'Dealing with terrorists.' Saif al-Islam Gaddafi
Photo: Reuters
Anti-Gaddafi rally in Libya
Photo: AP
Studying options. Obama
Photo: AP

Gaddafi's son: Truce possible by Saturday

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi tells foreign journalists army decided not to attack 'terrorists,' give negotiations a chance. Text drafted by France, Britain calls for arms embargo against Libya, travel bans and asset freezes for country's top leaders; US says imposing sanctions, cutting diplomatic ties with Tripoli. Libya's deputy UN ambassador: Gaddafi psychologically unstable

A son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Friday that his forces were holding back in fighting with rebels in western Libya and hoped that a negotiated ceasefire could be in place by Saturday.


Speaking in English to foreign journalists flown to Tripoli under official escort, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said of fighting in two western cities: "In Misrata, in Zawiya, we have a problem.


"We are dealing with terrorists ... The army decided not to attack the terrorists, and to give a chance to negotiation. Hopefully we will do it peacefully and will do so by tomorrow."


Meanwhile, a draft UN sanctions resolution said the attacks against Libyan civilians may be "crimes against humanity" warranting prosecution by the International Criminal Court in The Hague.


The text, drafted by France and Britain and circulated to members of the UN Security Council on Friday, also calls for an arms embargo against Libya as well as travel bans and asset freezes for the country's top leaders. The six-page draft was obtained by Reuters.


A vote on the draft resolution, which will be amended during closed-door negotiations, is not expected on Friday, council diplomats told Reuters.


Earlier, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday urged the UN Security Council to take "concrete action" to protect civilians in Libya and warning that any delay will mean more loss of life.


Ban urged the council at the start of a meeting to consider possible sanctions against Gaddafi's regime to look at a wide range of actions, including trade and financial sanctions, travel bans, an arms embargo, and measures to protect human rights.


He said "the violence must stop" and those responsible for the violence must be punished.


The secretary-general said he plans to travel to Washington on Monday to discuss the Libyan crisis with President Barack Obama.


The United States said on Friday it was imposing sanctions and cutting diplomatic ties with Libya as Muammar Gaddafi's security forces stepped up efforts to crush a widening revolt against his rule.


White House spokesman Jay Carney said the United States was suspending embassy operations in Tripoli and would withdraw all staff. Washington was also moving ahead with unilateral sanctions, which would be coordinated with allies and others.


Carney said Gaddafi's legitimacy had been "reduced to zero" and he had lost the confidence of the Libyan people.


Carney said the sanctions would be finalized in the near future but he did not specify when or what restrictive measures would be imposed.


Gaddafi addresses supporters in Tripoli (Photo: AP)


"We are initiating a series of steps at the unilateral level and multilateral level to pressure the regime in Libya to stop killing its own people," he said, after Libyan government forces shot dead protesters in clashes in the capital Tripoli.


The Obama administration said earlier it is studying options that include sanctions, asset freezes, a "no-fly" zone over Libya and military action.


Carney was speaking after a chartered ferry and a plane carrying Americans and others left Tripoli. Fears for the safety of the Americans had tempered Obama's response to the crisis, forcing him to adopt a more cautious approach until US citizens were out of harm's way.


After talking by phone on Thursday with the leaders of Britain, France and Italy on immediate steps to end the crisis, Obama spoke with Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Friday, the White House said.


In a first step, the US Treasury has told American banks to closely monitor transactions that may be related to unrest in Libya for any possible signs that state assets were being misappropriated.


The Treasury advisory, issued late on Thursday, stopped short of freezing assets or imposing other financial sanctions on Gaddafi or other senior officials in his government.


The move followed Switzerland's announcement on Thursday that it was freezing any assets Gaddafi and his family might have in the country.


Also on Friday, Libya's deputy UN ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbashi, who denounced Gaddafi earlier this week, said the country would probably soon stop exporting oil for security reasons but the industry would not be harmed.


Dabbashi was speaking shortly after Gaddafi vowed defiantly to triumph over his enemies, urging his supporters in Tripoli to protect the Libyan nation and its petroleum interests.


"The export of oil may be stopped soon for security reasons but anyway I think it is under good control of the people and it will not be harmed," he told reporters.


Dabbashi urged the UN Security Council to act immediately by imposing sanctions on Gaddafi and other Libyan leaders. He added that the Libyan leader, who has controlled the country for 41 years, would not allow himself to be taken alive.


"This is a madman and he is psychologically not stable," Dabbashi said. "He will stay until the moment he is either (killed) or he will commit suicide."


He said the situation in Libya would get worse and more corpses would pile up.


"We expect thousands to be killed today in Tripoli, so I call on all the international community to intervene now and to send a clear message to Colonel Gaddafi that he should stop the killing now," he said.


Dabbashi said the members of the Security Council were in agreement on the core of a sanctions resolution.


"I think the Security Council has the united position on the main measures to be taken," Dabbashi said in the lobby of the Manhattan building where Libya's U.N. mission is located.


He said the steps proposed in a French-British draft resolution -- travel bans for Gaddafi and others, freezing of financial assets, an arms embargo and referral of the crackdown against demonstrators to the International Criminal Court for possible prosecution -- would suffice for the time being.


Meanwhile, thousands marched on government buildings in cities across Iraq and clashed with security forces in cities across Iraq. Eleven people were killed in the largest and most violent anti-government protests in the country since political unrest began spreading in the Arab world.


In the capital of Baghdad, demonstrators knock down blast walls and throw rocks. The protests are fueled by anger over corruption, chronic unemployment and shoddy public services from the Shiite-dominated government.


In Yemen, security forces opened fire on thousands of demonstrators in the southern port city of Aden, wounding at least 19 people, in the latest confrontation with crowds pressing for the US-backed president's ouster.


Tens of thousands of protesters march in different parts of the country. President Ali Abdullah Saleh has promised to step down after national elections in 2013, but the demonstrators want him out now.


In Egypt, tens of thousands rallied in Cairo's main square in an effort to keep up pressure on the country's military rulers to carry out reforms and call for the dismissal of holdovers from the regime of ousted President Hosni Mubarak.


Demonstrators said they are worried the army is not moving quickly enough on reforms, including repealing emergency laws and releasing political prisoners.


Also on Friday, about 4,000 protesters rallied in the capital, Amman, the largest crowd yet in two months of unrest. The leader of Jordan's largest opposition group warns that patience is running out with what he called the government's slow steps toward reform.


King Abdullah II, a key US ally in the Middle East, has so far failed to quiet the calls for sweeping political change. The protesters want a bigger say in politics and for the prime minister to be chosen through elections, not by the king.


AP, Reuters contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 02.25.11, 23:40
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