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March 1, 2011: Libya

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On Libya Frozen Assets, US Drops "TNC" for "Relevant Authorities," Only 13 of 15 Show Up for Syria Sanctions

By Matthew Russell Lee

UNITED NATIONS, August 25 -- After a standoff on whether $1.5 billion in frozen Libya funds would be released to the National Transitional Council, the US on Thursday agreed to amend its unfreezing request to drop references to the NTC (or TNC as the US and some others call it) and replaced it with the phrase "relevant authorities."

US officials including charge d'affaires Rosemary DiCarlo insisted that it makes no difference, that the money will now be released precises as the US requested it.

  Ambassador Susan Rice issued a statement that did not mention the change, "welcom[ing] the decision by the UN Security Council's Libya Sanctions Committee to release $1.5 billion dollars in Libyan assets to meet the critical humanitarian needs of the Libyan people."

  A representative of the chair of the Libya Sanctions Committee, when asked if any of the money could be given directly to the TNC, referred to this as a detail. Pressed on the issue, he gestured at charge DiCarlo.

  South Africa had put a hold on the two thirds of the amount that were not labeled as "humanitarian," saying that the African Union had not yet ruled that the TNC is, well, the "relevant authority." But in response to the US amended request, South Africa removed its hold.

The press swirled around outside the Security Council, listening first to Rosemary DiCarlo and then South Africa's Baso Sangqu, both off camera. Sangqu took issue with some media coverage in the past 24 hours which described South Africa as "blocking aid." He pointed out that South Africa had gone out of its way, even during the dispute, to say that the $500 million in humanitarian aid could be released.

  The US, then, insisted it must be a "package deal" -- the whole $1.5 billion, with references to the TNC. Now the number is the same, but the name is different.

  In a parallel universe, when meetings were called on the Syria sanctions draft resolution, in the late morning at the experts level and at 3 pm at the level of Permanent Representatives, European representatives told Inner City Press that Russia and China did not attend either.

  But, some wonder, is the point of the resolution's sponsors to get more than nine votes and call the question, triggering one or two vetoes? We'll see.

Click for July 7, 11 re Sudan, Libya, Syria, flotilla

Click for Mar 1, '11 re Libya, Sri Lanka, UN Corruption

These reports are usually also available through Google News and on Lexis-Nexis.

Click here for a Reuters AlertNet piece by this correspondent about Uganda's Lord's Resistance Army. Click here for an earlier Reuters AlertNet piece about the Somali National Reconciliation Congress, and the UN's $200,000 contribution from an undefined trust fund.  Video Analysis here

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