Citing a new wave of attacks on civilians in the city of Musurata, Western powers, desperate to end the civil war, have announced that they would now mount more pressure on Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi, to bring the fighting to an end.
As Foreign Ministers of the NATO alliance prepared to meet in Berlin on Thursday for a brainstorming session, British Prime Minister David Cameron said he would “leave no stone unturned, militarily, diplomatically, politically, to enforce the U.N. resolution, to put real pressure on Mr. Qadhafi and to stop the appalling murder of civilians that he is still carrying out…in Misurata and elsewhere in Libya”.
By Thursday afternoon, heavy shelling by pro-regime fighters had killed 23 and wounded dozens in Misurata, an opposition spokesman, Abdelbasset Abu Mzereiq, told Reuters. Most of the deaths were the result of attacks by Grad rockets, which pro-Qadhafi forces had fired in dozens.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who joined her counterparts for the NATO meeting also referred to the “atrocities” that were being perpetrated by Qadhafi-loyalists in Misurata.
With NATO divided over the pursuit of best possible military and diplomatic options, Ms. Clinton urged the members of the 28-nation military alliance to maintain “resolve and unity” against Mr. Qadhafi.
Western and Arab countries, siding with the Libyan opposition are moving on three fronts to end the conflict.
They met in Doha on Wednesday, where a decision had been taken to establish a temporary funding mechanism that would meet the financial requirements of the anti-Qadhafi Transitional National Council (TNC) operating out of Benghazi. However, the participants failed to arrive at a consensus on arming the opposition with modern weapons.
The question of arming dissidents has come under sharper focus at the Berlin conference. Britain and France have adopted a tough military stance against the Qadhafi regime, but have stopped short of advocating that the Libyan opposition forces be armed. Belgium has firmly opposed transferring weapons to the dissidents, while Germany has stressed that it is futile to find a “military solution”.
With western powers failing to speak in one voice, Libyan opposition spokesman Mahmud Shammam has said weapons can be procured even in the absence of a western consensus. “If needed, we will request [arms] from countries on a bilateral basis,” he said. Analysts say such a move is fraught with danger of further undermining Western unity.
Nevertheless, the Guardian is reporting that Qatar has been unilaterally supplying French made Milan anti-tank weapons to the Libyan opposition. The daily quoted Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister, Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem, as saying on Wednesday that U.N. resolutions permitted the supply of “defensive weapons” to opposition forces struggling to fight Libyan armour.
Meanwhile, in Tripoli, Khaled Kaim, Libyan deputy Foreign Minister, desperate to link the opposition with “terrorists” has charged that elements of the Lebanese group Hizbollah, which U.S. has for long declared a terrorist organisation, were, fighting alongside the opposition in eastern Libya.
On Thursday, a parallel effort was launched to find a “political solution” to the conflict. Several international leaders, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met in Cairo to coordinate a common diplomatic response to the peace proposals offered by the African Union and Turkey. The pressure on employing diplomacy to end strife in Libya has been enhanced after Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) called for an end to fighting in Libya, at the end of their one- day summit on Thursday in Sanya, southern China.
Keywords: Libyan crisis