Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Gaddafi rails at 'power mad' West

Supporters of Muammar Gaddafi chant slogans during a staged demonstration in Tripoli (AP)
Libyan demonstrators show their backing for Muammar Gaddafi in the heart of his Bab Al Azizia compound in Tripoli (AP)
Libyan men pray before attending a protest against Muammar Gaddafi in Benghazi (AP)

Muammar Gaddafi struck a defiant stance after two high-profile defections from his regime, saying he was not the one who should go but the Western leaders who decimated his military with air strikes.

Gaddafi's message was undercut by its delivery - a scroll across the bottom of state TV as he remained out of sight.

The White House said the strongman's inner circle was clearly crumbling with the loss of foreign minister Musa Kusa, who flew from Tunisia to Britain on Wednesday.

Ali Abdessalam Treki, a former foreign minister and United Nations General Assembly president, announced his departure on several opposition websites the next day, saying: "It is our nation's right to live in freedom and democracy and enjoy a good life."

Gaddafi accused the leaders of the countries attacking his forces of being "affected by power madness". "The solution for this problem is that they resign immediately and their peoples find alternatives to them," the Libya state news agency quoted him as saying.

His government's forces have regained momentum on the rapidly moving front line of the battle with opposition forces, retaking the town of Brega after pushing the rebels miles back toward the territory they hold in eastern Libya.

But the rebels said they were undaunted, taking heart from the departures in Gaddafi's inner circle. "We believe that the regime is crumbling from within," opposition spokesman Mustafa Gheriani said in Benghazi, the rebels' de facto capital.

He compared Gaddafi to a wounded animal, saying: "An injured wolf is much more dangerous than a healthy wolf. But we hope the defections continue and I think he'll find himself with no one around him."

Most top Libyan officials were trying to defect but are under tight security and having difficulty leaving the country, said Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador in Libya's UN mission, which now backs the opposition.

Kusa is privy to all the inner workings of the regime, so his departure could open the door for some hard intelligence, though Britain refused to offer him immunity from prosecution.

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