By Arab News
By Tariq Alhomayed
In the backdrop of what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt and is now happening in other volatile Arab countries, it was expected that Muammar Qaddafi would follow the example of Zein Ben Ali and say to his people, “I fully understand you.” Instead, he asked his people whether they understood him.
In his lengthy speech, Qaddafi made demands from his people. He set a deadline for them to respond to his demands, warning them that they would otherwise by purged from Libya. It is noteworthy that Qaddafi did not mention anything in his speech about extending his term of rule or handing over the reins to his inheritors but bluntly said he would remain in power as long as he lived. “If I were a president, I would have thrown my resignation in your faces but I am a leader of a revolution and leaders of revolutions do not quit,” he said.
Paradoxically, Qaddafi told his people that if they wanted to discuss legal and legislative matters, then they should talk to Seif Al-Islam, his son.
Qaddafi’s speech implies that the regime is in its last moments. It is evident that his grip over many cities and towns has weakened. This was clear from his attempt to win over the loyalty of Libya’s numerous tribes. His speech also indicates that the Libyan people are to face a number of terrible and terrifying days. He has threatened his people saying he would “kill up to the last drop of blood.” This means that his regime will resort to burning the land if the Libyan people do not respond to his demands.
It can therefore be said that Qaddafi’s speech, as indicated above, was not one in which he expressed understanding of his people, but rather expected them to understand him. Qaddafi in effect said that he is the state and the state is he.
After describing the protesters as mice, traitors and puppets of foreign powers, Qaddafi reminded his people that it was he who made Libya which means he will not give up power even if he has to destroy his country.
If was funny to hear Qaddafi say to his people, “You can demonstrate peacefully as long as your demonstrations are in protest at what is happening in Gaza or Iraq, not against what is happening in your own country.” This is indicative of a level of confusion. There are other countries in our region that encourage passion for “big issues” and issues facing the Ummah, rather than directing energy in serving their public.
I am, therefore, not surprised to hear Qaddafi telling his people that they have been struck by the evil eye. He seemed shocked to see his people rise against the glory that he has made Libya, which is leading the world. May Allah protect the people of Libya.
Tariq Alhomayed is the editor in chief of pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat ([email protected]).