Col. Moammar Qaddafi had eight children. His first-born, with his first wife, is 41-year-old Mohammed, who is in exile in Algeria with Mrs. Qaddafi, along with fourth-born son Hannibal, 36, and fifth-born daughter Ayesha, 35. These three are considered non-combatants and were not members of the government. Seventh-born Saif al-Arab, 29, a military commander, died in April and eighth-born Khamis, 28, head of the elite Khamis Brigade, was reported to have died in August, but the Qaddafi regime denied it.
That leaves second-born Saif al-Islam, 39, the regime’s and his father’s spokesperson to the West, third-born Al-Saadi, 38, professional soccer player, and sixth-born Al-Mu’tasim’Billah, 34, Lieutenant Colonel in the Libyan Army.
On Sunday, Niger Justice Minister Amadou Morou told reporters the following: “I wish to announce that one of Qaddafi’s sons – al-Saadi Qaddafi – was intercepted in the north of Niger by a patrol of the Nigerien military.” He went on to explain that al-Saadi had not been granted refugee status. In the past week, several convoys have crossed from Libya into Niger, allegedly carrying top officials from the Qaddafi regime (those that hadn’t defected in the past six months.) Among those who are in Niger are the chief of security and the head of the southern military command.
Niger has received numerous requests from foreign governments to hold the Qaddafi troops and turn them over to the new government in Libya and/or the International Criminal Court, where warrants exist. The United States has specifically asked the Nigerien government to seize any state property, such as money or jewels, the convoys may have contained to return it to the Libyans.
On Sunday, the National Transitional Council’s forces captured Abu Zayd Dourda, Qaddafi’s head of external intelligence and a former prime minister. After a week of negotiations, the NTC forces finally attacked the pro-Qaddafi town of Bani Walid, southeast of Tripoli. It is one of three communities holding out against the Council’s authority, along with his tribal city of Sirte on the Mediterranean east of Tripoli and birthplace of Sabha, in the desert south of Sirte. The Council has tried to arrange a peaceful surrender of these communities to avoid the shedding of any more Libyan blood, but the communities are determined to hold out.
The Council forces held the northern side of Bani Walid by Sunday night. Abdullah Kenshil, who negotiated with the Qaddafi forces, told reporters, “For them, it is a matter of life or death. They don’t care if residents are killed in the middle.” Kenshil also said that two tribal leaders who had been negotiating for the town’s surrender were killed by the Qaddafi loyalists. Kenshil also said that “the door for peace is still open.”
The deadline for Sirte’s surrender has passed and Council forces are advancing on the city from the east and west. The assault will be led by the troops coming from the eastern town of Harawa because they are members of the same tribe who come from Sirte. Commander Mustafa al-Rubaie said “I think it will not be a 100 percent peaceful takeover of Sirte. There will be pockets of loyalists. In general, the people of Sirte are all armed with light weapons, even youngsters. We know that they are not going to give up easily. For them, it will be a matter of life or death.”
In Tripoli, the NTC is in full bureaucratic mode. Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril said they have received $800 million in frozen Qaddafi assets and are expecting another $500 million shortly. They are paying bureaucrats’s salaries and will be giving unspecified bonuses in pay packets in the near future. One oil field in the east is in full production again and exports should resume soon. During the war, the NTC had kept the pipeline from eastern desert oil fields open, but had no one to sell the oil to. Kuwait agreed to purchase some of it a couple of months ago. In Benghazi in the past six months, the NTC has proven itself to be very capable of the daily mechanics of governance from security to traffic control to providing utilities, and they did it while the city was being flooded with refugees from the coastal battlefields and volunteers for the rebellion. With the Qaddafi assets that were frozen by foreign governments, they should be able to begin the process of rebuilding damaged towns and villages along the coast and restoring services in Misrata, which had its water and electricity cut by Qaddafi’s forces during the five-month siege of that city.
There has been one large problem so far, besides the three hold-out towns, and that is the treatment of foreigners. There were hundreds of thousands of foreign workers in Libya when the rebellion began and most escaped, but there were some who remained and others who were trapped at the borders because they had no identity papers either from Libya or their homelands. Qaddafi hired mercenaries from the south, especially Chad, and any dark-skinned man is being suspected of being a mercenary. There have been arrests and harassment and most Libyans who had immigrated from the sub-Saharan countries are living in fear. There is also a residual resentment toward any foreigner in Libya, because of Qaddafi’s policy of hiring foreigners over native Libyans for so many jobs. It is a very common practice across the region, hiring foreign workers at very comfortable salaries, housing them well and leaving the natives in abject poverty. This practice is part of the reason behind the Arab Spring – the desire of people to have jobs that pay decent salaries in their own countries. Too many of them, unable to get work even with good educations, in their homelands is the primary reason for the high level of immigration to Europe from the Middle East.
Jibil has been very honest with the Libyan people, telling them that there is a long way to go in rebuilding their country and establishing a new government. He seems to know that the first thing the Council must do is restore normalcy – power, water, normal police protection, getting businesses reopened and stocked, assuring the flow of food and supplies to people – so that the work of writing a constitution and holding elections can proceed with relative peace. Jibril also appears to have learned from the mistakes in Egypt, at least so far. By communicating openly and honestly with the Libyans, he might avoid the protests and disruptions that are plaguing the Egyptian military rulers, who can’t seem to understand that in the absence of real information, rumors and lies take hold.