The United States has granted Libyan rebel leaders full diplomatic recognition as the governing authority of Libya. The U.S. came to this decision after serious engagement with the rebel's Transitional National Council, or TNC, where rebel leaders affirmed their commitment to pursue democratic reforms that are inclusive geographically and politically. The TNC also pledged to disperse any funds under their control in a transparent manner for the benefit of all the Libyan people.
The U.S. announcement was accompanied by an agreement among all of the countries taking part in a meeting of 30 Western and Arab nations in Turkey to similarly recognize the TNC after five months of fighting against government forces. The other reason for granting recognition to the TNC is to send a very clear message to the present leadership of Libya that the future of the country does not include Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. Participants in the Libya Contact Group reminded Gadhafi and his associates that their responsibilities and obligations under international law continue and that they will be held responsible for any crimes against humanity and war crimes.
According to Libyan council members, the plan for a political transition includes having rebels, now based in the eastern city of Benghazi, reach out to other regions of Libya not currently represented on the council. Together, they would form an interim government to rule in Gadhafi's place and then guide the country through democratic reforms, and ultimately the election of a new government.
A practical consequence of officially recognizing the TNC is that it could give the rebels access to more than $30 billion in frozen assets that once belonged Colonel Gadhafi. So far, Kuwait and Qatar have donated, in kind, roughly $100 million the rebels. Other countries have made moves to free frozen Libyan assets, for example France renewed a previous pledge to unfreeze $250 million in assets in coming weeks for the rebels. And Italy pledged to unfreeze $100 million.
It is time for Colonel Gadhafi to release his military stranglehold on Libya, depart from power, and permit a peaceful transition to representative government –- one that serves the best interests of all Libyans.