Sanctions against President Gaddafi unveiled

Libyan protesters step on a poster of leader Muammar Gaddafi in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi on February 28, 2011 as world powers ramped up the pressure on Gaddafi's regime and the United States urged the international community to work together on further steps to end bloodshed in Libya.

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Kai Ryssdal:The European Union jumped on the Libyan sanctions bandwagon today. The EU joined the United States, the U.N. and Canada, all of whom have imposed similar measures the past few days. The sanctions aren't wide-ranging. Instead they're more targeted, aimed directly at Muammar Gaddafi and those close to him. As with all sanctions, though, the question is: Will they do anything?

From New York, Marketplace's Alisa Roth reports.


Alisa Roth: The sanctions will freeze Libyan assets -- just in the case of the U.S., we're talking at least $30 billion worth. There are visa bans in place for Gaddafi, his family and his inner circle. And there's an embargo on selling arms to Libya.

Victor Comras spent decades working on sanctions programs at the State Department. He thinks they'll be effective. It used to be lucrative to be tight with Gaddafi. But now, anybody who works with the Libyan leader could find himself in big trouble, even accused of collaborating on war crimes.

Victor Comras: He might find himself before the international criminal court. So I think that the signal is very strong to those that are closely associated with Mr. Gaddafi that this is the time to abandon ship.

Still, Gaddafi was presumably clever enough not to keep all of his assets in Western countries, or in accounts under his own name. So it could take a while for him to be completely cut off.

Bryan Early is a political science professor at SUNY Albany. He's concerned the sanctions could backfire.

Bryan Early: It might put more pressure on the leadership to stay in power because they know they have very little alternatives if choose to step down.

He says the sanctions do send a powerful message of disapproval from the West. But if the past is any indication, Gaddafi doesn't seem to mind being an international pariah.

The international community could still take things a few steps further. Germany is proposing a broader economic embargo -- which would block oil payments for 60 days. And there's talk of imposing a no-fly zone over the eastern part of the country, to limit air strikes against protestors.

In New York, I'm Alisa Roth for Marketplace.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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