Monday, February 21, 2011

U.S. on Gadhafi Son's Speech: Uh, What?

Updated at 2:45 p.m. Monday

Senior Libyan civilian and military officials have resigned or defected and the country's largest tribe has aligned itself with anti-Gadhafi protesters today as the predominantly secular Arab nation fractures amid demonstrations that have spread to Tripoli.

Two Libyan fighter jets and two helicopters reportedly landed on Malta. The pilots sought political asylum rather than unleashing their weapons on protesters or military and security forces no longer loyal to Moammar Gadhafi.

"Details are still emerging, but there are reports of Libyan pilots who reportedly refused orders to target civilians being given permission to land on Malta after requesting asylum," the Stratfor global intelligence service reported.

Libya's deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Omar Al Dabashi, told the BBC, AlJazeera English and other media outlets that Gadhafi was engaged in genocide of his own people.

"It is a real genocide whether it is in the eastern cities of Libya or whether what is going now in Tripoli," the senior Libyan diplomat told the BBC World. "The information that we are receiving from the people in Tripoli is the regime is killing whoever goes out to the streets."

The unrest in petroleum-rich Libya sent the price of oil upward on the global markets as Gadhafi clung to his 40 years of reign.

"At the moment, no single piece of information out of Libya is verifiable or particularly reliable. But taken as a whole, a mounting tide of news indicates a rapidly deteriorating security situation and that divisions within the regime are beginning to manifest themselves, with military force being directed against military force," the latest Stratfor report concluded.

END update
The White House and State Department are trying today to decipher the rambling remarks of Saif Al-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Moammar Gadhafi, who warned that "blood will flow" and chaos will rip apart Libya if the demonstrations continue.

There was a scant mention of reforms and local rule that were disbursed among Qadhafi's dark headline-winning warning last night that the protests will end in an armed civil war.

"Libya is at a crossroads. If we do not agree today on reforms, we will not be mourning 84 people, but thousands of deaths, and rivers of blood will run through Libya," Saif Gadhafi said, leaving many experts vexed by the intent of those remarks.

The U.S. is analyzing Saif Gadhafi's convoluted speech and has asked the Libyan government for a clarification of what he was trying to convey in his remarks, according to an administration official. "We are considering all appropriate actions," the official said.

But there is not much more pressure the West can put on Gadhafi to order his army and security forces to show restraint against demonstrators, as the Obama administration did somewhat successfully last week to end the strong-arm government tactics used against protesters in Bahrain.

Essentially handcuffed, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and allies in Europe, the Middle East and Asia can only wait and see where events on the ground lead.

There are more credible reports today that protests have spread to Tripoli, Libya's capital and largest city. The protesters also claim to control Benghazi, the second-largest city in Libya. Moammar Gadhafi, meanwhile, has remained out of site for days.

Obama was given a full briefing last night by his national security adviser Tom Donilon after Gadhafi's son addressed his nation. The President will be updated as needed, the White House official said.

No comments:

Post a Comment