Turkey warning on Libya sanctions

Prime minister cautions that UN sanctions will hurt civilians, with Security Council set to discuss possible action.

    The bloody crackdown on protests in Libya has caused international outrage [Reuters]

    Turkey's prime minister has raised objections to imposing sanctions on Libya over a bloody crackdown on protesters, ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on the issue.

    Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned on Saturday that sanctions would "harm not the administration but the Libyan people" and accused world powers of making "calculations" dictated by their concerns over oil.

    "Any intervention will make the process even more difficult," Erdogan said in a televised public speech, referring 
    to the unrest in Libya where, by some accounts as many as 2,000 people have been killed in a security crackdown on a popular uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader.

    "You cannot secure world peace by resorting to sanctions in each and every incident. We call on the international community to approach Libya not with concerns about oil but with conscience, justice and universal human values," Erdogan said.

    In an apparent reference to Western interests in oil-rich Libya, he said the region's people "are fed up with being used as pawns in oil wars".

    "The pride of peoples in the Middle East and Africa has been hurt enough by double-standard attitudes going on for decades," he said.

    The UN Security Council met on Saturday to consider a sanctions resolution, drawn up by Britain, France, Germany and the US, against Gaddafi hoping to halt his deadly crackdown on protesters.

    'No bloodshed'

    The draft resolution says the attacks on civilians could amount to crimes against humanity and calls for an arms embargo, a travel ban and assets freeze against Gaddafi and his entourage.

    Al Jazeera's Kristen Saloomey, reporting from the UN in New York, that any sanction ordered by the Security Council were unlikely to be interventionist and would take time to have an impact.

    "There's no talk about military action or a no-fly zone, which was brought up in discussions earlier," she said.

    "The reason for that, according to the French ambassador, is that these things take time to work out, they are more controversial and what the Council really wants to do is send a quick, strong and unified message to the Libyan government that the crackdown on protesters has to stop."

    But diplomatic sources on Saturday told Al Jazeera that discussions were stalling over the resolution's request for Gaddafi to be referred to the International Criminal Court, a move opposed by some members.

    The sanctions debate comes amid an appeal by Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham, Libya's ambassador to the UN, who has defected, for the UN to "save Libya".

    "Let there be no bloodshed, no killing of innocents. We want a decisive, rapid and courageous resolution from you," Shalgham told the Security Council on Friday.

    "Gaddafi and his sons are saying [to Libyans], 'either we rule you or kill you'."

    Ban Ki-moon, the UN secretary general, also urged the council to act quickly to help stop the bloodshed.

    "It is time for the Security Council to consider concrete action," Ban told the 15-nation council, which gathered to receive a draft sanctions resolution against Libya's leadership.

    Barack Obama, the US president, announced on Friday that Washington had imposed sanctions on Libya's government for its violent repression of the uprising, signing an executive order blocking property and transactions related to the country.

    "These sanctions therefore target the Gaddafi government, while protecting the assets that belong to the people of Libya," Obama said in a statement.

    'Support the people'

    In the UK, the office of David Cameron, the British prime minister, released a statement saying that European leaders, including Erdogan, were in agreement that "the actions of the Libyan regime were totally unacceptable".

    "The prime minister was clear that the Libyan regime would face the consequences of its actions," the statement said.

    "He agreed with counterparts that urgent action was needed through the EU [European Union] and UN including a tough sanctions package targeting the regime directly."

    Britain and Germany want the EU to impose sanctions on Libya and both hope the Security Council, of which Britain is a permanent member, will impose similar penalties following its meeting on Saturday.

    In Italy, Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, told a political rally: "If we can all come to an agreement, we can end this bloodbath and support the Libyan people."

    He also said that it appeared that Gaddafi "no longer controls the situation in Libya".

    The Italian leader, who has been closely associated with Gaddafi, came under heavy criticism earlier in the week for being slow to condemn the events in Libya.

    Cameron has also come in for criticism from those who said Britain was too slow to rescue its nationals from the violent events in Libya.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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