Former Libyan Ambassador Ali Aujali
, a leader of the rebels fighting tyrant Moammar Gadhafi, says the tide is turning, and if not for the military intervention of the United States and its allies, more than 100,000 people would have perished. But, Aujali also said on CNN Thursday the opposition needs recognition — and better weapons.
“We have seen a lot of — a lot of progress since this strike began last Saturday,” Aujali told CNN’s Eliot Spitzer. “First of all . . . when [air strikes] hit Gadhafi's forces marching from west to east, just 40 kilometers from Benghazi, they saved not less than 100,000, 150,000 lives.
“If Gadhafi manages to reach Benghazi, [with] the forces he has, he can destroy the east of Libya completely. Today we can see also a difference in balance of power on the ground,” Aujali said.”Now the opposition, they are marching, but their problem now is . . . weapons, they don't have enough weapons, and the range of their weapons is shorter than Gadhafi's.
“They need to be supplied with weapons,” he continued, adding he has met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and requested recognition and arms for the opposition.
“This is my priority, and the priority of my people — the protection of the human life and the recognition, because now the [opposition] council, this is the only body we have created since the demonstrations started in Benghazi,” he said. “Now we want recognition. Because [the rebels then] will have access to the frozen money, then they can buy more medicine, they can buy more food, and they can buy more armor.”
Spitzer noted some are worried that if Gadhafi is toppled, Libya might descend into civil war and an Islamist government might take power, which is neither democratic nor friendly to the West. Aujali said the concerns were unfounded.
“I think the Libyan people, they have been suffering for 42 years. This is the great chance for them to choose their own government,” Aujali said. “We want a democratic country that respects its own people — respects their dreams, respects their neighbors, respects the international community.
“Libyan society is a very open society, very moderate society,” he added.” Don’t listen to Gadhafi's accusation that we have al-Qaida — I think nobody is believing that now.
“I will never accept this term of civil war. Libyans, they’re not fighting each other. Libyans, they're fighting . . . Gadhafi.”
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