Arab League offers support to Libya

Dina Ezzat , Monday 22 Aug 2011

Secretary-general looks ahead at how a peaceful transition of power can be achieved from this 'crucial juncture' while stopping short of recognising the opposition National Transitional Council right away

A statement issued by the press office of Arab League Secretary-General Nabil El-Arabi this afternoon expressed full solidarity with Libya at, what it called, "this historic junction."

El-Arabi's statement said that "this point is a crucial juncture in the modern history of Libya" and called on all concerned to honour all relevant international obligations to spare civilians and to observe the norms of human rights conventions.

El-Arabi also expressed support with the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) as it takes necessary measures to protect the interests of the Libyan people and Libya's "sovereignty, independence and territorial unity."

The Arab League chief also announced consultations with concerned Arab and world capitals to secure a peaceful transition in Libya.

The statement of the Arab League secretary-general comes against a backdrop of ambiguity over NATO"s next step in Libya, with speculation that the Alliance might negotiate some ground military presence with the National Libyan Council forces during the transitional phase.

El-Arabi's statement, however, fell short of recognising the NTC as the representative of Libyan people.
"This matter has to be subject to wide Arab consultations," said an Arab League official who asked for his name to be withheld.
According to the same official, "this matter will be debated tomorrow" on the fringe of a limited Arab ministerial committee that meets in Doha to examine developments in the Palestinian file. "This is not to say that a recogniton of the NTC will come out tomorrow; no, not necessairly tomorrow."
The same official said that the regular autumn Arab foreign ministers meeting, that convenes during the first week of September at the League's Cairo headquarters, should have "some Libyan representation." "So it is between now and then that some collective Arab decision would be taken."
So far, Qatar, the Untied Arab Emirates and Tunis have announced their official recoginition of the NTC.
Egypt, according to an official source, is considering the matter. "To give this type of recgonition you have to be sure that the NTC is representative of all Libyans and not just a segment of the Libyan people; we also have to be sure of its political line in relation to keeping the territorial unity and integrity of the country," said the official.
He added that "Libya is a neighbour and its security and stability are crucial to ours and we have to be really sure of what is going on there."
The same official said that Egypt's foreign minister is consulting with Arab and world capitals on the matter.
By three in the afternoon, Cairo local time, no official statement had come out of Cairo on the developments in Libya.
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