The focus in the Middle East has shifted from Bahrain to Libya, where more than 200 protesters have been killed during weeklong demonstrations aimed at toppling dictator Moammar Gadhafi, whose modest attempts at reforming his despotic image have failed.
Gadhafi's tone-deaf son Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi made a statement on Libyan TV tonight that amounted to a defense of the military's crackdown, disputing the reported death toll and saying only that a "mistake" was made by troops not trained in crowd control. The army panicked, "So they ended up shooting," he said, claiming some of the protesters were drunk or on drugs.
"We are not Tunisia or Egypt ... There will be civil war. We will be killing each other on the streets," he said through an interpreter. "The petrol we will be burned, and nobody will benefit from the petrol... Blood will flow."
Video of Saif's remarks with translation from AlJazeera English: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.
The Libyan Youth Movement (@ShababLibya) responded quickly to the remarks on Twitter, saying: "Libya is one, before and after, people of tripoli do not listen to this, you are our brothers, he is dividing Libya right now."
The remarks, which came just hours after Libya's ambassador to the Arab League resigned over the regime killing innocent people, were a throw back to Hosni Mubarak's delusional speeches in the final days of his dictatorship. Some of the military has begun to defect, AlJazeera English reported.
The world clearly wants Moammar Gadhafi gone amid a violent crackdown on protesters in Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city, as well as Mesrata, the third-biggest city in the North African nation.
"The United States is gravely concerned with disturbing reports and images coming out of Libya. We are working to ascertain the facts, but we have received multiple credible reports that hundreds of people have been killed and injured in several days of unrest – and the full extent of the death toll is unknown due to the lack of access of international media and human rights organizations," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said in a statement issued this afternoon.
"We have raised to a number of Libyan officials, including Libyan Foreign Minister Musa Kusa, our strong objections to the use of lethal force against peaceful demonstrators. We reiterated to Libyan officials the importance of universal rights, including freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. Libyan officials have stated their commitment to protecting and safeguarding the right of peaceful protest. We call upon the Libyan government uphold that commitment, and hold accountable any security officer who does not act in accordance with that commitment," Crowley said.
Celebrated Egyptian pro-democracy organizer Wael Ghonim sent his brethren in Libya words of support on Twitter today. "Dear brothers and sisters in Libya, never give up! Free your country from one of the worst dictatorships in the world. God (be) with you!" Ghonim Tweeted.