NATO, EU Mull Stronger Sanctions against Libya

Bulgaria in EU | March 10, 2011, Thursday // 10:49|  views

NATO and EU are discussing stronger sanctions against the Gaddafi regime. File photo

NATO defense ministers are meeting Thursday to discuss military options related to Libya, including a proposed no-fly zone.

The no-fly zone would be deemed a military operation and can be carried out only through a mandate of the UN Security Council, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, warns, adding NATO has no intentions of interfering in Libya without such mandate.

The EU foreign ministers are also holding informal talks Thursday ahead of a European Council summit on Friday, which is expected to toughen sanctions against the Gaddafi regime. In addition to sanctions for Libya, a discussion of longer-term plans for the democratization of northern Africa is going to be on the table. The funding for the plan is estimated at EUR 10 B.

The European Parliament is expected to vote in Strasburg a resolution strongly condemning the violence and ask Gaddafi to withdraw. The text further includes a request to European institutions to insist before the UN to ban flights in Libya's airspace. There is also a proposal to recognize the Libyan opposition transitional National Council and begin talks with it.

Libyan government forces are fiercely fighting the rebels who rose up in mid-February to end leader Muammar Gaddafi's 41 years in power.

For days now, Gaddafi forces, with artillery and tanks, are trying to retake the western city of Zawiya from the rebels. Zawiya reportedly changed hands twice on Wednesday.

On the eastern front around the Mediterranean oil port of Ras Lanuf, rebels retreated in the face of heavy government gunfire and air strikes.

Gaddafi also sent envoys overseas on the eve of the summit of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

High-ranking members of the Libyan leader's inner circle have been dispatched to Cairo, Brussels, Lisbon and Malta to approach government officials.

The Libyan government meanwhile offered a reward of nearly half million USD for the capture of rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Libya's former Justice Minister.

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Tags: Zawiya, Muammar Gaddafi, Muamar Qaddafi, Gaddafi, Libya, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, summit, foreign ministers, Defense Ministers, NATO, EU, European Council, European parliament, UN, transitional National Council


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