Obama Moves to Unfreeze Billions in Assets for Rebels

Opposition to the move from South Africa has stalled efforts to supply rebels with funding

The Obama administration has been trying for more than two weeks to get the United Nations Security Council committee that monitors sanctions against Libya to unfreeze the $1.5 billion in Libyan assets for the rebels who now have control of the country. Opposition to the move from South Africa, which has close ties to Moammar Gadhafi, has stalled efforts thus far.

Within this committee, agreement of all 15 council nations is required. To avoid South Africa’s veto, the US introduced a resolution before the full Council, which does not need a unanimous vote, and will call for a vote at 3:00PM Eastern Time on Thursday unless South Africa changes its mind.

The assets are frozen because of a U.N. Security Council move in February and March that ordered all countries to freeze billions of dollars in assets of Gadhafi and affiliated associations to punish the regime for its violent response to protesters demanding change.

The Obama administration is arguing for rebel access to the billions dollars of Libyan assets so they can address the serious humanitarian concerns in Libya. But recent concerns that the main rebel group in the Transitional National Council prevent uprisings and maintain a monopoly on the use of force suggest the funds are also needed to secure the rebel’s position as the legitimate government of Libya.

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Author: John Glaser

John Glaser writes for Antiwar.com.