Increasing pressure on Gaddafi
Dina Ezzat, Friday 11 Mar 2011
Arab foreign ministers meet Saturday to consider a no-fly zone while pressure mounts from European states for an end to Gaddafi's attacks on the Libyan people

"There has to be an immediate end of violence perpetrated by the (Libyan) regime against its people," said UK Minister for the Middle East and North Africa Alistar Burt.

Speaking in Cairo on Thursday evening in the wake of talks with Egyptian and Arab League officials that included developments in Libya, Burt was firm and unhesitating in calling for a consistent effort to isolate the Libyan regime, seize its assets, and to press for legal action on alleged massive violations of human rights committed against the Libyan people.

Burt voiced commitment to seeing the perpetrators of such violations in Libya called up before the International Criminal Court.

The British official, however, was not firm on the prospects of London recognising — as France and Portugal have done —the Benghazi-based opposition National Council.Recognition, however, is being discussed today in a meeting of foreign ministers of the European Union held in Brussels to develop what one European diplomat suggested would be tougher stance against Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi.

The basis of the European ministerial consultations, according to Burt, is simple: Gaddafi has lost legitimacy; his regime should go as soon as possible.

Should Gaddafi attempt to stay, it is only upon an international consensus, Burt insists, that any future action against the Libyan regime would be possible – especially action like imposing a no-fly zone on Libya to prevent Gaddafi's air force from bombarding the Libyan people.

This said, the British official would not exclude any option. He promptly added that any option should not overstep the independence of the revolution, and would not be considered away from consultations with concerned Arab capitals —especially Cairo, with many Egyptians still stranded in Libya—and the Arab League.

European and Arab diplomats in Cairo suggest growing sympathy within the ranks of the European Union and the Arab League to take humanitarian-based action in aid of the Libyan people.Next week in Cairo, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU Foreign Policy Chief Catherine Ashton will discuss with Egyptian and Arab League officials possible scenarios regarding Libya.

An Arab League foreign ministers meeting is scheduled to open tomorrow afternoon at the Cairo headquarters of the pan-Arab organisation to discuss Libya.Qatari Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Hammad Ben Jassim said that the Gulf Cooperation Council will push for a no-fly zone to be imposed on Libya.

Meanwhile, Syrian, Algerian and Sudanese diplomats said that they would oppose "such foreign intervention" that "could turn Libya into another Iraq".Countries opposed to the no-fly zone are considering an initiative to send an Arab delegation to mediate an end to the conflict. This, say anti-Gaddafi sources, would not be accepted by the "revolution's leaders".