Just last week Sunday Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said Palestinians should capitalize on the wave of popular revolts in the Middle East by massing peacefully on the borders of Israel until it gives in to their demands, "Fleets of boats should take Palestinians ... and wait by the Palestinian shores until the problem is resolved," Gaddafi was shown saying on state television. "This is a time of popular revolutions."
After anti-government unrest spread to the Libyan capital and protesters seized military bases and weapons on Sunday, Muammar Gaddafi’s son went on state television to proclaim that his father remained in charge with the army’s backing and would “fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet.”
Seif al-Islam Gaddafi, in the regime’s first comments on the six days of demonstrations, warned the protesters that they risked igniting a civil war in which Libya’s oil wealth “will be burned”.
The speech followed a fierce crackdown by security forces who fired on thousands of demonstrators and funeral marchers in the eastern city of Benghazi in a bloody cycle of violence that killed 60 people on Sunday, according to a doctor in one city hospital. Since the unrest began, more than 200 people have been killed, according to medical officials, human rights groups and exiled dissidents.
Libya’s response has been the harshest of any Arab country that has been hit by protests that toppled long-serving leaders in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. But Mr. Gaddafi’s son said his father would prevail.
“We are not Tunisia and Egypt,” he said. “Muammar Gaddafi, our leader, is leading the battle in Tripoli, and we are with him.
“The armed forces are with him. Tens of thousands are heading here to be with him. We will fight until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet,” he said in a rambling and sometimes confused speech of nearly 40 minutes.
Although the elder Gaddafi did not appear, his son has often been put forward as the regime’s face of reform.
UPDATE Feb 21, 2011 1054:AM New York TimeGaddafi flees Tripoli as protesters set the Libyan parliament building alight
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