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Er Gaddafi stadig i Libyen?

En af Gaddafi-regimets sidste højborge, ørkenbyen Bani Walid, har ifølge oprørerne overgivet sig. Gaddafi har muligvis forladt Libyen, men han vil alligevel forsøge at påvirke landets udvikling, mener en libysk politolog
En af Gaddafi-regimets sidste højborge, ørkenbyen Bani Walid, har ifølge oprørerne overgivet sig. Gaddafi har muligvis forladt Libyen, men han vil alligevel forsøge at påvirke landets udvikling, mener en libysk politolog
7. september 2011

ROM – Oprørerne i Libyen meddelte i går, at byen Bani Walid har valgt at overgive sig uden kamp. Bani Walid, som ligger 150 kilometer syd for hovedstaden Tripoli, bebos af Libyens største stamme, Warfalla, som har været loyal med Gaddafi til slut:

»Vi har forklaret stammelederne, at der ikke vil blive nogle hævnaktioner, og at vi udelukkende har til opgave at garantere sikkerheden i byen. Vi forhandlede hele natten (...) og indgik en aftale, da de blev overbevist om, at den frygt, Gaddafis mænd har spredt med rygter om, at vi havde til hensigt at hævne os på lokalbefolkningen, er ubegrundet. Vi ved, at Gaddafis milits stadig er i området, der er navnlig snigskytter på hustagene. Når vi har indtaget byen, fortsætter vi vores march mod den sydlige del af landet,« siger Abdullah Kashill fra Libyens Nationale Overgangsråd (NTC) til Al- al-Jazeera.

Konvojer i ørkenen

Oprørerne rykkede dog ikke tirsdag ind i Bani Walid. Lørdag udløber den frist til at overgive sig frivilligt, som oprørerne har givet indbyggerne i Gaddafis fødeby Sirte.

Muammar Gaddafis talsmand siger til en syrisk tv-kanal, at Libyens detroniserede leder befinder sig et sted i landet, og at han »er i en glimrende helbredstilstand og organiserer forsvaret af Libyen«. Men samtidig verserer der rygter om, at Gaddafi er flygtet til udlandet:

»Køretøjer ladet med guld, euro og dollar har krydset grænsen til Niger via Jufra med hjælp fra tuaregkrigere,« udtaler en repræsentant for NTC til Reuters.

Gaddafi skulle angiveligt være på vej til Burkina Faso, som for to uger siden tilbød ham asyl, men turen gennem ørkenen går via Niger, hvor regeringen har anerkendt NTC og benægter Gaddafis tilstedeværelse.

Ifølge Associated Press ankom chefen for Gaddafis sikkerhedstjeneste i går morges i spidsen for en sværtbevæbnet konvoj til Nigers hovedstad, Niamey, mens andre konvojer var på vej mod hovedstaden fra Agadez i den centrale del af landet. Ifølge Reuters står Frankrig muligvis bag en aftale mellem oprørerne og Gaddafi, men den franske regering nægter at kommentere rygterne. NATO vil heller ikke kommentere forlydenderne om Gaddafis flugt:

»Vores mission går ud på at beskytte civilbefolkningen i Libyen, ikke at opspore eller angribe tusinder af forhenværende regimeledere, lejesoldater, militære befalingsmænd eller internt fordrevne,« siger NATO's militære talsmand, oberst Robert Lavoie.

Overlevelse og hævn

For to uger siden tilbød det centralafrikanske land Burkina Faso Gaddafi politisk asyl, selv om regeringen har anerkendt NTC og ligesom Niger er forpligtet af en aftale med Den Internationale Straffedomstol i Haag, der har udstedt en arrestordre på Gaddafi og hans næstældste søn, Saif al-Islam, som er anklaget for forbrydelser mod menneskeheden.

Begge lande er dog også medlemmer af Den Afrikanske Union, der under et møde i juli opfordrede sine medlemmer til at se stort på arrestordren. Burkina Faso har tidligere modtaget udviklingsstøtte fra Gaddafi-regimet:

»I Burkina Faso var Gaddafi afgørende for det statskup (i 1987, red.), som bragte hans beskytter (Blaise Campaoré, red.) til magten,« siger den libyske politolog Mansour El Kikhia fra University of Texas til Al al-Jazeera.

»Jeg tror ikke, at Gaddafi bliver længe i Burkina Faso, men udviklingen er meget bekymrende for NTC og Libyen.«

Det er navnlig rygterne om, at tuaregkrigere nu er med til at beskytte Gaddafi, der bekymrer Mansour El Kikhia. Tuaregernes oprørsleder, Rhissa Ag Boula, der angiveligt har kæmpet på regimets side under borgerkrigen, er ifølge flere kilder blevet set i den samme konvoj som Gaddafis sikkerhedschef. Gaddafi-regimet menes at have støttet tuaregernes oprør i det nordlige Niger i perioden 2007-09 og efterfølgende at have taget imod landflygtige oprørssoldater:

»Det er ikke noget tilfælde, hvis han er dernede, og han vil forsøge at gøre noget for at forstyrre den politiske og sikkerhedsmæssige situation i Libyen,« siger Mansour El Kikhia og tilføjer:

»Der står en hær, som kan lave ballade, klar til ham. For Gaddafi er det ikke kun et spørgsmål om overlevelse, men også om at tage hævn over de libyere, der har forrådt ham.«

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Near a Libyan Holdout Town, a Waiting Game

By ROD NORDLAND

WISHTATA, Libya — At this village on the highway to the loyalist stronghold of Bani Walid on Tuesday, negotiators from both sides sat down in the small mosque to talk peace, an event broadcast live by Al Jazeera.

Four elders from Bani Walid, one of a handful of holdouts still loyal to Muammar el-Qaddafi , came the 35 miles to the nearest major rebel checkpoint here to explain that 90 percent of their town supported the rebels, but that many believed government propaganda warning that the rebels would rape and pillage when they took over.

Rebel negotiators, seeking to reassure them, borrowed a phone from Al Jazeera to call their prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, who has rarely been in Libya since assuming his post. Over a scratchy cellphone speaker, he reassured the elders that there would be no reprisals, and that civil authorities were waiting nearby to deliver food and to restore water, electric and medical services to the town.

The elders, representing some of the most prominent families there, said they favored ending everything peacefully, but they would have to return to consult with other leaders in Bani Walid.

No sooner had they stepped outside the mosque than rebels began firing sidearms and heavy weapons wildly into the air. One even set off a grenade. They were celebrating news — false, as it turned out — that Surt, another holdout place, had surrendered. Still, the gunplay did not seem calculated to reassure the loyalist negotiators that they would be in safe hands, and they left in a clearly nervous state.

Most of the fighters here are from Bani Walid themselves, forced to flee early in the rebellion when the town stayed pro-Qaddafi. Some were imprisoned and released only on Aug. 21, when Tripoli fell.

Between arrests and fear of arrests, half the population of Bani Walid left, these fighters said, and after the fall of places like Zintan and Misurata, loyalists from those places headed into Bani Walid, on the edge of Libya’s southern desert. Some in Bani Walid say that it is those loyalist outsiders who are the biggest impediment to a peace deal. The town is also dominated by the Warfalla tribe, Libya’s largest, whose members packed the Qaddafi government’s civil and military service.

One of the rebel sympathizers imprisoned in Bani Walid was Muhammed Gnaya, an engineer. He was arrested during peaceful protests in the town on May 28 and locked up at the notorious Abu Salim prison. He said that he and other rebels had been talking to their friends and relatives inside and that surrender was only a matter of time. “People are hungry, there is no food, no water, no gas, no electricity,” Mr. Gnaya said.

“They will hand over their weapons,” said Jamal Abdul Muktalib, a former Libyan foreign ministry employee who fled the town even before the revolution because it was so pro-Qaddafi. He does not buy the theory that 90 percent of the town is pro-rebel — perhaps 50 percent, he said. “But they have seen the power of the freedom fighters, and the power of the NATO airstrikes,” Mr. Muktalib said.

Every conceivable military target in Bani Walid and environs has been destroyed in NATO airstrikes, so much so that strikes against Bani Walid seem to have petered out over the past couple days.

Many of the rebel fighters say they have heard from people inside the town that Colonel Qaddafi’s sons Seif al-Islam and Saadi were there with their entourages until two days ago. They also said they had heard Moussa Ibrahim, the Qaddafi government spokesman, on the local radio broadcasting from Bani Walid.

Rebels found some encouragement from reports, so far unconfirmed, that a major convoy had crossed into Niger, possibly carrying Colonel Qaddafi and his sons. “We want them to go out of our country so things can settle down,” said Hussein el-Magaspi, a civil engineer and a fighter from Benghazi.

The endgame in Bani Walid has attracted an enormous amount of attention, with scores of journalists waiting at the last major checkpoint. The town lies on what some see as a likely escape route if Colonel Qaddafi tried to leave the capital. It is far smaller than Surt, another focal holdout. Surt is an oil port along the main highway linking eastern and western Libya.

Rebels said they suspect that if Bani Walid and its powerful Warfalla families gave up, Surt and other holdouts would quickly follow suit.

Jamal Gorgy, 38, was imprisoned at Abu Salim with three of his brothers, one of whom died there. Now he expects to be among the first cohort of Bani Walid natives and rebels to enter the town — later on Tuesday, he expected.

“If Bani Walid had fallen to us on Feb. 17th,” said Mr. Gorgy, referring to the first day of the uprising against Qaddafi’s rule, “by Feb. 18th Qaddafi would have fallen too.”

When he gets to Bani Walid, Mr. Gorgy said, the first thing he wants to do is not to visit his relatives, but to put up the rebel flag.

That will have to wait, however. After a few hours, the elders from Bani Walid returned — after having been turned away by loyalist fighters from their own community.

“They wouldn’t even listen to them,” said a rebel fighter, Jawad bin Dullah. “They said go back to the rebels.”

“Everything,” Mr. bin Dullah said, “is waiting for the zero hour.”