Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi made a personal appeal to loyalists in Tripoli to "fight and defeat" his opponents, as the U.S. imposed sanctions and said it will join other nations in steps short of military intervention to try to stop the killing.
"When needed, all the weapons stores will be opened," Qaddafi said, portraying the opposition as foreign aggressors. Addressing a crowd in Tripoli's Green Square, where people carried posters and banners supporting him, Qaddafi declared that "Libya will become a fire."
The prospect of civil war in North Africa's biggest oil producer has pushed crude prices to a 2 1/2-year high, and led to calls for action to stop the worst violence seen in the two months of unrest across the Middle East and North Africa. At the United Nations, Libya's ambassador, who has repudiated the Qaddafi regime, pleaded for the Security Council to act.
"Please UN, save Libya," Ambassador Mohammad Shalgham said. "I tell my brother Qaddafi, leave the Libyans alone."
Shalgham spoke before the Security Council began private talks on a draft resolution that would impose an arms embargo on Libya and a travel ban and asset freeze on Qaddafi, his family, and his top aides. The text, circulated by Britain and France, would also ask the International Criminal Court in The Hague to investigate possible violations of international law by the regime, including attacks on civilians. The council plans to discuss the resolution today.
'Qaddafi Must Go'
France's position is clear, Mr. Qaddafi must go," French President Nicolas Sarkozy said at a news conference with Turkish President Abdullah Gul in Ankara yesterday. Sarkozy, the first leader of a major power to call openly for Qaddafi's resignation, said intervention wasn't a good option.
President Barack Obama signed an order freezing any U.S. assets of Muammar Qaddafi, his family and members of his regime in Libya, as the first in what the administration says will be a series of sanctions.