UN reaches deal to release frozen Libyan funds
Libyan rebel celebrates on streets of Tripoli Photo By: Getty Images
August 25th, 2011
07:30 PM ET

UN reaches deal to release frozen Libyan funds

By CNN Wire Staff

An agreement has been reached in the U.N. Security Council to release $1.5 billion in frozen Libyan assets to meet the humanitarian needs of the country, diplomats said Thursday.

"Today's action demonstrates the international community's solidarity with the brave people of Libya at this historic moment," said Susan E. Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in a statement.

"The unprecedented international coalition built upon U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 prevented mass atrocities in eastern Libya, averted large-scale killings of unarmed civilians and avoided a catastrophic humanitarian crisis. Yet this is not the end of Libya's transition. It is the beginning. The United States will continue to work with our international partners to support the Libyan people as they chart a democratic, prosperous and secure future for their country."

But technicalities remained to be worked out and the hold was not immediately lifted, diplomats said.

Instead, the matter was to be sent to the sanctions committee, which was to redraw the request to modify the language that mentions the National Transitional Council, the diplomats said.

South Africa, which had held up the matter on Wednesday, said no individual body should yet be declared the sole legitimate authority in Libya.

The announcement came as the U.S. military is looking at options for delivering humanitarian assistance to Libya and helping with the return of refugees. A senior U.S. military official with direct knowledge of the effort said there had been no requests for assistance, but the military was doing "prudent planning" to be prepared if asked.

U.S. President Barack Obama's policy of ruling out any U.S. troops on the ground remains in effect, he said, but military officials have indicated military aircraft and ships might deliver aid to airfields and ports.

The National Transitional Council, which is expected to function as an interim government, was offering few details about its needs, the official said.

Any U.S. assistance would likely take place within a broader post-conflict NATO effort under a United Nations umbrella, a senior NATO official told CNN. NATO military officials have begun planning efforts to be ready if they are asked for help, the senior official said.

That would include planning for humanitarian aid, air and maritime security, and the possibility of training Libyan military forces at locations outside the country, the senior official said. Arab allies such as Qatar, Jordan and perhaps others are expected to join in any post-conflict effort in order to keep it from looking like NATO nations are running the show, the senior official said.

Meanwhile, the Libya Contact Group - an alliance of countries - met Thursday in Istanbul to discuss how to help rebuild Libya's infrastructure.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman, on the sidelines of the meeting, said the Arab League was expected to officially "seat" the transitional council at league headquarters in Cairo on Saturday.

Feltman said part of the proposed $1.5 billion in assets, once unfrozen, would help pay oil bills to keep the electricity on in Libya.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said participants were looking forward to a high-level meeting of allies in Paris next week.

Italy will unfreeze about $505 million in Libyan assets that have been held in Italian banks, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Thursday.

The rebels have already gotten some support. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the transitional council, revealed that Turkey had sent $300 million to the rebels since July.

The expected release of financing for humanitarian aid came as a few signs appeared on the streets of the capital that indicated a lessening of tensions in some neighborhoods. For the first time in days, a few stores opened and more residents were out on the streets.

But fighting continued in pockets as the rebels hustled to consolidate power.

The opposition has posted a $1.4 million bounty for Gadhafi's capture or death. Though he hasn't been reported seen since rebel forces began advancing last weekend into the Libyan capital, he appeared to have issued another audio message in which he exhorted his followers to fight for control of the capital.

"Tripoli is for you, men and women," the speaker said. "Go out, go out and free Tripoli. Destroy them wherever they are, fight them. Let the crowds from everywhere march to Tripoli."

The speaker added, "Libya is for you" and not for France or its president, Nicolas Sarkozy. France is a leader in the NATO mission in Libya.

"Do not leave Tripoli for the rats, do not leave them. Fight them, destroy them. You are the overwhelming majority, you have marched in millions. March with the same millions but fight this time. Fill the streets and the fields," the speaker said. Gadhafi has previously described his adversaries as rats.

"Do not be afraid of bombing, you will not be hit. Do not be afraid at all. They are just stun grenades to scare you. Do not be afraid at all, do not surrender Tripoli."

CNN cannot independently confirm who was speaking in the recording.

Special forces from Britain, France, Jordan and Qatar - on the ground in Libya - have stepped up operations in support of the rebels in Tripoli and other cities. But a senior opposition official said much of the capital's southern neighborhoods remained dangerous.

"We have 80% of Tripoli liberated," said Hisham Abu Hajer, the coordinator of the rebels' brigades in Tripoli. "The two suburbs of Abu Salim and Al Hadba al Khadra remain contested and fierce fighting with Gadhafi forces continues."

Witnesses told CNN that fighting between rebels and Gadhafi loyalists erupted Thursday at the embattled leader's compound, the scene of a number of clashes in recent days.

A giant plume of smoke rose from the compound in Bab al-Aziziya two days after it was seized by rebels.

Rebels controlled Tripoli's international airport, but were struggling to secure an area east of it. Gadhafi loyalists destroyed an empty Libyan airline passenger plane parked at the airport Thursday - the third plane destroyed in 24 hours.

"The Tripoli airport is under the control of the rebels, but it is still being shelled by Gadhafi forces with Grad missiles," Abu Hajer said.

NATO is trying to learn how many surface-to-air missiles and launchers may still be operational inside Libya and who controls them, a NATO official told CNN Thursday.

Several months ago, the U.S. military estimated Libya had an arsenal of 20,000 SAMs, but it was not clear how many may have been destroyed during the conflict and who has control of the remaining missiles.

The State Department's Nuland also said the 10 tons of mustard gas stored at the Waddan Ammunition Reservation in Libya are secure "inside massive steel containers within heavy bunkers."

But Nuland also referred to discussions with the transitional council about taking over external security of the facility, raising the question about who is now watching over them.

A U.S. official said the same Libyan government unit that had been guarding the mustard gas stockpile is still doing so, an indication that Gadhafi security forces were still present. But the official said monitoring of the facility has determined "they have neither abandoned their posts, nor tried to gain access to the materials." The materials "are secure, guarded and not disturbed," said the official.

At hospitals across Tripoli, overwhelmed doctors and nurses attempt to care for the wounded. Robin Waudo, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross, said two surgical teams were en route from Europe with the first scheduled to arrive Friday.

In Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the NTC said it was negotiating with the longtime ruler's tribal leaders for their surrender without bloodshed.

Abu Hajer said the process of moving government ministries from the opposition base in Benghazi to the capital has inched forward, with about four or five ministerial level officials of the NTC already in Tripoli.

In the oil-rich city of al-Brega, several crude oil storage tanks continued burning more than six days after they were set ablaze by retreating Gadhafi troops, said Ramadan Shalash, the refinery fire chief.

CNN's Jack Maddox, Dan Rivers, Sara Sidner, Arwa Damon, Raja Razek, Jomana Karadsheh, Hada Messia, Kareem Khadder, Richard Allen Greene, Barbara Starr, Pam Benson, Moni Basu, Tom Cohen and Salma Abdelaziz contributed to this report.

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Filed under: Arab Spring • Diplomacy • Gadhafi • Intelligence • Libya • Military • NATO
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  7. KingDavid

    While we support our Armed Force Troops, we have to ask ourselves haven’t we kept them in “Harms Way” long enough?
    Let’s look at the War mentality when we went into Afghanistan and Iraq. We for the most part expected the wars to last as long as George Bush Senior’s war with Iraq (less than his 4 year term of office as President of the U.S.A.). Then enter George W. Bush as President and we had 8 years of war after executing “Sad Damn Insane.” Then comes Obama as President running on the Campaign Promises of “Get out of Iraq, concentrate on Afghanistan, execute “Bin (Heavy) Laiden”and get out of Afghanistan. So where are all of the “Bush War Protesters,” when you need them to “Speak Up to Obama?” He has not kept his word and has added three more wars to over throw Egypt, Libya and Yemen. How about Obama and Clinton’s famous Campaign words: “I hear you, I hear you-JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Obama’s solution for jobs add more debt to the 16 Trillion dollars with Infrastructure Jobs all financed by you guessed it-Our Taxpayer dollars at the overpriced gas station pumps. Let’s talk about who gets most of the Infrastructure Monies the Rich Contractors get 75% and the Union workers who about 10% are migrate workers get only 25% and the Middle Class Workers get no major numerical amount of jobs in the “Private Sector.” Another Obama Campaign Promise we have to get rid of Special Interest Groups and their Lobbyists (Banks, Financial Institutions), Welfare for the “Rich”-Taxpayer Bailout Money, at the cost of Teacher Jobs to buy School Buildings, Fireman replaced with (Prison Inmates) and Policemen Jobs replaced with “Rent-A-Cops” (so that Rich Contractors again get most of the monies).
    Now for the News Media that says: We are going to let the Voters see that we are going to keep the Politicians to their Campaign Promises. NOW IF THAT IS NOT A BUNCH OF HORSE “PUCKEY,” CNN IS JUST AS BIAS AS FOX NEWS IS (CNN-Democratic, FOX Republican). We need a Media Network for: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish National Political Party Systems of the United States of America.”
    We must have a National Party of the United States who will select candidates for all offices of our Country loyal to National Free Enterprise against the Global One World Government System, Socialism and Communism and immediately withdrawal of all jobs sent to Communist China and Russia who are guilty of stealing the United States Top Military Project Systems and supporting the Nuclear Proliferation of Iran.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:00 am | Reply
  8. JP

    WHY! Does The LIBYAN People Have To Now Beg The West For There Own Money. Just Like IRAQ There Going To Be Forced To Cut Deals With Western Countrys To Rebuild Just To Get Them To Give Them All There Money At Once. And Thats A Damn Shame To Steal these People's Money Just Like Evil Guy They Got Rid Of. SHAME ON THE WEST AND THE MEDIA FOR NOT REPORTING THIS FACT. All Arab Nations should Only put there Money in Banks i CHINA.

    August 26, 2011 at 2:23 pm | Reply

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