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Libya Diplomat: Fears Severity of Gadhafi Crackdown

  • Peter Clottey

Protesters deface a poster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the city of Zawiyah, February 27, 2011

Protesters deface a poster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in the city of Zawiyah, February 27, 2011

Libya’s ambassador to the United States has expressed concern that embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi could soon deploy sophisticated weapons to suppress anti-government protesters, who demand he step down and cede power.

Ambassador Ali Aujali also says pronouncements of the representatives of the regime about peace and quiet in the capital, Tripoli, and surrounding areas should not be taken seriously since, in his words, over 70 percent of the entire country is in the hands of the anti-government protesters.

“The problem now is he (Gaddafi) is moving his tanks from Sirte to attack Misratah and this is very serious. Last night (Saturday), he tried to make landing in Misratah using the helicopter, but that attempt failed. I am very worried now that he will strike and this is really horrible,” said Aujali.

“The (U.N.) Security Council resolution is good, but this is good after the regime fails. We want something to help us to make this regime (to) step down.”

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States is prepared to offer assistance to Libyans seeking Gadhafi's ouster. Speaking to reporters on Sunday, she mentioned “reaching out” to Libyans as “the revolution moves westward.” Clinton, who is heading to Geneva to consult with America's allies on further responses to the crisis in Libya, said “it is too soon to see to see how this is going to play out.”

Aujali says the anti-government protesters should continue to keep up the pressure on Gaddafi by refusing to negotiate or compromise in order to force him out of office.

“I believe this man is an unpredictable man; to force him out (will succeed) only if he is confronted face-to-face with the protesters. Otherwise, I think, as far as he still has a place to move…I think he will not step down. This man, he has no sense, this man says he wants to stay in power (and), I think he will not compromise,” said Aujali.

“He is always swimming against the current. He has declared war on Libya, (saying) ‘I rule you or I kill you.’ My message to the protesters is please don’t stop. Please go ahead to fight this regime; the victory is very close. No concession; there is no way they should compromise with the regime. Gaddafi must go. He is giving people money to get their loyalty (and) he punishes them to get their loyalty.”

U.S. President Barack Obama has joined the chorus of those calling for Gadhafi's resignation. In a White House statement released on Saturday, Obama said the Libyan leader has “lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for the country by leaving now.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon had praise for the action taken by the Security Council, which he said “sends a strong message that gross violations of basic human rights will not be tolerated, and that those responsible for grave crimes will be held accountable.”

Ban also said “even bolder action may become necessary” in the coming days.

The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, says the Security Council came together to condemn the violence in Libya, demand a stop to the killing, and adopt “biting” sanctions, targeting what she calls Libya's “unrepentant leadership.”

Deputy Libyan Ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, welcomes the resolution, saying it gives “moral support to people resisting” the Libyan government. Libya's U.N. mission is one of several around the world that have turned against Gadhafi

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