Amid fierce rebel advances in Tripoli and battles against gunmen loyal to the Qaddafi regime, Libyan rebel leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil believes the embattled Muammar Qaddafi’s days are numbered. Mr. Abdul Jalil says the time has come for the Libyan leader to surrender power, while he exclusively reveals to Al Arabiya the rebel operations in the Libyan capital on Sunday night and what the National Transitional Council would do if they were to capture Colonel Qaddafi’s sons.
Q- Tripoli: the ultimate destination for the rebels. What is the latest information you have about the rebel advance and battle with gunmen loyal to Qaddafi?
The rebels are advancing towards the capital Tripoli, the main base location for the Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi and his sons. This operation was planned by the executive office and members of the National Council in Tripoli, alliances of NATO forces and revolt members inside Tripoli and the west mountains. The troops entered Tripoli after Maghrib prayers [the Muslim sunset prayers] and gained control of some of the neighboring areas, while fighting still continues in other cities.
Q- Mr. Abdul Jalil, You are talking about a mission involving several NTC members, how well-equipped are the Libyan rebels to oust Qaddafi forces in Tripoli and Azezzia?
The rebels have two tasks. The first is their military support which is the main one. The second is their help to secure and protect institutions, buildings, hotels, and diesel stations, keeping them in a good shape.
Q- Mr. Abdul Jalil, what are your expectations in the coming hours, in regards to the rebel advancement in Tripoli?
Everything is under God’s will, we just have to do our part and deliver on our plans. We have set a coherent plan with our alliances and have to deliver, strengthened by the support of the rebels and our people in Tripoli. There are also rebel forces coming from the mountains and more forces from Misrata, the south and from Bani Walid [a city in Libya, in the Misrata District]. We hope that these three forces will tighten and close in the blockade on Qaddafi and his regime.
Q- Mr. Abdul Jalil, you mentioned earlier that rebels will be responsible to protect government belongings, what do you mean by that? Can you please clarify this point and what are your fears?
We certainly know Qaddafi’s attitude and manners. He doesn’t care about Libya or its people. He can make insane decisions in his last moments and we have to be fully prepared for such scenarios. He can burn down Tripoli, or even gas his own people. We are prepared for such scenarios.
Q- In case the rebels capture Qaddafi’s sons during their advances, how will the National Transitional Council deal with them?
We will be dealing with them like any other prisoners - according to international conventions, and we will give them a fair trial, much like former Presidents who are now being tried in civil courts.
Q- Mr. Abdul Jalil, do you have any fears over more resistance battles in Tripoli, like what previously happened in other parts of Libya, for example in Zawiyah?
We have to expect anything, but God will help us because we are on the right track and Muammar Qaddafi is wrong. And God will be with the righteous side sooner or later.
Q- Do you believe that Qaddafi’s hours in power are numbered?
God only knows, but current incidents and happenings are showing his time in power may end soon.
Q- Do you receive support from NATO?
All our operations are supervised by our alliances and rebels in the eastern part and in Misrata. Guns and other equipment have been delivered to us in an easy way since February 20 [since the Libyan uprising began].
Q- Mr. Abdul Jalil, What about the weapons that have been used by Qaddafi-loyal forces, especially gas, do you fear for the safety of the rebels?
We do not fear gas because it has limited effect, but we fear car bombs and the bombing of government institutions, banks, diesel stations; inhumane attacks which could lead to civilian casualties.
Q- What is the message that you would like to deliver to the rebels and even to Qaddafi government?
First, we are all Libyan and we care about the wellbeing of the society. We want to see Libyan oil wealth and growth to support the economic development of this country. But I say to Muammar Qaddafi: the time has come for him to surrender.