Home > Interviews, LIBYA > LIBYA WAR:Gaddafi was fighting till his last minute – expert

LIBYA WAR:Gaddafi was fighting till his last minute – expert

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Laaska News Oct. 27,2011
John Robles        AUDIO     Interview

Photo: EPA   

Interview with Omar Turbi, a Libyan expert and an advisor to the National Transitional Council of Libya.

What do you see as the future holding for Libya now that Gaddafi is gone? Do you see this as the end to an era or the beginning of a new era?

It’s a transition. Definitely, we’ve gone through many-many different transitions in the last 8-9 months. This particular one is very important because it closes a chapter on Gaddafi’s regime. And I may add that it didn’t end in a way that conveys to the world the level of civility as far as capturing and dealing with Gaddafi. I’m one of those people who really wanted to try him and give him a fair trial. And the Council in particular called for catching him alive and trying him. But the world doesn’t recognize that the Council can only do so much in making different councils around the country do what they want them to do, because there is no elected body yet. And the country is moving forward as best as it can. When you have lived over 40 years with a regime that was so brutal to people and deep in crime and corruption to an unbelievable level, you can help to say that when you live by the sword like Gaddafi had you die by the sword. In other words, right till the last second of his life, he was fighting. He has a gun on him, he had people around him that fought for him. He had many opportunities to escape the country or go to some places in Africa, but he chose to stay.

You don’t agree with the way he was killed?

Not at all. I don’t think a good number of people in Libya, at least civilized ones, in the NTC or in the interim government that didn’t like the way he was finally captured and killed.

So that was not ordered by the Council? The Council had nothing to do with it? It’s terrible to think that a fair and just democracy could be started with such an act of barbarism, in my opinion.

You know you are right. I think the world is looking at Libya and says: what are you guys doing? You are trying to take a dictator from brutal dictatorship and replace him with another one that imprisons people and kills people. But I mean you can for a moment excuse the accident that has taken place because you can consider them acts of war, because when you have two warring parties. Even under the Geneva Convention, you can detain people, you can treat them right. Nobody stops you from killing your enemy that holds a high level of animosity against you and wants to kill you. That’s where I’m getting at. But if you are civilized and you are trying people, I think, because we don’t live alone – you know, we have neighbors around us, we have the world community, we want the world to trust us and trust our judgment, trust our character – the thing that was out of character is to hold Gaddafi in the freezer for several days and let people look and look at him, because in the Arabic tradition you bury the body as quickly as possible. Those are mistakes and those are things that I do strongly believe were beyond the control of the NTC. They didn’t really announce that and didn’t talk about that simply because they were in a really precarious situation. They can’t tell the public: hey, you know, you shouldn’t have done that, because everybody is happy, because they finally got the man that was after them and killing them for the last several months.

Have you talked to the council recently?

Yes, I talk to them on a regular basis.

This has frightened many people – the statement that Sharia law will be implemented in the country and not only Sharia law but a very strict form of Sharia law. What can you say about that?

First of all, Libya is a Muslim country – Sunni, Maliki. So the religious aspect of Libya cannot be taken away from Libyan. But I think that Libyan people are very progressive. They are not isolated from the world around them. There is a constitution that has been largely adopted, except for a couple of articles in it, that dictates rule of law, that dictates judicial system, that dictates that elections must be implemented. Although Islam is a very important component of Libya and the Libyan people, most definitely Sharia law is not going to be applied in its strictest fashion.

You say it’s not going to be?

No, I can’t say yes or no, because it remains to be seen who are the members of the parliament, who is going to be the prime minister. All I can establish is – and that is very important – they usually apply their way of thinking in the process. I can’t say it’s not going to, but, from understanding the psyche of the Libyan society, I don’t believe that this will be the case. So, taking a word out of the context of Abdul-Jalilm would not be a good thing.

So what he said is not the council’s official stand?

No, definitely not the council’s, as not of many people. if this guy remains in power and remains someone who hands down decisions, then we are in big trouble.

Who are we talking again? What’s his first name?

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil.

You are saying he won’t be in power. So, those are his own, personal statements. That’s not the position of the council.

Let’s hope. We’ve had enough – I mean we’ve had a share of people handing down decisions without the consensus of the people, without due democratic process. God, we’ve had a lot of that in the Middle East.

That’s why I used the world “dictatorship.” Do you see a position for yourself in the new Libya? Would you like to return when things stabilize in the country?

I don’t know, to be honest with you, because when you’ve lived in the West, lived in the US for a long time, based on studies and statistics and experiences, these people say that people who have lived outside the country are not proper rulers. People who are inside should. I mean we will be allowed to stay around to help them out. If they ask me to take a role or provide a public service I’ll have to do that and I will do that. But you know, there is a definite misunderstanding with the definition of “public service” in the Middle East and North Africa, even in Libya, for sure. A public service is an opportunity to bring in your relatives, friends and everybody you know and an opportunity for you to make money. You are really hired to service people in the proper way, you can’t view a public service as an opportunity to make money. Right now there are just people who are clamoring to take the position within the new regime. But they may see that as being an opportunity to personally and financially grow.

I don’t think you would do that, would you?

Of course, not.

Laaska News.