The Cable

Obama declares national state of emergency over Libya

President Obama issued an executive order Friday evening that imposes immediate sanctions on Libyan ruler Muammar al Qaddafi, his sons and his accomplices in the slaughter of civilians. In a letter accompanying the order, Obama declared a national emergency over the situation.

"I have determined that the actions of Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, his government, and close associates, including extreme measures against the people of Libya, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. The order declares a national emergency to deal with this threat," Obama wrote in the letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH).

The executive order itself condemns the "wanton violence against unarmed associates" perpetrated by Qaddafi, his sons, his government, and his close associates. Effective immediately, all U.S.-based assets of Qaddafi and his four sons are to be frozen and transactions intended to move those assets are prohibited. The order allows the measures to be expanded to include any member of the Libyan government who are determined to be complicit in Qaddafi's brutality.

In a personal statement issued by the White House at the same time as the order, Obama referenced what he called the Libyan government's continued violation of human rights, brutalization of its people, and outrageous threats.

"By any measure, Muammar el-Qaddafi's government has violated international norms and common decency and must be held accountable," the statement read. "We will stand steadfastly with the Libyan people in their demand for universal rights, and a government that is responsive to their aspirations. Their human dignity cannot be denied."

Earlier Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that more punitive measures against the Qaddafi regime were on the way. "The steps we take in the near future are not the only steps we are prepared to take, if further steps are necessary," Carney said.

Possible next steps include a no fly zone over Libya, as has been advocated by senators, Washington experts, and over 200 Arab organizations.

The last members of the U.S. embassy staff in Libya were evacuated Friday and the embassy building was shuttered, although the Obama administration still has not broken off relations with the Qaddafi regime or publicly called for Qaddafi to step down.

"The flag is still flying, the embassy is not closed, but operations are suspended," said Undersecretary of State for Management Patrick Kennedy. "We did not break diplomatic relations."

There's no word yet on how the sanctions will affect the $100 million investment by Al-Saadi Qaddafi, one of the sons, in a film company that's producing a movie entitles "The Ice Man: Confessions of a Mafia Contract Killer," with Mickey Rourke.

The Cable

Over 200 Arab groups call for Libya no-fly zone

Arab organizations from 18 countries, coordinating their effort with 30 Arab intellectuals, called on world leaders to impose an U.N.-sponsored and Arab-led no-fly zone in Libya to protect innocent civilians there.

The call for civilian protection was aimed to influence the U.N. Security Council, the European Union, the African Union, and the Arab League. It was timed to influence discussions at the Security Council and the U.N. Human Rights Council over the coming days. The organizations hail from countries including Egypt, Libya, Qatar, Morocco, Yemen, Syria, Algeria, and Saudi Arabia.

The open letter to world leaders, set to be released on Saturday but obtained by The Cable, calls on the international community and regional leaders to develop "immediate contingency plans for international intervention, under regional Arab leadership, to provide protection for civilians on the ground and to enable the rapid imposition of a UN Mandated No Fly Zone over Libya should such steps be necessary to protect civilians from further atrocities."

The groups also called for a U.N. investigation into atrocities conducted by the regime of Muammar al-Qaddafi, as well as punitive measures against the Libyan government, including sanctions, asset freezes, and an arms embargo.

"We fear we may be witnessing the calm before the storm. The window of opportunity to prevent further atrocities from occurring is closing fast. The people of Libya need you to act quickly and decisively," the letter stated. "Condemnation of such acts is not enough - world leaders must live up to their responsibilities to protect civilians from systematic slaughter."

The accompanying letter, signed by 30 prominent Arab intellectuals, called for the same measures and implored world leaders to use whatever means necessary to protect Libyan civilians. Signatories included Nagib Sawiris, President of Orascom Telecom Egypt; Amr Hamzawy, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment's Middle East Center; Egyptian journalist Hani Shukrallah; and Paul Salem, the director of Carnegie's Middle East Center.

"We cannot and will not stand by and witness a brutal dictator exterminate his own people," they wrote. "We appeal to you as leaders who have the power to bring an end to this horror. Your failure to do so would be a lasting stain on the concept of the responsibility of world leadership and on humanity itself."

Full text of the letters and lists of signatories after the jump:

1. PUBLIC STATEMENT BY PROMINENT ARAB INDIVIDUALS

CONDEMNATION IS NOT ENOUGH!

To Heads of State of Members of the United Nations Security Council, European Union, African Union and League of Arab States,

We, experts, intellectuals and citizens from the Arab world, write to call on you to turn hollow condemnation into real action that can protect the people of Libya from further slaughter.

We cannot and will not stand by and witness a brutal dictator exterminate his own people. Your words alone will not stop Gaddafi committing war crimes against civilians. Your expressions of disgust will not stop him contracting mercenaries to kill and maim those brave enough to challenge his tyranny. We appeal to you as leaders who have the power to bring an end to this horror. Your failure to do so would be a lasting stain on the concept of the responsibility of world leadership and on humanity itself.

The Libyan people are living through a defining moment in their history. Their demands for basic human rights and an end to 42 years of cruel oppression are legitimate. We shall not stand silent and watch them pay the price of this demand with their blood.  Without urgent action from the UN Security Council supported by the EU, African Union and Arab League, the window of opportunity to protect civilians from the threat of further atrocities will close. 

We believe it is the personal and moral responsibility of each and every one of you to ensure immediate action is taken to stop the bloodshed in line with Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.

The Libyan people have had the courage to defy a dictator and face down his barbarism and brutality. Now their blood fills the streets of Benghazi, Beida and Tripoli and many other cities. This is partly the result of the absence of effective international pressure to rein in a killer who does not balk at using lethal force against his own people.

We urge the UN Security Council, the Arab League, the African Union and the European Union to protect civilians in Libya NOW. We urge leaders to live up to their obligations and expedite the following actions immediately:

*Agree immediate contingency plans for international intervention, under Arab regional leadership, to provide protection for civilians on the ground and to enable the rapid imposition of a UN Mandated No Fly Zone over Libya should such steps be necessary to protect civilians from further atrocities.

*Ensure accountability and justice for the victims of the attacks since the 17th of Feb 2011 by supporting the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' call for an independent investigation into the use of systematic violence against civilians.

*Ensure an asset freeze on Gaddafi, his family and his generals and impose immediate targeted sanctions on the regime.

*Impose an immediate arms embargo.

Only action of this kind can help protect the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians currently at risk. Gaddafi and his henchmen will not flinch at your condemnation. Instead, they blackmail you into paralysis by threatening to withhold lucrative trade or open the floodgates of immigration. Time is running out. We urge you to demonstrate courageous and decisive leadership to avert what could be one of the worst atrocities of our time.

Sincerely,

1.Nabil El Arabi - Former Judge in the International Court of Justice - Egypt
2.Gamil Mattar - Writer - Egypt
3.Taher Kanaan - Former Minister of Planning and Development Affairs- Jordan
4.Laila Sharaf - First Lady Senator - Jordan
5.Moataz Abdel Fattah - Professor of Political Science University of Michigan - USA
6.Gennaro Gervasio - Professor of Political Science, University of Sydney - Australia
7.    Bassma Kodmani - Executive director, Arab Reform Initiative - France
8.    Chérif Ferjani -  Director, Group of Research and Studies on Mediterranean and Middle East (GREMMO) at la Maison de l'Orient Méditerranéen, CNRS-Université Lyon2 (National Center for Scientific Research)
9.    Hani Shukrallah - Journalist - Egypt
10.  Barah Mikail - Research Director, FRIDE (Fundacion para las Relaciones Internacionales y el Dialogo Exterior) - Spain
11.  Larbi Chouikha - Academic - Tunisia
12.  Charif RIFAI - Architect - France
13.  Yassin Swehat - blogger - Syria
14.Paul Salem - Director, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Beirut - Lebanon
15.Salam Kawakibi - Senior researcher - Arab Reform Initiative
16.Nahla Chahal - political sociologist - Syria
17.Ibrahim Al Ariss - Historian and Journalist - Lebanon
18.Alaa Abdel Aziz - Academic - Egypt
19.Mohamed Ali Farhat  - Poet and Journalist - Lebanon
20.Vicky Habib - journalist and film critic - Lebanon
21.Saad Mehio - Writer - Lebanon
22.Ahdaf Soweif - Novelist and Writer - Egypt
23.Bahgat Korani - Academic - Egypt
24.Abdel Rahman Ayyas - journalist - Lebanon
25.Ali El Ghatit - International Attorney of Law - Egypt
26.Ali Fakhro - Former Minister of Culture - Bahrain
27.Fouad Riad - Former Judge in the International Tribunal for Former Yugoslavia - Egypt
28.Nagib Sawiris - Egyptian Prominent Business and President of Orascom Telecom - Egypt.
29.Dr. Gala Amin - Egyptian Scholar - Egypt
30.Ms Hala Alabdalla, Syrian filmmaker - France
31.Dr. Amr Hamzawy , Research Director and Senior Associate - Carnegie Middle East Center
32.Omar Al Qattan, Filmmaker & Philanthropist - Palestine.
33.Hisham Mattar, Libyan Novelist Author
34.Basma Al Husseiny , Managing Director - AL Mawred AL Thaqafi

2.    OPEN LETTER TO WORLD LEADERS BY ARAB NGOS

Open Letter by Arab Organisations to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), the European Union (EU) and the League of Arab States (LAS)

As leaders of over a (200) organisations across the Middle East and North Africa, we urge the United Nations Security Council and the EU to take immediate action in response to the violent repression of demonstrations and the bloodshed of innocent civilians in Libya. The international community must not be passive bystanders to such brutality. Words of outrage are not enough; they will do nothing to protect civilians in the face of such slaughter.

We fear we may be witnessing the calm before the storm. The window of opportunity to prevent further atrocities from occurring is closing fast. The people of Libya need you to act quickly and decisively.

Since 17th February 2011, hundreds of peaceful demonstrators in Libya have been killed, arrested and detained at the orders of Gadaffi. Reports of the use of lethal force and military artillery against civilians demand immediate investigation by a UN mandated team on the ground.

Condemnation of such acts is not enough - world leaders must live up to their responsibilities to protect civilians from systematic slaughter.

We call on you to agree contingency plans for international intervention in line with Chapter VII of the UN charter, and under Arab regional leadership to provide protection for civilians on the ground and to enable the rapid imposition of a UN Mandated No Fly Zone over Libya should such steps be necessary to protect civilians from further atrocities.

The coalition also urges the UN Security Council, the European Union and League of Arab States to call for and support the expedition of the following actions immediately to protect civilians in Libya:

*Implement an immediate freeze on the assets of Gaddafi and his generals and subject them to a travel ban

*Impose an embargo on all exports of arms and security equipment to Libya;

*Call for and support an immediate UN investigation mission to Libya to identify the exact nature of events and the scale of the crimes committed since February 17th.

Time is running out. The bloodshed cannot continue. The people of Libya need you to act quickly and decisively. As civil society leaders from the region, we implore you not to desert them and to demonstrate that you are prepared to take the meaningful action required to back up your words of condemnation.

Signatories:

Algeria: The Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, the Algerian Coordination Organisation for the Families of the Missing. Bahrain: Al Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, Bahraini Association for Human Rights, Association of Bahraini Youth for Human Rights- Bahrain. Iraq: The Iraqi Human Rights Association in Denmark, Iraqi Network for Human Rights. Egypt: Arab Programme for Human Rights Activists (APHR), Arab Organization for Civil Society and Human Rights Support, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights, Civil Observatory for Human Rights, Citizenship Human Rights Organisation, Shomoaa for the Care of Humanitarian Rights, Egyptian Organisation for Scientific and Technological Development, Egyptian Foundation for Refugee Rights, The Arab Network for Human Rights Information-Egypt, The Arab Centre for Development and Human Rights, South Centre for Human Rights

Arab Network for Crisis Reporting, Centre for the Study of Alternative Development, Taha Hussein Foundation for Civic Education, Egyptian Centre for Human Development, Maat Foundation for Peace, Development and Human Rights, Al-Badr Foundation for Social Development and Peace, Maan Foundation, Arab Centre for Legal and Judicial Independence, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR), The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies (CIHRS), Ani for Development and Human Rights, Al Nadim Center for Treatment and Psychological Rehabilitation for Victims of Violence, Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies, Egyptian Centre for Property Rights, One World Centre for Development and Protection of Human Rights, Human Rights Association for Protection of Prisoners, Centre for Legal Study and Information for Human Rights, Centre for Human Rights and Fighting Landmines, National Association for the Defence of Rights and Liberties, Arab Legal Desk- Egypt, Group for Human Rights Legal Aid, Supporters of Justice for Human Rights Association, Egyptian Womens' Issues, Al-Safwa Centre for Human Rights in Mansoura, Rifa'a Al-Tahtawi Forum, Human Development Centre, Al-Haqq Centre for Democracy and Human Rights, Al Shihab Foundation for Complete Development, Al- Kilma Centre for Human Rights, Egyptian Association for Economic and Social Rights, Habi Centre for Environmental Rights, Egyptian Association for Civic Education and Human Rights, Egyptian Civil Group, Women's Group for Human Rights, Equality Center for Human Rights (Port Said), Egyptian Center for Rights of the Child, Egyptian Foundation for Family Development, The Egyptian Centre for