Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Former Libyan official Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, who also happens to be the Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi’s cousin, has issued a statement from his political headquarters in Egypt calling on the people of Libya to lay down their arms “because the decision of war and peace may be taken out of our hands tomorrow.”
However the Libyan opposition has rejected this call, and Hani Souflakis, a leader within the 17 February Revolution movement, told Asharq Al-Awsat that Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam’s proposal was nothing more than an attempt to block “the great progress” being made by the Libyan rebels on the ground, with regards to their advance on Sirte and Tripoli. Sources close to Gaddafi in Tripoli have also revealed that they are looking for a safe place for Gaddafi and his family to flee to in Africa or Latin America.
Souflakis said that statements such as the one issued by Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam – who served as Colonel Gaddafi’s personal envoy to Egypt before resigning earlier this month – have no place in the current situation. He told Asharq Al-Awsat that “a statement such as this should not carry any weight” adding that Gaddaf al-Dam “was not sincere when he said that he resigned from his position as Gaddafi’s personal envoy and coordinator of Egyptian – Libyan relations.”
As for his interpretation of the reason behind Gaddaf al-Dam’s statement, Souflakis said that “this is due to Gaddafi losing control of a number of cities over the past two days.”
He added “I do not think that the National Transitional Council will take this statement into consideration. We believe that Muammar Gaddafi is losing, and it is only a matter of time.”
Souflakis also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “I believe that the Gaddafi regime has only now begun to realize the extent of the losses they will incur with regards to exiting power.”
In his statement, Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam said that “any Libyan who is carrying a weapon should put this down.” He also called on the Arab states to work to put an end to the bloodshed in Libya.
This statement was issued under the title, “A call to all who care about Libya”, in which Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam stated that “these confrontations which have been taken place over the past weeks on our land in Libya, and which have seen brother killing brother, are not sacred.”
He added “NATO airplanes and missiles killing people, whether they are rebels or not, is similarly not sacred, for we are all Libyan. My dear friends, this path that we are following will not gain us entry to Paradise. It will not promote freedom. It will not protect the social fabric [of Libya]. It will not guarantee us a prosperous future.”
With the Libyan rebel forces continuing to gain ground against Gaddafi, moving closer and closer to Sirte and Tripoli, the international efforts to find a solution to the crisis have intensified, and a number of foreign ministers are expected to meet later today in London to discuss the situation in Libya.
In this regard, official Libyan sources have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that there are positive signs that western governments are relatively receptive to some proposals being put to them by figures close to the Gaddafi regime – including Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – in order to reach a satisfactory political settlement to the situation in Libya.
The sources revealed that the proposed settlements may give way to what it described as an acceptable political solution, but refused to confirm to deny whether this includes Gaddafi stepping down from power.
Another Libyan source told Asharq Al-Awsat that the main reason that no agreement has been made with the western governments is that they remain wary of agreeing to any Libyan solution to the crisis, as these all include Gaddafi remaining in power in one form or another. The source claimed that this was the primary point of contention between the two sides.
A Libyan official who is involved in the ongoing talks between the western governments and the Gaddafi aides told Asharq Al-Awsat that “all the Libyan officials who are close to Gaddafi have been working to develop a solution. The ongoing military progress of the revolutionaries and the air raids of the international forces means that the end is imminent, and they must race against time [to find a solution].”
The official also revealed that those close to Gaddafi are trying to get specific answers about certain questions, such as “will Gaddafi be allowed to leave the country in an appropriate manner without facing any problems? Will he be prosecuted if he attempts to leave the country? Will any legal guarantees he is given also be granted to his family members and close aides?”
The source added “the main question now is, where will Gaddafi go? There are limited options in this regard, perhaps Chad or Niger in Africa, or Venezuela in Latin America.”
Asharq Al-Awsat also received unconfirmed information that a number of Gaddafi aides are in Chad looking for a residence for the Libyan dictator to live in.
In a televised address, US President Obama told Americans that US forces would not get bogged down trying to topple the Gaddafi regime, with NATO taking over full command of military operations in Libya from the US military on Wednesday. More than 40 governments and international organizations are set to meet in London on Tuesday to provide political guidance for the response to the war and coordinate long-term support for Libya.