Gaddafi seals his fate

Libyan strong man Muammar Gaddafi has decided to fight to the bitter end, thus assuring himself a martyr's death:

Muammar Gaddafi set the stage for a violent, final showdown to crush Libya's popular uprising by urging loyalists to take to the streets to fight "greasy rats" in the pay of enemies ranging from the US to al-Qaida.

In an angry, ranting and often incoherent speech, the beleaguered Libyan leader ignored evidence of repression and bloodshed, including new reports of death squads, to insist that he would die in his homeland rather than flee abroad.

"I am not going to leave this land," Gaddafi vowed in a live broadcast on state TV. "I will die as a martyr at the end ... I shall remain, defiant. Muammar is leader of the revolution until the end of time."

Speaking in front of the Tripoli compound bombed by US planes in 1986, he invoked the spirit of resistance to foreign powers and warned that the US could occupy Libya like Afghanistan. He claimed protesters were on hallucinogenic drugs and wanted to turn Libya into an Islamic state. They deserved the death penalty, he said, waving his Green Book.

His address showed that, despite an estimated 300 people already killed, he is prepared to unleash more violence even though parts of the country, including its second city, Benghazi, Tobruk and other eastern towns, are already out of control of his security forces. Ominously, he observed that "the integrity of China was more important than [the people] in Tiananmen Square" - scene of the 1989 massacre of democracy protesters.

Never having much of a hold on reality anyway, Gaddafi's claim that his opponents are on drugs is fairly typical. His fate has been sealed since the protestors took over the country's second largest city Benghazi, and his refusal to acknowledge that shows just how far the Libyan leader has retreated from the real world.

The only question is how bloody and horrifying things are going to get. Some of the army is refusing to follow his orders but others have waded in to the massacres with guns blazing. He has also hired on an unknown number of mercenaries from Chad and Nigeria. Recent fighting in those countries where whole villages were massacred points to a willingness of these thugs to help Gaddafi maintain control.

The butcher's bill is already too steep to bear. Let us hope that his own people grant him his wish to die very soon.

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