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‘Gaddafi ambiguous on missed airstrikes’

Posted by seumasach on March 9, 2011


9th March, 2011

The following is a rush transcription of Press TV’s interview with a political analyst, Sarah Marusek, regarding her comments on Gaddafi’s reactions to the recent events taking place in the Libyan unrest.

There has been a TNT bombing in a hotel with foreign journalists in Benghazi. The two people responsible for the incident have been captured. The pro-Gaddafi state television is saying they are members of al-Qaeda, but people in Benghazi say they are Gaddafi’s militia men. Ras Lanuf is a pivotal point of fighting, not only because of the strong revolutionary force that is there, but because of its position as a key strategic place, due to its oil refineries. There have been more aerial bombardments of Ras Lanuf. Of course, one of the dangers that people have been talking about — especially the opposition — is that they fear that Muammar Gaddafi might start attacking the oil refineries in a last ditch attempt to retain his grip on power; or at least, if he has to go, they say he might try to destroy what infrastructure he can in Libya. We have not seen any new signs of that. We have seen the opposite. We have seen many aerial bombardments that are missing targets. A lot of questions remain whether they are Muammar Gaddafi’s men deliberately missing targets, or this is because they have been instructed to do so.

Press TV: A lot of these aerial bombardments are actually missing targets. What do you think we can take from that? Do you think that is some sort of a deliberate plan right now not to hit the targets and that they are scare tactics at the moment?

Marusek: I think this is an excellent question. It is something that we cannot know for certain, but I do think that it is interesting that they are missing targets. We have heard reports over the last weeks since journalists have been allowed into the country. Many so-called tours that were being organized in Tripoli were actually going to places and neighborhoods where there were active opposition groups and visible signs of resistance to Gaddafi. I think that is very interesting, as well — that even Gaddafi could not orchestrate the propaganda correctly, that even there, there were people willing to stand up to him and to show the journalists what was really going on. It is good to think that whether or not these attacks are missing on purpose. We heard a lot of reports from various people in the army defecting to the opposition or refusing to fire on their brothers and sisters. So I think that may be the case for some of these airstrikes that are missing.

Press TV: Let us move on to the international diplomatic response. The United Nations is a diplomatic wheel that takes a while to get into motion. It is not known for its speed of action, it has got these sanctions and this no-fly zone. What would a no-fly zone actually entail? Does it cross the line of military intervention?

Marusek: I am not sure that I have a personal answer for that. I think that the UN is going to struggle over these arguments between different members of the Security Council, who have different agendas. There is a large push by Russia and China not to intervene in a military fashion. But then, of course, you have the Europeans, who some of them for good reasons and some of them for bad, would like to intervene for humanitarian reasons. So it is very questionable whether or not this no-fly zone can happen. [The US] Defense Secretary [Robert] Gates in Washington has said that this really would be a military exercise that involves destabilizing the aircraft and the airspace. I am not sure if the Americans would be willing to do that in that sense, but then again, there are always the hawks in Congress, for example, John McCain and Joseph Lieberman. They seem very willing to intervene in any way they can to perhaps find a way to get re-elected. Some of them are going to stand again for election in 2012. The thing that really scares me is this pretend threat of al-Qaeda and of course, Gaddafi blames al-Qaeda because unfortunately, people in America eat that up. They use that as an excuse to intervene militarily and do real bad things for the people in Libya.

Press TV: Exactly on this point of Muammar Gaddafi’s continuous use of al-Qaeda — to be frank, a lot of people call him a Nazi and it is so hard to understand him when he is talking and all that rambling in his face. It seems that he is getting some direction from people around him. He really went with this al-Qaeda lie from the start, while it is a very smart move, because, as you said, it does feed into the fears of the West — especially of western politicians or any western audience that might be listening …

Marusek: Absolutely. It is ironic because listening to Gaddafi and seeing his movements over the last several weeks, surely he is going to make mistakes sooner or later. I think he is not in his correct mind. Well, of course, he has been like that for the past 42 years. Persistently, he is able to maintain and orchestrate his affairs in the way he wants to, but yes. Appealing to these new conservatives in United States and the right-wingers in Europe is another irony. How would Gaddafi share anything in common with these people? He has found the way by talking about the potential of al-Qaeda. Western journalists are going crazy pontificating over the potential of power vacuum in Libya. Anyone in Benghazi, who sees what is going on, can say that there is no power vacuum and that people are taking care of affairs. They are organizing their city, they are taking care of waste and traffic. They are democrats. They are able to take care of themselves. There is no void. So I think Gaddafi has played a very clever game by appealing to this fear in the West over the potential of al-Qaeda taking over. The more people and journalists can go in whether they are Libyan journalists or European journalists and show the picture of Benghazi, the more the al-Qaeda claim is going to seem really far…

Press TV: Mustafa Abud Al Jeleil, the head of the transition council in Libya has told Al-Jazeera television that Gaddafi will not be pursued if he leaves and stops the bombings in the next 72 hours. So this is actually a pretty significant development. We do know from reports during the last 48 hours that Gaddafi said that not only he is ready to leave power and Libya, but also, he needs assurances about his assets and the safety of his family. We also do know that Muammar Gaddafi sent out aid to negotiate with the transitional council in Benghazi. But we have been hearing during the last 48 hours that he has been rejected. They said, “First you have to leave and then we might talk about the kind of things that you are putting on the table.”
It seems now, a turn of events. Mustafa Abdu Al Jeleil, head of the transitional council, has said that if Gaddafi leaves, he will not be pursued. I am sure the Libyan people would not be happy with the deal that gives Muammar Gaddafi money that really belongs to Libya. Do you think at this point that they will set that compromise?

Marusek: This is a hard one to answer. I am actually quite surprised that the opposition has agreed to potentially allow him to leave gracefully. Especially after the heinous atrocities he has been committing. So that is quite shocking. I also doubt, at this point, whether or not he is in a position of power to be capable of making this compromise — and it is really hard to see that Gaddafi is in any position to give anything to the opposition. He has been put in a position of weakness. The only thing I can think of that may explain is his willingness, if that is true and if this is not a way of manipulating events, is that stepping down could possibly be coming from his family and sons’ pressure. It is really hard for me to imagine any negotiations being based on trust or honesty. I would be very skeptical of anything Gaddafi said he was willing to do. In regards to his assets, of course, they belong to Libyan people. One of the big problems there is that a lot of oil money that Libya has been making for the last several years have been invested in European and American businesses. I am not so sure that Europeans and Americans are willing to give up that money and give it back to the Libyan people. That is another question. We have to pay attention and scrutinize whether or not the westerners are going to act in a proper way in this manner and whether or not they are going to give the money back to people, who deserve it.

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