Where is Gaddafi? The Answer Could Be Worth More Than A Million Euro

After the head of the National Transitional Council (NTC) has confirmed yesterday that € 1.2 million would be paid for the capture of former leader Gaddafi, speculations on his whereabouts increased rapidly.

Croatian media for example quoted a member of the NTC-leadership as saying on 25 August that Gaddafi might seek asylum in “Chad, Algeria, Venezuela, Serbia or Croatia”.

Muammar Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte has been added to the list of possible locations for the whereabouts of the former strongman, according to unconfirmed reports released today. Gaddafi, according to some “infomed sources” might be in that city upon which he lavished attention after he took power in 1969, BBC reported early today.

The former dictator tries to keep the interest in his person at its peak by releasing message after message, the last one broadcast in an attempt to rally support in his hometown, one of his last remaining bastions. “Libya is for Libyans not for foreign agents,” Gaddafi said in his latest speech broadcast on his last remaining loyalist TV station al-Urubah in the night of 25 August, as cited by BBC Monitoring.

Gaddafi, who after his 42-year rule, keeps losing ground to the Libyan rebels all across the country  in spite of the stiff resistance offered by his supporters has urged the people of Sirte – men, women, and children – to contribute to the “cleansing” of the capital Tripoli from the rebels.

The Libyan rebels moved to advance on the region of Sirte,  some 450 km east of Tripoli, and Sabha, 600 km to the south. The cities are Gaddafi’s two last major strongholds.

Having taken most of Tripoli – even though the capital has not been fully secured – the Libyan rebel forces started to push east towards Sirte and announced today that they move their government to Tripoli.

The international community needs to take urgent action to release frozen Libyan assets to the Libyan National Transitional Council to avoid a crisis in the future, Mahmoud Jibril, chairman of NTC’s executive board said on 26 August.

According to a US diplomat, quoted by Xinhua, the United Nations will release $ 1.5 B  in Libyan assets after the United States and South Africa reached a deal Thursday on this issue. The last-minute agreement meant that the United States would not press for a vote at the UN Security Council to force the release of the assets. The US proposal had faced opposition from South Africa, a non-permanent member of the Security Council.

At the same time, international media reported that the contact group will unfreeze $ 2.5 B worth in Libyan assets by end of August.

“We have to find the necessary solutions for the NTC in Libya to fulfill their financial needs under the legal framework of the U.N. Security Council. Turkey has promised a total of $200 million to the NTC in Libya, $100 million of this have already been paid since late July,” Turkish Foreign Minister Davutoğlu said in his opening remarks at the contact group’s meeting held on 25 August in Ankara. Senior officials from 29 countries and representatives from seven organizations, including NATO and the African Union, also attended the Libya contact group meeting at the level of political directors.

With another meeting coming up, some disputable issues about the recognition of the NTC by the Arab League have surfaced. The National Transitional Council will legally represent Libya at the Arab League (AL) meeting of foreign ministers to be held on 27 August, AL’s Secretary General Nabil el-Arabi said yesterday. An Arab League official denied the pan-Arab body had recognized the NTC, saying a decision was taken to re-activate Libya’s frozen membership, Egypt’s MENA news agency reported.

The latest countries to officially recognize the NTC were Cote D’Ivoire and Serbia. The NTC has firmly gained ground and strong salutes of welcome from the international community, but it also has been advised diplomatically to abide by the law and steer away from temptations of policies of revenge.

While applauding the success of the opposition in its months-long armed struggle against the Libyan regime, Turkey has told the country’s new leaders that to maintain stability, they must allow current state institutions to endure. Ankara also urged the NTC to form an inclusive new government based on democratic principles.

The opposition should “take care not to disband settled institutions of the country such as the army and the police,” said a messages conveyed to NTC leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil by Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu during a  trip to Benghazi.

Obviously, NTC will have to keep a delicate balance between asserting its principles and being literally bombarded with applications from Gaddafi defectors, who strive for posts in the echelons of power. Decisions on the balance of power will come later and to a large extent, they will be most probably influenced by the say of Libya’s international partners.

Choices must be made and the international community has taken its pro-active approach in hope of gaining spheres of influence in the country with world’s ninth largest oil fields.

Over the competition for posts and positions the fact that 20,000 Libyans have lost their lives in the seven month of civil war is already getting forgotten…

(Sources: BBC, Xinhua, MENA; 26 August 2011)


About Johann Brandstätter

Photojournalist and documentary photographer based in Bulgaria, working mainly in the Balkans and the Middle East. Conflicts & crises, social and environmental issues, defense & military, travel, transportation.
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