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July 02, 2011

Turkey Recognizes Libyan Rebels, Offers Another $200 Million in Aid

Rebels fighting to end the 42-year rule of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi have received a diplomatic boost by winning recognition from regional power Turkey.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Sunday Ankara recognizes the rebel Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. He was speaking on a visit to the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, the stronghold of the rebels who launched an uprising against Mr. Gadhafi in February.

Davutoglu also said the Turkish government will provide another $200 million in aid to the TNC, in addition to a $100 million fund for the rebels, announced in June.

Rebel chief Mustafa Abdel Jalil said the opposition movement is willing to let Mr. Gadhafi remain in Libya if he resigns and agrees to international supervision of his movements.

In an interview with Reuters news agency Sunday, Jalil said the rebels made the offer to Mr. Gadhafi through the United Nations about a month ago, but have yet to receive a response.

Mr. Gadhafi has vowed a fight to the end against the rebels. Western powers have backed rebel demands for him to step down and have contributed to NATO air strikes on pro-Gadhafi forces to stop them from attacking Libyan civilians.

A rebel TNC spokesman says the African Union's approval on Friday of a plan to resolve the Libyan conflict does not go far enough because it fails to call for Mr. Gadhafi's resignation.

Abdel Hafiz Ghoga says the rebels will pursue a military campaign to topple Mr. Gadhafi unless he resigns all of his duties and allows the country to begin a transition to democracy.

African Union leaders representing South Africa, Mauritania, Uganda, Mali, and the Republic of Congo drafted a plan for Libya that calls for an immediate suspension of hostilities, a timetable for democratic reforms, the release of all prisoners of war and the lifting of all sieges.

It says Mr. Gadhafi would stay out of AU-led negotiations on Libya's transition to democracy.