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 Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.

All About America

AppleAndroid