Gaddafi blames revolt on bin Laden as UN, U.S. look into sanctions against Libya

Motivated by recent shows of political strength by neighbors in Egypt, demonstrators in the Middle East and North Africa are taking to the streets of many cities to rally for change.
Compiled by Ian Saleh
Washington Post Staff
Thursday, February 24, 2011; 3:42 PM

Moammar Gaddafi made another statement to protesters in Libya. As Leila Fadel, Liz Sly and Ernesto Londono reported:

In a rambling phone call to Libyan state television, Gaddafi, 68, said young protesters were under the influence of hallucinogenic pills given to them "in their coffee with milk, like Nescafe."

Gaddafi referred repeatedly to the town of Zawiyah, just 30 miles west of Tripoli, which had earlier in the day been the scene of fierce clashes between pro-government forces and anti-government rebels.

After rambling about drugs, al-Qaeda and "youth" for nearly half an hour, Gaddafi told citizens that they would have to choose between stability and chaos, between Gaddafi and the leader of the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

"What do you have to do with bin Laden, people of Zawiyah?" Gaddafi said. "I insist it is bin Laden." He speculated that the United States could invade Libya if the rebellion does not stop. "Please do not disappoint me," Gaddafi warned, "otherwise each will take justice into his own hands to rid us of this darkness."

In parts of Libya, however, government control has completely eroded. As Andrew England explained:

Two men, one in a camouflage jacket and cap, the other in civilian clothes, man a makeshift checkpoint outside an oil terminal on the outskirts of this coastal city in Libya's northeast.

At the entrance to the facility, another group of men, also in plain clothes, stand guard, checking the credentials of anybody who wants to enter. All are civilians and belong to committees the city's residents have formed since Tobruk was "liberated" from the grip of Moammar Gaddafi's regime as a popular uprising swept across his wealthy, oil-producing country.

In Tobruk, there are about 20 committees, whose responsibilities include controlling traffic on the city's now unusually quiet streets, guarding public buildings and ensuring food supplies. In the main square, where a group of young men gather around tents and continue to hold a protest against Gaddafi's 41-year rule, one of the group pushes through the crowd to announce that he is part of the protesters' media committee. Nearby are the gutted remains of an abandoned police station that was at the heart of the battle for the city.

Video: Gaddafi forces strike back in Libya

The United Nations will begin investigations into Gaddafi's crackdown. As AP reported:

The U.N. Security Council agreed Thursday to consider further options against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime that could include sanctions.

Diplomats said Britain's U.N. Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant told the council in closed consultations it was imperative that members look at possible next steps because Gadhafi has failed to heed the council's demand to end the violence against anti-government protesters.

The diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity because the talks were private, said there was agreement among the 15 council nations to discuss further options. No date has been set, but diplomats said closed-door consultations are likely to take place Friday or over the weekend.

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