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Berlin annoyed as Paris recognizes Libyan rebels

The Local · 10 Mar 2011, 16:35

Published: 10 Mar 2011 11:24 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Mar 2011 16:35 GMT+01:00

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France became the first country to recognise Libya's opposition as its rightful representatives, pledging to send an ambassador to rebel-held territory rocked by violence, officials said.

But the unilateral decision – made ahead of an EU summit on the issue set for Friday – was met with displeasure within the governing coalition, media reports said.

The question of Berlin following France’s lead "has not arisen," a high-ranking government source said on Thursday.

"You do not recognise a government, you recognise a state," the source said under condition of anonymity. "The question of recognising a rebel council is not relevant in terms of international law," added the official.

Berlin recognises Libya's national transition council "as someone who speaks for some parts of the population," he added.

Earlier on Thursday, state minister for the Foreign Ministry Werner Hoyer told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily that "the situation is still too confused to be able to decide how to proceed."

Even if the current government is "discredited," it is "still not clear" how a transition government would work, he said.

Meanwhile Germany froze billions in assets held by the Libyan Central Bank and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA), the economy ministry said Thursday, as it implemented European Union sanctions.

The sanctions, applied Wednesday, also targeted the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio and the Libyan Foreign Bank, the ministry said, adding: "The measures block billions worth of assets" without specifying the currency.

Economy Minister Rainer Brüderle said: "The measures taken yesterday are a

clear reaction to the developments in Libya."

He said the brutal suppression of the Libyan freedom movement could no longer be financed by assets held in German banks.

"The German government is sending a clear signal with this move that it is firmly on the side of those in Libya who are demanding freedom, democracy and the rule of law," added Brüderle.

Story continues below…

On Tuesday, the 27 nations of the EU decided to impose tough new sanctions on the regime of Libyan strongman Muammar Qaddafi, notably on the LIA, the overseas investment vehicle for Tripoli's oil revenues.

Set up in 2006, the LIA has significant holdings in Italian bank UniCredit, Italian defence and aeronautical group Finmeccanica, Juventus Football Club and Pearson, the publisher of the Financial Times, which itself froze that holding last week.

The German move comes ahead of a frantic 48-hour period of European diplomacy as countries ponder how to deal with the continuing unrest in Libya.

Foreign ministers and leaders were set to meet over consecutive days for talks that will shape the prospects for military intervention via a no-fly zone, as well as humanitarian aid and economic props.

AFP/The Local/mry/ka

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:37 March 10, 2011 by Frenemy
"Foreign ministers and leaders were set to meet over consecutive days for talks that will shape the prospects for military intervention via a no-fly zone"

Despite what commenters have said in other posts, I wouldn't write off the possibility of US intervention in Libya just yet. Remember how arms depots were looted in Iraq after Saddam's gov't fell? Remember where those weapons ended up? That's right, in the very capable hands of the jihadists. Same thing will happen in Libya if Qaddafi looses control. So while it might not be an American problem right now, how long do you think it will be until Libyan weaponry hits the global black market and people like Arad Uka get hold of them? Also keep in mind that before Qaddafi had his spiritual awakening or whatever you wanna call it, Libya was the #1 supplier of arms to terrorists all over the world (from Abu Nidal to the IRA). I mean, killing a couple soldiers of soldiers with a handgun is one thing, but imagine what Uka could have done on that bus with a few Soviet-made F1 grenades or what he could have done at the end of a runway with a functional SA-7 ?

The harsh reality of the situation is that we (Europeans) are militarily incapable of intervening in Libya for more than a few days without the USAF and USN. And both Qaddafi and the rebels are well aware of this fact.

As for the question of who to support (Qaddafi or the rebels), the old adage "better the devil you know" seems particularly apt...
17:07 March 10, 2011 by Expat IV
Good points . In this situation the US is damned if it does and damned if it doesn't. I agree with Hillary Clinton--the US needs to take a back seat in this and support whatever the global community decides to do. What have the Gulf States done except say they support a "no fly zone"? What have the Saudis done? Time for them to ante up and take action or are they holding back because they believe it is only a matter of time before they are doing the same to their own people?
18:04 March 10, 2011 by Beachrider
Libya was on America's "enemies list" for 30 years. Just as with Cuba, it has served American policy to ignore the issues of the Libyan state. It seems that NATO would have to approve being way-out-in-front of the UN in establishing a rationale for assisting the rebels.

A no-fly zone only serves to assist the rebels.
19:34 March 10, 2011 by Expat IV
Whatever decision is made, the US and NATO should not be the ones to make it. The UN--the world-- should lead gently while requiring the Gulf States to take a stand. The problem is an Arabic one, not an American/European one. Yes, we all depend on oil from the region--our own faults. We have turned a blind eye to the treatment of the people in these countries for about 40 years while supporting the leaders who fed our addiction. Who are we to step in now?

European countries are already struggling with the idea of how many Libyan refugees they can accept while next door neighbor Saudi Arabia have made no move to shelter refugees, much less to intervene.

The western nations have to accept the fact that we are not the judge, jury and hangman for the world. The Arabic states have to step up and deal with their own problems.

I see a parallell to the upheaval in Europe that began in the 1700's when the people began to shake off the yoke of monarchies. It was painful and deadly, but Europe has managed to survive and prosper. More recently, the Central European nations threw off Soviet control. The birth pangs were incredible, but the newly independent nations are emerging. The Middle East is now experiencing the same process. The West needs to step back and let natural political evolution take place there.
20:30 March 10, 2011 by wood artist
For the US or NATO or the EU to successfully intervene, I think at least two other players need to be on board also.

First, the "provisional government" or whatever that group is needs to ask for the help...and, if I'm up to date, they have.

Second, the Arab League needs to agree. Should they do so, that would largely remove the onus that the western countries are just there for the oil, or that it's some sort of 21st century Crusade. That would, to some degree defuse the argument that this is a war against Islam.

With that, it could probably be done, although I don't think it can include "boots on the ground." No fly, various humanitarian programs, and possibly supplying weapons could work under those terms.

Obviously it would be much better if the UN was also in agreement, but it seems unlikely Russia or China would buy in, largely because they fear the world doing the same thing in their countries should their population demand freedom and human rights also.

It's getting to be a tough time for dictators and oppressive regimes. I think that's generally a good thing, although I'm saddened by the loss of life that goes with that change.

23:58 March 10, 2011 by Beachrider
The Arab League? Making sovereignity decisions In Libya? Don't hold your breath waiting for that.

To the point of this article, there has yet to be a broadly accepted reason to accept the 'rebels' as a legitimate reason for incursion into Libya. Maybe the French big-giant-brains believe it, but I don't see concensus.

Maybe if Egypt's new government plus Tunesia's new government advised, based on border situations.
01:55 March 11, 2011 by stablemate
france said they propose air strikes....and the oil is important to economies of nations
07:08 March 11, 2011 by Major B
no direct U.S. involvement! Others, figure it out!! And Pentagon, don"t act eager to get into this! Geez! B.S to say U.S. needs/has to supoort! Don't care. Step forward cousins and step up. Go Sarkozy!!!
08:38 March 11, 2011 by Nemesis
This is a good move by France. The entire European Union should do the same and back the rebels with everything we have.

Germany, France and other EU countries have more than enough firepower between them to overwhelm Gaddafi and give Libya to the rebels, while signing a deal with them to give us access to their natural resources.

Germany needs to recognise the rebels now, assist them and ensure favourable terms for Europe regarding mineral extraction for European industry.

Libya has oil.

We need oil.

We need to secure all of that oil for Europe.

If we do not, the USA or China will secure it for themselves at our expense.
12:15 March 11, 2011 by Frenemy
Overthrowing dictators and backing rebels might be in THEIR best interests but its not necessarily in ours. Afghanistan 1 in the 80s gave us the Taliban and AQ; Iraq gave us a lawless failed state (possibly an Iranian proxy state)/terrorist training ground full of jihadists ready to go global; Afghanistan 2 gave us another military/political quagmire from which we are unlikely to extricate ourselves anytime soon...

Which brings us to Libya. Is it really worth it? Last I heard Qaddafi's forces are routing the rebels with superior firepower and training. Even if we did step in now it might already be too late (as Gates has already told Obama). I say we let Qaddafi stomp the rebels into oblivion and send a message to the "raging" masses in places like Saudi Arabia (which is the LAST place in the world that the West ever would want to see democracy take hold) that if you want to stage a rebellion in your country then do it alone. We Westerners have learned painfully that no good deed goes unpunished.

The Libyan rebels are being very opaque about their politics either intentionally (cuz they know we won't like it) or because they don't have any (which could actually be worse).

@Nemisis: Oil isn't even the issue here. We can buy oil from Qaddafi or whoever comes next (money has no politics). The fear is that Libya controlled by the rebels will return to its terror supporting ways, and the German gov't is p!ssed off (and rightly so) that France just went ahead and recognized these (losing) rebels without consulting us first. IMHO this is just another grandstanding stunt by Paris to tell the world that France is still an international player with geopolitical importance (despite all evidence to the contrary).
15:30 March 11, 2011 by Major B
"There you go again"(find out which U.S. Pres said that) putting facts on the table Frenemy.

"another grandstanding stunt by Paris". But of course. It looks good. Sounds good. Somebody has to do it. :)

Just because "the emporer has no clothes" doesn't mean he can't look good and sound good with grande pronouncements.

No U.S. involvement. Period. Nada. None. Nope. Not at all.
18:54 March 11, 2011 by wenddiver
@Frenemy- Totally agree with you. Maybe the world needs to sit back and ask how the Muslim World is going to re-act to all the original Crusaders and Colonists of the 18th Century (England, France and Germany) suddenly land in the Middle-East. Of course the Chinese in Sudan will be there to pass out weapons to anybody who wants to fight Colonialism or participate in Jihad. Nobody worry though the French General Staff will do the planning and who has more experience with dessert disasters than they do.

@Major B- Totally agree, No more nation building.
20:52 March 11, 2011 by Expat IV
Major B has it right.
17:20 March 12, 2011 by snowey
What the West should also be worrying about is what Quaddafi will do if he retains power.

Not only will he take revenge on his own people but there will probably be terrorist attacks on the those countries he perceives to be his enemy e.g the UK, France, the US and Germany. Perhaps those countries should take action now against Quaddfi rather than just sit on the sidelines.
18:00 March 12, 2011 by wenddiver
@Snowey- We don't care about the Libiyan people, they spent the 1980s throwing grenades in German Discos with US soldiers in them and blowing up Airliners.

We certainly have no evidence that the people of the Middle-East will be any friendlier than the Dictator.

If Qadaffi wants to be mad at our President and the leaders of France and Germany for shooting their mouths off, he should be, they are all to old to be acting like 2nd Lieutenants. I mean whhat did they expect to happen??? Did they think the Army wasn't going to use it's planes, helecopters and tanks, because it gives them an unfair advantage. As Charlie Sheen says "Duh!! Winning".

History is littered with idiots who died for nothing. Anybody who wants to help the Rebels establish Sharia Law is welcome to go die with them, but leave the US's kids and money out of it.
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