The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

Desperation in Libya

February 24, 2011

As reports circulate that the vast majority of Libya is in the hands of the opposition, Gaddafi blames al-Qaeda and drug-addled youth for the revolution:

Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, has said in a speech on Libyan state television that al-Qaeda is responsible for the uprising in Libya.

“It is obvious now that this issue is run by al-Qaeda,” he said, speaking by phone from un unspecified location.

He said that the protesters were young people who were being manipulated by al-Qaeda, and that many were doing so under the influence of drugs.

“No one above the age of 20 would actually take part in these events,” he said. “They are taking advantage of the young age of these people [to commit violent acts] because they are not legally liable!”

This kind of things would strike me as amusing, if it weren’t juxtaposed with another sign of desperation:

An army unit and militiamen loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi blasted a mosque with antiaircraft missiles and automatic weapons Thursday, targeting protesters who had holed up inside. The attack, which occurred just 30 miles from Tripoli, comes as Qaddafi finds himself increasingly squeezed by antiregime forces and isolated internationally for his brutal attempts to hold on to power.

Protesters inside the mosque “suffered heavy casualties,” though estimates for numbers killed were not available from witnesses, the Associated Press reports.

The attack was reportedly carried out by a legion of mercenaries and Qaddafi’s personal security forces. The New York Times describes the mercenary brigade fighting with an increasingly isolated Qaddafi, who may have even been deserted by parts of the Libyan armed forces at this point.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.