It’s easy to dismiss everything Muammar Gaddafi says. The man is delusional, arrogant, and controlling – Saddam Hussein with a Libyan accent. There is evidence he was behind the Lockerbie bombing. And now that his country descends into chaos, he is clearly willing to use deadly force to stay in power.
So when he warns the West that siding with the rebels would result in Al Qaeda controlling African oil, it’s hard to know what to make of it. Is this a delusional tyrant saying what he knows will frighten us, or is this a case of no honor among thieves?
Much of the Western media have been laughing at Gaddafi’s accusations of terrorist influence. Yet while speaking Wednesday, he repeated his theory in more specific terms, claiming “How did that all begin? Small, sleeper Al Qaeda cells.”
He went on to say the civil unrest was a pretext for “colonization” of northern Africa:
“There is a conspiracy to control the Libyan oil and to control the Libyan land, to colonize Libya once again…Do they want us to become slaves once again like we were slaves to the Italians … We will never accept it.”
Leaders in Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, and other places have sung the same tune.
Clever propaganda, or a legitimate worry? Don’t expect the American BLM to help you find answers. Observe, for example, this convoluted bit of journalism from the NY Times Sunday. First we are told that Al Qaeda is distinctly absent from the protests:
For many specialists on terrorism and the Middle East, though not all, the past few weeks have the makings of an epochal disaster for Al Qaeda, making the jihadists look like ineffectual bystanders to history while offering young Muslims an appealing alternative to terrorism.
And yet exactly seven paragraphs later, we are told this:
There is evidence that the uprisings have enthralled some jihadists. One Algerian man associated with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, the network’s North African affiliate, welcomed the uprisings in a weekend interview and said militants were returning from exile to join the battle in Libya, arming themselves from government weapons caches.
“Since the land is in chaos and Qaddafi is helping through his reactions and actions to increase the hatred of the population against him, it will be easier for us to recruit new members,” said the Algerian man, who uses the nom de guerre Abu Salman. He said that Libyans and Tunisians who had fought in Iraq or Afghanistan were now considering a return home.
Something even more disturbing was tucked inside the report and quickly glossed over:
The breakdown of order could create havens for terrorist cells, at least for a time — a hazard both Colonel Qaddafi and Mr. Saleh have prevented, winning the gratitude of the American government.
Yet this report was published on the very same day President Obama debuted his decision to demand that Gaddafi step down. The Pentagon deployed transport ships to the Libyan coast within 48 hours.
Meanwhile, Secretary Clinton spoke to the House Foreign Affairs committee Tuesday and launched a new warning that Iran was working behind the scenes to co-opt political power in chaotic governments.
That’s weird. It almost looks like the Obama administration kept Gaddafi in power just long enough to position a military strategy.
And now the rebels seem to have a crazy idea that foreign interventionists will take their side:
“We are probably going to call for foreign help, probably air strikes at strategic locations that will put the nail in his (Gaddafi’s) coffin,” Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebel February 17th Coalition, told Reuters.
What’s making these people even float the idea that NATO/UN forces would launch air strikes on their behalf? Are they making stuff up to scare Gaddafi’s government, or do they really think someone would be open to that request?
Again, if you’re looking for someone in America to give you an answer, don’t hold your breath. Defense Secretary Robert Gates keeps saying the Obama administration is reluctant to use military force, yet he consistently stops short of promising it won’t happen.
So what are we to make of all this? Your humble blogger doesn’t present these things to presume any kind of answer – this is simply an effort to bring the pieces together and offer a glance at the big picture. We leave you to draw your own conclusions.
For now, all we can do is watch the news closely, use our God-given common sense, and hope that our governments and media outlets are giving it to us straight.
And while I don’t want to plant any undue doubt in readers’ minds, I do want to mention the Kosovo mistake of 1999. Sometimes even the intelligence on the ground gets it wrong.
God help us navigate this long windy road.