Muammar Gaddafi taunted the
anti-government rebels while their ragtag army, reminiscent of the film Mad
Max, were forced to retreat to their last remaining stronghold, Benghazi.
The North African country’s
government predicted victory over the protesters within days while world powers
debated imposing a no-fly zone to help stop him.
But in a televised speech, a
defiant Gaddafi teased Western countries that have backed the imposition of a
no-fly zone to come and get him.
He also condemned the rebels as
rats, dogs, hypocrites and traitors.
The rebels’ eastern capital looked
highly vulnerable after government troops took control of the junction at
Ajdabiyah, opening the way to Benghazi.
‘The town of Ajdabiyah has been
cleansed of mercenaries and terrorists linked to the Al Qaeda organisation,’
state TV said, referring to the rebels fighting to end Gaddafi’s 41 years of
Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam told
France-based TV channel Euronews: ‘Everything will be over in 48 hours.’
Asked about discussions among world
powers to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, he replied: ‘The military operations
In 48 hours everything will be
Our forces are close to Benghazi.
Whatever decision is taken, it will be too late.’
Nato has set three conditions for
it to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya: regional support, proof its help is
needed and a Security Council resolution.
An Arab League call for a no-fly
zone satisfies the first condition, but with access to most of Libya barred by
Gaddafi’s security forces, hard evidence that Nato intervention is needed to
avert atrocities or a humanitarian disaster is scarce.
Supporters of a no-fly zone to halt
Libyan government air strikes on rebels circulated a draft resolution at the
U.N. Security Council that would authorise one, but other states said questions
Veto powers Russia, China and the
United States, along with Portugal, Germany and South Africa are among the
members that have doubts about the idea of a no-fly zone for Libya.
Meanwhile Gaddafi taunted France,
in particular, about threatening to impose a no-fly zone. The 68-year-old told
a group of supporters at his Bab al-Azizia fortified compound in central
Tripoli: ‘France now raises its head and says that it will strike Libya.
‘Strike Libya?’ he
asked. ‘We’ll be the one who strikes you! We struck you in Algeria, in Vietnam.
You want to strike us? Come and give it a