- By Josh Rogin
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.
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.
David Kenner is the Middle East editor for Foreign Policy. | The Cable |