Recognizing Free Libya
"Major western and regional powers said yesterday that they officially recognised the Libyan opposition as the legitimate representatives of the country in a move designed to convince Col Muammar Qaddafi that his 41 years in power are over...
"The contact group, made up by more than 30 countries, includes leading western powers such as the United States, the United Kingdom and France as well as regional countries such as host nation Turkey, the UAE and Morocco and international organisations including the Arab League, the African Union and Nato.
"'The contact group reaffirmed that the Qaddafi regime no longer has any legitimate authority in Libya and that Qaddafi and certain members of his family must go,' the statement said. 'Henceforth and until an interim authority is in place, participants agreed to deal with the National Transitional Council (NTC) as the legitimate governing authority in Libya.'
"Col Qaddafi responded late last night, saying the contact group's recognition of the NTC, held no significance...
"The French foreign minister, Alain Juppe, said the international community could now 'unfreeze certain Libyan state assets because it is the NTC that will henceforth exercise this responsibility'. Mamoud Shamman, an NTC official in Istanbul, said the opposition needed US$3 billion (Dh11bn). 'We need funds, funds, funds,' he said."
This is important in part because of the Arab membership in the contact group. I suspect the timing was related both to a desire to generate a positive headline for the the rebels, as well as to provide them with the funding mentioned from Libya's state assets.
(Crossposted to American Footprints)