Lessons for Brazil in Libya, Iran?
Brazil is insisting that it will not recognize the Transitional National Council of Libya until the accreditation committee of the United Nations General Assembly votes on the issue in late September in New York.
“We do not recognize governments but states,” declared Brazilian Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota in a statement last week widely reported in the Brazilian media.
This despite the fact that the Libyan ambassador to Brazil, Salem al-Zubeidy, previously a die-hard Qaddafi supporter, declared his allegiance to the TNC on August 26, saying it was the will of the Libyan people to support the rebels.
A pro-rebel diplomat at the embassy in Brasília told the Folha de São Paulo newspaper that he did not believe the ambassador was sincere, dubbing him a turncoat. “Six months ago he was calling the rebels ‘rats’ and ‘al-Qaeda,’ and now he’s pro-council?” said Adel Swizy.
Pro-rebel Libyan diplomats and citizens living in Brazil took over the Libyan embassy a few weeks ago in the posh Lago Sul neighborhood of Brasília after scuffles with pro-Qaddafi diplomats and the son of the ambassador, who ended up with a bloody nose. Al-Zubeidy asked the Brazilian government for assistance, and Itamaraty, the Brazilian foreign ministry, sent in six diplomatic police. They tried to negotiate a settlement, but the pro-rebel Libyans insisted on staying in the villa from which the embassy operates, over which they had hoisted the rebel flag. The ambassador has been forced to work out of his residence.
A few weeks ago, in a last-ditch effort to support the Qaddafi regime, al-Zubeidy sponsored the trip of a delegation of leftist Brazilian politicians, journalists, and lawyers to visit war-torn Libya and observe the civil war first-hand. He took the step despite the fact that the embassy has been struggling to pay its Brazilian employees — funds stopped coming from Tripoli after international banking sanctions were imposed on Qaddafi and his government. In any event, the delegation never made it into Libya. They were stopped at the Tunisian border and warned by NATO that it was not safe for them to enter the country.
Many Brazilians have criticized the government for its reluctance to immediately recognize the rebel movement in Libya, noting that the administration of President Dilma Rousseff had indicated that it would place greater emphasis on human rights in Brazil’s foreign policy.
“This policy is overly cautious,” said David Fleischer, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Brasília, in an interview with Tehran Bureau. “The Libyan ambassador to Brazil has changed sides. We don’t know if Itamaraty will maintain his credentials or not. The U.N. Security Council has already authorized the liberation of Qaddafi government funds frozen in British banks to be transferred to the new Libyan government. In light of that fact, many governments have recognized the National Transitional Council. Itamaraty should quickly review its policy and not await the decision of the U.N. General Assembly regarding the representation of Libya at the U.N.”
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