20 Sep 2011

Gaddafi says ‘bombs of Nato will not last’

Libya’s deposed leader Muammar Gaddafi has vowed to defeat the rebels, warning that “Nato’s planes will not be able to continue their operations in Libya”.

Gaddafi before he was toppled (Reuters)

In a written message to Syria-based Arrai television, he said: “What is happening in Libya is a charade which can only take place thanks to the (Nato-led) air raids, which will not last forever”

“The political system in Libya is a system based on the power of the people… and it is impossible that this system be removed.

“The bombs of Nato planes will not last,” he added.

There was no accompanying audio of his voice, but he has used the channel numerous times to put out messages urging his supporters to fight on.

Gaddafi’s whereabouts are unknown since his Tripoli headquarters were sacked by rebel forces over a month ago, but his spokesman said he is still in Libya directing his followers.


His statement came hours after Libya’s interim government claimed its forces had seized the airport and fort in Sabha, one of the last strongholds of forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, which also controls the main route south out of Libya.

Sabha, 770km (480 miles) south of Tripoli and overlooked by an old fort built by Libya’s former Italian colonial rulers, controls the main trail south to neighbouring Niger, an escape route used by members of Gaddafi’s entourage and family.

It is a welcome boost to the rebels after their push to capture Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte and the mountain enclave of Bani Walid stalled following heavy resistance by Gaddafi loyalists.

Political infighting

Meanwhile Libya’s new government, whose factions were previously united in civil war by a hatred of Gaddafi, remains split between pro-western liberals, underground Islamist guerrillas and defectors from Gaddafi’s government.

The National Transitional Council, still based in the eastern city of Benghazi, has faced questions about whether it can unify a country divided on tribal and local lines.

On Sunday interim Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril failed to negotiate a long-promised new cabinet when his proposals did not receive full backing from all current members.

Sources familiar with the negotiations said Jibril’s own role had been a sticking point. There was also disagreement about whether it was right to form a transitional government before declaring Libya “liberated”, which NTC officials say can only happen when all Gaddafi loyalists are defeated.

The NTC has its roots in Libya’s east, but most of the militiamen who finally succeeded in driving Gaddafi out of Tripoli are from towns in the west.