By Maggie Michael, Associated Press, in Toronto Star, February 22, 2011
CAIRO—Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi vowed to fight on to his “last drop of blood” and roared at his supporters to take to the streets against protesters demanding his ouster, shouting and pounding his fist in a furious speech Tuesday after two nights of a bloody crackdown in the capital trying to crush the uprising that has fragmented his regime.
It was the second time Gadhafi has appeared during the week of upheaval across his country.
Swathed in brown robes and a turban, he spoke on state TV from behind a podium in the entrance of his bombed-out Tripoli residence hit by U.S. airstrikes in the 1980s and left unrepaired as a monument of defiance.
At times the camera panned back to show a towering monument of a gold-colored fist crushing an American fighter jet, outside the building.
But at the same time, the view gave a surreal image of the Libyan leader, shouting and waving his arms wildly all alone in a broken-down lobby with no audience, surrounded by broken tiles dangling from the ceiling, shattered conrete pillars and bare plumbing pipes.
“Libya wants glory, Libya wants to be at the pinnacle, at the pinnacle of the world,” he proclaimed, pounding his fist on the podium.
“I am a fighter, a revolutionary from tents . . . I will die as a martyr at the end,” he said, vowing to fight “to my last drop of blood.”
With approximately 2% of the world's oil production, most of it going to Europe, the unrest in Libya has resulted in a signifiant spike in world oil prices, up $4 on New York prices, and up $6 in London.
While the source of supply may be threatened, the impact of Libya's ordering his people to take to the streets to fight the protesters will likely reverberate throughout the region. He is obviously not going to adopt the paths of the leaders of Egypy and Tunisia. And the Iranian regime seems as determined to fight the protesters as does Gadhafi.
And to listen to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "tell" the Libyan dictator to stop the violence against his people is a little like listening to one's own voice in a large cave, echoing several times, without having any impact.
In fact, one of the open questions of these uprisings in Africa and the Middle East is what kind and degree of leverage does the U.S. with individual leaders, armies and nations in the region.
Another open and significant question is whether oil will continue to pass through the Gulf of Hormuz and into the Mediterranean and from there to the rest of the world.
And given the nervousness of the markets already, is there little doubt that we could see oil prices as high as $125 --$150 if these disturbances are not quelled, repelled and/or quashed, by political action, moderation and negotiation.