Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Libyan official sources have revealed that there are secret efforts being conducted by officials in the Gaddafi regime to find a way out of the current crisis and which aim to ensure the safety and continuation of the Libyan regime.
The official sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that Colonel Gaddafi, who just two days ago was threatening to crush the coalition forces, has hinted that he would be willing to enter negotiations to discuss possible resolutions to the current situation in Libya. This indication of Gaddafi’s willingness to now enter negotiations was made by a number of senior Libyan officials during communications with several foreign parties outside of the country. The Libyan officials, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that Colonel Gaddafi has sought the help of some western figures, who have decades-long friendly relations with him, to convince the international community to halt the air strikes against his forces and instead move towards a negotiated solution.
The source said that Gaddafi had submitted an offer through these western contacts that he would be willing to sit down at the negotiating table to search for an honorable solution to the current crisis; however the source did not disclose whether this solution would include Gaddafi stepping down from power.
Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa is reportedly in contact with a number of officials within the US administration, including US Assistant Secretary of State Jeffrey Feltman.
Asharq Al-Awsat also received information that Saif al-Islam Gaddafi has left the Libyan capital Tripoli, and traveled abroad, to work out an urgent plan to prevent the political and military situation in the country from further deteriorating.
Gaddafi’s son, who has no official position in the Libyan state, has close relations with a number of western and American business figures; however his reputation within Libya has suffered since he issued inflammatory comments warning the people of Libya against protesting
The source also revealed that a high level Libyan delegation that is currently visiting Tunisia, including Libyan Parliamentary Speaker Muhamad Abul-Qasim al-Zawi, former Libyan prime minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi, and senior Libyan diplomatic figures, is preparing to leave the country for a secret destination.
Another source close to the Libyan regime told Asharq Al-Awsat that the Gaddafi regime appears ready to accept the possibility of the imposition of a long-term no-fly zone above Libya, in return for an immediate halt to the air strikes being carried out against its forces. The source said “what is being put forward now is to find a formula to stop what is happening in Libya, on the ground and in the skies, for if the situation continues as it is, this represents a grave threat to Gaddafi and his regime.”
The African Union has been attempting to engage both the Gaddafi regime and the Libyan rebels in dialogue to end the crisis in the country, with an African Union ad hoc committee on Libya meeting to announce that “the committee reiterates its willingness to take steps to engage the Libyan National Transitional Council on the basis of the African Union roadmap, with particular and urgent focus on the cessation of hostilities.”
However sources close to the chairman of the Libyan National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that he has rejected any negotiation with Gaddafi. The sources say that Jalil has called on Gaddafi to immediately step down from power and stop his campaign of violence against the people of Libya.
Roger Tamraz, a Middle Eastern businessman with longstanding ties to the Libyan regime, also informed the press that the Gaddafi regime has put out feelers seeking a peaceful end to the UN-backed military action, or a safe exit for the Gaddafi family from Libya.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she was aware that people close to the Gaddafi regime had been trying to make contact. She said “I’m not aware that he [Gaddafi] personally has reached out, but I do know that people allegedly on his behalf have been reaching out.”
She added “this is what we hear from so many sources. Some of it…is theatre, some of it is kind of, shall we say, game-playing…but some of it, we think, is exploring ‘what are my options, where could I go, what could I do.’ And so we encourage that.”