On Tuesday, Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi promised â€œTo fight to the last drop of bloodâ€ as clashes intensified between loyalists and rebels in Tripoli. The latter claimed they consolidated their clutch over a chain of cities across half of the country’s 1,000 mile Mediterranean coast. The fiercest fighting happened in Tripoli. Qaddafi-loyal forces drove through the streets shooting at will from the backs of pickup trucks.
As a result, 62 were confirmed dead in the capitol, and 500 people killed elsewhere, mostly in the eastern city of Benghazi, the geographic flashpoint for the uprising.
The Colonel appeared twice on state television, speaking from his Tripoli residence on the grounds of an army barracks. In his address, he said all who challenge the government â€œdeserved to die.â€ He blamed the situation on â€œforeign hands,â€ brainwashing, people distributing pills, and the naivety of youngsters to imitate the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.
Speaking in third-person, his rhetoric showed delusions of grandeur:
â€œMuammar Qaddafi is history, resistance, liberty, glory, revolution…”
Similar situations have swept across the Middle East in recent weeks, toppling autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and challenging those in Yemen, Bahrain and elsewhere.
Born in 1942, Muammar el-Gaddafi has been in power in Libya for forty years. He funded Black September, the terrorist organization who murdered the eleven Israeli athletes during the Munich Summer Olympics in1972.
According to the New York Times he is:
“The financier of an eclectic array of guerrilla groups around the globe, he was responsible, according to Western intelligence, for many of the deadliest terrorist attacks in the mid-80s, including the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270.”
A tricky politician, though, the New York Times says:
“In an about-face to the West, Colonel Gaddafi has re-established diplomatic and economic ties throughout Europe. He has also changed with regard to Israel. The man who once called for pushing the ”Zionists” into the sea advocates the forming of one nation where Jews and Palestinians would live together in peace.”
Colonel Gaddafi founded a pan-African confederation modeled by the European Union. On February 2, 2009, he was named chairman of the African Union. However, in August 2009, the Colonel drew criticism from the American government with his exultant reaction to the release of Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi from prison, the one man convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103. Mr. Megrahi was given a hero’s welcome upon arriving in Libya, and Gaddafi thanked Scottish and British officials for releasing him. The Britons looked dumb to the West.