Libyan Islamists rebuff Gathafi 'courting'
TRIPOLI - The Gadafi regime tried Thursday to split the fractious Libyan opposition by claiming an alliance with Islamists.
After months of Tripoli branding the entire opposition as radical extremists, the veteran leader's son Seif al-Islam told The New York Times of a pact with a key cleric: "The liberals will escape or be killed ... We will do it together."
Seif claimed to have negotiated the pact with Ali Sallabi, a leading Islamic cleric in the rebel-held east.
Sallabi told AFP no pact existed, but he acknowledged that talks had taken place with Seif al-Islam.
"Our dialogue with them is always based on three points: Gathafi and his sons must leave Libya, the capital (Tripoli) must be protected from destruction and the blood of Libyans must be spared. There is no doubt about these constants," he said.
"We support pluralism and justice. Libyans have the right to build a democratic state and political parties."
The Gathafi regime had previously accused the five-month-old revolt of being an Al-Qaeda plot and had sought to portray itself as a bulwark against an Islamist takeover of the oil-rich North African country.
Now, Seif said, the Islamists were "the real force on the ground" and that Western powers would have to come to terms with them.
"I know they are terrorists. They are bloody. They are not nice. But you have to accept them," said Seif al-Islam.
"Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?" he said.
Meanwhile, in the rebel-held east the fallout from the assassination of General Abdel Fatah Yunis continued.
A group of 28 tribes and civil actors met the insurgent government, pressing for a full and transparent investigation into Yunis's death.
The group -- acting as a mediator between the NTC and Yunis's own Obeidi tribe -- included the powerful Wefalla clan and several others.
The outcome of the meeting was not immediately clear.
The facts surrounding the general's death have been opaque, with senior members of the NTC giving incomplete and contradictory accounts of how he died, who killed him and the motive for the murder.