Libyan opposition rejects U.S. weapons offer

The Libyan opposition has asserted that it is fully capable of toppling Muammar Qadhafi, rebuffing calls from influential quarters in Washington for weapon supplies to hasten the collapse of the regime.

The apparent ambitions of the United States to exercise early control over a nascent shadow leadership and the patriotic aspirations of the opposition for a united Libya seemed to have collided on Sunday. At a press conference in Benghazi to announce the formation of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Abdel-Hafidh Ghoga, who described himself as the organisation's spokesman, said the opposition could do without American intervention in its affairs.

“We are against any foreign intervention or military intervention in our internal affairs,” said Mr. Ghoga. “This revolution will be completed by our people with the liberation of the rest of Libyan territory controlled by Qadhafi's forces.”

Mr. Ghoga, a human rights lawyer, confirmed that around 2,000 volunteers had left for Tripoli by-passing Surt, Mr. Qadhafi's hometown, by taking a desert detour of hundreds of kilometres.

Mr. Qadhafi retains his stranglehold over most of Tripoli city, but the suburb of Tajoura, where protesters on Sunday chanted that they would prevail, has become restive. In the coastal city of Mistrata, dissidents repelled a pro-government assault.

Mr. Ghoga's emphasis on self-reliance followed remarks by the U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offering dissidents “any kind of assistance”. Appearing on CNN, U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman compared the Libyan situation to the one in the Balkans in the 1990s when the U.S. “intervened to stop a genocide against Bosnians”. “And the first we did was to provide them the arms to defend themselves. That's what I think we ought to do in Libya.”

But reinforcing Mr. Ghoga's contention, and asserting that Libya was different, a former Libyan General with the opposition, Ahmed El-Gatrani, stressed foreign military support was unnecessary.

“We don't need foreign help as we moved on our own, on orders from no one outside.”

General Gatrani said that the opposition was also protecting Libya's precious oil resources, including the oil and product terminals of El-Brega and Ras Lanuf. New York Times is quoting Hassan Bulifa, who is on the committee of the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, the country's largest oil producer, that the company had resumed oil shipments on Sunday. It had loaded two tankers — one bound for China and another for Austria — at a port in Tobruk

Analysts say the U.S. inclination to work with a hastily formed provisional government that would fill the political vacuum in Tripoli following Mr. Qadhafi's anticipated exit was also not being appreciated in Benghazi. Mr. Ghoga rejected the call by Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, a former Justice Minister, to establish a provisional government that would prepare for elections in three months. “It's premature to talk about elections because we have a capital under siege,” he observed.

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Printable version | Jan 25, 2022 4:28:11 AM |

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