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Views from Tripoli on French and UK visit
Al Jazeera speaks to Libyans in capital about their thoughts on David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy's visit.
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2011 15:29

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron, the British prime minister, have arrived in Libya to meet the country's new interim leaders, becoming the first Western heads of government to visit Tripoli since Muammar Gaddafi was toppled.

France's finance minister said the visit to the capital was not about landing economic deals but about showing support for the former rebels who deposed Gaddafi.

Al Jazeera's David Poort asked Tripoli residents what they made of Anglo-French intentions.

Seraj Eddin Youssef, 19, technology student

- Why do you think Sarkozy and Cameron decided to play such a prominent role in the fight against Gaddafi?

Apart from the obvious reasons like oil contracts and other economical gain, I also think that both the UK and France realised they missed the boat during the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. That's is why they now claim such a prominent role in Libya.

- Do you think the Libyan revolutionaries would have overcome Gaddafi without international help?

We would've overcome Gaddafi eventually but it would've taken a very long time and lots of bloodshed. I think it was a good decision of them to step in. If they hadn't have done that, I am convinced that Benghazi would’ve been wiped of the map by Gaddafi's forces. So we thank NATO.

- How do you think the new Libyan government should deal with the UK and France in the future?

I am in favour of strong ties with the West. It is clear that Libya needs a lot of economical support. For 42 years Gaddafi has been destroying the country. What I also hope is that the West will help set up a better education system here in Libya. That doesn't necessarily mean that we would lose a piece of our Arab identity. I also favour strong ties with Saudi Arabia and Qatar. And if the Americans want to introduce McDonald's in Libya, that is fine by me.

Abdel Azabi, 32, shop owner

- Why do you think Sarkozy and Cameron decided to play such a prominent role in the fight against Gaddafi?

Personally, I think France and the UK helped themselves by helping Libya. You will see that today will be all about contracts for oil and gas. They might not say it publicly but it will be. It's not that I disagree with that. It’s just the way it is.

- Do you think the Libyan revolutionaries would have overcome Gaddafi without without international help?

Of course not. The NTC fighters did not have the military hardware that was needed to win this war. It was only after NATO started bombing Gaddafi's forces that the tables turned in this conflict. I'm sure the NTC would've fought to the very end, which could've taken a very long time. But Gaddafi would've killed them all. 

- How do you think the new Libyan government should deal with the UK and France in the future?

Hopefully we'll have better relationships with the West than we had under Gaddafi. France and UK are important countries for us economically. We'll need them if we want to rebuild our country. So let them come, Cameron and Sarkozy. God willing, soon we'll see Obama.

Muammar Sadiq, 23, English student at Fatah University (recently renamed Tripoli University)

- Why do you think Sarkozy and Cameron decided to play such a prominent role in the fight against Gaddafi?

Because Gaddafi is a dangerous person, not only for Libya but also for the wider region. Look at the state of our country. It is poor. Gaddafi made it like this. I think that if he stayed as leader of Libya he would've done a lot more damage. He was about to eliminate Benghazi if it wasn't for NATO. So I say thank you England, and thank you France. You are more than welcome here in Tripoli.

- Do you think the Libyan revolutionaries would have overcome Gaddafi without without international help?

I don't think so. Although I see this victory as a Libyan victory, I do not think we could've done it without the support of NATO. Gaddafi had a lot of weapons.

- How do you think the new Libyan government should deal with the UK and France in the future?

Hopefully we can do good business and have also good cultural relations. Libya needs that because Gaddafi destroyed everything. I was born and grew up here in Tripoli and I've seen cities in the West. They are so far ahead of us. Tripoli is nothing. I hope that France and the rest of Europe will help us rebuild Libya.

Hussein Sayed, 51, tour guide from Tripoli

- Why do you think Sarkozy and Cameron decided to play such a prominent role in the fight against Gaddafi?

First, because France and England have a lot of interest in good ties with Libya and second, because Gaddafi was a bad man who didn't respect human rights. He killed many people.

- Do you think the Libyan revolutionaries would have overcome Gaddafi without without international help?

The NTC would've won without NATO but it would've taken a long time and a lot of blood.

- How do you think the new Libyan government should deal with the UK and France in the future?

I don't know what the future will bring. Only God knows. But I hope we quickly rebuild our country and we will forget what is behind us.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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