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Libyan Opposition Leader: Rebels Must Gain US Support

  • Peter Clottey

Libyan rebels celebrate as their shell hit its target outside Brega, Libya. Libyan government forces unleashed a withering bombardment of the rebels outside a key oil town pushing them back, even as the regime said Moammar Gadhafi might consider some refo

Libyan rebels celebrate as their shell hit its target outside Brega, Libya. Libyan government forces unleashed a withering bombardment of the rebels outside a key oil town pushing them back, even as the regime said Moammar Gadhafi might consider some refo

The leader of the opposition Justice and Democracy Party of Libya says the inability of the Transitional National Council to gain political support from the Obama administration will, in his words, make it impossible to achieve its objective, which is, he says, to force embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down.

Hadi Shalluf, who is also an international lawyer, says the council has, so far, erred in failing to gain Washington’s support to ensure Gadhafi “quickly” cedes power.

“The problem is they don’t understand that they should be contacting and dealing with the United States of America because only [they] can do operation[s] against Gadhafi and his regime. So, I think one mistake that the council is making is that it doesn’t contact the United States to ask for support from the Obama administration. I think they should do that; otherwise, we cannot win the war against Gadhafi,” said Shalluf.

Shalluf says the council has been unable to realize that America’s support is critical towards their “ultimate goal.”

“We need Obama’s support and we need America’s support, especially when he [Obama] says Gadhafi as no legitimacy. So, that is why we need to go to the United States. We should ask the United States to help because we cannot be counting on the European countries. The only country we should seek support from is the United States of America,” said Shalluf.

“They are thinking that [support from] the European countries are enough for them. That is the mistake. They think France, England’s support is enough for them, but this is wrong in international relations and international politics. But, the [focus in] real politics is the person who has power, and in this case America,” he added.

Meanwhile, rebel forces have again been pushed back by government loyalists in the seesaw battle for control of the key eastern oil town of Brega.

Western media reports Tuesday say, despite a NATO airstrike against a convoy of Libyan military vehicles, rebels were forced to retreat east towards the city of Ajdabiya. Rebels say they came under rocket and artillery fire.

Later Tuesday, the head of Libya's opposition forces accused NATO of being too slow to react, while loyalist troops killed residents in the besieged western city of Misrata. Abdel Fattah Younes told a news conference in Benghazi that NATO's inaction is allowing Gadhafi’s forces to advance and kill people in Misrata "every day."

NATO reported that coalition airstrikes have destroyed 30 percent of Libya's military while enforcing the U.N.-authorized no-fly zone aimed at protecting civilians.

Meanwhile, U.S. envoy Chris Stevens met with members of the opposition's Transitional National Council Tuesday in Benghazi to get a better understanding of who the rebels are and what they need.

The United States has not formally recognized the council as Libya's legitimate government. Qatar, France and Italy have granted official recognition to the rebel administration.

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