Libya:Qaddafi defiant on Tripoli tour –
Laaska News April 15, 2011
Colonel Qaddafi rolled through the streets of Tripoli as he poked through the sunroof of an SUV. (File photo)
MUSTAPHA AJBAILI AND ABEER TAYEL, Al Arabiya
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi rolled defiantly through the streets of Tripoli, pumping his fists as he poked through the sunroof of an SUV on Thursday—the same day that NATO airstrikes shook the city. The alliance’s foreign ministers, while united in their aim to pressure the Libyan leader to go, argued at a meeting in Berlin over whether to step up military operations that have so far failed to rout him.
Meanwhile, Qaddafi supporters chanted in Tripoli:
“God, Libya, Muammar and no one else.”
Loud explosions rocked the Bab al-Aziziya neighborhood home to the 68-year-old Qaddafi’s residence and a base for most foreign journalists in the capital.
The besieged Libyan leader, clad in a Western-style suit and hat, looked like a character out of the “Blues Brothers” skits that were made popular in the late 1970s and 1980s by Dan Ackroyd and the late John Belushi.
He waved his hands; he flailed them; he did high-fives. Mr. Qaddafi seemed to be having his own television moment—and if he was performing, his instincts were right: the images were broadcast around the world.
NATO initially denied it had again bombed Tripoli, but an alliance spokesman later acknowledged that raids had targeted the outskirts.
“Late mission reports from pilots returning from Libya indicate there appear to be two additional strikes that were conducted at targets closer to the city of Tripoli,” a NATO official told Agence-France Press on condition of anonymity.
The population of Tripoli is estimated at 1.15 million according to the GeoNames geographical database. Libya’s population is 5.6 million.
Early Friday, Mr. Qaddafi’s daughter Aisha sent another defiant message from her father’s compound in Tripoli, badly damaged exactly 25 years ago, in an April 15, 1986 bombing by US warplanes. That attack came in response to a bombing that had killed two US servicemen at a German disco.
“Leave our skies with your bombs,” Mr. Qaddafi’s daughter told a cheering crowd, addressing the international community.
“We are a people that cannot be defeated,” The Associated Press quoted her as saying.
“To speak of Qaddafi’s resignation is a humiliation for all Libyans. You want to kill my father, pretending to protect civilians,” she said, referring to Western air raids.
“Where are these civilians? Are they carrying machine guns, RPGs, hand grenades?”
Aisha Qaddafi is a law professor who was a member of executed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s defense team following his ouster by US-led forces in 2003.
The Libyan TV said there were civilian casualties from the NATO attacks on Tripoli on Thursday, according to AP.
Britain, France and the United States said Thursday that a Libyan future including Colonel Qaddafi was “unthinkable” and would represent an “unconscionable betrayal” by the rest of the world.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Barack Obama of the United States vowed they would “not rest until the UN resolutions have been implemented,” in a joint op-ed essay published on Friday in The New York Times. Their article was reprinted in several international newspapers.
At an international conference hosted by the Arab League in Cairo, Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations called for a “political” solution and immediate ceasefire, while European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Mr. Qaddafi to resign immediately.
A NATO declaration said the allies “strongly endorse” calls for him to leave power.
(Mustapha Ajbaili of Al Arabiya can be reached at:
Mustapha.firstname.lastname@example.org. Abeer Tayel, also of Al Arabiya, can be reached at: email@example.com)