Republican Arizona senator John McCain visiting Tripoli today, called for militiamen to hand in their weapons, to integrate themselves into . . .[restrict]the police or army and demanded an end to the abuse of detainees in unofficial prisons.
Speaking after a meeting with chairman of the ruling National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, McCain told reporters: “ The new Libya has seen enormous progress and change that has taken place over the past months”.
Saying that he believed the United States should offer assistance in June’s elections, he added the event would “prove to the world that the people of Libya are struggling for universal human values or democracy and freedom”.
Speaking of his talks with Chairman Jalil and his officials, McCain said : “We made clear to them that human rights organisations are reporting serious abuses and the world is watching. We know it is difficult, but these abuses need to stop so Libya can be respected everywhere in the world.” He also warned that unless the weapons held by the militias were collected by the government, ” They could fall into the wrong hands and pose a serious threat”.
Praising his guest, Jalil said: “John McCain is one of the members of the US Senate who supported the revolution from the beginning, and has had an active role through the Senate in political decision-making in support of the revolution.”
McCain has been on a whistle-stop tour of the region, which began in Iraq, moved to Afghanistan and then to Israel where he had meetings with Palestinian leaders as well as the Israeli government.
McCain came on to Libya from Cairo where he had urged the military government to press on with political reforms.
He received a respectful hearing here in Tripoli because he was an early advocate of a hard line against Qaddafi. He was backing unilateral US military action against the regime while Barack Obama, the man who defeated him in the 2008 race for the White House, was still seeking a UN mandate for NATO intervention.
McCain’s hawkish views have now been focused on Syria where he believes his country should be arming the rebels. This view is shared by one of his four travelling colleague and fellow member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Republican senator Lindsey Graham. In Egypt McCain urged Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi to supply weapons to the Syrian rebels.
At its meeting today with Jalil, McCain’s delegation also included the US ambassador to Libya, Gene A. Cretz.