Robert Fisk: Gaddafi is not Saddam and it's a mistake to assume he's finished
Published 03/03/2011 | 05:00
POOR old Libyans. After 42 years of Gaddafi, the spirit of resistance did not burn so strongly.
The intellectual heart of Libya had fled abroad. Libyans have always opposed foreign occupiers, just as the Algerians and the Egyptians and the Yemenis have done -- but their Beloved Leader has always presented himself as a fellow resister, rather than a dictator. Hence, in his long self-parody of a speech in Tripoli yesterday, he invoked Omar Mukhtar -- who was hanged by Mussolini's colonial army -- rather than the patronising tone of a Mubarak or a Ben Ali.
And who was he going to free Libya from? Al-Qa'ida, of course. Indeed, Gadaffi made a very interesting remark. His Libyan intelligence service, he said, had helped to free al-Qa'ida members from the US prison at Guantanamo in return for a promise that it would not operate in Libya or attack his regime. But al-Qa'ida betrayed the Libyans, he insisted, and set up "sleeper cells" in the country.