Qaddafi to ABC: "My people love me"; Update: More fears over mustard gas

Tell me please, what conceivable “news” can come from an interview with a guy whom everyone but everyone — including his own diplomats — acknowledges is a monstrous lunatic? (“They will die to protect me, my people.”) The standard critique when an American reporter sits down with an enemy leader is that they’re providing a platform for propaganda, but that’s not a worry in this case. No one is buying what Qaddafi is selling. His only interface with reality at this point is ranting about how beloved he is, even as Libyan rebels close in on all sides, which makes this the foreign policy equivalent of a Charlie Sheen trainwreck one-on-one. (That’s an oft-made comparison these days, given how eager both are to display their belligerent egomania to the media.) No one blames Amanpour for chasing a “get” this big, but that doesn’t make it news. It’s pure spectacle, sweetened by the thought that he’ll be hanging from a lamppost within the next few weeks or months. Take a good look, America; the world will lose quite a performer when this degenerate is finally put down.

The oil is flowing again, incidentally, as most of the country’s production sites are now controlled by rebels, but production is down by half. As for Qaddafi’s last stand in Tripoli, that could take longer than expected too: Military commanders in Benghazi admitted this morning that he’s dug in and that they’re not ready to dislodge him, which explains all the offers of help from western leaders today. The longer this drags on, the greater the odds of a horrendous outcome. Hillary claims that we’re prepared to offer “any kind of assistance” — except arming the rebels, apparently — and David Cameron’s ordered planning to begin for a no-fly zone to stop Qaddafi from replenishing his supply of weapons and mercenaries. Says new rebel leader Mustafa Abdul-Jalil:

He said: “Tripoli is fighting against oppression and when it falls the regime will follow. Now the support around (Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi) is collapsing.

What we want is an air embargo to stop Gaddafi bringing in mercenaries.”…

But mistrust of the international community is still strong. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s reaction to the prospect of help from foreign troops was not so welcome.

He said: “Any intervention will be confronted with more force than we are using against Gaddafi.”

The U.S. is already moving ships from Somalia closer to Libya, backing tough talk from Hillary that “It is time for Gaddafi to go, now, without further violence or delay.” Exit question: How soon is “now”? Is Obama ready to give the order?

Update: As I was saying about that “horrendous outcome”:

Adding to growing concern about the crumbling regime’s ability to commit last desperate acts of mass murder, British sources have disclosed that Libya still has stocks of mustard gas chemicals…

Despite a promise in 2003 to give up weapons of mass destruction, Gaddafi is thought to have retained as much as 14 tons of the chemicals required to create mustard gas.

The stocks are said to be stored in secret secure facilities in the Libyan desert. The chemicals would need to be mixed and loaded into shells before they could be used as weapons, but are “still a concern,” said a senior British government source. “We want to make sure they’re destroyed.”

Coincidentally, British special forces have been active in the Libyan desert over the past few days. Ostensibly they were there to rescue stranded British civilians. I wonder what else they’re “rescuing.”

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David Strom 8:01 AM on December 08, 2022