Amid reports of at least 250 protesters killed today alone, scores of Libyan diplomats resigning and trying to distance themselves from Gaddafi and news that the airspace over Tripoli has been closed, making evacuations impossible, there are reports that Gaddafi is going to address the nation shortly – or possibly hold an interview according to the BBC.
CNN has just shown video of Gaddafi getting into a car with a very big umbrella saying he is not in Venezuela – “I’m still here” – but it’s unclear whether that is the “speech” promised earlier or just a preview. The screen on Libyan State TV went quickly to green.
A critical development prior to this speech is the announcement that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual mentor of the Muslim Brotherhood, an immensely influential leader across the region, went on Al Jazeera Arabic and said: (per Sultan AlQassemi):
I call upon the Libyan army not to obey Gaddafi’s order… the Libyan army should not lose their entire population for the sake of one man, one crazy man
I am issuing a Fatwa now to kill Gaddafi. To any army soldier, to any man who can pull the trigger & kill this man to do so.
And the BBC reports from AJA that:
2300: A group of Libyan army officers issue a statement urging fellow soldiers to “join the people” and help to remove Col Gaddafi, Al Jazeera reports.
CNN has managed to get Ben Wedeman into Libya and he is beginning to broadcast reports. I’d follow him on twitter at @bencnn to see what he finds – with his fluent Arabic and experience in the region, his reporting should be very good.
Calls are increasing for international action to stop Gaddafi with an emergency session due at the UN tonight and at the Arab League tomorrow morning. Libya’s own “deputy ambassador Dabbashi to UN” is asking: “No fly zone should be called over Libya” according to AJE.
In Washington, Sec. Clinton finally had something to say:
“The world is watching the situation in Libya with alarm. We join the international community in strongly condemning the violence in Libya. Our thoughts and prayers are with those whose lives have been lost, and with their loved ones. The government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of the people, including the right to free expression and assembly. Now is the time to stop this unacceptable bloodshed. We are working urgently with friends and partners around the world to convey this message to the Libyan government.”
UPDATE – From SultanAlQassemi on Twitter:
Yep. That’s it. 15 seconds. One tweet. #Gaddafi #Libya #Massacre
4 minutes ago Favorite Retweet Reply
Must see: Gaddafi on Libyan State TV. “I am not in Venezuela. So don’t believe these dog channels” #Libya