Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- Major General Abdul-Fattah Younis is the head of the Military Council, a faction within the Libyan opposition’s Transitional National Council. Younis previously held the position of Interior Minister in Gaddafi’s regime; however he defected during the early days of the Libyan popular revolution. This represented a major political and moral blow to the Libyan leader, who later claimed that Younis had been forced to defect by the rebel troops. Younis denies this allegation, and also refutes the reports that he had been shot during the ongoing conflict.
In an exclusive interview with Asharq al-Awsat, conducted via telephone from the Military Council headquarters in Benghazi, Younis provided his take on the current situation in Libya. He said that Gaddafi now has no options other than to be killed or surrender, and stressed that the revolutionaries would regain control of the Libyan cities that the regime seized control of yesterday.
Younis also praised the Saudi, Gulf, and Arab stances toward the current situation in Libya, and pointed out that the imposition of a no-fly zone against Gaddafi’s military aircraft would equalize the balance of power between Gaddafi and the revolutionaries, to a certain extent.
The following is the text of the interview:
[Asharq Al-Awsat] How do you view the military situation, after Gaddafi’s regime claims that it now controls a number of Libyan cities?
[Younis] As you know, these cities are situated on the coast and in the desert. From the military point of view, it is difficult to hold on to the desert area. They control it for a while and we control it for a while too. The balance of power is not equal. They have large-caliber weapons at a time when our civilian youths are fighting with small and medium-caliber weapons. This is the situation at present, and we will certainly go back to control these cities. This is not the first time, it is the second.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] So, you are asserting that the revolutionaries will regain control of these cities.
[Younis] Certainly. God willing, they are on their way to Sirte and Tripoli.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Is there a definitive time period by which the revolutionaries will reach Sirte, or gain control of Tripoli?
[Younis] Talking will do no good. God willing, however, you will hear good news soon.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Fine, we do not want to disclose your military secrets, but what is the current military situation in Libya in general?
[Younis] The military situation has two sides to it. The first concerns the people, and, of course, all people are fighting, whether they carry weapons or not. The people are with us, and only a small part of them stand by Gaddafi. The army will not be able to resist long, and God willing, victory will be for the people.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] It has been reported that the revolutionaries are suffering a shortage of weapons and ammunition.
[Younis] For sure there is a shortage, but we fight with the weapons available, and some friendly and brotherly states, including Egypt, will certainly cooperate with us if we ask them to supply us with weapons. On the other hand, the Gulf States took an excellent stand toward us by calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone. They also sent humanitarian aid. These states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the UAE, stand on our side as Arab brothers.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] What do you expect from the Arabs at this stage?
[Younis] (laughing) You know that, in difficult situations, the Arab response is always weak and belated, but, thank God, they recently urged the international community to impose a no-fly zone. For us, this is an important move. It is considered a great victory for the Arabs after a long wait.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] It is obvious that you suffer from a lack of air cover. Are you in the process of acquiring aircraft, or weapons to be used against Gaddafi’s planes?
[Younis] Naturally, as soon as a no-fly zone is imposed, he will stop using his planes, and the scales will then be balanced, with confrontation limited to the ground.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] The Libyan Army spokesman is claiming that the army has not killed civilians.
[Younis] He says a lot of things. Nevertheless, there are newspaper correspondents from all over world, and global television networks. They see the true situation with their own eyes, and report it to the public.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] Based on your knowledge of the Colonel’s personality, what are the options available to Gaddafi?
[Younis] He has no options left. The only choice is what the Libyan people want, along with the international community. As the saying goes, he is stuck between a rock and a hard place.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] You mean that he will either surrender or commit suicide?
[Younis] One of these two options.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] In your assessment, does the colonel have the courage to commit suicide?
[Younis] God knows. What is important is that the end is imminent. This is what I would underline to you.
[Asharq Al-Awsat] And what about Major General Abu-Bakr Younis? Is he in prison or what?
[Younis] He may be being detained, because we have not heard of any move by him. He is a patriot and religious man, and he would not participate in the killing of our people.