March 30, 2011

Surgical Financial Strikes Can Oust Gaddafi

By Patrick M. Cronin

Over the past week the Libyan no-fly zone has prevented Muammer Gaddafi from killing innocent civilians, but not forced him from power. None of the long-term options for Libya’s future, discussed at Tuesday’s conference in London, will come to pass if the regime survives. So, more than gunships or cruise missiles, new financial pressures to punish and pay off those involved will now be the most effective weapon the US and its allies can deploy.

At a basic level controlling Colonel Gaddafi’s money will shift the balance of power, and spur defections, among his generals and staff. The allied forces have already made some moves in this direction. Now three further steps, amounting to a campaign of surgical financial strikes, are essential to optimising pressure in the coming weeks.

First, the US needs to ensure that those allies and partners who have already frozen assets of Col Gaddafi (along with his family and associates) have not missed any concealed foreign accounts. The aim here must be to force the regime to rely only on the cash it has at hand inside Libya in its battle for survival.

Second, Libya’s borders must be properly sealed, to prevent the exodus of cash and gold, as well as the influx of new weapons. Monitoring must be dramatically enhanced if these currently porous boundaries are to be made impermeable.

Third, and most importantly, Nato should begin to use money to send a clear choice to Libya’s leaders. If they continue to help Col Gaddafi fight civilians, they will face certain prosecution for war crimes. But if they continue to support the regime at all, they will also have no hope of retaining the riches its leader has presumably promised them. If they switch sides and join the resistance, however, they will be rewarded from Col Gaddafi’s own stockpile.

Read the full article at Financial Times.