Sunday, July 3, 2011
Gadhafi Arms Women & Supporters to defend regime
Libya can sting Europe like 'swarm of bees': Kadhafi
By Hassen Jouini (AFP) –
TRIPOLI — Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi threatened retaliation against Europe on Friday unless NATO ceases its operations, saying loyalist forces can launch stinging attacks like "locusts and bees."
The embattled leader also urged supporters to retrieve weapons that France supplied to rebels battling his regime, in a speech broadcast by loudspeakers to crowds in Tripoli's emblematic Green Square.
"The Libyan people are capable, one day, of taking the battle to Europe and the Mediterranean" region, Kadhafi said in the message, as thousands of supporters massed in the landmark square in the centre of the capital.
"They could attack your homes, your offices, your families (who) could become legitimate military targets because you have transformed our offices, headquarters, homes and children into military targets which you say are legitimate," Kadhafi said.
"If we decide to do so, we are capable of throwing ourselves on Europe like swarms of locusts or bees.
"So we advise you to back-track before you face a catastrophe," he warned in a speech to mark 100 days of the NATO military campaign against the North African country.
The flamboyant Kadhafi was speaking from a secret location, but his voice boomed across the square, where the authorities were hoping to gather one million regime supporters.
The crowds, waving green flights and carrying portraits of Kadhafi, chanted slogans of allegiance to "God, Kadhafi and Libya," while some fired guns into the air in celebration as the night sky was lit by fireworks.
"March on the jebel (Nafusa) and seize the weapons that the French have supplied. If later you want to pardon them (the rebels), that's up to you," Kadhafi said.
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said on Friday that this week's arms drop was meant only to defend peaceful civilians from Kadhafi's forces and thus fell in line with existing UN resolutions on the conflict.
"Civilians had been attacked by Kadhafi's forces and were in an extremely vulnerable situation and that is why medicine, food and also weapons of self-defence were parachuted," Juppe said France Inter radio.
"It is not a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions" under which France and other allies launched air strikes and imposed embargoes to protect civilians from Kadhafi, he added.
On a visit to Moscow he later told reporters: "We believe that within the frameworks of Resolutions 1970 and 1973 -- and 1970 as a whole -- it is clear that all means are legitimate for protecting peaceful civilians."
The first resolution bans all arms deliveries to Libya -- a move Russia backed -- and the second authorises nations "to take all necessary measures" to help protect civilians against Kadhafi's forces.
Kadhafi vowed that his forces will defeat NATO and called on European leaders to talk to his people "and heads of tribes" to find a solution to the protracted crisis, saying he was ready to help.
"Pull back, you have no chance of defeating this brave (Libyan) people," he told the NATO alliance. "The Libyans will defeat the Crusader NATO forces."
"I advise you to stop your campaign and not to be led by a handful of traitors in Benghazi," he said of the rebels' eastern coastal stronghold.
He also directly addressed Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, "poor" French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron, asking them to "listen to the Libyan people who want peace."
"The people are masters of their own destiny. Discuss with them a solution to the crisis and I will help you," he said.
He promised to pursue "the fight until victory" and again said he will never leave Libya.
"We will never leave our country. We will die for it," he said.
Kadhafi urged loyalists "to liberate inch by inch" Misrata, Libya's third-largest city which is under rebel control and is a significant insurgent enclave in the west of the country.
Meanwhile, an African Union summit on Friday said African nations will not execute an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Kadhafi, saying it "seriously complicates" efforts to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.
The ICC on June 27 issued warrants for Kadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam, and the head of Libyan intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi, for atrocities committed in the bloody uprising.
(TRIPOLI, Libya) — http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2081238,00.html
A defiant Muammar Gaddafi threatened Friday to carry out attacks in Europe against "homes, offices, families," unless NATO halts its campaign of airstrikes against his regime in Libya.
The Libyan leader, sought by the International Criminal Court for a brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters, delivered the warning in a telephone message played to thousands of supporters gathered in the main square of the capital Tripoli.
It was one of the largest pro-government rallies in recent months, signaling that Gaddafi can still muster significant support. A green cloth, several hundred meters long and held aloft by supporters, snaked above the crowd filling Tripoli's Green Square. Green is Libya's national color.
A series of powerful explosions later rattled the heart of the capital, apparently new NATO airstrikes, as Gaddafi supporters cheered, honked horns and fired into the air in the street. Black smoke could be seen rising from the area near Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziya compound.
Gaddafi spoke from an unknown location in a likely sign of concern over his safety. Addressing the West, Gaddafi warned that Libyans might take revenge for NATO bombings.(Scenes from the battle for Libya.)
"These people (the Libyans) are able to one day take this battle ... to Europe, to target your homes, offices, families, which would become legitimate military targets, like you have targeted our homes," he said.
"We can decide to treat you in a similar way," he said of the Europeans. "If we decide to, we are able to move to Europe like locusts, like bees. We advise you to retreat before you are dealt a disaster."
It was not immediately clear whether Gaddafi could make good on such threats.
In the past, Gaddafi supported various militant groups, including the IRA and several Palestinian factions, while Libyan agents were blamed for attacks in Europe, including a Berlin disco bombing in 1986 and the downing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, that killed 270 people, mostly Americans. Libya later acknowledged responsibility for Lockerbie.
In recent years, however, Gaddafi was believed to have severed his ties with extremist groups when he moved to reconcile with Europe and the United States.
Al-Qaida and other jihadi groups have opposed Gaddafi since he cracked down in the late 1990s on the Islamist Libyan Islamic Fighting Group which sought to replace his regime with an Islamic state.
A U.S. State Department spokesman, Mark Toner, said the U.S. would take Gaddafi's threat of attacks seriously, as his regime carried out such actions in the past. Toner said he did not know if there was intelligence to indicate Gaddafi's regime would be able to carry out such attacks.(See photos of Rebels training in Libya.)
"This is an individual who's obviously capable of carrying these kinds of threats, that's what makes him so dangerous, but he's also someone who's given to overblown rhetoric," Toner told a news conference in Washington.
Friday's rally came just four days after the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Seif al-Islam and Libyan intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi for crimes against humanity. International prosecutors allege government troops fired on civilian protesters during anti-Gaddafi street demonstrations earlier this year.
The popular uprising has since turned into a protracted civil war, with anti-government rebels controlling much of eastern Libya and parts of Libya's western mountains. NATO has been bombing government-linked targets since March.
In his speech Friday, Gaddafi denounced the rebels as traitors and blamed them for Libya's troubles.
He said Libyans who fled to neighboring Tunisia are now "working as maids for the Tunisians."
"Tunisians used to work for Libyans. What brought you to this stage? The traitors," he added.
He called on his supporters to march on rebel strongholds, including the western mountain area and the port city of Misrata, both in the otherwise Gaddafi-controlled western Libya. "We must end this battle fast," he said of the attempts to oust him from power, which began with an uprising in mid-February.
Gaddafi's speech signaled that mounting international pressure, including the arrest warrants against him, have made him only more defiant.(See the perilous journey of Libyan refugees.)
His son, Seif al-Islam, who like his father is a wanted man, denied in a TV interview that either of them ordered the killing of civilian protesters in Libya, as prosecutors charge.
The younger Gaddafi told Russian news channel RT in an interview posted online Friday that "most of the people" died when they tried to storm military sites, and that guards fired on them under standing orders to protect the bases and themselves.
However, documents from the International Criminal Court outline multiple instances in which the tribunal prosecutors allege government troops fired on civilian protesters during anti-Gaddafi street demonstrations earlier this year.
The younger Gaddafi had once been viewed as a reformer by the West and was being groomed as a possible successor to his father.
Seif al-Islam wore a thick beard and traditional clothes in the interview. He denounced the international court seeking his arrest as controlled by the NATO countries now bombing Libya.
"This court is a Mickey Mouse court ... For me to be responsible for killing people, it was a big joke," he told the Russian state-funded network.
The Netherlands-based tribunal on Monday issued arrest warrants against the Libyan leader, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Sanoussi.
The three are accused of orchestrating the killing, injuring, arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of civilians during the first 12 days of an uprising to topple Moammar Gaddafi from power, and for trying to cover up their alleged crimes.
Presiding Judge Sanji Monageng of Botswana has said that hundreds of civilians were killed, injured or arrested in the crackdown, and there were "reasonable grounds to believe" that Gaddafi and his son were both responsible for their murder and persecution.
But Seif al-Islam denied that he and his father specifically ordered protesters to be killed.
"Of course not," he said, arguing that government troops fired on protesters out of self-defense.
"Nobody ordered. Nobody. The guards fired. That's it. ... The guards were surprised by the attacking people and they (started) ... firing. They don't need an order to defend themselves," he said.
Seif al-Islam accused Western nations of intervening in Libya because they are after the country's oil and other resources. He said the goal is "to control Libya," and he vowed to fight on.
"Nobody will give up. Nobody will raise the white flag," he said. "We want peace, but if you want to fight, we are not cowards. ... We are going to fight."
AP correspondent Matthew Pennington in Washington contributed to this report.