The Washington Post

Pressure mounts on Gaddafi

Pressure mounted on Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi on Sunday, as the head of Britain’s military called for more extensive NATO airstrikes and prosecutors in the International Criminal Court announced that senior Libyan government officials were cooperating in a war crimes investigation.

After a week in which NATO forces significantly increased their bombardment of Tripoli, Gen. David Richards said Sunday that he wanted to widen the range of targets that NATO could hit to tighten pressure on Gad­dafi to abandon his 41-year rule.

“NATO is not attacking infrastructure targets in Libya,” Richards told London’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper. “But if we want to increase the pressure on Gaddafi’s regime then we need to give serious consideration to increasing the range of targets we can hit.”

Richards said he was concerned that the situation would reach a stalemate without increased NATO strikes. Attacking infrastructure targets, rather than purely military targets as has been done so far, could increase the risk of civilian casualties, although Richards said that “if any risk is posed to Libya’s civilian population then we do not hit the target.”

Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaim, on Sunday called Richards’s comments “provocative.”

“They are attacking infrastructure whether it is civilian or military,” Kaim said. “We don’t take it as a positive sign,” he said, adding that officials had raised objections with a UN envoy in the country Sunday and with the UN Security Council.

NATO jets could be heard above Tripoli on Sunday afternoon.

Also Sunday, prosecutors from the International Criminal Court announced that they had received phone calls from senior Libyan officials offering to provide information to an investigation of war crimes committed by the Libyan government, the Associated Press reported, suggesting that some Libyans are hedging their bets in the expectation of Gaddafi’s eventual downfall. Prosecutors did not divulge which officials had been cooperating or what they said.

The International Criminal Court has said that it will announce arrest warrants Monday against three senior Libyan officials for crimes against humanity. It has not specified which officials would be charged, but Gaddafi is presumably among the three.

Michael Birnbaum is The Post’s Moscow bureau chief. He previously served as the Berlin correspondent and an education reporter.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
How to make Sean Brock's 'Heritage' cornbread
New limbs for Pakistani soldiers
The signature dish of Charleston, S.C.
Play Videos
Why seasonal allergies make you miserable
John Lewis, 'Marv the Barb' and the politics of barber shops
What you need to know about filming the police
Play Videos
The Post taste tests Pizza Hut's new hot dog pizza
5 tips for using your thermostat
Michael Bolton's cinematic serenade to Detroit
Play Videos
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Pandas, from birth to milk to mom
The signature drink of New Orleans

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.