Rebel leaders Sunday dismissed a purported offer by Moammar Gadhafi to negotiate a transition in government, insisting that Libya's longtime ruler should turn himself in.
Moussa Ibrahim, a spokesman for Gadhafi's all-but-toppled government, called its New York headquarters Saturday to offer talks on a "transfer of power," saying the leader's son, al-Saadi, would conduct the negotiations. He said Gadhafi remained in Libya but did not specify where.
But a top official of the National Transitional Council rejected the offer. "We have no negotiations with Gadhafi, and we can offer him only two things: safety and a fair trial," said Ahmad Darrat, said to be incoming interior minister of the provisional government.
Provisional government spokesman Mahmoud Shammam agreed, saying: "There's no negotiations. ... We're not talking to him. We're going to arrest him."
In 2008, a secret State Department cable warned of a growing chemical weapons threat from a Middle Eastern country whose autocratic leader had a long history of stirring up trouble in the region. The leader, noted for his "support for terrorist organizations," was attempting to buy technology from other countries to upgrade an already fearsome stockpile of deadly poisons, the department warned. The country? Syria.
A sudden collapse of the government of Syrian President Bashar Assad could mean a breakdown in controls over the country's weapons, said U.S. officials and weapons experts, noting that Syria possesses some of the deadliest chemicals ever to be weaponized, dispersed in thousands of artillery shells and warheads that are easy to transport. Syria's preferred poison is sarin, which is lethal if inhaled even in minute quantities. Many analysts doubt Assad would deliberately share chemical bombs with terrorists, but it is conceivable that weapons could vanish amid the chaos of an uprising that destroys Syria's vaunted security services, which safeguard the munitions.
Turkey's president declared on Sunday that he had "lost confidence" in Syria's government, and he stopped just short of calling on President Bashar Assad to step down.
"Today in the world there is no place for authoritarian administrations, one-party rule, closed regimes," President Abdullah Gul told Anatolia news agency, expressing frustration that Assad's crackdown on protesters has continued past the 15-day window in which Turkey had said it expected a change. He added that such governments could be "replaced by force" if their leaders did not make changes.
The statements were particularly harsh coming from Turkey, which has invested enormous diplomatic efforts in Syria. The Arab League -- whose foreign ministers met into Monday in Cairo -- called on Syria to "end the spilling of blood and follow the way of reason before it is too late."