Gaddafi: US will face a bloody war if it enters Libya

Libyan leader tells audience of loyalists that al Qaida responsible for unrest in country; says conspiracy exists to control Libya and its oil; calls on int'l community to set up fact finding c'tee into turmoil.

Gaddafi 311 reuters (photo credit: reuters)
Gaddafi 311 reuters
(photo credit: reuters)
Muammar Gaddafi, orchestrating a populist response to rebels threatening his rule, blamed al Qaida on Wednesday for creating turmoil and told applauding supporters there was a conspiracy to control Libya and its oil.
Gaddafi, who said no more than 150 people were killed in the unrest caused by "terrorists", told an audience of loyalists in a speech shown live on state television that if Washington or other foreign powers entered Libya they would face a bloody war.
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Apparently confident and relaxed, but in denial about the occupation of swathes of Libya by rebels seeking an end to his long rule, Gaddafi said he was willing to discuss constitutional change without arms or chaos and would even talk with al Qaida.
"I am ready to debate any one of them, one of their 'emirs', but they do not have demands at all," he said.
"There is a conspiracy to control the Libyan oil and to control the Libyan land, to colonize Libya once again."
Speaking to supporters who punctuated the address with cheers of support and declarations of loyalty, he said Libyans would fight to the "last man and last woman" against foreigners.
"We will enter a bloody war and thousands and thousands of Libyans will die if the United States enters or NATO enters," Gaddafi said, laughing at points during his long address.
"Do they want us to become slaves once again like we were slaves to the Italians ... We will never accept it," he said. On the sequence of events that started the unrest, Gaddafi, who in a previous speech said protesters against his rule were brain-washed by Osama bin Laden and had their milk and Nescafe spiked with hallucinogenic drugs, said: "How did that all begin? Small, sleeper al Qaida cells."
Wearing long, white robes, a brown head-dress and gesticulating, Gaddafi said: "Al Qaida's cells attacked security forces and took over their weapons ... After Bayda, the Qaida cells moved to Benghazi and Derna".
Gaddafi, 68, said there were no protests against his rule and that "underground groups" were whipping people up and reports by the media to the contrary were wrong. There were no political prisoners in Libya, he said.
The international community should set up a fact-finding committee to find out just how many people had been killed in the Libyan unrest, he said.
Gaddafi, who once said democracy was for donkeys, told the meeting that the world did not understand the Libyan system that puts power in the hands of the people.
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Click for full Jpost coverage of turmoil in the Middle East
Meanwhile, forces loyal to Gaddafi attacked the major oil export terminal of Marsa El Brega in the first sign of a counter-offensive by Libya's leader in the rebel-controlled east, which rebels said they had repulsed.
Arab television and rebel officers said earlier the Libyan military operation was successful but a spokesman for the opposition coalition in Benghazi said Gaddafi forces had fled.
Anti-Gaddafi forces have been firmly in charge of eastern Libya up to Marsa El Brega and some areas beyond, since shortly after anti-government protests erupted in mid-February.
"They tried to take Brega this morning, but they failed. It is back in the hands of the revolutionaries. He (Gaddafi) is trying to create all kinds of psychological warfare to keep these cities on edge," Mustafa Gheriani, a spokesman for the rebel February 17th Coalition, told Reuters.
"We are probably going to call for foreign help, probably air strikes at strategic locations that will put the nail in his (Gaddafi's) coffin," he said.