Not long after the start of the troubles in Libya Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son and heir apparent of the Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi went to the Western press. (The Washington Post) and provided first hand an explanation of events in Libya from the beginning of the year. In doing so he offered a way forward which, had it been accepted would have avoided the massive loss of life and on-going fighting which has brought the nation to it’s knees and rendered it ungovernable. At the time of the interview he attributed external air power aggession to France and the UK believing rhetoric emanating from the White House that the USA would not be involved in any aggression against Libya. How wrong he was.
17 April: The following are excerpts from a Washington Post interview with Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, son of Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi.
On the international conspiracy to destabilize Libya:
* He said “What occured was a major media attack on Libya by rebels in the Libyan press and Telecommunications Companies backed by foreign press and governments spreading disinformation through the internet, creating alarm and despondancy within the country.
* The British foreign minister Hague lied when he said that Gaddafi had fled to Venezuela.
* Al-Jazeera lied with breaking news “Gaddafi has left the country and then another headline “Saif is dead, his brother killed him”. All lies.
* The internet was flooded with misinformation. So much that it crashed due to overload.
* No telephones, television, information (except rumours of major coalition ground attacks). All this created chaos.
* There followed many raids on arms dumps and military barracks and theft of large amounts of ammunition. Armed insurrection. All orchestrated from outside Libya.
* It is not the intention of the government to kill our people, we want to build our country and live in peace. It is not in the interests of anybody to see chaos in Libya. * But unfortunately Arabic countries like Qatar, they are playing this role.”
On why he thinks the U.N. Security Council was wrong:
* The UN Security Council resolution was based on — what?
* The Libyan air force is bombing Tripoli, and bombing Tajoura and Fashloom, two districts [in the capital]. * They mentioned two districts. Show me one trace, one bit of evidence that we bombarded Tajoura.
* We took diplomats and journalists to the areas. There was no damage. No bombing.
* But now Libya has an embargo placed on it. Coalition planes are bombing Libya day and night.
* Libya is being systematically destroyed by the West in the same way as was Iraq.
On You-Tube videos of protesters being shot in Tripoli:
* They repeatedly played a “recent” video of protesters being shot. But the incident occurred over one year ago, in the city of Ras Lanuf.
* But it had nothing to do with the government of Libya. It was a problem between two tribes fighting for a new housing projectin Ras Lanuf.
* They said the government had recruited many thousands of mercenaries which is not the case.
* Were mistakes made? Were some people shot? Yes of course there were but numbered in single figures not the many thousands reported in the Western media.
On reports of widespread arrests of opposition activists:
* This is true but only in an attempt to recover the huge amount of arms and ammunition that had been stolen in raids on arms dumps. Arms and ammunition was evertywhere
* But the police have started releasing those arrested and I am taking a personal interest in this. * Why? Because, they are my people. We are living in the same country and it is not in our advantage to humiliate, torture or kill them.
* Even those who took up arms against the government are being released.
* There are prisoners. You may visit the prison and meet with them. They are in healthy, no torture. Eating well, showers, clothes, everything. No violation of human rights.
On the siege of Misurata and evidence that government forces are shelling civilians:
* What happened in Misurata? I refer you to the Cold River,in Tripoli, Lebanon where the Lebanese army attacked a number of civilian districts fighting Jund al-Sham, the soldiers of Islam, you know that terrorist group in Lebanon. They destroyed half the city, civilians died, they fought the terrorists because they were inside the buildings.
* The Americans, the West, they supplied the Lebanese army, and it was considered a legitimate mission to fight terrorists inside Tripoli, Lebanon. You remember? And I remember they sent an airlift with the Hummer vehicles, arms and munitions.
* A similar event occurred in Grozny, Chechnya, when the Russian army fought terrorists, because the terrorists went inside the buildings in Grozny.
* And what about the Americans in Fallujah. You know Fallujah? in Iraq It’s exactly the same.
* The military are not fighting or killing innocent people or civilians, because it is not in the interests of anybody to kill civilians, but the fact is terrorists are there.
* The French foreign minister said we should allow shipping to use Misurata without restriction since NATO could guarantee ships would not carry illegal cargo.*
* But arms, ammunition and terrorists are being shipped into Misurata illegally every day which is unacceptable.
* And (due to a much extended dialogue) attempting through failed negotiation to persuade them to lay down their arms and return home. the rebels fortifications are much extended making it more difficult to displace them.
* And, in case you hadn’t noticed the rebels kidnap and execute people. They utilise their own warped version of Islamic law and have their own courts, police, army. No government in the world will allow such a behavior.
* But you should discuss this with the Red Cross people. They attempted today to assess the situation. You know what happened? They shot them.
* Excuse me, shooting at the Red Cross. Today they shot the Red Cross people, because the Christian cross is crusader or whatever.
* So they are infidels who should be killed. Okay, maybe they are not Muslims but they are here to help. Not to be murdered.
* The rebels have mortars, anti-tank rockets and anti-aircraft machine guns. They are using Libyan army ammunition. * They are firing from houses, from shops, from everywhere. We will not stand back and let terrorists take our country. That is why we are fighting not for my father.
* We told the World that al-Qaeda are in Libya. The West said we were lying. Perhaps you are aware of today’s statement from al-Qaeda? It’s their own statement, not mine. They announced “We are al-Qaeda in Libya, we are fighting and we have our emirates.”
* In Zawiyah and Nalut there were Algerians, Egyptians, Pakistanis fighting with Al-Queda. Many are terrorists, others Islamists, yet more are just gangsters, like in Benghazi.
* The city of Benghazi is where Al-Queda are present. If we take and hold Benghazi we will win. The problem is just the city of Benghazi.
* So there it is. So called rebels comprising Al-Qaeda, various Islamic groups, gangsters and ex-prisoners. So many groups with differing agendas fighting each other and the government of Libya. Shades of Iraq.
* The BBC and Sky News reported an attack on a hotel and street fighting in the centre of Benghazi. Many explosions and heavy fighting. But there is a change. Many of those fighting against the rebels are residents of the city fed up with the Al-Queda and the terrorists. Yet NATO continue to provide air support to the rebels. How misguided they are supporting a few hundred terrorists against 6 million Libyans. The West is talking to the wrong side
On former friends and colleagues who defected to lead the rebellion:
* They were my friends, we drank together, we ate together, we sat together, we travelled together, they were my close friends. Now I get messages from these former friends working with the terrorists. They tell me “After the victory, you, Saif, will have no place in Libya. Everything bad that has happened is because of you. You brought them to Libya, and helped them to be ministers and big guys in Libya. You and your friends have no place in the future, in Libya.
* So, I brought them here, I helped them, I supported them. But then, Saif is finished, so we jump ship like rats. We jump from the ship and go to other ship.
* But people are weak. One month ago they were ministers and heads of security, and now they find themselves sitting with Hillary Clinton, with the British, with the French, with the whole world, Qataris sending them private jets. So okay, yesterday I was minister, today I can be a president. So the West is contributing to this crisis, because they give them false hope they will be something in the future. Those people, they were our people one month ago, we know them very well, I brought them to Libya.
On Mahmoud Jibril, a U.S.-educated professor brought back to Libya by Saif to help run economic policy, who is now the rebels’ foreign affairs representative:
* He was my best friend, he changed completely, I don’t know why. We used to talk together, work together, he was one of my best friends. He was my friend when he was living in Tripoli. Now he is sitting with Hillary Clinton, with [British Foreign Secretary William] Hague, and with [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy in the Elysees. Excuse me, he said, ‘Saif, you are too insignificant for me now.’ ”
* But his head has been turned. The entire Western world is praising him. America, U.K., France, sending private jets, telling him “You are the President of Libya. You get the oil. You get the money. Come on, he is a human being at the end of the day.
* They are selfish and they have their own self-interest and they have their own advantage. They want to advance their own advantage. They want to be famous, they want to to be rich. They want to be powerful. ‘Okay, one month ago, I was a minister here in Libya, now I will be a president, I will control Libya.’ Libya is a rich country. Everyone wants to rule Libya, its oil, gas, money. I understand it. I don’t respect it, but I understand it.
On whether there are people within the rebel movement who just wanted democracy and freedom of expression:
*Of course, yes. I know them very well. But where are they now? Ha ha. Where are they now? I tell you something. Those people, maybe they did start the story, but now they vanished. Now they have no word, they have no say with the Al Queda armed militia.
* Is it possible to have a dialogue with al-Qaeda? How can we talk with people who are killing red-cross workers and burning people to death in Misurata. * In the 21st century, they killed someone, they took his heart, they burned the heart in front of people.
* You are aware that they hanged people in Benghazi? In Eastern Libya, they hung from bridges and filmed it for the media.
* The West keep talking about democracyand the constitution. But this is not the priority of the people. Ask any Libyan if they want democracy? They will tell you “No, we want peace, security, food, drink, we want schools. The freedom of the press is not a priority anymore. Now we are at war with each other.
* If you want to help us, assist the Libyan government in restoring peace and security, then we’ll talk about reforms and national reconciliation and constitution. But now people are at war, and everybody is fighting everybody, and you are talking about democracy? S
* I know Libya. For nearly 10 years I have been talking about the constitution, freedom, democracy, everybody laughed at me. They said “What? We want houses, we want money, we want hospitals, we want cars, we want hotels. Democracy is not priority.”
* They told me. Come on, it’s just the elite here in Libya, that are talking about these things. I disagreed and committed them to writing an agenda.
* Mahmoud Jibril and all of the committee who wrote the draft of the new Libyan constitution. Now they are against us.
* But the draft constitution is my draft. It is the Libyan people who should conduct a national deliberation on the draft. If they are happy with it they should accept it, and we will introduce it.
* We need local governance, because we want a federal system and strong local governance and a new law for the media and civil society. That’s it. It would be like Switzerland.
* But nobody in Libya is talking about democracy anymore. People are talking about just one thing, peace, security and law and order, that’s it.
On his uncompromising speech when protests started:
* I told them “listen, Libyans. There is a big conspiracy against Libya, you will have a civil war, you will destroy your country, you will destroy the oil and you will have a foreign intervention,” and those four things came to be. Sometimes you have to be very serious with your people. It is a very serious issue.
On why people are fighting:
* Vice President Joe Biden. Had a son, who was fighting in Iraq. He said, “I am proud of my son, who is fighting for America and defending his country”. Biden the vice president so proud of a son fighting innocent people many thousands of kilometers from from America, He is proud of his son. So to are we Libyans. We are in our country and we are fighting for our country.
* So there is time for peace and there is time for war. We have terrorists on the ground and NATO in the air. We will stand up and fight for our country, it is our country. We want peace. We want freedom. We want a constitution. We want democracy. But I will not be happy seeing Libyan’ getting killed every day, by the bombs of NATO and the terrorists.
* Here we are the Libyans. If we fight we fight together. If we stop, we stop together. We are united and one family. We are so united.
* Nobody here in Libya is interested in revenge. Revenge, it’s not in our agenda. The agenda is national reconciliation. This is the desire and the wish of everybody. We want peace, we want security, we want to build our country, we want to have a better future, we want to go forward. Nobody is talking about revenge.
On what would happen if his father left now:
*Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Everybody knows that.
On the way forward:
* The biggest issue, the terrorists and armed militia. The moment we get rid of them, everything will be solved in one hour in the whole country.
* One European country, a very important country, came to us with a proposal, with an initiative, we have the African initiative.
* No army in the cities, no armed militias in the cities. Armed militias and army should leave the cities, police should come in. The army should control the border
* The American’s can help us do that. Come on America, help us get the army and militias away from the cities. Bring the police in.
* Elections. We accept this. Bring supervisors from Europe, America, from everywhere. Do it.
On being an ally one day and a pariah the next:
* After WikiLeaks, Hillary Clinton tried to call my father, but spoke to the ex-foreign minister, saying “We are sorry for this.” Just two months ago. She said, “We are happy with Libya. We are doing good business with Libya. We want to strengthen relations with Libya. Libya is a very important country. We are friends and we are sorry for this.” This is two months ago. Now she is saying “Mr Gaddafi should leave.” It is clear that when you are strong, everyone is nice to you, if you are weak, bye-bye.
On his response to the letter from President Obama, Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron:
* To be honest, Obama is different from the British and the French. It was big shock at the beginning when the Americans did attack Libya.
* Nobody in the Middle East, and especially in Libya, thought that one day President Obama will attack Libya or an Arabic country.
* Because he came after Iraq and after Afghanistan, his name is Barack Hussein. He is of African origin, he is a peace man. And all of sudden he is sending hundreds of Tomahawk [missiles] to Libya. It was a big shock, a big shock for everybody including my father. NATO attacking us exactly like Bush attacked Iraq, because of false reports and rumours.
* As we are aware the USA is supporting the British and the French in Libya because they supported the USA in Afghanistan.
* Libyans are happy that the Americans are to withdraw from the crisis for our country and are to adopt a neutral stance unlike some other countries.
* But, we want the Americans to send a fact-finding mission to identify exactly what happened in Libya. We also want “the Human Rights Watch” to come to Libya to work with us.
* We are not afraid of the International Criminal Court. We are confident and sure that we didn’t commit any crime against our people.
* The terrorists recruited boys, 10, 11, 12 years old to fight, they killed hostages, prisoners, hung and tortured innocent people. They filmed everything so identification of the criminals will not be difficult.
* For us, we are doing the right thing, we are fighting the right cause, and we fighting for our people. We are uniting the Libyan people. The Americans should support us.
* The Libyan case is not difficult to resolve but to say Gaddafi should leave makes it very complicated. Priorities need to be decided. Either they are help Libya or to destroy Gaddafi. If the choice is too destroy Gaddafi that’s fine. But don’t then say “We want to help Libya.” But, in Libya the reception for the Americans will always be kind to the USA but so the Europeans.
On his father:
* The most important person now in Libya is the Prime Minister. Ask any Libyan, the Prime Minister.
* My father is not talking about contracts, about laws, about companies about business, about this, this is the executive work, this is the work of the prime minister.
* He is the most important person in Libya, and in the new constitution you will have an elected Prime Minister and also an elected president.
* As President my father is like a symbol of the country, he is purely symbolic.
* But the people who will run the country will be elected. This is in the draft [constitution]. We worked on this draft for the past four years.
* There will be a President and a Prime Minister. There will be a parliament. The way forward is the constitution.