U.S. closes Libya embassy, readies sanctions

White House changes to a harsher tone with Gadhafi's regime after all U.S. personnel safely evacuated the country

Topics: Libya, Egyptian Protests, Foreign policy,

U.S. closes Libya embassy, readies sanctionsIn this image taken from Libya State Television, showing Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, centre, as he speaks to followers from the top of a stone wall at The Green Square, central Tripoli, Libya, Friday, Feb. 25, 2011. The TV station declared this to be a live broadcast from the square and also showed a large crowd celebrating in the square below. (AP Photo/Libya State) TV OUT(Credit: AP)

The United States shuttered its embassy in Libya on Friday and readied stiff financial and other penalties against Moammar Gadhafi and his loyalists, ending days of cautious condemnation by all but calling for the unpredictable leader’s immediate ouster.

Gadhafi’s legitimacy has been “reduced to zero,” the White House said as it announced the steps.

The sharper U.S. tone and pledges of tough action came after American diplomatic personnel were evacuated from the capital of Tripoli aboard a chartered ferry and a chartered airplane, escorting them away from the violence to Malta and Turkey. As they left, fighting raged on in Tripoli and elsewhere in Libya as Gadhafi vowed to crush the rebellion that now controls large parts of the country.

With U.S. diplomats and others out of harm’s way, the administration moved swiftly. Shortly after the chartered plane left Libyan airspace, White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. had been constrained in moving against Gadhafi and his loyalists due to concerns over the safety of Americans but was now ready to bring more pressure on the government to halt its attacks on opponents.

“It’s clear that Colonel Gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people,” Carney told reporters. “He is overseeing the brutal treatment of his people, the fatal violence against his own people and his legitimacy has been reduced to zero in the eyes of his people.”

The White House was finalizing a presidential executive order that would name Gadhafi and his family, impose travel bans and freeze assets, according to an administration official familiar with the document who spoke on condition of anonymity because it had not yet been made public. Part of the goal of such efforts is to encourage Gadhafi loyalists to defect.

Carney said sanctions would “make it clear that the regime has to stop its abuses, it has to stop the bloodshed.” International officials say thousands may be dead.

But the hesitancy to outline the full range of U.S. punishments reflected in part the administration’s skepticism that it had many options to influence Gadhafi. The 68-year-old has had a rocky relationship with the West, and American officials are worried about his unpredictability as he desperately seeks to maintain his four-decade grip on power.

U.S. military action is considered unlikely, although the Obama administration has not ruled out participation in an internationally-administered protective no-fly zone.



Carney said some sanctions would be unilateral, and others would be coordinated with international allies and the United Nations, whose chief, Ban Ki-moon, was invited to Washington for Monday talks with President Barack Obama.

Carney cited U.N. negotiations on a possible weapons embargo, but declined to lay out the independent steps the U.S. would take.

The Treasury Department had already ordered American banks to scrutinize accounts linked to senior Libyan officials and inform authorities of any attempts to misappropriate or divert public funds.

The U.S. suspended operations at its Tripoli embassy after a chartered flight took the last embassy staff out of the country at 1:49 p.m. EST. That followed a ferry that departed earlier Friday and arrived in Malta with nearly 338 passengers aboard, including 183 Americans.

The U.S., however, did not break diplomatic relations with Libya because it wants to retain the ability to communicate directly with Libyan officials to appeal for restraint and an end to the violence, State Department officials said. The embassy will be re-opened once security conditions permit, they said.

The administration stressed that the U.S. pressure was part of a broader movement to bring peace to Libya, with several officials saying the international community was speaking with a single voice on the matter. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is headed to Switzerland on Sunday to meet foreign policy chiefs from key allies. Officials said she might announce specifics of the U.S. sanctions on Monday.

But whereas French President Nicolas Sarkozy told Gadhafi to step down, the U.S. refrained — just barely — from a similar declaration.

“The status quo is simply neither tenable nor acceptable,” Carney said. “The Libyan people deserve a government now that protects the safety of its citizens, is responsive to their aspirations and is broadly representative.”

Obama was briefing world leaders on U.S. plans and coordinating the international pressure on Gadhafi’s government. He spoke Friday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and they discussed measures to hold Libya’s government accountable for its “unacceptable” violence. That followed Thursday’s discussions with leaders from Britain, France and Italy.

The U.S. maintained a stiff embargo against Libya for years, calling it a terrorist sponsor. Washington eased restrictions over the past several years in recognition of Gadhafi’s decision to renounce his nuclear weapons program and his cooperation in anti-terror operations. Carney said the U.S. would suspend the limited military cooperation it had with the country.

Libya ranks among the world’s most corrupt countries and has enormous assets to plunder. Confidential State Department cables suggest that U.S. banks manage hundreds of millions in Libyan assets and the government has built a multibillion-dollar wealth fund from oil sales.

In Geneva, U.S. diplomats joined a unanimous condemnation of Libya at the U.N. Human Rights Council, which launched an investigation into possible crimes against humanity by Gadhafi’s regime and recommended Libya’s suspension from the body.

The U.N. Security Council in New York was discussing action simultaneously Friday, and NATO was talking about deploying ships and surveillance aircraft to the Mediterranean Sea.

Carney insisted the sanctions could work.

“Sanctions that affect the senior political leadership of a regime like Libya have been shown to have an effect,” he said. We are also … pursuing actions that will ensure that the perpetrators of violations of human rights are held accountable.”

——

Associated Press White House Correspondent Ben Feller contributed to this report.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 11
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann & Kerascoët
    Kerascoët's lovely, delicate pen-and-watercolor art -- all intricate botanicals, big eyes and flowing hair -- gives this fairy story a deceptively pretty finish. You find out quickly, however, that these are the heartless and heedless fairies of folk legend, not the sentimental sprites beloved by the Victorians and Disney fans. A host of tiny hominid creatures must learn to survive in the forest after fleeing their former home -- a little girl who lies dead in the woods. The main character, Aurora, tries to organize the group into a community, but most of her cohort is too capricious, lazy and selfish to participate for long. There's no real moral to this story, which is refreshing in itself, beyond the perpetual lessons that life is hard and you have to be careful whom you trust. Never has ugly truth been given a prettier face.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni
    Squarzoni is a French cartoonist who makes nonfiction graphic novels about contemporary issues and politics. While finishing up a book about France under Jacques Chirac, he realized that when it came to environmental policy, he didn't know what he was talking about. "Climate Changed" is the result of his efforts to understand what has been happening to the planet, a striking combination of memoir and data that ruminates on a notoriously elusive, difficult and even imponderable subject. Panels of talking heads dispensing information (or Squarzoni discussing the issues with his partner) are juxtaposed with detailed and meticulous yet lyrical scenes from the author's childhood, the countryside where he takes a holiday and a visit to New York. He uses his own unreachable past as a way to grasp the imminent transformation of the Earth. The result is both enlightening and unexpectedly moving.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Here by Richard McGuire
    A six-page version of this innovative work by a regular contributor to the New Yorker first appeared in RAW magazine 25 years ago. Each two-page spread depicts a single place, sometimes occupied by a corner of a room, over the course of 4 billion years. The oldest image is a blur of pink and purple gases; others depict hazmat-suited explorers from 300 years in the future. Inset images show the changing decor and inhabitants of the house throughout its existence: family photos, quarrels, kids in Halloween costumes, a woman reading a book, a cat walking across the floor. The cumulative effect is serene and ravishing, an intimation of the immensity of time and the wonder embodied in the humblest things.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer
    The legendary Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist delivers his debut graphic novel at 85, a deliriously over-the-top blend of classic movie noir and melodrama that roams from chiaroscuro Bay City to Hollywood to a USO gig in the Pacific theater of World War II. There's a burnt-out drunk of a private eye, but the story is soon commandeered by a multigenerational collection of ferocious women, including a mysterious chanteuse who never speaks, a radio comedy writer who makes a childhood friend the butt of a hit series and a ruthless dame intent on making her whiny coward of a husband into a star. There are disguises, musical numbers and plenty of gunfights, but the drawing is the main attraction. Nobody convey's bodies in motion more thrillingly than Feiffer, whether they're dancing, running or duking it out. The kid has promise.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Motherless Oven by Rob Davis
    This is a weird one, but in the nervy surreal way that word-playful novels like "A Clockwork Orange" or "Ulysses" are weird. The main character, a teenage schoolboy named Scarper Lee, lives in a world where it rains knives and people make their own parents, contraptions that can be anything from a tiny figurine stashable in a pocket to biomorphic boiler-like entities that seem to have escaped from Dr. Seuss' nightmares. Their homes are crammed with gadgets they call gods and instead of TV they watch a hulu-hoop-size wheel of repeating images that changes with the day of the week. They also know their own "death day," and Scarper's is coming up fast. Maybe that's why he runs off with the new girl at school, a real troublemaker, and the obscurely dysfunctional Castro, whose mother is a cageful of talking parakeets. A solid towline of teenage angst holds this manically inventive vision together, and proves that some graphic novels can rival the text-only kind at their own game.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    NOBROW 9: It's Oh So Quiet
    For each issue, the anthology magazine put out by this adventurous U.K.-based publisher of independent graphic design, illustration and comics gives 45 artists a four-color palette and a theme. In the ninth issue, the theme is silence, and the results are magnificent and full of surprises. The comics, each told in images only, range from atmospheric to trippy to jokey to melancholy to epic to creepy. But the two-page illustrations are even more powerful, even if it's not always easy to see how they pertain to the overall concept of silence. Well, except perhaps for the fact that so many of them left me utterly dumbstruck with visual delight.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Over Easy by Mimi Pond
    When Pond was a broke art student in the 1970s, she took a job at a neighborhood breakfast spot in Oakland, a place with good food, splendid coffee and an endlessly entertaining crew of short-order cooks, waitresses, dishwashers and regular customers. This graphic memoir, influenced by the work of Pond's friend, Alison Bechdel, captures the funky ethos of the time, when hippies, punks and disco aficionados mingled in a Bay Area at the height of its eccentricity. The staff of the Imperial Cafe were forever swapping wisecracks and hopping in and out of each other's beds, which makes them more or less like every restaurant team in history. There's an intoxicating esprit de corps to a well-run everyday joint like the Imperial Cafe, and never has the delight in being part of it been more winningly portrayed.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew
    You don't have to be a superhero fan to be utterly charmed by Yang and Liew's revival of a little-known character created in the 1940s by the cartoonist Chu Hing. This version of the Green Turtle, however, is rich in characterization, comedy and luscious period detail from the Chinatown of "San Incendio" (a ringer for San Francisco). Hank, son of a mild-mannered grocer, would like to follow in his father's footsteps, but his restless mother (the book's best character and drawn with masterful nuance by Liew) has other ideas after her thrilling encounter with a superhero. Yang's story effortlessly folds pathos into humor without stooping to either slapstick or cheap "darkness." This is that rare tribute that far surpasses the thing it celebrates.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Shoplifter by Michael Cho
    Corinna Park, former English major, works, unhappily, in a Toronto advertising agency. When the dissatisfaction of the past five years begins to oppress her, she lets off steam by pilfering magazines from a local convenience store. Cho's moody character study is as much about city life as it is about Corinna. He depicts her falling asleep in front of the TV in her condo, brooding on the subway, roaming the crowded streets after a budding romance goes awry. Like a great short story, this is a simple tale of a young woman figuring out how to get her life back, but if feels as if it contains so much of contemporary existence -- its comforts, its loneliness, its self-deceptions -- suspended in wintery amber.

    Ten spectacular graphic novels from 2014

    Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
    This collection of archetypal horror, fairy and ghost stories, all about young girls, comes lushly decked in Carroll's inky black, snowy white and blood-scarlet art. A young bride hears her predecessor's bones singing from under the floorboards, two friends make the mistake of pretending to summon the spirits of the dead, a family of orphaned siblings disappears one by one into the winter nights. Carroll's color-saturated images can be jagged, ornate and gruesome, but she also knows how to chill with absence, shadows and a single staring eye. Literary readers who cherish the work of Kelly Link or the late Angela Carter's collection, "The Bloody Chamber," will adore the violent beauty on these pages.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

0 Comments

Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>