Moammar Gadhafi continues his assault on civilians in Libya. In one of the latest developments, NATO intercepted pro-regime ships attempting to lay mines in the harbor of the city of Misrata. NATO's director of operations in Libya, Brigadier General Rob Weighill, said the move "shows [Gadhafi's] complete disregard for international law and his willingness to attack humanitarian delivery efforts."
The harbor has been the conduit for ships removing the wounded to hospitals in the opposition-held city of Benghazi, and also for aid entering the besieged city of Misrata. NATO is heading an international military operation under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 to protect Libyan civilians from attack by the Gadhafi regime.
U.S. Ambassador to Libya Gene Cretz said in a recent news conference that estimates of the death toll from the fighting in Libya range from 10,000 to 30,000. "We keep getting reports, even from contacts in Tripoli and in the west, of bodies that have been uncovered. . . .on the beach," said Ambassador Cretz. "We just have no sense of the scale of this thing until it's over."
Ambassador Cretz says that the U.S. and its partners are committed to a two-part process in Libya:
"The protection of humanitarian life and trying to get services flowing to those cities that are affected by Gadhafi. And number two is the political part of that, which is the international consensus that now has become quite solid, that in order for there to be a solution to this, Gadhafi needs to leave."
In support of these human rights imperatives, President Barack Obama recently authorized twenty-five million dollars in non-lethal assistance for opposition groups in Libya, including the Transitional National Council, or TNC, which Ambassador Cretz describes as a "political body worth support." Ambassador Cretz says that the United States and its coalition partners in Libya "are beginning to look at the political process that hopefully will lead to an end" to the conflict and the carnage.
The ultimate solution, said Ambassador Cretz, "is a transformation, a political process which ends up in a Libya and a government determined by the people of Libya."