Deadlock in Libya exposes growing rifts

Updated: 2011-04-28 07:58

(China Daily)

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TRIPOLI, Libya -Military deadlock in Libya has exposed growing international rifts, with critics of NATO bombing calling it another case of the West trying to overthrow a regime by stretching the terms of a UN resolution.

"Is there a lack of such crooked regimes in the world?" Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin asked on Tuesday. "Are we going to bomb everywhere and conduct missile strikes?"

A senior African Union (AU) official accused Western nations of undermining an AU peace plan that would not require the departure of Muammar Gadhafi.

The AU urged an end to military actions targeting senior Libyan officials and key infrastructure, a statement said on Wednesday.

"Council urges all involved to refrain from actions, including military operations targeting Libyan senior officials and socio-economic infrastructure, that would further compound the situation and make it more difficult to achieve international consensus on the best way forward," the AU said.

Libyan rebels appear to be gaining ground against Gadhafi, the British defense minister said, despite a deadly attack on the Misrata port by the government forces.

"We've seen some momentum gained in the last few days. We've seen some progress made in Misrata. And it's very clear that the regime is on the back foot," British Defense Secretary Liam Fox said on Tuesday.

After nearly three hours of talks at the Pentagon with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Fox painted an optimistic picture of the Libya conflict despite fears on both sides of the Atlantic that the war could turn into a stalemate.

A NATO spokeswoman, meanwhile, said the alliance was considering sending a civilian "contact point" to Libya's eastern rebel bastion of Benghazi to improve political relations with the opposition.

International organizations and countries are continuing their consultations over Libya.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in New York on Tuesday that his special envoy to Libya, Abdelilah Al-Khatib, will travel to Benghazi on Friday, the stronghold of Libyan rebels, on an "imperative" mission to protect civilians or secure a political solution.

Ban said that the humanitarian situation is "growing increasingly urgent" and "diplomatic efforts focus on securing a cease-fire and achieving a political solution".

"It is also clear that the Libyan regime has lost both legitimacy and credibility, particularly in terms of protecting its people and addressing their legitimate aspirations for change," Ban said.

US President Barack Obama formally ordered a drawdown of $25 million in urgent, non-lethal US aid to Libya's Transitional National Council.

Officials said last week the aid could include vehicles, fuel trucks, ambulances, medical equipment, protective vests, binoculars and radios.

Western forces have run out of obvious targets to bomb, say analysts, without achieving a clear military result.

Putin accused the coalition of exceeding its UN mandate to protect civilians.

"They said they didn't want to kill Gadhafi. Now some officials say, yes, we are trying to kill Gadhafi," he said during a visit to Denmark.



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