Qaddafi invokes Phony Al-Qaeda Threat as he Massacres Protesters

Muammar Qaddafi continued to be little more on Thursday than the mayor of Tripoli, but he bared his fangs with murderous attacks on protesters in the vicinity of the capital..

And, note to Col. Qaddafi: Al-Qaeda is not a mass movement and cannot put people in the streets. Think about it. Al-Qaeda has a handful of mad bombers, who try to blow things up. Big crowds in the streets– not an al-Qaeda M.O. Qaddafi tried to blame al-Qaeda for the unrest on Wednesday and Thursday. It is such a blast from the past. The Bush administration also tried to manipulate the public with constant fearmongering about al-Qaeda taking over the world, and fraudulently used the fringe group to justify its Iraq War.

Attempts by Qaddafi’s military and paramilitary forces to retake the major city of Misurata (or Misrata) about 100 km east of Tripoli failed miserably. Oppositionists defeated Qaddafi loyalists at the city’s airport and in its outskirts, and by late Thursday had declared the country’s third-largest city firmly in the hands of the rebels. The latter set up citizens councils.

Libya Cities by Loyalty

Courtesy BBC: Libya Cities by Loyalty (Modified)

Qaddafi’s forces also appear to have lost control of Zuara in the far west near Tunisia

On the other hand, Qaddafi security forces viciously repressed dissidents in the city of Zawiya (pop. 150,000) , 40 km southwest of Tripoli. It is Libya’s fourth-largest city. There are reports of an army attack on protesters who had taken refuge in a mosque, in which machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades were deployed. Some said 20 persons were shot down, and hundreds wounded. Eyewitnesses spoke of it as a ghost town. Qaddafi added insult to injury by broadcasting a bizarre message to the people of Zawiya insisting that young people there were only in rebellion because they had been given “hallucination pills,” and that al-Qaeda was behind the disturbances. There is no sign that Muslim extremism is playing any role at all in Libya’s liberation movement, though some cities, such as Dirne in the West, are known for the piety of their residents.

Qaddafi loyalists also still control Surt (Sirte) to the east of Misurata, a city of 128,000 or so, near which Qaddafi was born. Residents of liberated Misurata worry about being the object of a pincer movement by Qaddafi forces in Tripoli and Surt.

Qaddafi’s police and army still seem mostly in control of the capital, Tripoli, itself. Nevertheless, there were calls for masses to come out into the streets after Friday prayers in an attempt to shake the regime.

Aljazeera English has a translation of some of Qaddafi’s bizarre and rambling speech on Thursday.

15 Responses

  1. Gaddafi is following the Bush/Obama playbook. alQaeda justifies everything they do. Makes you wonder, if Gaddafi is a known nutcase, why Bush and O don’t qualify for that category.

  2. Furthermore, check out “Political Ponerology” for some insight and analysis into the psycho-psychology of “leaders.”

  3. Is there any reason why the opposition-controlled east does not simply use their purloined military hardware to make a move on Sirte, and then Tripoli? It seems like that could even up the odds enough for the opposition in those places to wrap this right up.

      • I read a report (can’t remember where now) that the army in the west has been talking to the army in the east, working on getting them to give up or turn so that a full-scale assault isn’t needed.

    • I’m not in any way expert, but I’d be very surprised if the opposition is in any position to be mounting offensive operations at this stage. There is no central leadership — each city is in the hands of a different group. Aside from the defectee military units, most opposition forces are completely untrained an unorganised spontaneously formed militia that would require time to organize for offensive action. Qaddafi still has air assets that can interdict enemy columns moving on Tripoli, and the rebel forces simply have no logistics chain to supply a beseiging army. They probably have no armour or heavy artillery or air defense, and very poor antitank capability. Moreover, they are undoubtedly hoping Qaddafi’s coalition will collapse with no further military intervention, through his supporters seeing the writing on the wall.

      Now if this was to drag out for months, eventually I would expect to see offensive action. But in every revolution, there are always immense difficulties for the rebel side in pulling together forces for the civil war phase. If I were the opposition, I would be furiously consolidating control, getting a national leadership together, organising militia units, getting my local economy working again, and lobbying foreign governments for material and diplomatic support (such as the mooted no-fly zone) for an eventual offensive.

    • Tanks are easy targets and the journey from east to west is long. They are using what heavy machinary they can carry because as soon as they got a hold of the weapon depots in the east on day 3, Gaddafi bombed depots in the west, so they can’t use them.. The pictures and videos of the dead “black mercenaries” give a picture of what they are using.

  4. I was guessing that Qaddafi’s using Al Qa’ida to stir up feelings that protesters are anti-Libyan terrorists, but that he probably believed it too. Particularly as soon as the words left his mouth.

  5. I know that when I want to have a fantastic acid, ecstasy and mushroom trip, I always like to go out and charge into machine gun fire. The tracers are just so beautiful.

  6. COLE: “The Bush administration also tried to manipulate the public with constant fearmongering about al-Qaeda taking over the world, and fraudulently used the fringe group to justify its Iraq War.”

    Just like how the Obama administration fraudulently uses the fringe group to justify its occupation of Afghanistan and its illegal wars against Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, etc…

    It’s also just like how Maliki uses al-Qaeda to justify the Obama administration’s illegal occupation of Iraq.

    “On Thursday, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki urged people not to join the protests for security reasons, and accused the protest organisers of being al-Qaeda insurgents and Saddam Hussein loyalists.”

    link to bbc.co.uk

    “At least 13 people were killed in Iraq on Friday as tens of thousands defied an official curfew to join a nationwide “Day of Rage,” echoing protests that have roiled the Middle East and North Africa since January.”

    “Security forces used tear gas, sound bombs and at times live bullets to disperse the crowds.”

    link to washingtonpost.com

    Good thing that:

    “Defense Secretary Gates told Congress he was “interested” in keeping “an additional presence” in Iraq past 2011.”

    link to militarytimes.com

    “Iraq’s top military commander has said U.S. troops should stay until Iraq’s security forces can defend its borders — which he said could take until 2020.”

    link to navytimes.com

    “A Sadrist lawmaker said that Mr. Biden and the Americans were trying to find “alternatives” to the withdrawal agreement, adding that his party was not open to such reconsiderations. ”

    link to nytimes.com

  7. It sounds as though a much more thorough revolution is occurring in Libya than in Egypt, in that the Egyptian Army owns much of the country’s manufacturing and acted to protect the status quo of cash flowing to generals, while in Libya the fracturing of society and the army has allowed new political-economic structures to begin to form – and they’re in the half of the country with the oil. In the short run, that means the rebel army units may not be capable of offensive action to finish the war, but it also means that those units are acting with the people to govern. Where are the generals?

    • super: I’m not at all convinced we can make that sort of qualitative comparison. In Eqypt, the army (mostly) refrained from violence, and probably brokered the climbdown. In Libya they were ordered to slaughter civilians. The situation is many times more desperate there. In fact those cities that have broken away don’t dare lose now, so thats a good reason for the solidarity.

  8. Prof. Cole,

    Years ago you posted this tune from Cat Stevens w/ beautiful imagery from Iran. Unable to find that particular video across Cyberia, not even in your blog, but, still, hope this version makes do;
    Yusuf Islam – Peace Train – OUTSTANDING!
    link to youtube.com
    OK for a live recording, but there’re better soundtracks in there.

    Best,

    H.

    Amsterdam
    Netherlands

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