By Arab News
THE evening before he was forced to resign as Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak gave a TV speech that, with its claims that his nation needed him to save it from chaos, revealed him as totally deluded.
Watching his TV speech to the Libyan people and the world on Tuesday night, no one could accuse Muammar Qaddafi of mere delusion. This was a bravura performance of insanity — and evil insanity at that. This was Qaddafi as the Roman Emperor Caligula or the Fatimid Caliph Hakim — even Adolf Hitler or Pol Pot.
It was a crazed oscillation between offers of meaningless reforms and vitriolic damnation of the Libyan people for not being worthy of him, laced with death threats. Those who opposed him were damned as vermin drugged by Islamists and foreigners. He demanded that his followers to go out on the streets and deal with them.
Arabs have long thought Qaddafi bizarre. But there has been a reticence to publicly condemn him. No one wanted to call him evil or insane even though this is the man who plotted to assassinate one Gulf ruler and who, long before the present uprising, had gunned down earlier protesters and opponents. A blind eye was turned. The misery and ruin he brought to the Libyan people was ignored. He was, after all, a fellow Arab and no one like to condemn one of their own but especially at a time when the Arab world itself was under relentless attack.
It could be concluded the very ferocity of the speech indicates his desperation. It amounted to a declaration of war on his own people. But there is nothing new in Qaddafi’s performance. He has raved like this before. It is just that no one listened.
It is the obscene, sheer brutality of the regime’s attempt to crush the uprising that has drawn the attention — that and the contempt, even hatred, for his own people seen in both word and deed. They outstrip even that of the Israelis for the Palestinians.
The number of Libyan dead is now put at over a thousand. Pictures, too graphic to show in newspapers or on TV, have flooded the Internet — body parts on the Libyan streets, blown apart by Qaddafi’s helicopters and jet fighters.
Shocked at the unprecedented level of violence, the regime has been condemned by the GCC as well as the OIC and been suspended from the Arab League. The significance of the latter is immense. The only other Arab state ever to have its membership suspended was Egypt in 1979 following its peace deal with Israel. Even Iraq was not suspended when it invaded Kuwait in 1990. The Qaddafi regime has become a pariah in the Arab and Muslim world. Only countries like Cuba and Venezuela support it — which says everything about their moral compass.
With his fire and fury against his own people, Qaddafi’s speech has inevitably resulted in anger and derision. Hourly, more and more Libyans join the opposition — including from the police, the military, tribal leaders and the imams, including the country’s top imam.
The hope must be that the regime collapses quickly. Anything else is going to mean bloodshed on a scale not seen in living memory.