While you were clicking through slideshows of hero war dogs, Hillary Clinton was in Rome making progress on that other budding war we’ve sort of been fighting. Clinton and Italian foreign minister Franco Frattini helped convince the Libya Contact Group, a NATO coalition of representatives from 22 countries and six international organizations, to support the decision to set up a fund to back the Libyan rebels. (No one can say Silivio Berlusconi isn’t doing his part to make the world forget he and Qaddafi were once BFF’s.) Oil sales by the opposition and international donations will be used to fill the fund initially. But it will also eventually draw on Qaddafi’s own assets, including some of the $30 billion currently frozen by the U.S. and millions of euros from Italy. The U.K. declined to funnel any money to the cause but has pledged to expel two Libyan diplomats. Rebels say they need a minimum of $3 billion in the next few months to fight Qaddafi and keep themselves and civilians under their command alive.
Kuwait has pledged $180 million, and Qatar will put in up to $500 million. It’s been said the money would be a loan, not a gift, and paid back in oil. Qatar, for example, has already received one shipment of oil. But Clinton’s plan to use Qaddafi’s own assets against him still has a number of hurdles to clear, including how U.N. sanctions on selling Libyan oil in international markets will affect the Transitional National Council, or TNC, as well as difficulties unfreezing Qaddafi’s funds overseas. That would require working with Congress to change laws to help the opposition. During a press conference today, Clinton said, “I will be formally announcing our nonlethal assistance, so I think that there is an effort with urgency to meet the requests that the TNC is making.”
Secretary Clinton Brokers a Deal to Fund the Libyan Opposition [Daily Beast]
Coalition to create fund for Libya rebels [Al Jazeera]
Hillary Clinton: US to use Qaddafi’s frozen assets against him [Mother Jones]