Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced that the United States will recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as “the legitimate governing authority for Libya” and expects that the move will help the TNC obtain more funding as it struggles against Muammar Qadhafi’s regime and makes plans for the country’s political transition.
Speaking in Istanbul July 15, Clinton said that pending the creation of an interim authority, “the United States will recognize the TNC as the legitimate governing authority for Libya, and we will deal with it on that basis.”
“In contrast, the United States views the Qadhafi regime as no longer having legitimate authority in Libya,” she added.
The secretary joined representatives of more than 30 countries, the TNC, the Arab League, the African Union, NATO, the European Union, the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Organization of the Islamic Conference for a meeting of the Libya Contact Group, which is trying to support the TNC while increasing pressure on Qadhafi to relinquish power.
Clinton said that following the resolution of some legal issues, U.S. recognition of the TNC will enable it to access “additional sources of funding,” and U.S. officials “will be consulting with the TNC and our international partners in the most effective and appropriate method of doing this.”
In response to the Qadhafi regime’s violence against Libyan civilians, the Obama administration froze assets of the Libyan government beginning February 25, and the U.S. Treasury Department says it has seized approximately $30 billion from Libya’s leaders.
Clinton welcomed the direct financial support that countries have been providing to the TNC, as well as their contributions to the temporary financial mechanism that has been established to facilitate financial contributions and other in-kind assistance to the TNC.
State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said July 15 that the TNC needs funding “to exist as a de facto government,” including paying bills and handling operational and security costs.
“We recognize them as the legitimate government of Libya. And so as such, we’re going to take steps to make sure that they’re able to carry out their functions,” Toner said.
A State Department official who asked not to be identified said July 14 that the United States has also been providing nonlethal assistance to the TNC through the Libyan Information Exchange Mechanism (LIEM) in Benghazi. The LIEM is coordinating assistance and provides “a mechanism to help make sure we’re matching what the TNC needs with what we are able to provide,” the official said.
According to Secretary Clinton’s prepared remarks at the Libya Contact Group meeting, the U.S. decision to recognize the TNC comes after the group provided assurances that it will pursue a process of democratic reform that is geographically and politically inclusive in the aftermath of the Qadhafi regime. It also pledged to uphold Libya’s international obligations, and to disburse funds in a transparent manner to address the humanitarian and other needs of the Libyan people, she said.
“The United States appreciates these assurances from the TNC, which reinforce our confidence that it is the appropriate interlocutor for us in dealing with Libya’s present and addressing Libya’s future,” Clinton said. She added that the United States “will help the TNC sustain its commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial integrity and national unity of Libya, and we will look to it to remain steadfast in its commitment to human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The secretary said that as Qadhafi continues to hold power and orders attacks on his people, his isolation will deepen and he will pay increased costs as his command centers and weapons are targeted by the international coalition.
“Qadhafi and those around him know what is required. The terms of a cease-fire are clear,” Clinton said. “Qadhafi must stop attacks or the threat of attacks, remove his troops from all of the places they have forcibly entered and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance.”