In a characteristically bizarre appearance on Libyan state television yesterday, Colonel Gaddafi was like a caricature of a crazed dictator. His tone was defiant – yet the speech frequently verged on the comic. Were it not for the power he wields and the bloodshed he is not afraid to initiate, moments from this would have been laugh-out-loud funny.
Here are the key quotations from the rambling address.
Striking a defiant tone, Gaddafi signalled that he will refuse to flee Libya or to stand down, as the UN, his own diplomats and the Arab League have urged him to do:
I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents . . . I will die as a martyr at the end.
Muammar Gaddafi is the leader of the revolution, I am not a president to step down . . . This is my country. Muammar is not a president to leave his post.
Despite this fighting stance, he offered a risible reason for not standing down:
I am not president so I cannot stand down.
Ominously, despite the signs of shocking violence coming out of Libya (link behind paywall), he claimed that we have seen nothing yet, and threatened his own people with civil war.
I have not yet ordered the use of force, not yet ordered one bullet to be fired . . . when I do, everything will burn.
Gaddafi also appeared to incite violence against protesters from his supporters:
You men and women who love Gaddafi . . . get out of your homes and fill the streets. Leave your homes and attack them in their lairs . . . Starting tomorrow [Wednesday] the cordons will be lifted, go out and fight them.
In one of the more laughable sections of the speech, he compared the demonstrators to drug-fuelled mice, suggesting that the uprising was incited by an unnamed group supplying them with drugs and money:
A small group of young people who have taken drugs have attacked police station like mice . . . They have taken advantage of this peace and stability . . . However it is not their fault, these young people; they tried to imitate what happened in Tunisia . . . However, there is a small group of sick people that has infiltrated in cities that are circulating drugs and money.
And it was not his only bizarre description of the protesters. He also called them:
This bunch of greasy rats and cats.
While he appeared rambling, incoherent and belligerent (Paul Waugh quipped on Twitter that he “put the rant in ty-rant”), this speech was a clear indication that Gaddafi does not plan to back down without a fight. His madness, though amusing from an detached perspective, makes it all the more worrying for those inside Libya, who face the all-too-serious enactment of this rage.