The Times 3/4/2011

  • Source:The Times
  • Title:Call for Western airstrikes to topple Gaddafi by exiled Crown Prince
  • Date & Time:4th of March 2011
  • Author:Michael Binyon

Libya’s exiled Crown Prince broke his silence yesterday about the turmoil gripping his homeland in an attempt to strengthen Western resolve and prevent a massacre of his countrymen by Colonel Gaddafi’s loyalist forces. 

Like his compatriots, Crown Prince Muhammad al-Senussi, the 48-year-old heir to the Libyan throne, is no stranger to fearing for his own safety at the hands of the Gaddafi regime.

Forced into exile in 1988, the Crown Prince lives modestly in North London and is wary of an attack by Colonel Gaddafi’s agents in Britain.

But in an interview with The Times, he called on the West to mount airstrikes on Libya, saying that this was the only thing that could end the Gaddafi regime. He argued that a no-fly zone would be insufficient.

The Crown Prince said that opposition forces in the East were not able to attack Tripoli, and until Colonel Gaddafi was removed there would be more bloodshed and more deaths.“I am in contact every day with my friends and relatives and opposition leaders inside Libya. The first thing they say is that they need airstrikes by Western planes,” he said. “My job is to send a clear message to the world: please stop the killings inside Libya.”

Crown Prince Muhammad, a great-nephew of the former King Idris, fled to London when his family were forced out of Libya. He was named as successor to the throne by his late father, King Idris’s nephew, and for the past 20 years has worked with opposition groups outside Libya to organise demonstrations against Colonel Gaddafi. Giving his first press interview since the uprising began, he told The Times that he had not had direct talks with David Cameron or members of the British Government. Asked whether he believed Mr Cameron was wavering in his calls for a no-fly zone, he said that he understood the Prime Minister’s attitude “but what concerns me is that the killings are going on”. He added: “Any delay in removing Gaddafi means that we will have more blood.”

The Crown Prince was asked if he believed that Western airstrikes should target Colonel Gaddafi himself and his troops. He responded: “I am not a military man. They must decide.” But he suggested opposition leaders in Benghazi were growing desperate because of a lack of food and armaments.

Military sources told him on Wednesday that planes were arriving around the clock, bringing in African mercenaries and unloading arms and vast amounts of cash into Kufra, an airport controlled by government forces.

The cash, he was told, had been earmarked for bribes to win over tribes to support Colonel Gaddafi. He was also told that many of the Africans had been trained in Libya because Colonel Gaddafi did not trust his own forces.