Ever since Moammar Gaddafi, the man who for decades funnelled arms and explosives to terror groups around the world (the IRA blew up lots of people with Semtex they got from Gaddafi, at a time when self-styled anti-terrorist Peter King (R-NY) was best buddies with Gaddafi’s chief IRA contacts), decided a few years ago to try to remake himself into an anti-terrorist so he could suck up to the West, one of his favorite things to do is to describe anyone he doesn’t like as Al Qaeda, or claim that anything he does against people he doesn’t like is similar to what leaders of other nations have done against Al Qaeda.
Thus, we have stories like this:
Leader Moammar Gadhafi says al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden is behind the uprising in Libya and al-Qaida followers give young Libyans hallucinogenic pills in their coffee to get them to revolt.
However, Gadaffi is keeping his options open, and claims he just might join with Al Qaeda if people don’t stop picking on him:
Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi on Tuesday ruled out negotiations with anti-government rebels, whom he described as ‘terrorists linked to Osama bin Laden,’ but warned that if the West were to attack his country, he would ally his forces with al-Qaeda in a ‘holy war’.
Gaddafi made the remarks in an interview with Milan-based daily Il Giornale from his his headquarters in the Libyan capital Tripoli.
Despite what Gaddafi and his allies insist, it looks like (as has been stated from the beginning) that tribal loyalties, not loyalties to externally-run groups such as Al Qaeda, are the prime markers of Libyan political and cultural life, and that the opposition to Gaddafi is not so much Al-Qaeda-based as tribal-based:
Derna is famous as the home of a large number of suicide bombers in Iraq. It is also deeply hostile to Gaddafi. “Residents of eastern Libya in general, and Derna in particular, view the Gaddadfa (Gaddafi’s tribe) as uneducated, uncouth interlopers from an inconsequential part of the country who have ‘stolen’ the right to rule in Libya,” US diplomats were told in 2008, in a cable since released by WikiLeaks.
“In the view of the Islamic Emirate, it is a pity that the situation in Libya evolved to the extent that paved the way for the anti-Islamic forces to intervene,” the statement said.
“We believe the Western colonialists do not want a solution in this country on the basis of the aspirations of the people but rather have plans to weaken this Islamic country in a war of attrition and then seize its oil reserves through a direct invasion,” the statement said.
No matter their tribal or political alleigiance, the fate of dissidents in Libya hasn’t exactly been rosy:
A group of independent United Nations human rights experts today voiced deep concern about hundreds of alleged enforced disappearances that have taken place in recent months in Libya, where what started as peaceful civilian protests demanding the ouster of Muammar Al-Qadhafi has turned into a violent military crackdown by the regime of the opposition.
As many as 2,000 protesters were killed in the week of February 17 to February 25 alone, and comparable numbers since then.
Meanwhile, Gaddafi excuses what he’s been doing to dissidents by saying that what he’s been doing is exactly how Israel goes after “Al-Qaeda” in the West Bank with Operation Cast Lead.
As for the idea that Saudi Arabia is backing the rebels: In a word, no. The whole reason Obama joined the UK and France in backing a no-fly zone (which since it has to be enforced is a de facto military action) is because the Saudis have so far refused to go along with his asking them to send arms to the Libyan rebels, despite Gaddafi’s having tried to kill Abdullah in the not-so-distant past. As Robert Fisk reported on March 7, before UN resolution 1973 was passed:
Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a “day of rage” from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington’s highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.
But Saudi Arabia is already facing dangers from a co-ordinated day of protest by its own Shia Muslim citizens who, emboldened by the Shia uprising in the neighbouring island of Bahrain, have called for street protests against the ruling family of al-Saud on Friday.
After pouring troops and security police into the province of Qatif last week, the Saudis announced a nationwide ban on all public demonstrations.
Shia organisers claim that up to 20,000 protesters plan to demonstrate with women in the front rows to prevent the Saudi army from opening fire.
The members of the House of Saud don’t dare say so openly, but they do not like the Arab Spring as it is a direct threat to their own rule; they want the Spring to die out before it grows strong enough to topple them. That’s why they’ve sent their own troops to Bahrain — to keep that nation’s rulers from being toppled and to stop the Arab awakening in its tracks. The thinking is that if the uprisings stall out, the energy behind them will dissipate and the House of Saud saved.