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Net tightening around Gaddafi – Libyan rebel spokesman | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Vice President of the Libyan rebel National Transitional Council [NTC], Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the meeting of the Libya Contact Group last week in Istanbul brought a number of positive results for the Libyan rebels, including 30 countries and 7 international and regional organizations recognizing the NTC as Libya’s legitimate governmental authority.

Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat from the rebel stronghold of Benghazi during a telephone interview, Ghoga stressed that the NTC and the Libyan rebels do not accept any negotiations with Colonel Gaddafi or his regime, as this would see the rebels surrendering the objectives of the 17 February revolution. He added that the diplomatic delegations that Gaddafi sent to a number of countries, including Russia, in an attempt to secure an exit strategy and ensure that he is not subject to prosecution by the International Criminal Court [ICC], is evidence of the Libyan leader’s weak position, and that “the net is tightening around him, and that there are no solutions in front of him.”

Abdul Hafiz Ghoga, who is a Libyan human rights lawyer and one of the most prominent members of the Libyan opposition, also denied that the NTC had any connection to the “Federal for Unity” [FDT] organization, which was not accepted by the public and many politicians.

As for the NATO-led coalition forces role in the Libyan conflict, the NTC Vice President acknowledged that “the NATO forces are playing an important role in bombarding many military sties [under Gaddafi control.” However he also stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that “it is the rebels who are leading the attacks on the battlefield, and this is not in coordination with the coalition forces that are providing them with air cover. However the NATO forces bombardment of military objectives pushes us to move forward and liberate cities, because this creates disharmony within the ranks of the pro-Gaddafi forces.”

Ghoga described the conflict taking place between the Gaddafi forces and the Libyan rebels over the eastern Libyan city of Brega as being “a done deal.” He stressed that the Libyan rebels have completely surrounded Brega, adding that the city is “practically under rebel control.” The NTC Vice President also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the rebels had cut the oil pipeline between the key oil processing hub Brega, and traditional Gaddafi stronghold Sirte. Ghoga also revealed that the rebel’s progress has been slowed by the Gaddafi forces planting mines throughout Brega’s streets, and booby-trapping key infrastructure.

NTC diplomatic chief Mahmoud Jibril, told reporters on Thursday that Gaddafi’s forces had booby-trapped the oil fields around Brega. He described the city as “a big minefield, right now” adding that “we discovered that they [Gaddafi forces] planted mines all over the place. Even some oil establishments, some oil fields, have been fill of bombs, explosives.”

Ghoga stressed to Asharq Al-Awsat that the Libyan rebels are gaining ground in eastern and western Libya every day, and that the Libyan rebel military leadership is planning operations and campaigns to ensure the eventual defeat of the Gaddafi forces.

As for Libyan State television denials that the Libyan rebels have taken control of the strategically important city of Brega, Ghoga told Asharq Al-Awsat that “this is not true, the rebels have surrounded and are in control of the city, and have reached Brega’s industrial center.”