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Libyan Ambassador: Rebels Must Be Prepared for ‘Any Surprises’ by Gadhafi

August 22, 2011 at 12:00 AM EDT
Libyan rebels say they are in control of much of Tripoli but Moammar Gadhafi's whereabouts are still unknown. Ray Suarez discusses the rebels' progress with Libya's Ambassador to the U.S., Ali Suleiman Aujali, who first represented Gadhafi's government, but broke with them and now represents the rebels in the United States.

RAY SUAREZ: Now to the ambassador who first represented Gadhafi’s government, then broke with it, and now speaks in Washington for the rebels.

He is Ali Suleiman Aujali. We talked with him earlier this evening.

Ambassador, welcome to the program.

What’s the latest news that you have gotten from Libya today?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI, Libyan ambassador to the United States: Thank you.

Well, the latest news is, the TNC, they control Tripoli. And the resist — the — Gadhafi’s forces, they are shrinking and they are now desperate. And we still have the — Gadhafi’s compound, they still have some mercenaries there and in some hospitals and maybe hotels. And the situation completely under control, but we still are hunting for Gadhafi. We must find him and we must get him.

RAY SUAREZ: Are you assuming that he is still in the country?  


RAY SUAREZ: Well, from what you know of the man, what do you think his next move is? Is he likely to surrender, or will he continue to fight?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: I believe that Gadhafi, he is a very shrewd man. He will not surrender. He will not give up. He will continue to fight, I believe.

And you never — you never predict what he’s going to do next time, next step. This is why we have to be ready for any action, for any surprises. And the TNC, I think they’re bringing all what they have to stop Gadhafi from hurting his own people further, you know?

RAY SUAREZ: So there are still forces aligned with the former leader who could still hurt people, cause damage in Libya today?


RAY SUAREZ: So who is running the country now?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Well, the country is running by the TNC, by the local councils. And Gadhafi only has access to some of his people who are still with him. That’s all.

RAY SUAREZ: So, what’s the first job for the Transitional National Council? What — what do they really have to accomplish before they can start doing the other things that a government does?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: I think the first job, we have to get this man. We have to arrest him, to — and we — we have to get him. If he is still at large, I think the dangers are still around.

The other thing of the security of the Tripoli and the cities around Tripoli is crucial. And access to the assets is another — an issue that is very important for the TNC to run the service to the people, especially in the western part, where they have been under the Gadhafi siege for the last six months. And they need it very badly.

They need it for the security. They need it for stability. They need it for medicine. They need it for goods. This is a very important issue. And we hope that we will have an access very soon to the frozen money.

RAY SUAREZ: Do you think that will go a long way towards stopping the fighting? If they do, as you say, “get Gadhafi,” will the people who support him stop fighting, lay down their arms, if they see that he’s either dead or in custody?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Well, I think this is true.

But, at the same time, people, they are laying their arms now. Now, you know that Brega, which has been an obstacle in front of the advance of the west — of the east to the west, now it is a completely under the control of the TNC forces. They gave up their arms last night and it’s completely under control.

Not only that, but the security brigades of Gadhafi, they surrendered completely and they give their arms. His prime minister, now he’s in Tunisia, and nobody is around with him, except some soldiers, some mercenaries who still can really make the situation a bit complicated until we get him and we get rid of them.

RAY SUAREZ: We have seen in recent years, as deeply entrenched regimes are overthrown, their governments are out of power, but often the bloodshed continues. Can that be avoided in Libya?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Well, we’re trying to do that. I hope that Gadhafi will have no more access to anything and this is the case.

But I’m very optimistic. We are a very small nation, and we’re not Baghdad or Afghanistan or — the people under Gadhafi regime, they are desperate. They want to get rid of him. And I think, in the near future, that we will not find anyone who will really have any sympathy or relation with the Gadhafi regime. I mean, people, they don’t remember anything good with Gadhafi.

What do they remember? Dictatorship, abuses, frustration, killing, murders. That’s what the people is — remember from the Gadhafi regime. Now they have a hope. Now they have dreams. Now they have to protect the revolution. Now they have a chance to practice democracy. Now they can form their own party. Now they can choose their own people. Now they can have a good relation with the democratic countries in the world.

Now we will feel more comfortable at least. I want to enjoy my job as ambassador representing a country which make my life a little bit easy. I am facing a very great challenge since I joined the foreign service many years ago.

RAY SUAREZ: There’s going to be an international meeting in Paris in the coming days about the future Libya. What kind of help does your country need from the rest of the world now?

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Well, of course we need the — the United — we need the nations — the NATO mission to be completed. We need to have access to the frozen money. We need the support to build our democratic constitution.

We need help training our people. We need help to secure our borders and our beaches. All these are very important issues. And Libya needs help in it.

RAY SUAREZ: Ambassador Aujali, thanks for joining us.

ALI SULEIMAN AUJALI: Thank you very much.