By Essam Mohamed
In his third address to the nation since the Libya uprising, Moamer Kadhafi on Wednesday (March 2nd) blamed the violence on al-Qaeda and foreign forces.
As Kadhafi spoke, Libyan fighter jets bombed rebel positions in Brega. But pro-Kadhafi forces failed to dislodge the opposition. People from the city of Ajdabiya responded to a call for aid and joined the Brega revolutionaries in defending the city.
In Tripoli, while his planes were pounding fellow Libyans determined to end his rule, Kadhafi was defiant: “We will fight until the last man and woman in defence of Libya,” Kadhafi said during his more than two-hour speech from the Rixos Al Nasr hotel in Tripoli.
He also asked the United Nations to send a fact-finding committee to Libya to investigate the death toll, which Kadhafi said was no more than 150 people.
Kadhafi also denied reports that he had stashed funds in foreign bank accounts. On Monday, the US Treasury Department froze $30 billion worth of assets belonging to Kadhafi and his government.
“I don’t have any balances. My balance is principles, values, my history and people rather than the rotten US dollar.” He added that his pension was “460 Libyan dinars”.
“Arabs don’t like you because you have oil and they envy your wealth,” he said, pointing to the Libyan crowd. After blaming the Arabs, Kadhafi threatened the West, saying that their stability depended on Libya’s stability.
For his part, Abdul Hameed, a Tripoli-based political activist, said Kadhafi was seeking to boost his followers ahead of planned anti-government demonstrations this Friday.
“He seemed distracted and tried to control his calm as if he was waiting for an event in order to make his supporters happy. I think that the event he was waiting for was his militias’ control of Brega and its airport. However, he lost the battle,” Hameed said.
Hameed said that Kadhafi blamed al-Qaeda in order to reduce Western pressure on his regime. But he said that “al-Qaeda doesn’t have a presence in Libya. Everyone knows that al-Qaeda carries out bombings and then disappears; it wouldn’t demonstrate without arms and receive Kadhafi militias’ bullets with uncovered chests.”
“It’s a big lie he’s trying to win the West over with,” Hameed said.
“Kadhafi needs a psychiatrist. He’s deluded and thinks that with his lies, he can deceive and manipulate the world. However, world satellite channels have exposed him. Now he curses them although he used to bring some of them and pay them to beautify his regime,” Benghazi-based journalist Asmaa said.
“I laughed a lot when I watched his speech,” Asmaa said. “He has imprisoned journalists working for Libya Press and then released them because they dealt with issues freely.”
“I wish he could have given freedoms instead of just bragging about them. His dreams and opinions have now gone with the wind. We in Benghazi in the eastern region receive his speeches by throwing shoes at him, making fun at him and laughing at his fears. His rule is over and God willing, the Libyan capital will be freed soon,” she added.
Tripoli resident Salima Ali is tired of listening to Kadhafi talk. “Enough is enough! We don’t want to see his picture, and God willing, he will be over with his third speech like Hosni Mubarak and Zine El Abidine Ben Ali,” she said.
“His talk is full of lies, and the Libyans have broken the barrier of fear. His words don’t mean anything to them; rather, they will be added to his stock of lies,” Ali said.
Her husband, an academic at a Libyan university, said: “He’s lost legitimacy. Even his supporters have decreased in numbers. If he hadn’t brought in mercenaries, the Libyans would have put an end to his rule quickly.”
“Therefore, I support the National Council in Benghazi that demanded that the United Nations strike those whom they described as Kadhafi’s mercenaries,” he said.