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Q & A with Saif al-Islam al-Gaddafi | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Q) You attended Davos at a time where a political row between Libya and Switzerland is still taking place; does your attendance [of the forum in Switzerland] mean that you have a different point of view?

A) No, no…the relations are as they were, and there have been no developments in [solving] the problem.

Q) I am talking about Libya cutting ties with Switzerland while you are present there [in Davos, Switzerland]. What does this mean?

A) It does not mean anything. I have no [official] connection to the Libyan state, whether it cuts ties or not, this is its [Libya’s] affair and has nothing to do with me.

Q) Your organization, the Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation [GICDF] released a statement regarding the arrest of one of your former assistants, Dr. Juma Ataiga [President for the Society of Human Rights of GICDF]. Does this represent a blow to your efforts for reform?

A) No, there are always problems, and things are not complete in any country. We have achieved many reforms in numerous areas, but things are not perfect. Problems always occur, and it seems that there are defects [in the system] and people resisting reform.

Q) Is there conflict between the old guard and the new?

A) No…no, there is no old guard; there are individuals, one individual, or two or three. One in the prosecution for example, this is a story of individuals and not a matter of guards or fronts.

Q) Do you find any official opposition in Libya against your efforts for reform?

A) There is no power in Libya or abroad that can stand in the face of reform…because this is the desire of the Libyans and what the people of Libya want. Any person that resists the Libyan people will be crushed and defeated, and anyone who attempts to institute obstructive procedures…as occurred (the day before yesterday) when we heard that the Libyan Attorney General had signed the warrant for the arrest [of Dr. Juma Ataiga] then these are unbelievable, ridiculous, and unacceptable actions.

But their result is well-known, the time of Libyans being insulted and intimated, their voices suppressed and their laws ignored…has ended, and there is no room to go back. There are bad and corrupt individuals that can be found in every country of the world…we are part of the world, and such people are present in Libya as they are present elsewhere.

Q) Are these corrupt individuals present inside the Libyan state, occupying official positions?

A) Surely [this is the case], such as what happened with regards to the well-respected and distinguished academic [Dr. Juma] Ataiga. I do not think that these are legal or valid actions. The charges against him have been fabricated for the purposes of silencing him.

Q) Some believe that Dr. Ataiga was arrested in order to impede your efforts [for reform] by parties in the interior?

A) The situation is not like this [at all], there are only individuals of this type…and they will be dealt with in the appropriate way.

Q) Does this mean that you hope to overcome this issue soon?

A) I am not the one who is facing this issue, they are the ones who are running out of time, and who will be held accountable [for their actions] and will be dealt with in the appropriate manner; you will soon see the measures that will be taken against them.

Q) There were demonstrations and appeals for you to retract from your previous decision to withdraw from political life. Do you intend to do so?

A) Firstly I will not back down from my decision to withdraw [from politics]. This is what I said in my last speech…my decision to stay out of public affairs is final and I hope forever. My place now is in public society and non-governmental organizations. My role now is to build a civilized society that has free and genuine institutions, just ties and organizations, and unions. This is my field [now]; I withdraw completely from the state, government, and public affairs. I am also thinking about establishing a center for research in a European country.

Q) Does this mean you intend to reside in this European country away from Libya?

A) I think so, I want to focus my time on my new project which has been put forward…I want to devote myself to this. This does not mean abandoning the Libyans and the battle for freedom, human rights and civilized society in the face of injustices and abuses of human rights and democracy. If any Libyan is insulted then I am present and vigilant.

Q) Does this mean that your thoughts are on the Research Center and your residence outside of Libya that you are fed up of what is happening in Libya?

A) No, on the contrary, after I completed my PhD I intend to focus on writing and publishing academic work, and I have a personal desire to be involved in this, but as I told you before the problems of the Libyans, and their dignity and honor always comes first, and if there is a problem then I will deal with it as I am currently doing.

Q) Has your withdrawal [from politics] come about at the suggestion of your father Muammar Al Gaddafi?

A) No, and I am revealing this publicly for the first time. I informed the Brotherly Leader [Colonel Gaddafi] of my decision around15 minutes before my speech [announcing my withdrawal from politics]…and I informed him that I stand by my decision.

This decision was mine and for several reasons, many of which I have revealed before. I felt that I had become an obstacle to reform and [forming] a constitution. We want there to be a constitution, laws, and institutions; not everything revolves around one person or one group of people. And so it is up to the Libyans to create a constitution, build institutions and mange their own affairs without relying too much on Saif Al Islam, or others, in the conducting of their [own] affairs.

Q) How did Colonel Gaddafi react to your decision [to withdraw from politics]?

A) There was no comment.

Q) So he did not comment positively or negatively?

A) Yes

Q) You mean he did not respond to your decision positively or negatively?

A) Yes, he did not respond.

Q) In what way are you an obstacle to reform and change?

A) I mean I became the focus for all the problems, [with everyone] seeking Saif Al Islam to resolve them…I become the axis around which all the projects, departments and institutes revolved around. All the people were saying this person is present and can solve the problems. This is a mistake, because there should be institutes, procedures, and mechanisms present in order for the Libyans to take positions and manage their own affairs. It is a mistake for the country to revolve around one person…and this is my own personal conclusion.

Q) You were invited to draft the constitution, how will it be drafted in your absence?

A) I am present; this constitution is the battle of Saif Al Islam and all Libyans, we need a constitution and a mechanism for authority or laws; a state must review all of its organizational and administrative structures. This is an issue that must involve the five and a half million Libyans. This is not my personal battle; this is a battle of the whole Libyan people.

Q) Do you think your absence from the decision-making process may affect what occurs?

A) In the short term, yes, but in the long-term it [my absence] will have a good affect, and this is something I am certain of. For it will result in a civilized society with political mobility and people with a desire for change and political action. In the long run Libyans will be insistent on “not remaining like Saif Al Islam” and this is what is most important.

Q) You played a large role in opening Libyan doors to the outside world, what do you think about the future of Libyan relations with new US President Barack Obama?

A) I put in a lot of effort into turning Libya from a country besieged and boycotted, to a country that has a seat on the UN Security Council. Therefore the way is open now to have normal relations with Europe and America. And now it is up to them to benefit from the battles and measures that I carried out and stirred up with the West.

Q) I understand that you wanted to enter the Gaza Strip during the Israel aggression?

A) Yes, that’s true.

Q) And what happened?

A) The Egyptian government refused… for security reasons, and [because] the situation is dangerous, and so there is no possibility [of entering Gaza]. They told me that the goal was to preserve ones life…and I understood that.

Q) Do you have anything to say to the Arabs after the latest crisis in Gaza?

A) In Israel when errors or defeat occurs then those responsible are removed from power, elections are held, and the government is changed, and thus punished through the mechanism of democracy. In this way society is always in a process of self-assessment and continually evolving. This is what we saw in Israel with regards to the wars in Lebanon and Gaza, and this is something which is missing from the Arabs. Governments stay the same…the same faces and leaders despite losses, wars, and failure. The same mistakes are repeated, and the ideology does not change. Therefore the Arabs will not progress, and without democracy [will remain] unable to put the right person in the right position. When you make a mistake you find someone to correct you.