Monday, February 21, 2011

Sinister speech by Saif Gadaffi threatens brutal endgame

I had fully intended to go to bed early last night. Listening to the brutal ramblings of a deluded despot's son. Yet at 11pm, which would have been 1am in Tripoli, I found myself transfixed by the 40 minute speech, containing some not very veiled threats, by Saif Gadaffi, son of the Libyan dictator.

I found it quite chilling. He dismissed the brutality of the Police and Army firing live ammunition at protesters as mistakes by untrained officers. Yeah, sure, it's an easy mistake to make. He said that the evil foreign media was exaggerating what was going on and that there had only been 84 casualties. I'm sure anyone looking out of their windows in Benghazi would know different.

Gadaffi Junior looked as if he knew fine he was lying as he kept rambling on about how Libya was not Tunisia or Egypt. His desperate arguments included:

  • the protests were being run by a few drug addicts and drunkards
  • that the country would be divided and you'd need a visa to get from Benghazi to Tripoli - it would be like North and South Korea
  • that a conversation with our foreign secretary William Hague had led him to believe Libya was vulnerable to foreign occupation. You kind of wonder if Saif's dad's mate Tony Blair's illegal invasion of Iraq gives that statement some false credibility.
The sinister bit, though, was his threat that he and Daddy would fight till the last man, woman or child was standing. This vile bunch are not going to give up power easily and despite being brought in from the cold in recent years, they aren't so bothered about upsetting the international community.

I feel for those brave Libyans out on the streets in Tripoli, Benghazi and other cities. They must know that if they continue, they risk a brutal onslaught from Gadaffi, but if they stop, they'll be rounded up and made an example of.  So far they seem to have responded to Gadaffi Jr's rant on state tv by ransacking the HQ of said state tv. Forty years of pent up anger and resentment at a regime that's kept them repressed and in poverty. 

It's all incredibly worrying. I hope that the Libyan people can rid themselves of this vile regime without it turning into a bloodbath. The BBC are reporting that the cities in the east, pretty much under opposition control this morning, are pretty peaceful now, but the violence has now spread to Tripoli.

The Bahrain regime, which I wrote about yesterday, is bad enough, but Gadaffi's response promises to be more irrational and brutal. On Bahrain, I'm glad to see that one of my favourite F1 drivers, Mark Webber, has publicly said what most others are thinking, that the race planned for 13th March should not go ahead.

It certainly looks like much of the old order is being forced to recognise that at least things can't go on as they used to across the Arab world. It'll be a while before we know what the outcome will be. I read yestersday, though, that despite women being part of the protests in Egypt, they are excluded from the body that's discussing the new constitution. That does not bode well. It's not going to be good enough to replace the old guard with new regimes which do not give equality to women, or protect them from abuse.

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