Gaddafi threatens ‘everything will burn’

Al Jazeera reports:

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has vowed to fight on and die a “martyr”, calling on his supporters to take back the streets from protesters demanding his ouster, shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech on state TV.

Gaddafi, clad in brown robes and turban, spoke on Tuesday from a podium set up in the entrance of a bombed-out building that appeared to be his Tripoli residence hit by US air raids in the 1980s and left unrepaired as a monument of defiance.

“I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents … I will die as a martyr at the end,” he said.

“I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired … when I do, everything will burn.”

He called on supporters to take to the streets to attack protesters. “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.”

“From tonight to tomorrow, all the young men should form local committees for popular security,” he said, telling them to wear a green armband to identify themselves. “The Libyan people and the popular revolution will control Libya.”

Ben Wedeman, the first Western television correspondent to enter and report from Libya during the current crisis, describes what he saw.

“Your passports please,” said the young man in civilian clothing toting an AK-47 at the Libyan border.

“For what?” responded our driver, Saleh, a burly, bearded man who had picked us up just moments before. “There is no government. What is the point?” He pulled away with a dismissive laugh.

On the Libyan side, there were no officials, no passport control, no customs.

I’ve seen this before. In Afghanistan after the route of the Taliban, in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. Government authority suddenly evaporates. It’s exhilarating on one level; its whiff of chaos disconcerting on another.

The scene on the Libyan side of the border was jarring. Men – and teenage boys – with clubs, pistols and machine guns were trying to establish a modicum of order.

Hundreds of Egyptian workers were trying to get out, their meager possessions – bags, blankets, odds and ends – piled high on top of minibuses.

Egyptian border officials told us that 15,000 people had crossed from Libya on Monday alone.

“Welcome to free Libya,” said one of the armed young men now controlling the border.

“Free Libya” was surprisingly normal, once we got out of the border area. We stopped for petrol – there were no lines – and saw some stores were open. The electricity was working. The cell phone system is still functioning, though you can’t call abroad. The internet, however, has been down for days.

On the other hand, we did see regular groups of more armed young men in civilian clothing, stopping cars, checking IDs, asking questions. All were surprised, but happy, to see the first television news crew to cross into Libya since the uprising began February 15.

They were polite, if a tad giddy. Having thrown off the yoke of Moammar Gadhafi’s 42-year rule (longer than most Libyans have been alive), it’s understandable.

Lisa Goldman in Tel Aviv spoke to “Ali,” a friend who lives in Sarraj, a suburb of Tripoli that is located 10 kilometers west of the city’s center.

Ali and his neighbors take turns patrolling the neighborhood around the clock, to protect it from roaming mercenary soldiers; but otherwise they stay at home. Since Qaddafi’s regime enforced a strict ban on civilians owning firearms, they are using makeshift weapons to protect themselves. Ali said he is armed with a crowbar. The mercenaries, Ali said, are everywhere. They come mostly from Chad and Darfur.

Q: What is the situation with the army? Are Libyan soldiers attacking demonstrators, helping or staying neutral? Do you know if soldiers are defecting to the opposition? If yes, are they doing so in significant numbers?

A: The Libyan army is one of the poorest and most neglected security sector in the government. They are poorly fed , equipped, trained and paid. They are mostly ceremonial and Qaddafi does not trust them. So what we have here are private battalions with each of his sons owning the one named for him. So for example his son Khamees has a battalion belonging to him calling it “Kateebit Khamees.” Each is placed in private super huge barracks situated strategically around Tripoli for situations like these. These battalions are well-equipped, trained and paid and are extremely loyal not to the country but to the leader of their battalion.
So to answer your question the regular army is non-compliant and has mostly sided with the people. Remember they are poorly-equipped and so can be of only limited help. However, the battalions belonging to the regime itself are very much in the fight and are killing people wholesale. Still their numbers are not so great to cover this huge country so it seems they are complemented by mercenaries.

Abdelrazeg El-Murtadi Suleiman Gouider, the Libyan UN Mission’s legal adviser speaking to Nizar Abboud:

Libyan UN deputy ambassador speaks to AJE:

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5 thoughts on “Gaddafi threatens ‘everything will burn’

  1. Vince J.

    Once more Pepe Escobar at Asian Times has a great article.

    “‘Brother’ Gaddafi, you’re going down
    By Pepe Escobar”

  2. Christopher Hoare

    Libyans have long been used to extreme violence from their governments. When I was there during the 1967 war, Libya had more unrest than the countries actually fighting. The Libyan fellow I worked with daily came back from time off just after the fighting stopped. He reported a mob from the west of Tripoli attempting to attack the oilmen’s suburb, also on the west, who were machinegunned by the armed forces and dispersed.

    If Cyrenaica is declared Free Libya it likely means that the Sennusis are rising up. The old king, Idris, was a Sennusi and Qaddafi repressed them for 40 years. Enough hatred there to fuel a civil war. The Sennusis were Britain’s allies during WWII in N. Africa and were horse and camel cavalry that operated deeper into the desert than all regular troops but the Long Range Desert Group.

    I wish my Libyan friends well, but it’s been 45 years, so it’s likely their kids who are bearing the brunt of Qaddafi’s insanity. (As I recall, the glottal sound at the beginning of Arabic words in not properly pronounced as ‘G’, but it’s easier on western vocal chords.)

  3. Norman

    Watching AlJazerra English live has shown defections of the Government missions in various countries, as also the Libyan propaganda machine. The Military chief has resigned, but the Genocide seems to be taking place at this time now. Outside Mercenaries from different African countries seem to be the ones killing the Libyans. We can only wait and watch the action. If anything seems clear, it’s that with Gaddafi and his sons plan to go down fighting. It’s just a matter of time before either someone kills Gaddafi and Family, as far as which ever ones are still in country, or they do it themselves. What a mess.

  4. scott

    Chris, It’s Khaw as opposed to Kh which are different sounds, at least to my wife’s ears, it’s too subtle for me to catch unless in slo-mo.

    I am generally very reluctant to advocate violence; but would you support bombing Ghadaffi’s location, killing aides, guards and servants? From the brown turban video, it looks like he’s underground, in some bunker.

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