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Al Jazeera screen grab

With an entourage of female bodyguards, a tent for a palace and his alleged obsession with a ‘voluptuous Ukrainian nurse’, Gaddafi has often amused observers, but there is nothing humorous about the dictator these days. His angry and incoherent speech last night is evidence of his volatile state of mind and the danger he now poses.

Wearing khaki robes, he spoke from outside the Tripoli compound that was bombed by the US in 1986. He invoked the spirit of resistance against a number of enemies ranging from foreign powers to Al Qaida to drug addicts in Libya.

Referring to himself in the third person he declared that ‘Muammar is the leader of the revolution until the end of time’ and that he would die a ‘martyr’ rather than step aside.
He alternated from reading his Green Book to waving it in fervour as he cited the constitution and threatened the protestors with the death penalty.

All the elements for a violent showdown in Libya are now in place. Backed into a corner, there is no doubt that Gaddafi will unleash hell in a desperate bid to cling to power. In his speech he claimed that maintaining the ‘integrity ‘of China was more important than the massacre of protestors in Tiananmen Square. Left to his own device that is exactly what Gaddafi will do.

Reports suggest that up to 300 people have lost their lives so far; the world can no longer stand by and watch as Libyans are slaughtered by imported mercenaries from other parts of Africa. Western governments took a long time to acknowledge the rights of Egyptians and to demand that Mubarak step down. The Egyptian army receives millions in military aid from the US and they showed restraint in dealing with the protestors: no such incentive exists in Libya. Time is of the essence, to avoid a massacre Western powers need to act with urgency.

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