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Dr El-Kikhia discusses the fight for Libya's -

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ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Here is a story about the unfolding events in Libya and the battle for
control of the capital Tripoli.

Joining us live from San Antonio in Texas is Dr Mansour El-Kikhia.

He fled Libya 30 years ago and is now a respected commentator and academic in the US.

He's the chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Texas and is the
author of Libya's Gaddafi.

Since the uprising began in February, Dr Mansour El-Kikhia has been in regular contact with the
transitional council in Libya.

Dr Mansour El-Kikhia, many thanks for joining Lateline tonight.


ALI MOORE: Both sides of this conflict now claim to control most of Tripoli. As we just said,
during regular contact with the National Transitional Council, what's your understanding of what
appears from this distance to be quite a confused picture?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: Well, you know, the - Mr Gaddafi can claim what he wants to claim. The matter of
the fact is three days ago they were outside - the rebels were outside Tripoli; now they're in the
centre of Tripoli. They control all of eastern Tripoli and they're trying to wrestle the western
Tripoli from the hands of the regime.

And so it's - he's losing every single day. It's not a - the facts on the ground show that. And so
he can claim anything he wants to claim. It will be over in less than a week. And that's it.

ALI MOORE: You say it'll be over in less than a week. From what you know of Gaddafi, do you believe
he still is in Tripoli? Will he fight to the bitter end? Will he in the end seek to flee?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: Well, this is what he claims, but we never really understood why Mr Gaddafi does
what he does. He claimed that he's going to fight until the end. I doubt it. I think he'll find a
way to escape. I don't know how, but he'll try to find a way.

And my personal feeling, I hope he's caught. I think he needs to account for the horrible things he
has done to Libya the last 40 years.

ALI MOORE: Well, as you say, and that is the broad expectation, that the end is nigh. You wrote
recently that removing Gaddafi will be the easy part in all this. With no effective or viable
institutional governing structure remaining in Libya, how big a challenge lies ahead for the

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: It really is. It's a very, very big challenge because Mr Gaddafi has not only
destroyed vestiges of any institutional system, but he also did his best to undermine change, the
popular perception of government.

And so you have a large number of people who are weary of government, a large number of people
don't trust government anymore, who are really shell-shocked in a way. And trying to create a new
government out of that will not be an easy matter. I mean, the euphoria is there. They're happy
that they're free.

But, you know, how do you keep this freedom? How do you ensure this freedom's going to last for
indefinitely? And how do you create a system that is just to everyone? All of these questions are
being faced by the decisions of the council.

And the council itself really is still a bunch of amateurs - that's the truth. They're learning
every single day. But they're trying their best, they're trying their darndest and they will make
it - I hope they'll make it. I mean, we cannot be anything but optimistic.

ALI MOORE: I want to ask you about the council in a minute, but I guess the other question is: how
do they remain united? Very united they've been in the objective of getting rid of Gaddafi. Can
they also be united in government?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: You know, you ask very good questions. Both questions are excellent. You know,
it is very difficult to unite a group of people who have not been united for a long time. Forty
years is a long, long time.

But I think, you know, in the misery that Gaddafi created, there's a sense of urgency that they
need to be united. At this stage, they need to be united to remove Gaddafi first of all, and then
once Gaddafi is removed, they can argue all they want to argue about what type of system they
really want.

And so there's this feeling. I've talked to them, I've seen them, I've seen them joining the
council from various cities and I've heard them talk, so it's a realisation that they really need
to be united at this stage.

ALI MOORE: It's the Transitional National Council, as we say, that now has this role of rebuilding.
Who's on the council? How were they chosen? Why are they there? And indeed, is there a clear leader
of that council, because no really clear leader has emerged in the last six months among the
rebels, so who will now be at the forefront?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: Well, here's the true honest truth: the council is made up of individuals who
never held political positions in - well, in the Gaddafi's regime, except perhaps the leader of the
council Mustafa Jalil. He was the Foreign - he was the Justice minister, and then he resigned
because of the injustice that Gaddafi's regime created and he was put in prison for that.

Now, the rest of them, really the majority of them were part of Saif Gaddafi's new system.

Saif wanted to change his father's system, but he could not do it because his father didn't want to
change the system on the one hand and because the individual that his father created over the last
40 years also opposed Saif.

And so you had the current prime minister, for example - I forgot his name now, anyway. The current
prime minister, he headed Saif Gaddafi's New Libya Foundation. The - his deputy, the same thing.

Now, what happened after the coup started, after the revolution started, a group of them got
together and said, "We have got to do something about this issue. We can't leave the country
headless," and so they decided to appoint themselves as heads of that, and they were supported by a
group of individuals who actually lived outside Libya in the United States, in Qatar and other
countries, and they came together to establish the council.

And they realised this: they realised they don't have any legitimacy. And this is why the first
thing they propose to do, right now within the next six or seven months is to create a system
whereby a new group will be elected to take over from them and run the country until full elections
are held.

ALI MOORE: Of course though as you said yourself, this is not a country which has any sort of
infrastructure, governmental infrastructure and indeed is not familiar. I mean, half - more than
half of the population only knows rule under Gaddafi.

How then do you create - I mean, not just I suppose create the systems, but get the vision? Is
there, on this council, a very clear idea of what a post-Gaddafi country looks like?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: I think there is. I think there is. There's really a very good vision. But the
other factor which - just to confirm what you're saying: the majority of Libyans who actually rose
against Mr Gaddafi were born under Gaddafi's regime and they were fed up of the type of system that
Gaddafi instituted. And hence, not only do they buy into this new vision that the council is now
presenting, but they're dying for it. And so, they understand the alternative.

They cannot continue to exist under a system like Gaddafi's. And this is really good in a way
because what it reinforces - it reinforces the concept of democracy, the concept of secularism,
reinforcing the concept of openness, transparency and unity in a way, because Gaddafi did
everything opposed to all these categories.

ALI MOORE: I guess in the shorter term though there are far more immediate questions. If this
council - if it recognises that it lacks legitimacy, it still faces an enormous problem to try and
ensure stability in the immediate future. Everyone thinks back to what happened in Iraq in 2003
after the American invasion. How prepared is the council to be able prevent history repeating

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: They really are not. They're trying to every single day. They have members
within every community that belong to the council and they're going to those countries with these
members and they're meeting with some success.

But, you know, Tripoli is - comparatively speaking, is the largest city in Libya. It has two
million people, it has - it's Gaddafi's base. Gaddafi brought in a large number of people during
his reign, if I may, and he gave them the Libyan citizenship and inducted them in the Army and they
became his supporters.

Now of course a large number of these people are opposed to any change in Libya because they will
lose the privilege that they've had for over such a long period of time and their position within
Libya becomes more precarious. You're going to see some problems there.

But on the whole you also have a large number of people within Tripoli itself who were abused by
Gaddafi. Gaddafi abused all Libyans and some in Tripoli as well too, and they would like to see a
change take place. And I think the council finds its greatest support among these people who will
ensure that the transition is somewhat smooth and somewhat safe.

ALI MOORE: What role for NATO now? I guess up to this point it has been absolutely essential. As we
heard in a media conference just a short time ago, NATO is very much still involved, its mission is
not over. But to what extent will Libya want to have outside involvement in rebuilding?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: You know, Libya's really indebted to NATO, and this operation perhaps has been
the most successful NATO operation throughout its history. NATO has really saved a large number of
Libyans from massacre.

And even more important what NATO has, which many people really don't know about, is NATO has an
arm, that is a non-military arm, which is really helping rebuild country by providing technical
expertise and NATO has offered to do this.

I was in - with NATO about a month ago in Brussels and I had a chance to talk with a number of NATO
commanders and NATO leaders and they offered to actually to help Libya overcome this difficult
stage in its development by providing technical help, by providing administrative help and Libyans
are really - were taking it up and they're grateful to NATO's help for that.

Now, the military operations are going to continue for maybe a day or two because Gaddafi's arsenal
is a hard nut to crack, but I think NATO will still play a role within the next four or five, six
months in Libya.

ALI MOORE: And how important is it that the transitional council gets access now to the billions of
dollars in frozen Libyan assets around the world?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: I think it's very important. I mean, until Libya starts to pump oil again in
quantities large enough to sustain it, I think they have to get access to Libya's funds. And I
think once Gaddafi is removed and the embargo is lifted on Libya, I think they'll be able to follow
up on getting those funds.

We know that Libya has approximately $150-60 billion of assets in the Western world, in Britain,
France, the United States, Japan and so forth. They also have some close to maybe $15-20 billion in
Africa, South Africa, Angola, Uganda, Sudan - a whole lot of places over there.

And then of course we have the missing funds. We're talking about between $30 and $50 billion
unaccounted for, we don't know where they are. And so the Libyan council at least will have access
to some of those funds early on, which is a necessary ingredient for any change in Libya right now.

ALI MOORE: We talked about the disparate groups, I guess, that have come in to make up this
transitional council, but what about the role of tribes now, as you look ahead into the future?
Gaddafi was very effective at securing tribal loyalty, whether that was because he gave, I guess,
economic privileges or whether it was sheer coercion, but how do Libya's new rulers maintain the
tribes as a united front?

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: See, that's the first thing really I had an argument with them about. I told
them, "Do not let Gaddafi set the agenda for you." Gaddafi wants to set the agenda of a tribe.
Libya has tribes, but it's not a tribal society. And those people who are dying in Tripoli today
and died in Brega and died in the mountains of (inaudible), they did not die in the name of a
tribe, they died in the name of Libya, next to each other - dying in the name of Libya and Libyans.

But we tend to make mountain out of molehills when it comes to tribes. Libya has tribes, but it's
not a tribal society, and many people assume that Libya is going to break up on a tribal basis
really have no idea what Libya is all about.

It's not an Afghanistan, and so we don't have the tribal structure of Afghanistan. We're not Iraq,
we don't have the clans or we don't have the religious divisions that exist in Iraq. Libya is a
relatively homogenous society. Yes, we have tribes.

In the beginning Mr Gaddafi played the game of the tribes and he set up this tribal conference in
Tripoli. You know, I told Mustafa Jalil, "Don't play that game," but he would not listen. And what
happened is that he set up this conference in (inaudible), also a tribal conference from the
eastern province and here he set up for failure because I said to him, "This is a new beginning,
this is a new revolution. What you write now will be the future, so be careful what you write, be
careful what you plan, be careful what you ask for, because now you set the trend for what happen
in the future."

We have - now what has happened unfortunately is that he set into motion this whole tribal issue.
Now, it's not really an important issue, but it has been made into an important issue. I don't
think tomorrow you're going to see a war breaking out between the tribes. This is not so. But I
think more Libyans have been made aware of a dormant issue that has been really dead for 40 years

ALI MOORE: Well, Mansour El-Kikhia, I know that you also have written recently that Libyans will
surprise the world with their good sense. Many, many thanks for talking to us this evening.

MANSOUR EL-KIKHIA: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.