News / Africa

US: Gadhafi Still at Large, But Politically Finished

Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, meets with Mostafa Abdel Jalil (R), Chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council interim government in Tripoli, September 14, 2011.
Jeffrey Feltman, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, meets with Mostafa Abdel Jalil (R), Chairman of Libya's National Transitional Council interim government in Tripoli, September 14, 2011.

The highest-ranking U.S. diplomat to visit Tripoli since the fall of the Muammar Gadhafi regime said Wednesday the ousted Libyan ruler, though apparently still at large in the country, is finished politically. Assistant Secretary of State for Near eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman held talks with Libyan interim leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil and other officials of the National Transitional Council, the NTC.

Libya's interim government says the leaders of Britain and France will travel to the North African nation Thursday, becoming the first foreign heads of state to visit the country since the overthrow of former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Senior officials from Libya's National Transitional Council said British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet NTC Chairman Mustafa Abdel Jalil in the capital, Tripoli, before traveling to the eastern city of Benghazi.

Neither London nor Paris offered any official confirmation of the visit.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan is also scheduled to visit Libya on Thursday as part of a North African tour.

Feltman says the Libyan conflict is by no means over, with pro-Gadhafi forces still in control of a large triangle of territory including the former dictator’s stronghold town of Sirt.

But in a telephone conference call with State Department reporters from Tripoli, Feltman says he was struck, in his talks with NTC leaders and civil society members, how quickly the four-decade ruler of the country has faded into irrelevance.

“In terms of the people that we’ve met today, to the extent that they’re representative of the city or the country as a whole, Gadhafi is already part of the past, which I found interesting. So it seems as though: yes, there’s a risk that the NTC recognizes, that you can’t declare that the country’s fully liberated until Gadhafi is apprehended, until the danger to Libya’s civilians is ended across-the-board. But politically, he’s already finished," he said.

Feltman said he was impressed by the degree to which normalcy has already returned to the capital, and the way in which the NTC is asserting centralized control over the disparate militia groups that waged the anti-Gadhafi uprising.

He also said the country, gearing for promised elections in eight months, appears to less threatened by tribal, regional and religious rivalries than was feared only weeks ago.

“The people saw that they’re going to be able play out their political differences through the ballot box and have time to prepare for that. I really did leave today feeling as though the question of east versus west, the question of Islamists versus non-Islamists, the question of Tripoli versus the rest of the country are being discussed in a way that one would expect to be discussed in sort of positive way, rather than a fearful way," he said.

Watch a Related Report by Al Pessin

Feltman said he pressed NTC leaders to make good on stated commitments to bring more women into government and respect human rights, including those of African migrant workers said to have been subject to recent racially-based attacks and abuse.

He said he paid a sad visit to the remains of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which he said had been “pretty well trashed” by recent fighting and looting.

The State Department, none-the-less, is already moving diplomats into the capital from Benghazi. A spokesman saying Wednesday the United States intends to re-open an embassy as soon as possible regardless of whether the damaged chancery building can be salvaged.

More from VOA News

World Bank recognition

The World Bank said in a statement Tuesday its decision is based on events in Libya and the views of its member countries.  It also said it has been asked to examine the need for repairs to Libya's water, energy and transportation sectors, and to help the country's banking sector in conjunction with the International Monetary Fund.

The U.S. State Department said Tuesday Gadhafi's son, Saadi, is being detained in a state guest house in Niger, after crossing into the country earlier this week.  A State Department spokeswoman said it is "appropriate" for Niger and Libya to work together on the issue, and that it is up to the NTC to decide how to proceed.

Gadhafi loyalists in Niger

Officials in Niger say 32 people close to Gadhafi have fled to the central African nation since September 2.

Meanwhile, residents of one of Gadhafi's remaining strongholds fled Tuesday as NATO and NTC fighters continued to attack pro-Gadhafi forces.  Witnesses say dozens of cars left the town of Bani Walid while NATO planes flew overhead.

NATO said Wednesday its airstrikes a day earlier struck several targets near Sirte, another Gadhafi stronghold, including anti-aircraft guns and radar systems.

War crimes accusations

Tuesday, Amnesty International issued a report saying both sides of the conflict have committed war crimes during the six-month civil war. The report mainly details crimes against civilians committed by Gadhafi loyalists, but it also documents brutal revenge crimes committed by some provisional authority forces when loyalist fighters were ejected from eastern Libya.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs