Bringing weapons at large in Libya under control may take “some time” after United Nations recognition of opponents of Muammar Qaddafi, a UN adviser said.
International acceptance of the National Transitional Council is “very strong indeed,” Ian Martin, a UN special adviser, said from Tripoli yesterday in an interview with Al Jazeera television. “The liberation of weapons,” especially Qaddafi’s heavy weapons outside NTC control, “is going to be a significant problem for some time to come,” he said.
Libyan rebels are facing resistance from forces loyal to Qaddafi around Sirte, the dictator’s birthplace and one of his last strongholds. The rebels withdrew from there yesterday and were planning to stage an offensive today, according to Al- Arabiya television.
The transition in Libya underscores the hurdles faced by new groups of leaders in the aftermath of the so-called Arab Spring, which displaced or threatened regimes across the Middle East and North Africa.
In Egypt, a revolt that ended President Hosni Mubarak’s three-decade rule has been followed by unrest as protesters call for faster political change. The Egyptian electoral commission set Nov. 21 as the date of the Shura Council election, Al Arabiya television said yesterday, citing the commission’s head.
In Syria, where an uprising against President Bashar al- Assad began in mid-March, the death toll on Sept. 17 rose to nine, including four protesters shot by government forces in the town of Idlib, Al Jazeera television reported, citing unidentified activists. The previous day, Syrian forces killed 51 people across the country, the television channel reported.
In Yemen, where protesters are demanding the ouster of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the army clashed yesterday with anti-riot forces in Sanaa, killing three and wounding 10, the ruling party said on its website, Almotamar.
The UN agreed last week to permit envoys of the Libyan opposition group to take the country’s seat at meetings of the world body. The Qaddafi regime had retained authority to represent Libya at the UN, though no diplomats had occupied the seat since February.
The UN also dropped sanctions on two Libyan oil companies and eased restrictions on four banks to assist the nation’s recovery from the war that toppled Qaddafi.
The UN wants the NTC to “complete the transition with as little bloodshed as possible,” Martin told Al Jazeera.
The rebels last week captured the Al Gurdabia airbase south of Sirte on the Mediterranean coast, the opposition’s military council in Misrata said in a statement. At least 18 soldiers have been killed and 51 wounded in fighting around Sirte since Sept. 15, the council said.
Forces Pull Back
NTC forces pulled back from the mountain town of Bani Walid under heavy shelling by Qaddafi loyalists on Sept. 16, Al Jazeera television reported, citing its correspondent.
The opposition’s ruling council is working to improve ties with other countries. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on a visit to Tripoli, said on Sept. 16 that Turkey would aid Libya militarily and politically.
His trip follows a visit on Sept. 15 by U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the first foreign leaders to visit Tripoli since helping the rebel forces oust Qaddafi last month.
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the NTC, at the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 20.
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