Conflict & Justice

US recognizes rebel Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate authority

Libya's fledgling rebels finally got what they wanted and so desperately need — a full diplomatic recognition from the U.S. as the governing authority of Libya, the next best thing to Muammar Gaddafi's departure from the country.  The move should free up hundreds of millions of the regime's frozen assets for use in the fight to take Tripoli.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced today at a meeting in Istanbul between Western and Arab powers and Libyan rebel leaders that the Obama administration had decided to formally recognize Libya's opposition group, joining 30 other nations — paving the way for the rebel council to receive assets totaling more than $30 billion, the Washington Post reported.

"We've been considering it for five months," a well-placed administration official told GlobalPost. "They're (the rebels) at least holding territory now. They've made assurances like complying with laws of armed conflict, although they haven't been perfect in that area. Some funds will be released (from the frozen assets)."

Turkey and the African Union have proposed separate road maps towards a ceasefire. The Istanbul conference comes as rebel fighters make gains against Gaddafi loyalists in the western mountains and prepare for an offensive west of the town of Ajdabiya, Al Jazeera reported.  The Libyan leader is also running dramatically short on cash and fuel according to U.S. intelligence estimates.

A Transitional Council spokesman called on other nations to deliver on a promise to release hundreds of millions of dollars to the opposition.  He said the opposition hopes to hold elections within a year and resume oil exports once a newly elected government is in place.

In Tripoli, Moussa Ibrahim, the Libyan government spokesmen re-iterated Gaddafi's fight-to-the-end rhetoric saying, "Rebels, NATO, we don't care. We will defend our oil to the last droop of blood..."