Looking onto the Libyan crisis now, we have seen a constant toing and froing of the front line between the army, controlled by the embattled Muammar Gaddafi, and the rebel forces, controlled by the unrecognized National Transitional Council or NTC.
But wait! That IS one major change since the last time I posted about Libya. The NTC, or Interim National Council, or Libyan National Council, is now recognised as a/the representative of the Libyan people by 29 countries.
Following France’s excellent example, as early as the 10th of March 2011, other states have started to recognise the TNC. Britain was slower, after the Maldives, Italy, Kuwait, Jordan and others, and was the 9th country to recognise the TNC, on the 4th of June. We were however, the first to welcome Benghazi to open a diplomat office within British borders.
Other states have provided sterling examples. Malta, for example, has recognised it as the sole legitimate representative of the Libyan people, and has established formal relations in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold, and has cut ties with the Gaddafi regime. The Czech Republic and Turkey, numbers 21 and 22 respectively, offered material aid with their recognition – 2.5million Koruna, and $200 million in aid winged its way to Benghazi. Other states have been less open, for example Russia, who have recognised the TNC as a legitimate represenative of the country’s future, failed to recognise them as the sole representative of the country’s future, and maintain relations with Gaddafi. Similar with China. Some states like Botswana, Malawi, Libera and Peru have cut ties with Gaddafi, but have not recognised the TNC itself. Venezuela maintains that only Gaddafi’s regime is legitimate.
But we cannot have any illusions – it was not Czech recognition that caught headlines recently, but the recognition of the United States’ Department of State, on the 15th of July. This was the major alteration when the Libya contact-group decided to officially recognise the TNC as the official opposition and representatives of the Libyan people.
Admittedly, they had already send a representative to Benghazi, and allowed Benghazi to reciprocate (which it did on the 24th of May, two months after American diplomats reached Benghazi). But formal recognition is different, it permits true legitimacy from the world’s leading superpower… this was something the rebels needed. And the US is, undoubtedly, the big one. But why recognise the rebels?
Qatar‘s example shows, perhaps, why. It was the second state to recognise the TNC, on the 28th of March. The day before, the two governments reached an agreement for the TNC to export oil to Qatar. The rebel forces in Benghazi and elsewhere control huge oil reserves, processing facilities and means of export. No wonder they’re everyone’s favourites!
But this was always the way – oil is world’s lubricant, it greases pockets and poles in every corner of our planet.
However, what is most important for the rebels, besides the oil revenue, is that they are now not only the legitimate heirs to Gaddafi’s rule, but also to his cash. The US is now able to fund the rebels with some of the more than $30 billion of Gaddafite assets that is frozen in American banks.
This, could change everything.
Long live the Libyan Republic!
- Libyan rebels win international recognition as country’s leaders (guardian.co.uk)
- Libyan rebels formally recognised as opposition (independent.co.uk)