In what is perhaps another sign that officials in Libya’s government are seeking an end to the crisis in their country, deputy foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi flew to Greece on Sunday. According to the Guardian, while his visit is surely significant, its purpose is yet unclear: “He was in Athens trying to bring new proposals for a ceasefire, or over the terms of the possible departure of Gaddafi.” In addition, a diplomat with “close ties to the Libyan government” says that Col. Muammar el-Gaddafi’s son Seif el-Islam is proposing a peace plan that would involve his father relinquishing power with an eventual transition to a constitutional democracy, under Seif el-Islam’s direction.
Deputy foreign minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi had accompanied Moussa Koussa, the former Libyan foreign minister, to the Tunisian town of Djerba last Wednesday but returned to Tripoli. Koussa went on to London where he defected and where he is currently talking to authorities. The Guardian reports that it is unclear if Obeidi’s visit is official or if he has come to Athens to deliver a message about a new Libyan peace initiative. Obeidi is a former prime minister in Libya. He negotiated the controversial release of the Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbasset al-Megrahi, in 2009.
Seif el-Islam’s proposal is said to be an attempt to move out of the current impasse between Gaddafi’s regime, which is based in Tripoli, and the rebel opposition movement, which is centered in the eastern city of Benghazi. Says the New York Times:
Despite the evidence of deep internal discontent, Colonel Qaddafi appears to believe that rebellion against him is a foreign conspiracy of Islamist radicals and oil-hungry Western powers attempting to take over Libya, the diplomat said. And the rebels, who have set up their own provisional government, continue to insist on the exit from power of Colonel Qaddafi and his sons.
“This is the beginning position of the opposition, and this is the beginning position of the Libyan government,” this diplomat said. “But the bargaining has yet to commence.”
The diplomat’s account could not be confirmed and Libyan officials have declined to comment on any talks. Speculation has swirled about a possible proposal from the Qaddafi camp since Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi’s top aide, Mohamed Ismail, traveled to London for undisclosed talks with the British several days ago. The diplomat’s account is the first insight into the content of those talks and the latest sign that the Qaddafi government may be feeling the pressure from two weeks of allied airstrikes that have severely diminished the advantage in equipment of the Qaddafi militias.
The New York Times reports that Seif el-Islam has been making public proposals for years to transform Libya into a constitutional democracy, stating that “his father was a historically unique figure and that Libya’s next leader should be elected to serve for a limited time under a legal system spelled out in a constitution.” However, during the uprising, Seif el-Islam’s position has been aligned with that of his father’s, calling for “swift retribution” against the rebels and accusing foreign terrorists of infiltrating the rebels to bring down the Libyan government. He has publicly stated that his family will “live and die in Libya,” though he is seen, says the Guardian, as “more pragmatic than his father.”
MSNBC reports that a Turkish hospital ship with 250 Libyans seriously wounded in the fighting left the Misurata port on Friday. Turkish doctors are operating on them aboard the ship; evacuees report that it is “very bad” in Misurata, which lacks water, electricity and medicine.
“When Gadhafi’s men hear the NATO planes they hide in houses and mosques. When the planes are gone they destroy them,” said Mustafa Suleiman, a 30-year-old computer engineer.
“Even the big supermarket was destroyed. Some of my friends were killed. We have no vegetables, no fruit, only bread. Gahdafi wants to kill Misrata by fighting and starvation,” Suleiman said.
Here is a video of the ship arriving in the port city of Benghazi, where it is to pick up more wounded Libyans.
Perhaps the beginning of an end to the uprising in Libya is near?
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Photo of Libyan rebels preparing an anti-aircraft gun at a position outside Ajdabiya, eastern Libya, on March 3, 2011 by شبكة برق | B.R.Q.
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