The international community upped the ante against Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi over the weekend as fighting between rebels and government loyalists intensified. On Friday, the U.S. closed its embassy in Tripoli and imposed sanctions against the country. Washington’s move was followed by a UN Security Council vote to impose travel bans and asset freezes against Qaddafi and members of his family and inner circle on Saturday. The council also called for the Qaddafi’s crack-down to be investigated by the International Criminal Court.
On Sunday, Canada joined in by sanctioning Qaddafi, freezing millions of dollars reportedly held by him and his family in Canadian banks. And on Monday, the European Union agreed to impose its own asset freeze and travel ban on the Libyan leader and members of his family and inner circle.
An anti-government protester in Benghazi.
In addition, France has announced it will send two planes to aid Libya’s rebel forces in Benghazi, complete with doctors, nurses, medical equipment, and medicine; the U.S. has said it was prepared to offer “any kind of assistance” to Libyans seeking to overthrow the regime; and the UN Human Rights Council is soon expected to expel Libya as a member.
Meanwhile, Libya’s anti-government rebels continued to gain ground over the last few days, taking control of the eastern part of the country, including an estimated 80 percent of the country’s oil fields, and the western town of Zawiyah, close to Tripoli. The rebels have also established an interim government in the city of Benghazi, where the protests began.
How long Qaddafi and his supporters will drag the fighting out is any one’s guess. Nevertheless, with the international response over the weekend effectively de-legitimizing Qaddafi’s rule, the White House should begin planning for how to handle the post-Qaddafi Libya.