Sen. Mark Kirk said he doesn’t expect the Libyan government to need any foreign assistance from the United States, and he predicted that fighting in Libya will likely end next month.
“Libya does not need foreign assistance funding from the United States” the Illinois Republican said in a conference call today from Malta after visiting Libya and speaking with Transitional National Council officials. “Libya is the formal owner of over $100 billion in assets seized from [former Libyan leader Moammar] Gadhafi.
“I was reassured by the key figures — the [TNC] chairman, the prime minister and the finance minister — that they have adequate resources for their [needs] right now. And they were laying out the key project of building a national army to weld together all these militias that defeated Gadhafi,” Kirk continued.
Kirk was part of a delegation of Senators led by John McCain (R-Ariz.) and including Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). All of them met with TNC and military commanders and visited Martyrs’ Square in Tripoli.
The junior Senator from Illinois also said he hopes the United States soon releases $34 billion of seized Gadhafi funds and makes them available to the TNC.
Doing so, Kirk said, would “make sure that civilian government in its early stages could ... put together a unified military command and [ultimately] a fully unified government,” Kirk said.
His comments came as Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) today called on the State Department to pay compensation “to the victims of terrorism sponsored by the Qaddafi regime, which includes victims and, families of victims, of the Lod Airport Massacre, the Rome Airport Attack, and relatives of the Lockerbie bombing,” according to the duo’s news release.
Kirk said he believes the operation to aid Libya was “a success” for President Barack Obama that had built good will with the TNC and created a potential ally in the region.
He added that major fighting in the battle to oust Gadhafi loyalists is in sight. “The age of Gadhafi is over,” he said.
“The heavy lift of this conflict, I think, will be over by the end of October,” Kirk said. “The two final battles in [Gadhafi’s] hometown of Sirte and the stronghold of Bani Walid.”
Kirk also said the TNC plans to hold “early elections” but did not specify a time frame.
He said TNC officials believe that Islamic extremists would likely win only 10 percent to 15 percent of the vote, so “it would be good for [TNC officials] to stand for election early.”
Kirk also said, “The United States is in the early stages of securing [Libyan] surface-to-air missiles, of particular concern are the more advanced stinger-like missiles that came from the former Soviet Union. I think that aggressive U.S. action on that is warranted, given how many of them are out there.”
He added that he was “reassured about the nuclear and chemical stockpiles. It does, from all indications, appear that the United States and our allies, the TNC, have a pretty good handle on those stockpiles.”