Gaddafi losing grip over country and his mind

March 3, 2011 - 0:0

BREGA/TRIPLOI — A delusional Muammar Gaddafi has insisted that there have been no protests in Benghazi, Derna, or the eastern town of al-Baida and that the Libyan people are free to manage their own affairs.

In a televised public rally in Tripoli on Wednesday, Gaddafi also said that he is not a president and so cannot resign his position and added that the power is in the hands of the people.
He asserted that the uprising started when sleeper cells of terrorists took over weapons and security stations.
Meanwhile, in a fierce day-long battle, rebel forces in the strategic oil town of Brega successfully repelled an attack on Wednesday by government-aligned mercenaries backed by artillery and war planes, witnesses in the town said. At least five were confirmed dead and 16 wounded in the fighting, the witnesses said, citing firsthand reports from the hospital.
The attack seemed to be part of a broader government effort to reassert control over strategic oil assets in the eastern part of the country, which have been seized by rebel forces in recent weeks, The New York Times reported.
The mercenaries attacked at dawn, and quickly took the airport and a university in the town, an oil-exporting terminal on the Libyan coast around 500 miles east of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s stronghold in the capital, Tripoli. Witnesses said they took hostages at the university and used them as human shields.
But despite hours of shelling and repeated airstrikes, the invaders were beaten back by the end of the day, the witnesses said, as rebel reinforcements arrived from the nearby cities of Ajdabiya and Benghazi.
Throughout the day in Ajdabiya, where rebels have taken control of a large ammunition dump, a ragtag collection of rebel fighters armed with assault rifles and the occasional anti-aircraft gun mounted on a pickup truck passed through a green checkpoint on their way to Brega. There was no clear command and control of the forces. Residents of Ajdabiya reported an airstrike in the area, though not in the town.
The town lies on the western approaches to Benghazi, the rebel bastion, where dozens of semi-trained young volunteers similarly stormed out of a military base on Wednesday, clambered onto a truck and said they were heading -- unarmed -- to the front line. Other rebel fighters said they were hoping to load tanks on to transport vehicles to join the battle in Brega.
In addition, opposition fighters successfully repulsed attacks by pro-Gaddafi forces on several others cities: the key city of Zawiya outside the capital; Misrata, Libya’s third largest city east of Tripoli; and Zintan, a town further southwest in the Nafusa mountains, AP reported.
As the International Criminal Court announced it would open an investigation into possible crimes against humanity in Libya’s crackdown on protesters, the country’s leader, Col. Muammar Gaddafi, delivered a rambling and defiant speech lasting more than three hours, in which he renewed accusations that Islamist forces outside Libya were responsible for the uprising.
He challenged the United Nations to send a fact-finding mission to confirm his version of events -- which contradicts what much of the world believes about the latest outbreak of discontent that has toppled the leaders of neighboring Tunisia and Egypt and threatened others in Yemen, Bahrain, and elsewhere.
He called the rebels holding some cities “terrorists” and said loyalist forces would not surrender. “We will fight until the last man, the last woman for Libya, from north, south, east and west,” he said.
Colonel Gaddafi’s defiance seemed to be borne out by a former senior aide, Nouri al-Mismari, his onetime chief of protocol, who said on Wednesday that the Libyan leader was likely to “fight to the end” rather than step down or commit suicide. “Power is very important, and he wants to be in power,” Mr. Mismari told reporters at a press conference in Paris. “He will fight until the end. He will not believe in exile. He will not step down.”
In his speech, Gaddafi said that the world did not understand the Libyan system that puts power in the hands of the people, Al Jazeera reported.
“Muammar Gaddafi is not a president to resign, he does not even have a parliament to dissolve,” Gaddafi said on Wednesday.
“The people are free to choose the authority they see fit,” he said.
“We put our fingers in the eyes of those who doubt that Libya is ruled by anyone other than its people,” he said, referring to his system of “direct democracy” which he outlined in his Green Book political manifesto, launched in 1977.
He said that terrorists released prisoners from jails and included them in their forces.
“These are criminals not political prisoners… there are no political prisoners in Libya… We had to destroy the weapons storages to prevent them from falling into the hands of the terrorists.”
“Sleeper cells from al-Qaeda, its elements, infiltrated gradually… Suddenly it started in al-Baida… The sleeping cell was told to attack the battalion… and it took arms from police stations.
“The soldiers went home and left their battalion” while the al-Qaeda cells “took the weapons and control of the town. It was the same situation in Benghazi.”
Gaddafi said in a previous speech that protesters were brainwashed by Osama bin Laden and had their milk and coffee spiked with hallucinogenic drugs.
“I dare you to find that peaceful protesters were killed. In America, France, and everywhere, if people attacked military stores and tried to steal weapons, they will shoot them,” he said.
However, he also warned that if the United States or other foreign powers entered Libya they would face a bloody war.