Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – Military officials in the National Transitional Council, set up by the Libyan rebels, have called on the Libyan rebel forces not to attack Gaddafi’s home town of Sirte for fear of sustaining heavy losses.
Libya’s former representative to the Arab League, Abdul-Monem al-Houni, who is a senior member of the National Transitional Council, called on the Arab states to recognize the legitimacy of this body as the sole representative of the Libyan people. In a letter addressed to ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of Arab countries in Cairo, al-Houni said that the Libyan opposition forces are in control of 90 percent of the country, and he predicted that the remaining 10 percent of Libya would be liberated from Gaddafi control in the coming days.
A source within the Libyan National Transitional Council confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that until now 16 countries have recognized the council, and that 10 European countries are set to announce their recognition of the National Transitional Council in the near future.
Al-Houni also urged the Arab League and its member-states to take the initiative and recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council. Al-Houni told Asharq Al-Awsat that it is shameful that Western countries have taken steps to recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council whilst Arabs remain silent about this issue, he also stressed that the Libyan people are waiting for political and moral support from their Arab brothers in order to complete the revolution against Gaddafi’s rule.
There has also been talk about disputes emerging between Gaddafi’s children, with sources claiming that the Gaddafi family has divided amongst itself with regards to those who support the Libyan leader’s military efforts to suppress the rebels, and those who oppose this policy.
A source in the Libyan capital Tripoli confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the exchange of gunfire heard by the residents of Tripoli two days ago from inside Gaddafi’s fortified stronghold of Bab al-Azizah was due to a sharp dispute that erupted between Gaddafi’s offspring.
According to the source, a fight broke out between Gaddafi’s children, who are divided amongst themselves over whether they should remain in Libya or flee the country. The source confirmed that Saif al-Islam, Al-Saadi, Muatassim, and Khamis Gaddafi support their father’s plan to quell the popular uprising against them by any and all military means at his disposal, whilst his other sons Muhammad and Hannibal, and his daughter Aisha, oppose this plan.
In a reference to the escalating conflict between the Gaddafi regime and the popular resistance against him, an official close Colonel Gaddafi and his family told Asharq Al-Awsat that the fighting will decide which side will emerge victorious from this battle, the Libyan regime or the rebels.
He added “in the past they claimed that we would flee to Venezuela, and yesterday they said Nicaragua, but the only place we are going is Libya, and are only plan of escape is to stay [in Libya].”
Whilst an official in the rebel Libyan National Transitional Council told Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is true that there is no comparison between our weaponry and the weapons possessed by Gaddafi’s army, but we have the force of will. We are determined to remove him from power whatever the consequences.”
Gaddafi’s forces continue to pressure the rebel forces in the strategically important cities of Zawiya and Misurata, attempting to prevent them moving towards Tripoli.
Gaddafi is utilizing the Libyan air force to bombard the rebels and prevent them from advancing, whilst it has been revealed that the Libyan opposition forces are attempting to obtain anti-aircraft weaponry and heavy artillery to counteract this.
Sources close to the Libyan National Transitional Council, which is headed by former Libyan Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil, have said that military officials in this rebel organization have called on the opposition forces not to advance on Sirte. The Libyan rebel forces are being led by General Abdel Fattah Younes, who is the former Libyan Interior Minister and head of Special Forces, and he has called on the rebels to wait for the Libyan National Transitional Council to obtain military jeeps and heavy weaponry to utilize against the military forces loyal to Gaddafi before advancing on Sirte.
The source also revealed that the Libyan National Transitional Council has called on the rebels to change their military tactics and use guerilla tactics to surprise and ambush the better armed Gaddafi forces.
According to sources in the city of Misurata, the Gaddafi forces were – as of Monday night – planning a new attack against the rebel-controlled city. The source also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Gaddafi forces had amassed a tank division around the city of Misurata, in preparation for an attempt to take back the coastal city.
Reports indicate that Gaddafi forces have carried out multiple airstrikes on the eastern oil port of Ras Lanuf which is in the hands of the Libyan opposition forces. Whilst in the west, the rebel-controlled city of Zawiya, which lies only 50 km from Tripoli, has come under fierce attack from Gaddafi forces. There have been unconfirmed claims that the government has re-taken this city, and that government forces – utilizing tank divisions – have destroyed a number of buildings, including hospitals.
A Libyan activist also showed Asharq Al-Awsat video footage of a group of mercenaries disembarking from a Libyan Airlines plane in the south-western Libyan city of Ubari.