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Libya: 'NATO certainly played a huge role'

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Libya: 'NATO certainly played a huge role'


For insight into how the Libyan rebels were able to take Tripoli so swiftly, euronews spoke to Fathi Ben Shatwan, Libya’s Energy Minister until 2006, who joined the rebellion in February.

Lara Chamieh, euronews: “How do you explain the sudden fall of Tripoli only months after the revolution began?

Fathi Ben Shatwan, former Libyan energy minister:

“The entire Libyan people rose in revolt right from the start and the reality is the regime fell symbolically in the first week and lost all legitimacy. But it was the violence of the repression that meant that it lasted so long.

“There were two things. Gaddafi counted on being able to push the rebels back from Tripoli, the centre of his power, so to do that he launched attacks on other towns to distract the rebels.

“The rebels also had a strategy of weakening Gaddafi’s forces before advancing on Tripoli, and in reality that worked well, especially in Misrata and Zawiya where they destroyed a large number of loyalist forces. Once Gaddafi was weakened the National Transitional Council and the rebels were able to draw up a plan to enter the capital.”

Lara Chamieh, euronews: “I’d just like to return to the suddenness of the fall of Tripoli, especially as it’s being put down to NATO’s intervention.”

Fathi Ben Shatwan:

“There are several aspects to Tripoli’s sudden fall. The first is that Gaddafi’s forces were severely weakened. Secondly, his troops are fighting with no values, no cause, and most are happy to defect. The third reason is that NATO certainly played a huge role with its bombardments of Gaddafi’s forces. Most of his losses can be put down to NATO airstrikes.”

Lara Chamieh, euronews: “What now in the post-Gaddafi era? Who will lead Libya? Is there an agreement between the key players and the Libyan tribes as to who will hold power?”

Fathi Ben Shatwan:

“The Libyan revolution will go through three phases; first liberating the country, that’s done. Second the transition between the old and new power structures will be needed. The third will be reconstruction. Now, following phase one, the NTC president Abdel Jalil will come to Tripoli with the Council to work with the military leaders to set up a transitional government and organise legislative elections. We will need a National Council elected by the people that will have the legitimacy to form a new transitional government and a transitional presidential council.”

Lara Chamieh, euronews: “One final question. What will be the West’s influence on Libya’s new government, bearing in mind NATO’s role in the revolution?”

Fathi Ben Shatwan:

“After what’s happened in Libya recently, and having seen the help NATO has given us that certainly saved hundreds of thousands of lives, Arab opinions about the USA, Britain and France have changed a lot. They are our friends, and they are friendly nations. Libya will pursue friendly policies with them and I’m sure we will have excellent relations.”

Every story can be told in many ways: see the perspectives from Euronews journalists in our other language teams.

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