Russia, Italy have common view on settlement of Libyan crisis

Libyan rebels now controlled no less than 95 per cent of Tripoli, the capital of Libya, as the rebels intensified a final push to topple the 42-year old regime of Muammar Gaddafi.  Two of his sons, including Saif al Islam, his heir apparent, have been captured and are now in the custody of the rebels, with the International Criminal Court confirming the arrests, after making contacts.  But the puzzle was Gaddafi himself—he seems to have literally vanished, as his whereabouts remain unknown.  A top diplomat of the rebels in London, Mahmud Nacua said “the fighters will turn over every stone to find him, to arrest him, and to put him in the court.” The ICC had issued an arrest warrant against Gaddafi and his son, Saif al Islam and his intelligence chief in June, over the killings of defenceless civilians.  The rebels said they wanted Gaddafi badly as spokesman Mohammed Abdel Rahman said in Tripoli that as long as Gaddafi remains on the run, “the danger is still there”.  Nacua acknowledged that there are “still some pockets” of support for Moammar Gadhafi, but rebels are asserting control.  The AP reported that tanks opened fire at rebels trying to storm Gadhafi’s main compound in Tripoli on Monday, a day after a lightning advance by opposition fighters who poured into the city with surprising ease.  The continued resistance by Gaddafi fighters has prompted both Britain and Australia to call on the former strongman to relinquish power, quickly. For the international community, Gaddafi is already history.  TV network, Al-Jazeera captured euphoric residents celebrating in the Green Square, the symbolic heart of the Gadhafi regime, where pro-Gaddafi rallies were held until Sunday.  “It’s over, frizz-head,” chanted hundreds of jubilant men and women massed in Green Square late Sunday, using a mocking nickname of the curly-haired Gadhafi. The revelers fired shots in the air, clapped and waved the rebels’ tricolor flag. Some set fire to the green flag of Gadhafi’s regime and shot holes in a poster with the leader’s image.  Meanwhile, clashes broke out at Gadhafi’s longtime command center known as Bab al-Aziziya early Monday when government tanks emerged from the complex and opened fire at rebels trying to get in, according to Abdel-Rahman and a neighbor. An AP reporter at the nearby Rixos Hotel where foreign journalists stay could hear gunfire and loud explosions from the direction of the complex.  Tripoli resident Moammar al-Warfali, whose family home is next to the compound, said there appeared to be only a few tanks belonging to the remaining Gadhafi forces that have not fled or surrendered.  “When I climb the stairs and look at it from the roof, I see nothing at Bab al-Aziziya,” he said. “NATO has demolished it all and nothing remains.”  The Rixos also remained under the control of Gadhafi forces, with two trucks loaded with anti-aircraft machine guns and pro-regime fighters and snipers posted behind trees. Rebels and Tripoli residents set up checkpoints elsewhere in the city.  State TV broadcast bitter audio pleas by Gadhafi for Libyans to defend his regime.  Gadhafi, who was not shown in the messages, called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and “purify it” of “the rats.”  Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim also claimed the regime has “thousands and thousands of fighters” and vowed: “We will fight. We have whole cities on our sides. They are coming en masse to protect Tripoli to join the fight.”  NATO officials promised warplanes from the alliance would continue to conduct regular patrols over Libya despite the latest rebel successes.  Gadhafi’s former right-hand man, who defected last week to Italy, said the longtime leader would not go easily.  “I think it’s impossible that he’ll surrender,” Abdel-Salam Jalloud said in an interview broadcast on Italian RAI state radio, adding that “He doesn’t have the courage, like Hitler, to kill himself.”  Jalloud, who was Gadhafi’s closest aide for decades before falling out with the leader in the 1990s, fled Tripoli on Friday, according to rebels.  The startling rebel breakthrough, after a long deadlock in Libya’s 6-month-old civil war, was the culmination of a closely coordinated plan by rebels, NATO and anti-Gadhafi residents inside Tripoli, rebel leaders said. Rebel fighters from the west swept over 20 miles (30 kilometers) in a matter of hours Sunday, taking town after town and overwhelming a major military base as residents poured out to cheer them. At the same time, Tripoli residents secretly armed by rebels rose up.  When rebels reached the gates of Tripoli, the special battalion entrusted by Gadhafi with guarding the capital promptly surrendered. The reason: Its commander, whose brother had been executed by Gadhafi years ago, was secretly loyal to the rebellion, a senior rebel official, Fathi al-Baja, told The Associated Press.  President Barack Obama said Libya is “slipping from the grasp of a tyrant” and urged Gadhafi to relinquish power to prevent more bloodshed.  “The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people,” Obama said in a statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he’s vacationing. He promised to work closely with rebels.  South Africa, which led failed African Union efforts to mediate between the rebels and Gadhafi, denied that it was offereing Gaddafi an asylum. Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane , called for a government of national unity and denied that the country had sent a plane to evacuate the embattled leader.  Nkoana-Mashabane also said, “We don’t know his (Gadhafi’s) whereabouts. We assume he is still in Libya.”  The uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, inspired by successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. A brutal regime crackdown quickly transformed the protests into an armed rebellion. Rebels seized Libya’s east, setting up an internationally recognized transitional government there, and two pockets in the west, the port city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountain range.  Gaddafi clung to the remaining territory, and for months neither side had been able to break the other.  In early August, however, rebels launched an offensive from the Nafusa Mountains, then fought their way down to the Mediterranean coastal plain, backed by NATO airstrikes, and captured the strategic city of Zawiya.  The rebels’ leadership council, based in the eastern city of Benghazi, sent out mobile text messages to Tripoli residents, proclaiming, “Long live Free Libya” and urging them to protect public property. Internet service returned to the capital for the first time in six months.  Gadhafi is the Arab world’s longest-ruling, most erratic, most grimly fascinating leader — presiding over this North African desert nation with vast oil reserves and just 6 million people. For years, he was an international pariah blamed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. After years of denial, Gadhafi’s Libya acknowledged responsibility, agreed to pay up to $10 million to relatives of each victim, and the Libyan ruler declared he would dismantle his weapons of mass destruction program. That eased him back into a romance with Western nations, until the arab spring of revolt and the war against Gaddafi by his own people.

Libyan rebels now controlled no less than 95 per cent of Tripoli, the capital of Libya, as the rebels intensified a final push to topple the 42-year old regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Two of his sons, including Saif al Islam, his heir apparent, have been captured and are now in the custody of the rebels, with the International Criminal Court confirming the arrests, after making contacts. But the puzzle was Gaddafi himself—he seems to have literally vanished, as his whereabouts remain unknown. A top diplomat of the rebels in London, Mahmud Nacua said “the fighters will turn over every stone to find him, to arrest him, and to put him in the court.” The ICC had issued an arrest warrant against Gaddafi and his son, Saif al Islam and his intelligence chief in June, over the killings of defenceless civilians. The rebels said they wanted Gaddafi badly as spokesman Mohammed Abdel Rahman said in Tripoli that as long as Gaddafi remains on the run, “the danger is still there”. Nacua acknowledged that there are “still some pockets” of support for Moammar Gadhafi, but rebels are asserting control. The AP reported that tanks opened fire at rebels trying to storm Gadhafi’s main compound in Tripoli on Monday, a day after a lightning advance by opposition fighters who poured into the city with surprising ease. The continued resistance by Gaddafi fighters has prompted both Britain and Australia to call on the former strongman to relinquish power, quickly. For the international community, Gaddafi is already history. TV network, Al-Jazeera captured euphoric residents celebrating in the Green Square, the symbolic heart of the Gadhafi regime, where pro-Gaddafi rallies were held until Sunday. “It’s over, frizz-head,” chanted hundreds of jubilant men and women massed in Green Square late Sunday, using a mocking nickname of the curly-haired Gadhafi. The revelers fired shots in the air, clapped and waved the rebels’ tricolor flag. Some set fire to the green flag of Gadhafi’s regime and shot holes in a poster with the leader’s image. Meanwhile, clashes broke out at Gadhafi’s longtime command center known as Bab al-Aziziya early Monday when government tanks emerged from the complex and opened fire at rebels trying to get in, according to Abdel-Rahman and a neighbor. An AP reporter at the nearby Rixos Hotel where foreign journalists stay could hear gunfire and loud explosions from the direction of the complex. Tripoli resident Moammar al-Warfali, whose family home is next to the compound, said there appeared to be only a few tanks belonging to the remaining Gadhafi forces that have not fled or surrendered. “When I climb the stairs and look at it from the roof, I see nothing at Bab al-Aziziya,” he said. “NATO has demolished it all and nothing remains.” The Rixos also remained under the control of Gadhafi forces, with two trucks loaded with anti-aircraft machine guns and pro-regime fighters and snipers posted behind trees. Rebels and Tripoli residents set up checkpoints elsewhere in the city. State TV broadcast bitter audio pleas by Gadhafi for Libyans to defend his regime. Gadhafi, who was not shown in the messages, called on his supporters to march in the streets of the capital and “purify it” of “the rats.” Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim also claimed the regime has “thousands and thousands of fighters” and vowed: “We will fight. We have whole cities on our sides. They are coming en masse to protect Tripoli to join the fight.” NATO officials promised warplanes from the alliance would continue to conduct regular patrols over Libya despite the latest rebel successes. Gadhafi’s former right-hand man, who defected last week to Italy, said the longtime leader would not go easily. “I think it’s impossible that he’ll surrender,” Abdel-Salam Jalloud said in an interview broadcast on Italian RAI state radio, adding that “He doesn’t have the courage, like Hitler, to kill himself.” Jalloud, who was Gadhafi’s closest aide for decades before falling out with the leader in the 1990s, fled Tripoli on Friday, according to rebels. The startling rebel breakthrough, after a long deadlock in Libya’s 6-month-old civil war, was the culmination of a closely coordinated plan by rebels, NATO and anti-Gadhafi residents inside Tripoli, rebel leaders said. Rebel fighters from the west swept over 20 miles (30 kilometers) in a matter of hours Sunday, taking town after town and overwhelming a major military base as residents poured out to cheer them. At the same time, Tripoli residents secretly armed by rebels rose up. When rebels reached the gates of Tripoli, the special battalion entrusted by Gadhafi with guarding the capital promptly surrendered. The reason: Its commander, whose brother had been executed by Gadhafi years ago, was secretly loyal to the rebellion, a senior rebel official, Fathi al-Baja, told The Associated Press. President Barack Obama said Libya is “slipping from the grasp of a tyrant” and urged Gadhafi to relinquish power to prevent more bloodshed. “The future of Libya is now in the hands of the Libyan people,” Obama said in a statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he’s vacationing. He promised to work closely with rebels. South Africa, which led failed African Union efforts to mediate between the rebels and Gadhafi, denied that it was offereing Gaddafi an asylum. Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane , called for a government of national unity and denied that the country had sent a plane to evacuate the embattled leader. Nkoana-Mashabane also said, “We don’t know his (Gadhafi’s) whereabouts. We assume he is still in Libya.” The uprising against Gadhafi broke out in mid-February, inspired by successful revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. A brutal regime crackdown quickly transformed the protests into an armed rebellion. Rebels seized Libya’s east, setting up an internationally recognized transitional government there, and two pockets in the west, the port city of Misrata and the Nafusa mountain range. Gaddafi clung to the remaining territory, and for months neither side had been able to break the other. In early August, however, rebels launched an offensive from the Nafusa Mountains, then fought their way down to the Mediterranean coastal plain, backed by NATO airstrikes, and captured the strategic city of Zawiya. The rebels’ leadership council, based in the eastern city of Benghazi, sent out mobile text messages to Tripoli residents, proclaiming, “Long live Free Libya” and urging them to protect public property. Internet service returned to the capital for the first time in six months. Gadhafi is the Arab world’s longest-ruling, most erratic, most grimly fascinating leader — presiding over this North African desert nation with vast oil reserves and just 6 million people. For years, he was an international pariah blamed for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am jumbo jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people. After years of denial, Gadhafi’s Libya acknowledged responsibility, agreed to pay up to $10 million to relatives of each victim, and the Libyan ruler declared he would dismantle his weapons of mass destruction program. That eased him back into a romance with Western nations, until the arab spring of revolt and the war against Gaddafi by his own people.

Outgoing Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni

Russia and Italy have a common view on settlement of the ongoing crisis in Libya, which is based on political and peaceful settlement of the situation, Italian Foreign Minister Angelino Alfano said.

Alfano, who is now also the Chairperson of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s (OSCE), told Sputnik: “the recent long and friendly conversation between Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni and President Vladimir Putin on the Libyan dossier are the confirmation of a common view based on the intention to contribute to the political and peaceful settlement of the Libyan crisis.

Earlier in the month, Gentiloni and Putin held a phone conversation and discussed a number of issues, including the situation in the north African state.

Sources in the office of the Italian prime minister told Sputnik that Gentiloni had taken a favorable view of Russia’s role in the UN Security Council’s decisions on the Libya-related issues.

Alfano said that the activities of Rome and Moscow were based on the support of UN envoy to Libya Ghassan Salame’s activities and of the institutions envisaged by the Libyan Political Agreement reached in Morocco’s Skhirat.

According to the diplomat, Italy’s cooperation with Russia on Libya is very productive.

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“I believe that 2018 could be the final year of a long transition in Libya, and it should be achieved via the election process as envisaged by professor Salame’s plan of actions.

“However, we know that we should respond to quite numerous challenges and firm and consolidated support of the international community, especially of Rome and Moscow, should have the pivotal role.”

Libya has been suffering from a civil war since 2011.

Two rival governments are struggling for control over the country.

Libya’s eastern regions are governed by the parliament headquartered in the city of Tobruk, which cooperates with Haftar’s forces. The Government of National Accord, formed with the support from the UN and Europe, operates in the country’s west, including in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.