March 18, 2011 (KATAKAMI.COM / ABC) — The United States and its allies appear poised to take military action on the heels of a U.N. resolution earlier this evening imposing a no-fly zone over Libya and authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect civilians.
Only hours earlier, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi vowed to show no mercy to protesters, saying he would crush the rebellion with a final assault.
Late Thursday (March 17, 2011), after the U.N. resolution, ABC News’ Christiane Amanpour spoke to Gaddafi’s son Saif, who was in Tripoli. What follows is a transcript of their conversation.
Christiane Amanpour: Gaddafi Saif is joining me from Tripoli. Can you tell me where you are?
Said Gadhafi: I’m in Tripoli right now.
CA: Are you hiding? Are you worried?
SG: Hiding from whom?
CA: Well, as you know, the U.N. has taken a resolution that would potentially involve air strikes against your father’s air defenses andvarious military emplacements.
SG: I think our country and with our people. We are in our country with our people. We are not afraid.
CA: What is your father’s reaction, your reaction to this resolution that’s just been taken?
SG: First of all, it was unfair because, as you know, as you know, from the beginning we told everybody there were no air strikes against civilians. No bombing of civilian districts or demonstrations. And all those reports showed they were false. Number one. Number two. Even if you see last week what happened. The army and Libyan volunteers did fight the armored militia and liberated five Libyan cities from them. Have you seen a single civilian casualty? Even the terrorists or the armed people, they just surrender. So there was no bloodshed.
CA: Let me ask you this. What are you going to do with Benghazi? People in Benghazi are cheering this U.N. resolution because they’re afrraid of your father’s forces.
SG: Listen, this is a big mistake because in Benghazi we have 1.5 million people. If you are listening to 1,000 or 2,000, that’s a different story. But believe me, the people are living in a big mess. The armored militia yesterday killed four young boys. Why? Because they were against him. Everybody is terrified because of the armed militia. They live in terror. Armed people are everywhere. They have their own courts. They execute the people that are against them. No school. No hospital. No money. No banks. You think the people are happy? Of course not. We are receiving on our TV everyday hundreds of calls from Benghazi. Everyday people are crying saying, ‘Please come and liberate us from those terrorists.’ People are not happy there. Are you happy if you’re in a city controlled by gangsters and armed people and armed militia?
CA: Let me ask you this. It’s the Arab League that’s asking for intervention. It’s very unusual. They don’t think that the people of Libya are alright. They think they’re being slaughtered.
SG: First of all, Libya is not Bahrain. Seventeen percent of the population are against the royal family and the other countries are sending tools to oppress them. In Libya, it’s the other way around. The Arabs want to settle accounts with Libya. We know that. By the way. There’s a funny story here in Libya. Everyone is happy with the United States because we heard they are against airstrikes against Libya and is not supporting British and French. People here are angry with the Europeans and for perhaps the first time in modern history, they like the Americans and are happy with America. And that’s why, like today, people said when the army captured the New York Times correspondent in the city of (?) because she entered the city illegally, but when they found out she was American they said it’s OK. You’re good people. We’ll free you. Even here in Libya, people think that Arabs and Europeans betrayed the Libyan people. And they have their own agenda. And they think the Americans have a different agenda. And they have different position toward Libya. The Arabs, in Bahrain they oppress the Bahraini people. And in Libya, no demonstration, that we are Libyan fighting the armored militia and terrorists. They are against us.
CA: Let me ask you something: The four New York Times journalists — are they going to be freed? Where are they right now?
SG: They entered country illegally and the army, when they liberated the city from the terrorists, they found them there and they arrested them there. But I told you, the people and we are very angry with Europeans and the Arabs because they are strong, they have deals, contracts and oil. This time, the Americans are different.
CA: But this time, the Americans have voted for this resolution. Your father told us that the country loves him, that the people love him, but clearly that’s not the case because in so many parts of the country they were rising up against him. Do you think your father deserves now to remain head of Libya after all these killings, after all this fighting?
SG: We said this many times in the past — that we are going to have new competition and new Libya soon. Let me tell you something once and for all. Two days ago, when the armed militia and city surrendered to the army because they are cowards and they escaped, half million people living there, they are happy because they were controlled by the militia for two weeks, the same thing in all the cities, have you seen single civilian casualty? And everybody was happy, everybody is happy, so show me. Go and support al Qaeda and majority want peace and order and they want safety. They want to live in peace. So we want Americans to help us get rid of the remnants of those people and to have a peaceful country, more democratic country, more freedom, but not to threaten us with air strikes. We will not be afraid. Come on! You are not going to help Libya by killing. To kill Libyans, you destroy our country. Nobody is happy with that. If you want to help us help us against terrorists, help us to build the new Libya. More democracy, constitution, more freedom, etc. If you want to help Libyans, you send airplanes to bomb my country? Of course not.
CA: Saif, you said tonight that military operations are over, the U.N. resolution is too late. What do you mean by that?
SG: Now, we did liberate most of the country, city of Tuturk next to the Egyptian border, there is the green flag. It’s a very safe and peaceful city and the people themselves liberated themselves. Liberated themselves. The people did fight, even without the help of the Libyan army. Just I give you two examples the same thing in Benghazi, they fled city they escaped. And my father said tonight, ‘You boys, you lay down your arms and go and we will pardon you.’ And they laid down arms, so most of them have been neutralized. Most of them, except maybe a few of them are still there. Who knows?
CA: Tell me what is going to happen. Are you going to free, release the four New York Times journalists?
SG: As I said, this is not my decision. The people here, I don’t know why they are annoyed with Americans. … People are very angry with Arabs and Europeans, and I heard this is not because of that they will release her and they entered country illegally.
CA: Thank you very much, indeed.
SG: You’re welcome. (*)