Qaddafi vows to fight foreign interference, no-fly zone in Libya

Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi said a no-fly zone would prove that foreigners are trying to 'steal their oil' and lashed out against what he called foreign interference.

Huseyin Dogan/Reuters
Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi poses after an interview with a Turkish television reporter at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli on March 8.

As Libya’s embattled leader launches counterattacks against rebel forces, he has once again blamed foreign interference for causing the rebellion in his country.

Both in an interview with Turkish television and in a speech in Tripoli broadcast over state television, Muammar Qaddafi accused foreigners of trying to colonize Libya and take its oil and said he would fight the imposition of a no-fly zone, a move the international community is considering. Despite Mr. Qaddafi’s typically zealous speech, many observers say that the situation seems to be moving toward a stalemate.

NATO is weighing the possibility of placing a no-fly zone over Libya, a move Qaddafi has said he will adamantly oppose. The BBC’s Wyre Davies, posted in Tripoli, says that the Libyan leader appears to be “in [an] increasingly confident and belligerent mood,” showing little interest in making compromises with the opposition.

“If they take such a decision [to impose a no-fly zone], it will be useful for Libya, because the Libyan people will see the truth, that what they want is to take control of Libya and to steal their oil,” said Qaddafi in the Turkish TV interview reposted by the BBC. “Then the Libyan people will take up arms against them.”

In his address, Qaddafi also claimed that he had proof of foreign interference, saying that his forces arrested internationals in a raid on a mosque, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“They had their weapons and alcohol as well,” said Qaddafi, describing the raid. “Some of them ... come from Afghanistan, some of them come from Egypt, some of them come from Algeria just to misguide our children.”

The United Kingdom and France in particular are pushing for a UN resolution authorizing the creation of a no-fly zone over Libya. While the US would support such a measure, it has said that the decision should be made by the UN and should not be US-led. The UN may have some trouble approving the no-fly zone because Russia and China, both of which have veto power in the UN Security Council, are reluctant to impose measures that could result in the bombing of Libya’s air defenses, reports Haaretz.

Despite Qaddafi’s strong speech, Al Jazeera reports that the leader may be amenable to talking to the opposition through backchannels. There are unconfirmed reports that Qaddafi may even be willing to step down, provided he is not charged with war crimes and he and his family can safely leave Libya.

Following Qaddafi's address, the opposition publicly offered Qaddafi 72 hours to resign.

“If he leaves Libya immediately, during 72 hours, and stops the bombardment, we as Libyans will step back from pursuing him for crimes,” said Mustafa Abdel Jalil, head of the opposition National Council in an interview with Al Jazeera on Tuesday.

US officials closely monitoring the situation increasingly believe that the situation is arriving at an impasse. Qaddafi’s forces are strengthening their control over select parts of Libya, reports The Wall Street Journal.

“What we're looking at right now – and things can change on a dime in these kinds of fluid conflicts – is basically a stalemate in certain parts of Libya,” said one US official to the Wall Street Journal. “Gadhafi has solidified his control of some areas while the rebels have the upper hand in other places.”

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.