McCain urges U.S. to recognize Libyan rebels

The Libyan conflict is heading for stalemate, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday, and Senator John McCain urged the United States to recognize the rebels and transfer frozen Libyan funds to them.

Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. military’s joint chiefs of staff, told U.S. troops in Baghdad that Western-led air strikes had degraded between 30 and 40 percent of Muammar Gaddafi’s ground forces.

Referring to the conflict, he said: “It’s certainly moving toward a stalemate.

McCain, the most senior Western politician to visit the rebels’ eastern stronghold of Benghazi, said the United States should transfer frozen Libyan assets to the rebels and urged NATO to step up it air strikes against Gaddafi’s forces.

“I would encourage every nation, especially the United States, to recognize the Transitional National Council as the legitimate voice of the Libyan people,” he said.

“They have earned this right and Gaddafi has forfeited it by waging war on his own people,” he said.

McCain, the most senior Republican on the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee, said he had visited a Benghazi hospital where he saw the dead and dying, adding: “It argues for us to help them and to get this thing over with and Gaddafi out.”