In search of Col. Gaddafi and a new Libya

The Libyan rebels are piling up one victory after another, preparing for the assault on the remaining key cities of Sirte and Sabha, after agreeing with the defenders of Bani Walid to the southeast of Tripoli on their peaceful surrender on Tuesday.

The Libyan rebels are piling up one victory after another, preparing for the assault on the remaining key cities of Sirte and Sabha, after agreeing with the defenders of Bani Walid to the southeast of Tripoli on their peaceful surrender on Tuesday. It has become clear that before the end of September, the pockets of resistance by Col. Muammar Gaddafi's supporters will be suppressed all over the country. This process could be accelerated if the colonel were to be killed or arrested. Therefore, the worst case scenario for the rebels would be if Gaddafi goes into hiding.

Russia urgently needs an ambassador to Libya

The victorious opposition is not particularly concerned about the new apprehensions that Gaddafi has managed to escape with a column of armored vehicles to neighboring Niger on Monday, from which he would be able to flee to another friendly country. The majority of members of the Transitional National Council (TNC) are confident that the deposed leader is still hiding out around his hometown of Sirte in a ramified network of catacombs that was built for military purposes in the years of close cooperation with the Soviet Union. Local tribes, some of which owe their good fortune in the recent past to him, can also provide him with shelter.

However, regardless of the fate of the overthrown leader, the era of his 42 year rule has come to an end. Within the context of the rebels' success, and with Moscow's recognition of the TNC, Presidential Envoy Mikhail Margelov asked the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday to speed up the appointment of a Russian ambassador to Libya.

It will take some time to discuss the nomination in parliament, after which a relevant decree will be submitted to the president. For its part, the Council Federation Committee for Foreign Affairs headed by Margelov is ready to convene a special session for this purpose next week.

Currently, Charge d'Affaires Maxim Maximov heads the Russian Embassy in Libya. During the beginning of the war, this heavy burden fell to young Consul Oleg Fomin. President Dmitry Medvedev dismissed Ambassador Vladimir Chamov two days before the military operation that Western countries and some of their Arab allies launched on March 19. Now that Moscow has finally determined on whom to place their bets in that country, the time has come to appoint a new ambassador to Libya.

Russia's equivocation was clear during the entire conflict, as was the fact that they did not know how to proceed in many cases. This period of uncertainty started on March 17, when the UN Security Council voted for Resolution 1973 on a no-fly zone over Libya. It was obvious then that preparations for war had been launched. It was for this reason that some Russian diplomats insisted on a Moscow veto on this resolution, but the Russian representative abstained from voting.

Do the rebels have enough willpower?

The Russian position remained vague for some time. During his visit to Ulan-Ude on August 24, Medvedev said that Moscow would establish official contacts with the new leaders "the rebels have the strength of will and the possibility to unite the country on a new, democratic basis." The recognition came a week later, although hostilities continue. Moreover, the rebels had already captured Tripoli, and the Russian leader urged the warring parties to sit at the negotiating table. He offered them to engage in dialogue with Gaddafi, whom he proclaimed a persona non grata, and in the middle of March, banned him and his family from entering Russia by his own decree.

However, Moscow was not the last to accept the new reality. On the same day, September 1, Ukraine announced its decision to establish official contacts with the TNC. China, who had many misgivings about the war in the north of Africa, still insists that there is no hurry.

Spokeswoman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry Jiang Yu announced today that Beijing will recognize the new authorities in Libya when "the conditions are ripe," but didn't specify which conditions she meant. The disappearance of Gaddafi has not altered China's position.

One can only assume that China is playing a subtle game to maintain its numerous contracts in Libya. In addition, they would like to be sure that the future Libyan government will be strong and independent. Cuba made a more definitive statement the other day, to the effect that "it will not recognize any temporary government, only a government that has been created legally and without foreign interference."

Algeria has maintained the same position. On August 29, Gaddafi's wife, daughter and two sons fled to that country. His daughter gave birth to a girl on the other side of the border. Having refused to accept the colonel himself, the Algerians expressed strong apprehensions about the prospects of the TNC. Algerian Foreign Minister Mourad Medelci believes diplomatic recognition requires more than victories on the front lines: "We have to wait until Libya forms a government from representatives of different regions."

As we have seen, there are two approaches to the events in Libya. The minority - China, Cuba, Algeria, Syria and some African and Latin American countries - strongly dislike the war and its consequences. They are in no hurry to recognize the new Libyan leaders as a legitimate government. But many countries - at least all 28 members of NATO and the majority of Arab states - initially placed their bets on the overthrow of the regime, and this has paid off. They are doing everything they can to support the new political forces in Libya. Russia has been vacillating somewhere in between these groups, and is being criticized both by the advocates and opponents of the fallen regime.

The views expressed in this article are the author's and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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