Rabu, 23 Februari 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World

World grapples for response as battles divide Libya

Posted: 23 Feb 2011 07:00 PM PST

Protesters chant anti-government slogans while holding a Libyan flag in a square in Benghazi yesterday, February 23, 2011. — Reuters pic

BENGHAZI, Feb 24 — World leaders condemned Mummar Gaddafi's bloody crackdown on a revolt that has split Libya, but took little action to halt the bloodshed from the latest upheaval reshaping the Arab world.

US President Barack Obama made his first public comments, condemning as "outrageous" and "unacceptable" attacks on protesters that have killed hundreds in 10 days and helped drive oil prices to levels that threaten global economic recovery.

Yet, there seemed little cohesion and urgency in a global response, even as Washington and Brussels spoke of possible sanctions against a man whose 41 years in power have been marked by idiosyncratic defiance of the West.

"It is imperative that the nations and peoples of the world speak with one voice," Obama said. "The suffering and bloodshed is outrageous."

The oil exports which Gaddafi used to help end his isolation in the past decade have given him means to resist the fate of his immediate neighbours, the presidents of Tunisia and Egypt, who were brought down by popular unrest in the past few weeks.

As many as 1,000 people may have been killed in Libya, the Italian foreign minister said. Unconfirmed reports speak of troops and African mercenaries firing on demonstrators in the desert nation pumping nearly two percent of world oil output.

Gaddafi's defiance has been backed by deeds, with the deployment of aircraft on bombing runs.

Yet eastern areas, where much of the oil is concentrated, have slipped from his control and with security forces defecting to join the protesters, it was unclear just how long Gaddafi could hang onto power.

In cities like Benghazi and Tobruk, troops and police have either withdrawn or have joined with diffuse and disparate opposition groups to start providing some order and services.

That wave may have reached as far west as Misrata, a city some 200km east of Tripoli where a statement which purported to be from lawyers and judges said "honest" military officers had helped remove agents of the "oppressive regime."

In Tripoli, which remains largely closed to foreign media, locals said streets were calm after days of sporadic violence but fear gripped people's households.

"I haven't heard gun shots, unlike in the last few days," said one resident living close to Green Square in the city centre which is a focus for gatherings.

Marwan Mohammed, a Tunisian crossing the border home after leaving Tripoli, said: "Lots of people are afraid to leave their homes in Tripoli and pro-Gaddafi gunmen are roaming around threatening any people who gather in groups."

Oil wealth has made Libya an important investor in Western economies, as well as the sponsor of a host of projects in Africa and elsewhere, winning Gaddafi potential allies in forums like the United Nations.

Differences among world powers over how to proceed, some driven by concern not to jeopardise the safety of foreigners caught up in the trouble, appear to limit prospects for immediate international action.

The Security Council agreed a statement on Tuesday calling for an end to violence. But diplomats said a formal resolution requiring UN action was not immediately likely.

France and Germany have pushed EU states to consider sanctions and have won agreement to look into the matter. Some governments, including Italy, warn of economic problems if oil and gas supplies are disrupted.

Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya with a mixture of populism and tight control since taking power in a military coup in 1969, has promised to "cleanse Libya house by house" to crush the revolt.

He has deployed troops to the west of the capital to stop the revolt that started in the east from spreading. In the east, many soldiers have withdrawn from active service.

In Benghazi, cradle of the uprising and home to tribes long hostile to Gaddafi, thousands filled the streets, lighting fireworks and waving the red, black and green flag of the king Colonel Gaddafi overthrew in 1969.

"We have been suffering for 41 years," said 45-year-old Hamida Muftah. "Gaddafi has killed people ... We are a very rich country, but most of the people are poorer than poor."

A medical official said some 320 had died in Benghazi alone since protests against oppression and poverty began last week.

Libya's Quryna newspaper quoted a military source as saying a bomber crew bailed out and left their aircraft to crash rather than bomb Benghazi. Earlier in the week, two pilots flew their jets to Malta to avoid, they said, attacking their own people.

The newspaper said rebels in Benghazi started their own publication with the slogan "We don't surrender, we either win or die" — the last words of anti-Italian independence leader Omar al-Mukhtar before his execution by the Italian authorities.

Gaddafi's children have spoken up in his defence and accused foreign media of misreporting the week's events in Libya.

"Libyans are the victims of the biggest joke," his son Saif al-Islam told state TV. Gaddafi's daughter Aisha appeared on state television, denying a report she tried to flee to Malta.

An estimated 1.5 million foreign nationals are working or travelling in Libya and a third of the population of seven million are immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa.

Witnesses described scenes of chaos as people tried to leave. "It's a Biblical exodus," said Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.

Countries with strong business ties to Libya scrambled to evacuate thousands of citizens. A Turkish worker was shot dead at a building site near the capital, Turkish officials said.

A British oil worker said 300 people were stranded at a camp in the east of Libya, where he said local people had looted oil installations. He told the BBC: "We are living every day in fear of our lives as the local people are armed. — Reuters


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German minister admits mistakes in plagiarism row

Posted: 23 Feb 2011 05:10 PM PST

Guttenberg attends Parliament in Berlin yesterday, February 23, 2011 where he apologised over flaws in his doctoral dissertation. — Reuters pic

BERLIN, Feb 24 — Chancellor Angela Merkel's Defence Minister admitted in Parliament yesterday flaws in his doctoral dissertation that is at the centre of a plagiarism affair weighing on her government.

Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg also apologised to Parliament but said he would not resign over. He also rejected accusations of plagiarism, insisting he had not deliberately deceived anyone.

Guttenberg, long Germany's most popular politician and sometimes named as a possible successor to Merkel, has been accused of copying parts of his PhD dissertation on constitutional law without correct attribution.

"I have apologised from the bottom of my heart and I'll repeat that here in Parliament," Guttenberg said before answering questions for the first time from deputies in a heated exchange. He blamed the mistakes on being overworked.

"I was so arrogant to think that I could square a circle," he said, referring to a busy work load with the dissertation while being a deputy in Parliament and starting a family.

"I wrote a dissertation that was obviously flawed," said Guttenberg, 39. Last week he dismissed media reports of plagiarism as "fanciful."

The scandal, dubbed "Copygate," may damage the centre-right coalition ahead of six regional elections this year because the aristocrat has been a rare bright spots in Merkel's government.

Guttenberg has topped popularity polls for much of the last two years and given the coalition a badly needed dash of glamour. But analysts warn of dangers to him and Merkel over the affair because the plagiarism allegations go to the heart of Guttenberg's image as an honest and upright politician.

He denied, when asked by an opposition deputy, that he had used a ghostwriter to help him write the dissertation.

Guttenberg also faced criticism from within his own party. Norbert Lammert, a leader in Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and president of Parliament, had publicly scolded Guttenberg for not coming clean about "the sloppiness" of his work.

The opposition Social Democrats renewed their calls for his resignation. Thomas Oppermann, an SPD leader in Parliament, said Guttenberg was a cheat and getting special treatment.

"It's reprehensible that an academic cheat and liar can remain in the Cabinet," Oppermann told Parliament.

Merkel has defended Guttenberg, saying she appointed him to her Cabinet because of his political skills and not because she needed an "academic assistant."

Guttenberg gave up his doctorate on Monday, admitted to grave errors and an unintentional violation of academic standards. He attacked the media for a witch-hunt against him.

But the scandal remains front page news in Germany.

The University of Bayreuth said a special commission was examining the charges of plagiarism. The university's president said it was up to the university itself to decide if Guttenberg would be stripped of his doctorate or not. — Reuters


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