“Muammar Gaddafi is not the president, he is the leader of the revolution. He has nothing to lose. Revolution means sacrifice until the very end of your life”
“I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents … I will die as a martyr at the end… I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired … when i do, everything will burn.”
Muammar Gaddafi on Libyan State TV 22 February 2011
Libya’s brutal dictator of over 40 years Muammar Gaddafi has cast the die in favor of destroying his country in order to save his regime. In a speech that conjures up visions of Hitler in 1945 a rambling madman blaming external enemies and equating him with the nation while demonizing his own people who have risen up in revolt against him.
The speech was surreal as it was translated with Gaddafi standing in the remains of his home that was bombed by the United States in 1986. Alone at a podium without the usual crowd of adoring sycophants delivered a rambling narcissistic speech that bordered on the absurd while at the same time making credible threats against the protestors and anyone who opposes him which were already being backed up by Mercenaries and pro-Gaddafi thugs using heavy weapons and helicopter gunships. So far at least 300 people have been killed with unconfirmed reports that many more have died in opposing Gaddafi. With the eastern part of the country now in rebel hands with the support of military units it remains to be seen how Gaddafi sends his loyalists and mercenaries against the still fragile control of his opponents.
His speech appeared to be devoid of reality when he stated that “I haven’t even started giving the orders to use bullets” but then said that “any use of force against authority of state will be sentenced to death”
He has promised harsh retribution and made a very pointed reference to the Chinese suppression of the 1990 Tiananmen Square protests promising to “fight to the last drop of blood” stating:
“When Tiananmen Square happened, tanks were sent in to deal with them. It’s not a joke. Do whatever it takes to stay united… People in front of tanks were crushed. The unity of China is more important than those people in Tiananmen Square.”
His remarks about his opponents were even more macabre and almost seemed to be snatched out of the Bizzaro World of delusions and contradictions. Some of those comments are
“They are a group that are sick, taking hallucinatory drugs… They were given drugs, like in Tunisia, are just imitating… We won’t lose victory from these greasy rats and cats…. They should be given a lesson and stop taking drugs. They’re not good for you, for your heart. Don’t destroy the country… Shame on you, you gangsters. Surrender, give up all weapons, or they’ll have massacres, drugged kids with machine guns… tonight and tomorrow, youth, all of you, not those who are rats on drugs–form committees for security.”
Speaking of the protestors he claimed that “They are just imitating Egypt and Tunisia” and that they “want to turn Libya into an Islamic state” even going so far as the say “They are turning Libya into an (Islamic) emirate of Zawahri and Bin Laden, a new Afghanistan.”
His megalomania and narcissism was on display as he spoke of Libya’s newfound prominence in the news “Libya wants glory, Libya wants to be at the pinnacle, at the pinnacle of the world.”
Gaddafi cajoled his supporters into taking action against his opponents in a display of self adulation by speaking of himself in the third person:
“If you love Muammar Gaddafi you will go out and secure Libya’s streets”
“You men and women who love Gaddafi …get out of your homes and fill the streets,” he said. “Leave your homes and attack them in their lairs … Starting tomorrow the cordons will be lifted, go out and fight them.”
“If weapons are not handed over… we will announce the holy march, I will call on millions from one desert to another to cleanse Libya house by house…”
This is a tremendously dangerous situation for the Middle East as well as the world economy. If this escalates into a full blown civil war between Gaddafi’s tribe and its dwindling number of allies and the other Libyan tribes that Gaddafi has previously been able to rely on to secure his power there could be great destruction in Libya. It is believed that many of the larger tribes are now supporting Gaddafi’s overthrow even tribes that are historic rivals in tribal politics. Even more than the military, tribal support is of the utmost importance in the success of any revolt against him.
Libya at one time had WMD and it cannot be ruled out that Gaddafi has not clandestinely acquired some types of chemical agents which could be used against his own people. Additionally Libyan agents loyal to Gaddafi could undertake terrorist attacks on countries that he believes are against him as well as Libyan dissidents abroad. Other anti-Western regimes in the region and the world have much to fear as what happens in Libya could happen in them, the Syrians and Iranians have to be watching this with concern as well as their South American ally Hugo Chavez.
All of this impacts the world in many ways particularly in the oil and natural gas prices but also a direct financial impact in Africa where Libya has supplied funding that supports a number of critical African nations. The east where the protestors have taken control is the home of much of its oil production which oil workers have promised to curtail if Gaddafi continues his attacks on the Libyan people. Robert Baer in Time Magazine http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2052961,00.html reports that Gaddafi has stated that he knows that “he knows he cannot retake Libya with the forces he has. But what he can do is make the rebellious tribes and army officers regret their disloyalty, turning Libya into another Somalia.” He quotes a source that quotes Gaddafi as saying “I have the money and arms to fight for a long time.” Of the measures Baer’s source reports is that “Gaddafi has ordered security services to start sabotaging oil facilities. They will start by blowing up several oil pipelines, cutting off flow to Mediterranean ports.” One can only imagine the chaos that this would sow in the country, the region and in the oil markets.
As the flames of protest and revolution gain intensity throughout the region it is important to realize that things will not go back to what they were. We are facing one of the most dangerous situations with a myriad of possible outcomes many of which will bring about more instability, possible terrorism and maybe a regional war or series of wars. Russian Federation President Dmitry Medvedev commented on the situation saying that “this will mean fires for years and the spread of extremism in the future. We need to look this straight in the eyes.”
In the midst of Gaddafi’s macabre Göttdammerung the flames or protest, revolution and possibly even freedom continue to spread and no one knows what country that they will ignite next. Somehow I do not think that this will remain an isolated Middle Eastern phenomenon but will spread. I believe that many nations where peoples are repressed, poverty stricken or feel alienated from their governments will see such movements with very unpredictable consequences. This is beginning to shape up like the post World War One period of the breakup of empires, the post colonial chaos and the fall of the Iron Curtain coupled with a world-wide economic crisis that has the world teetering on the brink of a financial crisis on the order of the Great Depression all wrapped into one.
My we live in interesting times.