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International Court Issues Warrant for Gadhafi's Arrest as Rebels Close in
June 27, 2011

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Libya's Col. Moammar Gadhafi is increasingly on the defensive, although he is still refusing to recognize the authority of foreign leaders or organizations.

The latest step taken by international authorities was an arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court, in the Hague. The warrant, for Gadhafi and his son Saif and the country's intelligence chief, was announced by a lead ICC prosecutor, who acknowledged that the ICC does not have jurisdiction within the borders of specific countries. The announcement certainly gets attention around the world but can result in little real action. The ICC issued a similar warrant for Sudan's president. Omar al-Bashir, who continues to be able to travel to countries that welcome him because officials in those countries refuse to detain him. Still, were Gadhafi to be seized and transported to the Hague, he could face criminal charges including ordering attacks on unarmed civilians.

Separately, the rebels armed against Gadhafi and his forces issued an announcement saying that their drive west had reached within 50 miles of Tripoli, the capital and stronghold of Gadhafi's forces. It is the closest that the rebels have been to Tripoli since the uprising began in February. The rebels, based in Benghazi, the country's second-largest city and a main oil port in the eastern part of the country, struggled initially and were on the verge of defeat when Western nations and then NATO stepped in and began airstrikes against Gadhafi's forces and positions.

The NATO intervention turned the tide of the struggle in favor of the rebels for the most part, although the rebel-held western city of Misrata has been particularly hard hit by a weekslong siege. The two military sides have traded weapons fire and positions for the better part of four months, during which time increasing numbers of other nations have recognized rebel leaders and rewarded them with money and status, all the while portraying Gadhafi as uninterested in the welfare of his country's people.

Across the border in Tunisia, Libya's foreign minister and two other ministers were involved in talks with members of other governments, signaling to some observers that Gadhafi has approved possible settlement negotiations.

Earlier, a United Nations Human Rights Council report asserted that in the nearly five months of fighting, the death toll is at least 10,000 and possibly as high as 15,000.

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