Moammar Gaddafi wants Arabs to know he’s a really big fan of popular uprisings against dictatorial autocrats these days. No, really! He’d love to see yet another popular uprising — anywhere except Libya. In fact, he even has a suggestion of where Arabs can go instead:
Palestinian refugees should capitalize on the wave of popular revolts in the Middle East by massing peacefully on the borders of Israel until it gives in to their demands, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Sunday.
Gaddafi is respected in many parts of the Arab world for his uncompromising criticism of Israel and Arab leaders who have dealings with the Jewish state, though some people in the region dismiss his initiatives as unrealistic.
He was giving his first major speech since a popular uprising in neighboring Egypt forced President Hosni Mubarak to resign, an event which electrified the Arab world and prompted speculation that other Arab governments could also be toppled.
“Fleets of boats should take Palestinians … and wait by the Palestinian shores until the problem is resolved,” Gaddafi was shown saying on state television. “This is a time of popular revolutions.”
Well, there is one teensy little problem with that suggestion. It wouldn’t be a revolution; it would be an invasion. The people who live in Israel vote for their government instead of living in a dictatorship, and the Israelis like that arrangement.
Of course, that’s not a bug for Gaddafi but a feature. He wants activists to go anywhere else but Libya, which has been ruled by Gaddafi’s iron fist for 42 years, ever since he spearheaded a military coup that overthrew King Idris Crown Prince Sayyid in 1969. Gaddadfi’s sons Saif al-Islam and Mutassim are being groomed for succession when Gaddafi either retires or dies — exactly the kind of succession that prompted Egyptians to revolt against Hosni Mubarak this year.
Gaddafi hopes to distract his people by calling for a “revolution” against Israel. Perhaps Libyans should act locally rather than get duped into thinking globally in this instance.