Libyan diplomats at UN renounce Gaddafi

The Libyan delegation at the UN has publicly renounced its own government.  Abdul Shaltut told the Human Rights Council during a special session to determine whether to expel Libya as a panel member that his team now represents the Libyan people, and not the regime that oppresses them:

“We in the Libyan mission have categorically decided to serve as representatives of the Libyan people and their free will. We only represent the Libyan people,” he declared.

Diplomats attending the meeting applauded the announcement, but it’s not clear just yet what that means.  If the Libyan team has ceased representing the recognized government in Tripoli, then technically they have no portfolio at the UN.  That would exclude them from the HRC, at least in a formal sense, as UN representation is a privilege granted to governments, not self-appointed representatives of the “people.”

Furthermore, it’s doubtful that the “people” who have liberated a good part of the country from Moammar Gaddafi’s control will endorse the notion that Gaddafi’s diplomats represent their interests, no matter how far ahead of the curve they get with this announcement.  The current set of diplomats will have to answer to the “people” for their own efforts in covering up the crimes of the Gaddafi regime soon enough.  Even if the UN were inclined to credential them temporarily, the potential embarrassment of having them hauled back to Libya by a new government — or worse, having to beg other UN members for asylum — should warn the UN to hold off on the impulse to legitimize them for the short-term PR coup of tweaking Gaddafi.

Regardless, the HRC gave Libya the boot today:

World diplomats gathered in Geneva for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council condemned the violence unleashed by Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi against anti-government unrest and voted to suspend Libya from the rights body.

Now that the US has finally managed to evacuate the 300 Americans stranded in Libya this week, Barack Obama has begun talking turkey with allies about Libya — including Turkey:

A ferry carrying hundreds of Americans and other evacuees finally sailed from Libya on Friday, removing what U.S. officials feared could be used as a bargaining chip by an embattled Muammar Gaddafi.

President Barack Obama’s administration has been criticized for its relatively restrained response to the Libyan leader’s bloody crackdown on protesters, but U.S. officials say the main concern has been the safety of Americans in the oil-producing North African country.

Obama talked by phone with the leaders of Britain, France and Italy on Thursday on immediate steps to end the crisis, as Washington kept all options open, including sanctions and military action.

The White House said on Friday that Obama had talked to Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan about the situation in Libya, including options to ensure their citizens’ safety and to hold Libya’s government accountable for its actions.

With the issue of the American refugees settled, the White House has a very limited amount of time to assert leadership on the question of Libya.  Given the news cycle of a Friday, Obama had better issue some sort of statement demanding a “transition” from Gaddafi’s reign of terror by the end of the day today, along with some tough sanctions.  If not, Obama will lose the last excuse for his passivity in the face of an uprising against a hostile regime.

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David Strom 5:21 PM on December 09, 2022