- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Engineers, doctors, professors and lawyers, some with Western degrees and all claiming support for a democratic Libya, make up the opposition that aims to topple Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

France is the only country to have officially recognized the opposition Interim Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people. The Obama administration says it is still examining the group’s objectives, motivation and support.

Abdul Hafidh Ghoga, a human rights lawyer and spokesman for the 31-member council, said he is puzzled by the U.S. position.

“We are not trying to fool anybody. We want a multiparty system in Libya that guarantees civil rights and civil liberties. What is it that is required of us to prove this,” Mr. Ghoga said in a phone interview with The Washington Times.

“Any government that comes to Libya will be more respectable than the Gadhafi regime. Give us a chance to prove that we are legitimate. … You can only do that by taking some action to stop the killing and put an end to this regime,” he added in Arabic through an interpreter.

Libyan soldiers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi's regime pause at the western entrance to Ajdabiya. (Associated Press)
Libyan soldiers loyal to Moammar Gadhafi’s regime pause at the western entrance ... more >

Mohamed Benrasali, a member of the provisional committee in the city of Misurata, described the members of the council as highly educated, moderate and secular.

“We feel that we are close to Europe and close to the U.S. and will be close to a democratic world,” said Mr. Benrasali, an engineer who was educated in Britain.

“We love America to bits,” he added.

White House spokesman Jay Carney last week said the administration has many questions about the provisional government.

“We are still engaged in the process of assessing those groups — the council and other individuals — to find out what their vision is, who they represent, what their ideas are, and where they would take Libya in a post-Gadhafi future,” he told reporters.

Earlier, Mr. Carney dismissed suggestions that the United States arm the rebels.

“I think that it would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya,” he said.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Mahmood Jibril, an envoy from the rebel council, in Paris on Monday but declined to give details on her talks.

Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, Connecticut independent, introduced a Senate resolution this week calling for a no-fly zone over Libya.

Mr. McCain urged President Obama to follow France’s lead and recognize the National Transitional Council.

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