News / Middle East

Correspondent Debriefer: Inside View of Situation in Benghazi, Libya

A rebel walks inside a destroyed weapons dump near Benghazi, March 5, 2011
A rebel walks inside a destroyed weapons dump near Benghazi, March 5, 2011
Susan Yackee

Fighting in Libya between forces aligned with and against Moammar Gadhafi shows no signs of abating. Now, the opposition, which has established itself in the city of Benghazi, is claiming it has rejected an offer from government officials to negotiate conditions for Gadhafi to step. Susan Yackee spoke about this offer with Phil Ittner, our correspondent currently in Benghazi.

Ittner: The information coming out of the opposition leadership here in Benghazi is twofold. Firstly, they claim that the Gadhafi government actually approached them with an offer of negotiations that would include Moammar Gadhafi stepping down, if he is allowed to leave Libya with his riches and his money, and that there would be a guarantee of no repercussions for his family.

So, the opposition government is basically saying that that was the approach that the Moammar Gadhafi government brought to them, and the opposition government said that it rejected the offer outright, because the Gadhafi regime, in their words, had blood on its hands, and that there will be no negotiations with the regime in Tripoli due to the recent bloody attacks on the civilian population.

In addition to that, the opposition government here – the National Assembly as they are calling themselves – say that a delegation did arrive [to meet with them] from Italy, and that the delegation met with the leadership here in Benghazi to try to [explore] ways to get international recognition.

They would not go into great detail about what those talks involved, but the spokesman for the opposition group said that the delegation has left for Italy again presumably carrying the message from the National Assembly that would, in their eyes, hopefully lead to international recognition, which would possible pave the way for international assistance in the opposition’s efforts to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi.

Yackee: We have no confirmation of the Gadhafi offer, do we?

Ittner: There is no independent confirmation of the Gadhafi offer. This [information] is coming from the National Assembly and the opposition spokespeople. There is an awful lot of propaganda going on, an awful lot of very questionable information on both sides of the equation. This is today’s bit of information. If it is indeed true, then this would play right into the opposition’s hand. So one has to take into consideration their motivation for releasing this information that perhaps Gadhafi had approached them for negotiations.

Yackee: What about troop preparations?

Ittner: We have seen here in Benghazi a number of young men coming to makeshift training camps to receive military training, not only for [use of] AK-47s, but for larger things, such as tanks or anti-aircraft weaponry. These men tend to range in age from their late teens to their early 20s. They are eager; they are ready to go to the front. Many of them are ready to go as soon as possible, even after just a few hours of training.

The military trainers here, many of whom are former army conscripts or army officers, are going to be training them, they say. Some of the more sophisticated weapons systems, such as tanks and armored vehicles, will take a longer period of time, but with some of the smaller weapon, they say, it could be a matter of hours or days. But certainly in the immediate days they are thinking of getting these men out to the front lines.

In addition, we spoke to some of the younger conscripts, who are very determined and recognize what they are putting themselves up for - I spoke to a young man here, who spoke passable English – and I asked him: “Are you willing and ready to kill fellow Libyans?” And with a very determined and almost emotional look in his eyes he said: I am willing to killing my fellow Libyan if he stands with Gadhafi.” This is a fight, in his words, between good and evil, and he was willing to take up arms if it meant overthrowing the government in Tripoli.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs