Unfreeze Libyan assets, US urges

2011-08-25 09:45

New York - The United States asked the UN Security Council to unfreeze $1.5bn in Libyan assets for the cash-strapped rebels in a move to bypass opposition from South Africa, which has close ties to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

The Obama administration has been trying for more than two weeks to get the Security Council committee that monitors sanctions against Libya to unfreeze the assets, but diplomats said South Africa objected. In the committee, agreement of all 15 council nations is required.

To overcome the opposition, the United States decided to introduce a resolution before the full Council, which does not need a unanimous vote.

Mark Kornblau, spokesperson for the US Mission, told reporters after closed consultations that the United States will call for a vote at 15:00 on Thursday unless South Africa changes its mind and joins consensus in the sanctions committee before then.

"The urgent imperative here is to get these assets unfrozen in a way that they can get on the ground to meet the urgent humanitarian needs of the Libyan people," Kornblau said.

"We expect it to have the necessary support to pass," a US diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak publicly. "It's unfortunate it had to come to this point, but South Africa is being difficult."

South Africa's UN Ambassador Baso Sangqu told reporters his government is very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Libya but wants to wait for the outcome of an African Union meeting on Thursday in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. That meeting was expected to discuss recognition of the rebels' National Transitional Council - now poised to take power in Libya.

He noted that neither his country - nor the African Union or United Nations - has recognised the Libyan opposition and expressed concern that the US-backed resolution would imply recognition of the National Transitional Council.

Second resolution

The UN Security Council in February and March ordered all countries to freeze billions of dollars in assets of Gaddafi, key relatives, and members of his regime as well as the Libyan central bank, Libyan investment organisations and the National Oil Corporation. The aim was to punish the regime and cripple its response to protesters demanding change.

Britain, the US and the European Union have called for the quick release of assets to help the National Transitional Council to rebuild the Libyan economy, restore essential services, reform the police and the army, and pay government salaries.

While the resolution introduced on Wednesday focused on assets frozen in US, banks, council diplomats said a second resolution that will cover the UN's mandate in a post-Gaddafi Libya will include proposals to unfreeze assets in other countries.

The draft resolution, obtained by The Associated Press, would unfreeze up to $1.5bn. It would provide up to $500m to international humanitarian organisations "to respond to initial and currently anticipated humanitarian needs," up to $500m "to third-party vendors supplying fuel and other urgently needed humanitarian goods", and up to $500m to an internationally monitored fund set up in May by 22 nations and organisations to help the rebels.

It calls for the fund to earmark up to $400m "for expenses related to the provision of social services, including education and health", and up to $100m "for food subsidies, electricity, and other humanitarian purchases for the Libyan people."

Sangqu said South Africa agreed to release $500m for the international humanitarian organisations, but the US said it wanted the entire $1.5bn package.

The $1.5bn represents about half of the Gaddafi regime's liquid assets that have been frozen in the United States. Much of the more than $30bn in frozen assets in the US is in real estate and other property holdings.

  • Grant - 2011-08-25 09:54

    I will not be at all surprised to find out that, even after all the denials, that SA has given sanctuary to Gaddafi.

      Rudi - 2011-08-25 10:18

      He is probably going to stay with his best buddy Juju. That's why Juju needs such a big house. To accommodate both their ego's!

      Big Al - 2011-08-25 11:13

      And a bomb shelter. Gadaffi likes bomb shelters.

  • Roger - 2011-08-25 10:13

    I hang my head in shame as a south african, the "new southafrica" appears to support dictatorship countries almost exclusivly.. Zim and Cuba, china-kind of. For some reason the government fails to see the hypocracy in SA's past and their present support for similar authorotarian rulers..

      Christo Stone - 2011-08-25 10:22

      Agreed. Shameful to say the least.

      DeonL - 2011-08-25 10:27

      It is a disgrace.

      Mafaka - 2011-08-25 10:53

      it's great... now the world can finally realise their mistake in letting these guys take power...

      Dominic - 2011-08-25 11:44

      From the BBC: 0819: UK Defence Secretary Liam Fox has urged South Africa to think again about refusing to recognise the NTC as Libya's legitimate government. "I think there will be huge moral pressure on South Africa," he told the BBC. "They wanted the world at one point to stand with them against apartheid. I think they now need to stand with the Libyan people." 0853: If South Africa continues refusing to allow Libyan assets to be unfrozen, the US will seek to get around the obstacle by calling for a vote at the UN Security Council at 20:00 today, a spokesman said. South Africa has been stalling the move at the level of the Security Council's sanctions committee - a new Council resolution would trump this.

      reasonable - 2011-08-25 12:03

      I second that - The AU's determined policy of 'non inteference' is a joke, no wonder we as a country are no longer taken seriously. Stop sitting on the Fence Zuma/Mbeki etc - take a stance for once in your life, not wait till it all happens and then come out with utterances of total nonsense.

  • spacecowboy - 2011-08-25 10:16


      daaivark - 2011-08-25 10:50

      What is this inane repetition supposed to mean?

  • Danie Brink - 2011-08-25 10:19

    A glowing example of the 'new' ANC, this is how they support freedom in other countries, by siding with dictators, thieves & murderers ... not so different to they way they protect their cronies here. If only the world had treated them this way during apartheid.

  • Amos Rakgots - 2011-08-25 10:22

    More reason that me and my family wil NEVER vote ANC again, DICTATORS all of them, Madiba must be so ashamed....If our goverment does not want to support the release of the funds to the people in need in Libya what do they care about their own poor people in SA....

  • WakeUpPeople - 2011-08-25 10:28

    It took days for the UN Security council to declare a "no fly zone" over Libya, and then mobilize a sustained aerial attack on the country, but it will take months to "free up" the Libyan peoples assets. Smell a rat anyone? Libya's gold reserves are destined for Hugo Chavez's vaults I'm sure. This is a despicable situation. I really feel for the people of Libya who have been plunged into chaos with very little light at the end of the tunnel. Wake up people.

  • African - 2011-08-25 10:32

    We are tired of being bullied by the West. Why is US acting like a GOD country to the world? Is this an indication of a looming New World Order? I think that's why they want all countries to have similar policies to theirs(Democracy/Capitalism). I mean out of all these states why should it be so involved? Oh I forgot, everything to do with oil involves them. Thieves!

      allan.clean - 2011-08-25 10:50

      Hey you!,you are the first to cry when the goverment is shooting your family. Damned if they do, Damned if they dont. BUT!! Did you miss the picture? Its going to the Libians for aid, unlike here where it goes to Zuma Inc!!. And this Goverment said NO!!! dont help the Libians.Now go get some insight and stop thinking like these greedy kind that live here.

      Mafaka - 2011-08-25 11:01

      If it wasn't for the Western powers you and your kind would have been the slaves of Nazi Germany... don't ever forget that.

      Felix - 2011-08-25 11:34

      @mafaka, if they were lucky. Don't think slavery was part of the 'master race' plan.

      anon - 2011-08-25 11:39

      Hey Guys, Don't give this idiot context, then he might have to think for a second that perhaps the world doesn't owe him his C63AMG, and that he perhaps owes the world something. Bullied by the west, oh lord have mercy! They are shoving their economies, their luxuries, their dark inventions of electricity and running water down our throats! OH MAKE IT STOP!

      African - 2011-08-25 11:59

      allan.clean what's your point? Anon you are a fool for assuming when I said "The West" I was referring to white people. You are so bigoted that you can't face the truth. US is a monster to this world, Even the Russians, Koreans, Chinese and other first world countries will agree. Your seem too young to debate on a platform like this, Go read a book or something.

  • ChrisG - 2011-08-25 10:34

    Come on Obama, you need to realise that this is the AFRICAN Union, they're working on AFRICAN time. They should have an answer for you some time before Gadaffi dies of old age.

  • Mano - 2011-08-25 10:35

    Until African nations show that they can resolve issues, the U.N and other major bodies will always bypass the AU and SADC. Their so called quiet diplomacy never works. As one writer put it, Africa are good at descrbing problems, but can never solve them. Just look at Libya, how on earth can you use quiet diplomacy on a brutal dictator who is hungry for power even after 40 years?

      allan.clean - 2011-08-25 10:58

      And Zimbabwe,and a host of other African countries.Sudan comes to mind, As long as there is a "Dick-tator".

  • jjacgilbert - 2011-08-25 10:39

    South African rulers are thorns in my flesh and I suppose US feels the same. Where there are to many thorns flowers do not seem to flourish.

  • GV - 2011-08-25 10:39

    Get real guys.......Offer the South Africans a bribe or a cut of the $1.5bn all your problems will go away.

  • chuckynoris - 2011-08-25 10:44

    Shocking but not a surprise. Our government loves crooks and dictators.

  • daaivark - 2011-08-25 10:53

    So many here are jumping up and down in condemnation of something that probably has not occurred. It is laughable to condemn based on completely thumbsucked assumptions. Sure, there is a remote possiblity that he may be hiding here, but I believe it to be unlikely. Either way, condemn when you actually know what is or is not the case.

      Grant - 2011-08-25 11:20

      When there is no transparency, a proven lack of integrity and morals of a known dubious nature, then speculation is all the remains!

  • Dickson - 2011-08-25 10:59

    “The UN Security Council in February and March ordered all countries to freeze billions of dollars in assets of Gaddafi, key relatives, and members of his regime as well as the Libyan central bank, Libyan investment organisations and the National Oil Corporation. The aim was to punish the regime and cripple its response to protesters demanding change.” The plight of the Libyan people was secondary to the removal of Gadaffi from the start. Why take away the government’s ability to respond to the demands of the citizens and then bomb them for failing? And now, the US wants money to be released at a time when there is no real administration? Not a very well written script Mr Obama. No wonder despots survive! Your own hidden agendas are just as bad.

  • Stortkraan - 2011-08-25 11:00

    The African Union rarely does anything of value. Lost of talks, meetings and pussyfooting, but never any positive action, and then they are flabbergasted when the civilized world doesn't take them seriously. Bunch of clowns.

      Mafaka - 2011-08-25 11:23

      I worked in Darfur for a long time indirectly for the AU. I can honoustly say that there has never in the history of mankind been a more useless bunch of idiots trying to solve problems the "african" way. The whole world knows the state of the entire african continent, so I find it really funny that the AU actually believes that the rest of the world cares what the f they think. No africa, you cannot even take care of your own problems okay, thousands of years of poverty and pure stupidity proves us right. That is why we (the UN) interferes with your internal matters.... because you are useless!!!

  • TrueAfrican - 2011-08-25 11:00

    I think we fail to recognise the stance the US takes when it comes to countries especially in oil producing countries. The US wants to unfreeze these assets in order to gain from the war struck nation without being looked upon by the world (UN) as being underhanded in their dealings. If assets are unfrozen, this provides free accesss for the US to engage in dealing of oil obtainment and key Libyan assets. I believe its not a matter of protecting Gaddaffi here as South Africa couldn't care less about the fate of one man that doesn't add any value to us going foward but rather protecting Libyan assets from being boycotted and bootlegged by the US. We've seen this before in the Arab countries where oil served as a means of motivation for the American hidden agenda.

  • Risen Ape - 2011-08-25 11:07

    South Africa is a disgrace and I'm embarrassed to be a citizen.

  • td5guy - 2011-08-25 11:09

    ANC is buying time to see how they can score some of the cash. JUJU is pobably involved with negotiations.

  • asiseeit - 2011-08-25 11:15

    Trust the ANC to back a despot dictator, now instead of supporting the new rebel goverment they still support Gaddafi, so when trade and diplomacy starts with the new goverment we will be getting our oil from coconuts instead of a tap.

  • Craigr - 2011-08-25 11:28

    ... next twist to the tale... Will be the AU saying "Give us the $1.5 billion to disperse" My guess is that very little, if anything will ever reach Lybia or it's people.

  • Ntfutfuko - 2011-08-25 11:28

    The amount of guns on the streets of Libya is worrisome; I wonder how the country will be governed going forward.

      Illuminated - 2011-08-25 13:10

      it wont, once gadaffi is gone, the rebels will turn on each other and thus the destabilisation of Lybia will be complete... thanks for nothing America

  • Fred Marais - 2011-08-25 13:10

    This so called liberation of Libya is a joke, and that the US and NATO have taken such an active role in this matter is disgraceful. Suppose the US will get all the reconstruction contracts and some lucrative oil concessions.

  • Fakmore - 2011-08-25 15:27

    South Africa is spineless and in the end will do as it is told by USA and UK....just like with the first resolution....They now want to unfreeze the money so that the Rebels can use money saved by Ghadafi for Lybian Investments to buy weapons from the West..a la Iraq

  • pages:
  • 1