23 Feb 2011

Gaddafi's ominous 'cockroach' threat

Colonel Gaddafi‘s speech in which he talked of the protesters as “drugged” and “cockroaches” has horrid resonances with past events.

“Cockroaches” is what the Hutu assassins call the Tutsis before the massacred 800,000 of them. “Cockroaches” is what the Nazis called Jews before they gassed some six million of them.

The prospects in Libya are not good. The defection of such hardliners as Gaddafi’s number two, and the interior minister suggest a bid to hang on to power after Gaddafi goes. The idea that the people will take power and mirror developments elsewhere in North Africa are fanciful. The people have never had power in that country. For the first time in these revolutionary times, we are witnessing army units amongst the people as participants rather than protectors.

A Libyan army general has described seeing Libyan air transporters bringing in hundreds of African mercenaries on 14 February – that, he says, is when he and many others decided to defect. These “mercenaries” have reportedly been the principle assassins of the people.

In the meantime the Saudi King – widely regarded as highly vulnerable, has raided his country’s coffers to throw a desperate bribe at his people – wage rises and other goodies. The King of Bahrain tried it there and it didn’t work.
It is hard to imagine the repressive forces of Saudi, some of the most infamous in Arabi not feeling the blowback from this continuing upheaval across the Arab world.

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37 reader comments

  1. adrian clarke says:

    The sooner Gadaffi goes the better.He is pure deranged evil.Lets hope the people get the democracy they want and not too much blood is shed getting it.
    It will perhaps come as a warning to other despots and let people know there can be people power.
    It is time we revolted against our bankers , by withdrawing our funds from the likes of Barclays and others that pay huge bonuses.

    1. anniexf says:

      Action against those banks – people power – is already happening Adrian :-


      and it’s taking off in the USA now too.

    2. Moonbeach says:

      Of course this madman should go, Adrian, but remember the maxim “be careful what you wish for”!

      In all of my dealings in the Middle East over many years, I have never heard an Arab define democracy in terms anywhere near the Western model.

      Their institutions have no experience of democracy; age and rank equal wisdom and power. Whilst some people may wish to see change, the majority has always favoured the maintenance of the status quo, God willing.

      In Egypt, where I lived for 3 years, I worked with some of the brightest, best educated, young men that it has been my privilege to meet. But their ideas were always watered down by more ‘senior’ people.

      Some of the best entrepreneurs emigrated to seek their fortunes elsewhere.

      Power and status are more important than money in this region and lecturing these men on what they should or should not do is certain to fail.

      Although perhaps inevitable, I am saddened by what is happening in the region and believe that we should let these nation states sort out their own problems.

      ‘Hands off’ is more likely to be in our national interest in the longer term.

    3. adrian clarke says:

      I agree moonbeach.I say he should go because of what he is and has done to his own people .
      We may not like the resulting outcome as elsewhere in the world.
      We can no longer try to impose our will on a foreign country .It never really worked any way.I just hope the peoples in the emerging structures of the ME and elsewhere , get what they want.
      I do not think we do in this country and we at least have a vote that can change the direction we go.

    4. Matthew Slyman says:

      Please note the difference between “principle” and “principal”. Common error…

    5. THE TRUTH says:

      IF we did nothing gaddafi would have won because 90% support Gaddafi

  2. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    Word association to events like this is dangerous.Wasn’t it reported that indeed some of the militia were taking sides with the Libya and against Gadaffi. They have access to weapons and are in a position to protect themselves and others from the African merceneries. There again it was reported that not many merceneries have been seen. The numbers are fewer than perhaps you suggest Jon.. or perhaps they are not openly mercenaries.

    William Hague laid out a plan for rescuing the Brits without giving details. He is a sensible chap and will make sure that our position in relation to the International Community is as safe as it can be.

    In the meantime the camera told of people who are willing to die for freedom as well as Gadffi who is willing to die for his power.

    1. margaret brandreth-jones says:

      MATTHEW in my principality , we have our principles , which principally speaking, rules out any organisational principle principally having and leading principally with his/her own view . eeerrr Is that right?

  3. Rukhsana says:

    Please have a look at the accounts of someone living through this. It has not been edited so be aware language may not be appropriate for younger readers.


    Many thanks

  4. VicKatte says:

    Hello Jon,
    Hope you are fine wherever out in the world. Are in Egypt, Libya or Tunisia covering the events in Libya? Wherever you are, are you able to ride your bike daily as you do when you are in the UK? I followed the episode of Desert Island Disc recently with you as the castaway. I really enjoyed it. My only regret was that none of your choice of music was jazz. However, I liked your choice of book (Team of Rivals), a book that has great reviews on Amazon – I have placed an order for one for myself.
    I also learnt that you are very well travelled and have been to over 80 countries. Right? I bet you have not been to Cameroon and you know little or nothing about this country. If hundreds of peaceful protesters were being killed by the regime in Cameroon today, I bet, you would not come to learn about it. You guys in the newsrooms in Europe and America have a fascination with the Arab world and Middle East, but very little in the plight of the poor Sub-Saharan African in his daily struggle to free him/herself from oppression. If you are, take a look at this video of police brutality of a presidential candidate today (23-02-11) on YouTube(search with ZIo8SQbn8YA). Interesting 2 u?

  5. Jim Flavin says:

    What did the people of USA call the Native Americans – Savages – and where Hitler thankfully failed – and Gadaffi will/has failed the USA suceeded in virtullly wiping out the Native Americans from an estimated 30-40 Million to some hundreds of thousnads that are still left – as tourist attractions . Who paid the price for that slughter – the Biggest Holocust of all .
    Gadaffi will soon be gone – maybe Saudi Arabia will be next – Iran ?/ -. Anyway there will be a new ME and North and maybe more of Africa . I think we in the EU will pay a big price for having sided with the USA in their wars in Iraq and Afganistan . If the people in ME have any sense – they will take control of oil production – and we will pay high as allies to a corrupt USA .Now we have the sickening sight of Obama and Clinton talking about Human Rights . They had / have lttle time for the Human Rights of the Iraqis, Afgahn civilians , Palestinians , Chileans and many other countries – but this is the norm for Imperialists . With the incresing food and fuel prices who knows where all this may end . Wont really affect the rich . Maybe exciting for journalists – not 4 those on med /low incomes ??

    1. adrian clarke says:

      In your obvious hate of the USA Jim,you use words that are not applicable.How can you describe America as Imperialistic.What countries have they taken over and tried to impose their rule by staying hundreds of years.Before you come back and say IRAQ , they may have gone in illegally but not to take over the country as imperialists do.
      You quote the native Americans,and yes they were virtually wiped out by the English and then the English settlers who became Americans.Why not quote the Australians too (or English convits) and settlers.
      You quote their lack of human rights in the ME but you do not quote the human rights of any of the leaders of most ME countries to their own kind!!!!
      As for oil , it is no good producing it if you are not going to sell it and if the price is not right it will not be bought.

    2. anniexf says:

      There is more than one form of imperialism Adrian; your definition is too narrow. Political and economic influence and control are equally imperialistic.
      The first settlers in America were Hispanic, followed by French, English, Dutch .. The English did NOT singlehandedly wipe out the native Americans.
      Your final remark is disingenuous. Oil will always be bought because it will always be needed. Western “civilisation” would be wiped out in weeks without it. That is why the west tries (& usually succeeds) to ensure its own influence is paramount in the oil-producing regions – it’s what informs US/UK foreign policy more than anything else.
      To conclude: just because Adrian says it, doesn’t make it a fact!

    3. Jim Flavin says:

      ”How can you describe America as Imperialistic.What countries have they taken over ”.
      Nearly beyond belief – Anyway Imperilaism is extending your rule over foreign States either by direct intervention or stooge goverments .
      List of Interventions http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html.
      Re Austrailia – yes of course – and the Irish palyed their part both in the Native American and Aborigine massacres .
      Re ME countries and civil rights – I thought that was what the presnt unrest was about ! .
      Re Oil – it will be bought – at any price . Do u think oil based indutries can run on Green bulls##t .Also if the price does go up – USA cannot sit on its vast coal reserves – might end the CO2 farce .
      Many ordinary people in USA are now demonstrating against the extreme free market economic policies that started with the Reagan / Thatcher elections – and have brought us to near ruin . Like most Govts etc – the US govt is basically to the right [ oh dear I used a bad word ] of its people . So there are masive cahnges under way – hopefully for the good .

    4. Jim Flavin says:

      contd – not only their support of tyrants in ME – but worldwide and diminshing Human Rights in USA .

      The hypocrisy is mind blowing – but maybe hypocrisy is the human norm .

    5. adrian clarke says:

      Annie and Jim i will take issue with you over Imperialism.

      Home > Library > Literature & Language > Dictionary
      1.The policy of extending a nation’s authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nations.
      2.The system, policies, or practices of such a government.
      Nearly every European nation ,Japan and China in the Far East and Russia were all guilty of Imperialism.The one country not is the USA.You might not like their policies, there interference in other countries , but Imperialism it is not.
      Annie, me disingenuous?The American Indians were still in abundance when we took over America,so yes we and the settlers were the primary source of destruction
      As for oil, everything has a price.That might be much higher than we are currently paying , but the likes of Saudi can not manage their life style without oil sales.They can pump much greater quantities into the market.As for Lybya ,there may be disruption ,but it is their life blood,so can you imagine it staying out of the market?
      Finally Jim the USA could be self sufficient in oil in a crisis without the gulf states.

    6. Jim Flavin says:

      Adrian – we could trade definations of imperialism til cpws come home – but again I turn to Chomsky – A great US dissident and intellect http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAeWqBQr1GA .
      As for oil,imports – regardless of sources in ME – if oil prices keep going up – [sure the US get Oil from lots of places inc Venezula , Canadaa etc http://www.eia.doe.gov/pub/oil_gas/petroleum/data_publications/company_level_imports/current/import.html
      But if as I say prices keep going up – they have = 800 Billion barrels of Oil in coal reserves . How can any country disregard that ??. They cannot – and should not becuse of a flawed CO2 argument re Climate change .

  6. Gerard says:

    So Gaddafi some way between the Nazis and vicious Tutsis thugs, why would the British government do £43.2 million in arms deals last year?

    Hope the International Criminal Court comes to a conclusion and that his sons make a guest appearence, not looking too well for the LSE, which begs the questions:

    Should third level institutions be at the forefront of morality and ethics?

    Why is the West exporting so many arms, which fuel conflict around the globe?

  7. GS says:

    Isn’t it about time that we as a country refused to trade with regimes like this? The hypocrisy of it all makes me sick. Was Gadaffi actually any different to Saddam Hussein?

    Just a thought… If people were on the streets of Britain to the extent where the government felt its existence was threatened, how far would it go to try and ‘restore order’? Guns, tanks, aircraft?

    1. adrian clarke says:

      GS who are we going to trade with .You have ruled out practically half the world.We are in a bad enough trading position as it is.
      The people are often on the streets of Britain , protesting , but rarely about their leadership , for we can change it anyway in another 4 years.As i have said before we should be protesting about those bankers and there is no need to go on the streets for that.Just move your funds elsewhere.A building society or the co op

    2. anniexf says:

      It was the investment bankers who brought us to the brink of collapse. It might make some small degree of difference if absolutely everyone moved their private & business accounts to the building societies or the Co-operative Bank (I saw the light 20 years ago & put everything with the Co-op because of its ethical approach, & it paid interest on current a/cs when none of the big banks did). However, would it stop the cocaine-fuelled high rollers on the investment banking side from gambling? I don’t think so!

    3. adrian clarke says:

      Annie i agree about the investment bankers, but it woulsdn’t be our money they were playing with and if they went belly up ,let them

    4. Meg Howarth says:

      Co-operative Bank isn’t entirely in the clear. At least until a few years ago it was openly promoting off-shore accounts in Channel Islands – leaflets on prominent display in my branch. I wrote to the appropriate CI address asking for more info and was struck by the plain brown envelope which contained the reply (couldn’t help admiring the colourful postage stamp, though). On a subsequent visit to my branch, the leaflets had disappeared from public view. Doubtful, however, that the practice had/has ceased. Letter to national newspaper wasn’t published.

  8. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    No blog today to congratulate you for best presenters award ….OF COURSE WE WOULDN’T BE HERE IF WE DIDN’T KNOW THAT ; WE DON’T HOB NOB WITH JUST ANYBODY.

  9. CompetentGovernmentPlease says:

    Is it me or is it Hague? Why on earth does he think more planes will be going into Tripoli? Why is it up to us ‘to run our country, our news and now our own rescues ‘under our own steam?’ In that case, resign so we don’t have to pay him for nothing! Has he not even the seen the reports on Twitter that Tripoli air space is now closed? Even Malta won’t be flying! If this is true, and ordinary voters are ahead of their own government, we taxpayers want our money back! We can’t afford such shoddy service because we have no jobs due to their cuts-they should resign!

  10. Saltaire Sam says:

    Can I use this space to say how impressive Alex Thompson’s reports from Tunisia have been. Balanced but empathetic and delivered with his usual straightforward manner that makes him so trustworthy for viewers. He’s always good but he’s been exceptional these past few nights.

  11. Philip Edwards says:


    Entirely off topic, but first chance I’ve had to congratulate everybody at Channel 4 News on their recent award. It was well earned and deserved.

    Journalists very often run lawyers, accountants and estate agents close in a contest for least liked occupations. Sadly this is all too true thanks to Rupert Murdoch and the usual stable of fellow travellers and ranting righties and spivs.

    But over the years Channel 4 News has maintained a very high level of accuracy, substance, ethics and honest reporting, odd understandable aberration apart. After all, nobody’s perfect.

    I have always found it informative and well worth watching, a welcome light in an otherwise appallingly dark and morally corrupt industry.

    Congratulations to everybody in the team. I look forward to many more broadcasts at the standard you have all evolved through hard work over the years.

    Thank you and well done!

    1. Saltaire Sam says:

      Hear, hear Philip

      NB to C4 blogmeister, this is the point where you would have had an overload of thumbs up, if only they existed

    2. adrian clarke says:

      or maybe a thumbs down from me Saltaire :)

    3. Saltaire Sam says:

      Adrian, there’s always one who thinks he’s the only one in step :-)

  12. Andrew says:

    The main news stories do not seem to be reporting too much detail about the amount of weapons that the UK sold to Libya last year.
    As I am sure you are aware the Guardian newspapers website has a link to the strategic Export Controls Report on the website of the foreign and commonwealth office.(http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/publications-and-documents/publications1/annual-reports/export-controls1)

    The 2010 Report shows that arms sales to Libya in 2010 from the UK are as follows:

    1st Quarter (Jan-March)£8,949,464

    2nd Quarter(April-June);£22,500,961

    3rd Quarter (July-September);£181,767,817

    In my view the arms trade is a terrible thing and we should not be manufacturing arms never mind exporting them, it is however quite interesting to note the increase in arms sales after the general election. I have no idea if this increase is related to the new government but I feel you guys should say some more about these figures given all of the things that are currently happening in Libya.

    1. adrian clarke says:

      Well Andrew in the financial circumstances that would be a hell of a loss to the economy and jobs were it to go.
      Especially if those guardianistas wish to keep advertising non jobs paid for by the public sector out of private sector profits

  13. margaret brandreth-jones says:

    What a contrast remembering and watching James Taylor and Carole King singing ‘You’ve got a friend.’ All these people who have enemies everywhere. I long for less hate to whirl around and don’t understand the driving impulse to hate and control. We see it in petulance, peevishness, bitterness and competition in the UK and it escalates to unreasonable hate and violence in Libya , Egypt , Saudi, Iran ,Iraq Afghanistan et al ..just don’t know why the don’t understand that they’ve got a friend.Call me soft , but this global punk rock sucks.

  14. phil dicks says:

    Dear Santa:

    Thanks for giving me what I asked for last year, a spring-blooming of democracy in the Middle East; much appreciated.
    This year, I wondered if I could get my stable autocracies back.
    Western Leadership.

    PS: Barack’s asking if you could get the Nobel people to stop giving him self-fulfilling prizes. He said: “it makes it look as if I meant it.”

  15. phil dicks says:

    Ye Sonnet(ish):

    Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
    And to be middle-aged was…
    Well, you can’t have everything.

  16. The Right Reverend Nigel says:
  17. Vivien Crew says:

    It was such a difficult decision whether to go into Libya with the no-fly policy – could we stand by and watch a bloodbath? If we’d done nothing, some people would be demonstrating with placards demanding help for the Libyan rebels.

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