Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

A talk with Libyan rebel chief Abdullah al-Zintani | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Abdullah Ahmad Nakir al-Zintani, chairman of the revolutionary council of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, has said that the security situation there has started to improve. He pointed out that normal life has started to return gradually to what it was before the popular uprising, which erupted on the 17th of February and toppled Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

Speaking in a telephone interview with Asharq al-Awsat from Tripoli, al-Zintani demonstrated the improving situation in the capital by conducting a tour of its streets during the conversation, without facing any problems. He asserted that despite concerns that the “fifth column” loyal to Gaddafi might carry out some form of terrorist operation in the future, he did not harbour any apprehensions. He added that this faction could not do anything to damage security and stability even under Gaddafi’s rule. The following is the text of the interview:

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How is the security situation in Tripoli now?

[Al-Zintani] The security situation is very good on all streets. The revolutionaries are controlling security and the police have started to return, certainly not up to 100 per cent, but they are returning gradually to the security units. Shops have started to reopen and life is getting back to normal.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] You mean Tripoli has started to return to normal life again?

[Al-Zintani] Yes, life has started to return to normal due to the efforts of the revolutionaries, the Tripoli revolutionaries.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is your take on the calls from some, asking for the revolutionaries of other cities to leave Tripoli?

[Al-Zintani] We are all Libyans. The revolutionaries from outside Tripoli contributed to the liberation of the capital, and it is their right [to ensure that] Tripoli returns to the Libyans. The revolutionaries have the right to return to their original areas, but Tripoli has been completely secured. These people are not strangers; they have their families and relatives and some of them are from Tripoli. Even so, it does not mean that because they come from outside Tripoli they are strangers.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] So, we can say that their departure is only a matter of time, and that there are no other problems?

[Al-Zintani] Yes, there are no problems or disputes. I expect every person to return to his normal life after Tripoli has been completely secured.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] And when do you expect Tripoli to be “completely secured”, in the full meaning of the phrase?

[Al-Zintani] In the very near future. Security has started to return and I am now touring the city in my car alone, and there are no problems.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Are there problems with Gaddafi’s fifth column, or the remnants of the revolutionary committees?

[Al-Zintani] The fifth column has not succeeded in doing anything. We are now organizing our affairs for the post-Gaddafi stage and we want to be a civilian democratic state again. We are building our state now. Gaddafi is finished and he and his column do not have a role anymore.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What is the Tripoli Council? What is its relationship with the Transitional Council [TNC] and the Executive Office?

[Al-Zintani] The Tripoli Council is made up of all the capital’s areas and includes the engineer, the worker, the officer, and the entire spectrum of Tripoli’s sons. We have drawn up a system for uniting our weapons, forces, and ammunitions. It is an organizational structure with a civilian side and a military one. The civilian side works on health and relief and looks after all the civilian aspects, while the military side works to secure sensitive areas and installations, and is combing the city where the fifth columnists are still located. We have recognized the TNC, which will preside over the transitional period. Our legitimacy is derived from the revolutionaries and the TNC, and we will obey any of its orders and instructions. We are not a state within a state, or a council within a council. We have issued a statement explaining the [Tripoli] Council’s aims and function.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] What services and humanitarian requirements does Tripoli need now?

[Al-Zintani] Tripoli needs all the utilities that the state needs. We have asked the service sectors in all areas to clean all the dirt from the city. Every person responsible for an area is responsible for its cleanliness, electricity, and all its utilities.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Does the city have a shortage of medicine?

[Al-Zintani] There are definitely some shortages but there are also special relief committees. The hospitals need nurses and first aid staff. Many people left their work when the revolution broke out but we have now started to ask them to return. We also call on our brothers the Arab workers, especially the Egyptians and Tunisians, to return to their places of work.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] How will the Gaddafi family residences be used?

[Al-Zintani] We will use them for the needs and service of the Libyans. We might turn them into factories, institutes, universities, and other amenities from which all the Libyans can benefit. Gaddafi owned large areas of land.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] There are rumours of some security violations committed by the revolutionaries in Tripoli. How true are they?

[Al-Zintani] There have been no deliberate violations. There were probably some violations committed by Gaddafi’s followers, but in the name of the revolutionaries. There have been some minor violations, as happens in all revolutions, especially recently in Egypt and Tunisia.

[Asharq Al-Awsat] Generally speaking, are you content with how things have ended?

[Al-Zintani] The situation is good and stable. As for the Libyans, they are celebrating the victory and the blessed Eid al-Fitr. God willing, the results of the Libyan revolution will prove excellent.