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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid