The U.S., European Union and Arab League will be to blame if Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi uses chemical and biological weapons against his opponents, Abdel Rahman Shalgam, Libya’s former envoy to the United Nations, said on Friday.
“President Obama… is working for freedom and he can’t stay indifferent regarding what is going on in Libya. He’s responsible for that. The world is responsible for that,” Mr. Shalgam told a gathering of Libyan Americans in Washington.
He said the international community must stop the bloodshed in his country. “They are able to do that,” he added.
A pro-democracy uprising has turned violent after the regime’s brutal crackdown, which has included the use of tanks and airstrikes against poorly armed rebels.
Rebel forces control much of the eastern part of the country, but suffered a setback this week as forces loyal to Col. Gadhafi routed them from the key oil port of Ras Lanouf.
The U.S. and the U.N. have imposed sanctions on the Gadhafi regime following its deadly response to the uprising.
At the White House, Mr. Obama said as a result of these efforts “we are slowly tightening the noose on Gadhafi.”
“He is more and more isolated internationally, both through sanctions as well as an arms embargo,” said Shalgam.
Mr. Shalgam and Ali S. Aujali, Libya’s former ambassador in Washington, met officials at the Treasury and State departments on Friday, including Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of State for Near Eastern affairs.
Mr. Shalgam told U.S. officials the international community would be responsible if Col. Gadhafi’s forces attack the residents of the rebel-controlled eastern city of Benghazi with chemical and biological weapons.
Mr. Aujali, meanwhile, said the State Department was wasting time.
“‘All the options on the table,’ they say all the time. I say ‘Take one option at least,’” Mr. Aujali said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton will meet Ali Al Issawi and Mahmood Jibril, representatives of the Libyan opposition, in Paris on Monday.
Mr. Shalgam and Mr. Aujali urged U.S. officials to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, recognize the opposition’s National Transitional Council and provide humanitarian assistance.
Mr. Aujali said that if the international community were serious about imposing a no-fly zone over Libya it would not be very difficult to achieve.
While France this week officially recognized the National Transitional Council, U.S. officials say they are assessing the opposition groups to determine their vision, who they represent and their plans for a post-Gadhafi Libya.
Mr. Shalgam said Libya would have “real democracy” after the Gadhafi regime is toppled. “Freedom takes minutes, but democracy takes time. It is complicated,” he added.
The two former Libyan officials also met several lawmakers, including Sens. John Kerry, John McCain, Joe Lieberman and Frank Lautenberg.
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department on Friday designated nine individuals, including senior officials of the Gadhafi regime as well as the wife and several of Col. Gadhafi’s children.
Any assets of these individuals subject to U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. citizens are prohibited from engaging in business with them.
“Today’s designation should send a strong signal to those responsible for the violence inflicted by Gadhafi and his government that the United States will continue steps to increase pressure and to hold them accountable,” said Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David S. Cohen.
The senior officials against whom the Treasury action was directed include Abu Bakr Yunis Jabir, the Libyan defense minister; Matuq Mohammad Matuq, secretary general of the People’s Committee for Public Works; Abu Zayd Umar Dorda, the director of Libya’s External Security Organization; and Abdullah Al-Senussi, the Director of Military Intelligence.
Mr. Al-Senussi has also organized mass killings in Benghazi and recruited foreign mercenaries fighting in service of Col. Gadhafi’s regime and is allegedly responsible for the deaths of 1,200 inmates at Abu Selim prison.
The Treasury Department also designated Safia Farkash, Col. Gadhafi’s wife, and several of the Libyan leader’s children: Hannibal Qadhafi, head of the General Maritime Transport Company of Libya; Saadi Gadhafi, Commander of Special Forces and Head of the Libyan Football Federation; Muhammad Gadhafi, Chairman of the Libyan Olympic Committee and Chairman of the General Post and Telecommunications Company; and Seif Al-Arab Gadhafi.
The Obama administration has already frozen more than $32 billion of the Gadhafi regime’s assets following its use of violence against civilians and human rights abuses in Libya.