is a tribal society and could be another Somalia, they are lies peddled by the Qaddafi regime. Those who believe them only betray their ignorance of the country.
But then the regime operates almost exclusively now through lies and deceit, like the false cease-fires announced or this week’s mission to Greece, Turkey and Malta – the real aim being to sow confusion among Mediterranean countries with a longstanding strong relationship with Libya and gain the regime time. It was an obvious sham. It proposed Qaddafi’s replacement by his son Saif Al-Islam at the head of a transitional government, yet back in Tripoli yesterday Saif Al-Islam while saying yes to reform himself insisted his father must stay.
Qaddafi and the entire family have to go – not into retirement but out of the country. Without that there will be no peace in Libya; ever. The only transitional government that can ensure peace is the one in Benghazi. It is time to recognize it.