McCain tells Libyan rebels: end abuses or risk US support

Letter obtained by The Independent reveals Senator's warning to opposition

One of Washington's most influential senators has warned Libya's opposition administration that they risk alienating US and international support unless they take "decisive action" to halt human rights abuses by rebel fighters.

The Republican Senator John McCain's stark message emerged the day after the British Government recognised the Transitional National Council based in Benghazi as the legitimate representatives of Libya and ordered the Tripoli regime's diplomats to leave the UK.

Yesterday the opposition sought to take over the Libyan embassy and consulate in London, and declared that Mahmoud Nacua, described as a 74-year-old poet, will become the new ambassador. TNC officials also urged that billions of pounds in frozen Libyan assets abroad should be turned over to the Benghazi administration.

In a letter to Mahmoud Jibril, the TNC's head of foreign affairs, seen by The Independent, Senator McCain stated: "I urge you to investigate recently documented abuses, hold people accountable as necessary, and ensure that opposition military forces are abiding by the principles of justice and human rights."

The former presidential candidate went on to stress: "As you surely know, the critics of the TNC, both in the United States and across the world, are eager to seize on any transgression to stoke opposition to the Council and to the Libyan people's fight for freedom."

Senior British Tories have long been close to Mr McCain and David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, broke diplomatic convention by backing the Senator in the presidential race in a fulsome speech in 2008.

While Mr McCain has remained a supporter of military operations, President Barack Obama is facing rising criticism from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress over the four-month long bombing campaign which has so far failed to remove Colonel Gaddafi from power.

In his letter to the TNC, dated 20th July, Senator McCain, writing as "your friend and supporter" pointed out "recent documentation of human rights abuses committed by opposition figures in the western Libyan towns of al-Awaniya, Rayayinah, Zawiyat al-Bagul, and al-Qawalish". He continued: " According to Human Rights Watch, a highly credible international non-governmental organisation, rebel fighters and supporters have damaged property, burned some homes, looted from hospitals, homes and shops, and beaten some individuals alleged to have supported government forces.

"I am confident you are aware of these allegations.... It is because the TNC holds itself to such high democratic standards that it is necessary for you and the Council to take decisive action to bring any human rights abuses to an immediate halt."

The rebel forces, who have failed to achieve any game-changing military successes despite the air strikes destroying much of the regime's capabilities, have also been accused of being divided and sending contradictory and conflicting policy statements.

Disarray among opposition ranks was illustrated when the TNC's co-ordinator in Britain, Guma el-Gamaty, dismissed as "silly" the recent offer by the TNC head, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, that Colonel Gaddafi and his family could stay in the country rather then go into exile. "I think we are coming to the end of all these silly political initiatives and all this talk about Gaddafi staying in Libya," he said. Mr Gamaty's stance also runs contrary to the position of the French government that peace talks can begin with Colonel Gaddafi staying in the country as long as he relinquishes power. The Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has also endorsed this position although he has stressed that it was ultimately a question for the Libyan people to decide.

Dear Dr Jibril...

* "You have no greater friend and supporter in the United States Congress than me, and I will continue working tirelessly to urge my government to take further steps that would support your efforts... It is as your friend and supporter that I write to you regarding the recent documentation of human rights abuses committed by opposition fighters..."

* "I am confident you are aware of these allegations, and I know that the principles espoused by the TNC [Transitional National Council] stand in stark and positive contrast to the acts of cruelty that the Gaddafi regime continues to perpetrate against the Libyan people. It is because the TNC holds itself to such high democratic standards that it is necessary for you and the Council to take decisive action to bring any human rights abuses to an immediate halt."

* "It is equally important for the TNC to make clear through public statements that such acts will not be tolerated and that the TNC remains fully committed to the protection of human rights. I urge you to investigate the recently documented abuses, hold people accountable as necessary, and ensure that opposition military forces are abiding by the principles of justice and human rights that the TNC has correctly championed."

* "As you surely know, the critics of the TNC, both in the United States and across the world, are eager to seize on any transgression to stoke opposition to the Council and to the Libyan people's fight for freedom. By taking a strong and principled response to any allegations of human rights abuses by forces under the TNC's command, you can turn this troubling setback into an opportunity for your supporters, both in Libya and in the community of nations, to reaffirm why the Libyan opposition is so worthy of greater recognition and support."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tvThe C-Word, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk