The American Kafir

2011/02/22

Gadhafi Expresses Determination in Latest Speech

Filed under: Libya — Tags: , — - @ 2:47 pm
Gadhafi Expresses Determination in Latest Speech
MAHMUD TURKIA/AFP/Getty Images
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi on Feb. 13 in Tripoli

Summary

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi made a speech on Libyan state television Feb. 22 in which he said he would not step down and that Libyans supporting foreign agents in fomenting revolts across the country would be put to death. Violence is likely to continue in Libya after Gadhafi’s speech, but ultimately the military and the tribes will decide the regime’s fate.

Analysis

Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared on Libyan state television Feb. 22 and delivered a speech in which he said he would not step down, preferring to die as a martyr in his country. The speech comes less than 12 hours after his last appearance on state television, an extremely short appearance made from the passenger seat of an unmarked van, during which he denied rumors that he had fled the country.

Media reports ahead of the Feb. 22 speech indicated that Gadhafi, following the pattern established by several other leaders in the region in the past six weeks — notably Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Bahrain — planned to announce a series of major reforms in response to the unrest in Libya in recent days. Though the initial translation of his speech was of poor quality, it does not appear that Gadhafi proposed anything more specific than creating new municipalities and new “people’s authorities,” as well as unnamed issues raised by his reform-minded son, Seif al-Islam. Gadhafi appeared defiant in the address, accusing foreign agents of being responsible for the revolts occurring across the country and warning that those Libyans who supported such agents would be put to death; he said he has not even started giving the order to use bullets. Rather than striking a conciliatory tone in an effort to appease the protesters, Gadhafi is simply betting there is no force, foreign or domestic, able to remove him from power.

Gadhafi relies on twin pillars of support to maintain the position he has held since 1969: the loyalty of the tribes and the loyalty of the army. Unlike in Egypt, however, where a true military regime is the ultimate guarantor of power, in Libya the system is heavily centered on Gadhafi and his family. Though the army is showing clear signs of fracturing, Gadhafi’s words indicate that either he does not feel this threat can undermine his rule or that he is willing to stay until the very end.

Gadhafi also is betting that no one in the international community is prepared to use force to push him out. Gadhafi represents the only chance of bringing stability back to Libya in the short term, and if he were to fall, a protracted civil war pitting regions and tribes against one another would be the likely outcome. Though Gadhafi might not be particularly well-liked in the West, his continued rule could serve the national interests of many countries — none more so than Italy, which relies heavily on Libya for energy and also fears the prospect of a massive wave of illegal immigrants if total chaos were to break out in Libya.

Violence will undoubtedly continue in Libya as a result of Gadhafi’s decision to ride out the unrest, but as Egypt and Tunisia have shown, “people power” on the scale that Libya is currently witnessing is not enough to topple a man like Gadhafi. Rather, it will be the loyalty of the armed forces, as well as the loyalty of the tribes in Libya, that decides his fate. These issues are interrelated, as positions of power in the military are largely based on tribal affiliations. Both of these pillars of support already appear to be crumbling. Events in Benghazi in eastern Libya have shown the beginning of the fracture within the Libyan armed forces — eastern Libya is no longer under the control of the capital — and at least six major tribes have renounced the Libyan leader since Feb. 20. Thus, the prospect of an attempted coup by a group of officers, mirroring the Free Officers Movement that brought Gadhafi to power more than four decades ago, is high, as is the prospect of the eventual breakout of civil war.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Security Council is meeting to discuss Libya and will consider what measures to take as a way of sanctioning the Gadhafi regime, including the potential for implementing a no-fly zone.


Source URL: http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110222-gadhafi-expresses-determination-latest-speech

Links:
[1] http://www.stratfor.com/theme/protests-libya-full-coverage
[2] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110218-status-protests-libya
[3] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110218-unrest-succession-struggle-Libya
[4] http://www.stratfor.com/analysis/20110222-unrest-and-libyas-energy-industry
[5] http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110221-revolution-and-muslim-world

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