News / Middle East

Libyan Opposition Leader: Military Siding with People

Residents stand on a tank inside a security forces compound in Benghazi, Libya, February 21, 2011
Residents stand on a tank inside a security forces compound in Benghazi, Libya, February 21, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Cecily Hilleary

A former Libyan army officer and head of a leading opposition group says he knows of growing defections among Libya’s military not just by individuals, but in some cases, entire units. Ibrahim Abdulaziz Sahad is the Secretary-General of the National Front for the Salvation of Libya, or NFSL, which was organized in in October 1981 by a group of former military officers, diplomats and businessmen with one goal - to end the regime of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. He spoke to VOA’s Cecily Hilleary from his base in the United States.

Cecily: Mr. Sahad. You are a former member of the Libyan army and the Air Force. We are hearing reports of real atrocity committed by the Libyan army against protesters. And we are also hearing reports of members of military defecting. What is going on?

Sahad:  The scenario started.  In Benghazi, the demonstrators could not be in a peaceful situation until a unit from the army moved and took over the barracks which contains another battalion of Gaddafi security.  That battalion used to shoot against the demonstrators, used to send mercenaries, used to do all kinds of harm [against] the demonstrators - even the inhabitants of Benghazi. 

But when that army unit moved and took over that barracks, Benghazi started to breathe.  It is also, in many other places, military units joining the people,  like in  Misrata,  the Air Force Academy joined the people.  Also some units in Misrata, some units in Az-Zawiyah.

Ibrahim Sahad
Ibrahim Sahad

Now one thing I would like to say here, in Gadhafi’s 40-year rule, he emptied the army of it strength, so that you will see only  the units that can move, which have weapons, which have  ammunition, can do something to help.   Others will be hesitant.   But I am getting information that many officers are joining the demonstrators, refusing the orders of Gadhafi to shoot at the people.  Two pilots landed yesterday in Malta because they refused to take the orders and raid the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli.  They left Libya, they went to Malta, they are asking for political asylum now.

Hilleary:  Two pilots is a long way from an entire military.  Do you believe there’s a chance of the military completely siding against Gadhafi?

Sahad:  I am sure the other pilots refused and were under arrest.  Other pilots went and they threw all what they had - bombs - they threw them in the desert and they came back.  We have these reports from inside, that these two pilots were asked to go and bomb Benghazi.  They left until they found themselves away from the radar and away from the air defense system, and then they changed the course to Malta.     

It’s not easy in Libya.  Forty years of tyranny, of oppression, of fear - I mean,   a person will feel frightened, even in his home.  This is the situation which Gadhafi brought on this country, and I am telling you, what you are seeing, those people who go into the streets are very, very brave. They know what’s waiting for them.  

Hilleary:  What would you like to see the U.N. Security Council do?

Sahad:  The Security Council should take all measures to protect the civilians by all means.  We are seeing a government using all kinds of weapons against its own people, using mercenaries against its own people.

Gadhafi himself should be brought to trial.  He is now committing crimes against humanity, crimes of war, and that should be brought to justice.

Third, in Libya there are very urgent needs for medical supplies, medicines, doctors - for even hospitals.  We are getting very, very alarming reports from the hospitals in Benghazi, in Tripoli, in almost every place in Libya. They are in need of basic first aid.  Also there is a shortage in food.  It has started to run down.

I would like to see the international community start shipping aid to Libya. It can use the Egyptian border.  It can use the Tunisian border. They can use the harbors of Libya on the Mediterranean. Every hour delay, more souls will be lost, more blood will be shed, and more massacre will be taking place in Libya.

Hilleary:  What would you like to see from the United States?

Sahad:  Ma’am, I would like to express and convey to American people the disappointment, the bitter disappointment of the Libyan people from the stand [sic] of the United States of America, from the stand of this Administration. The stand of this Administration is very devastating to the Libyan people, even though we expected that the United States would stand for its values in support of democracy, freedom, human rights. But what we’ve seen from the Administration is nothing.    

Even the Security Council meeting could have [taken place] two, three days ago. The delay here, I could not understand.  It does not add up.   

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

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid