Qaddafi: Oh, I Actually Gave the People the Power Back in 1977

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Photo: CNN

Remember how Muammar Qaddafi was sure the only reason his people were revolting against him was because Al Qaeda spiked their Nescafé with hallucinogens? Well, he's got a new theory now. In his latest meandering, nonsensical, possibly Nescafé-addled rant, Qaddafi says it's all the fault of former Guantanamo Bay prisoners who were released to Libya and then freed, but turned out to be members of an Al Qaeda sleeper cell. No word yet on the sleeper agents' relative Nescafé consumption. But according to Qaddafi, it doesn't matter who is inciting violence, he is powerless to give the protesters what they want. Says CNN:

Gadhafi responded to protesters' demands that he step down by saying he has "no authority" that he can relinquish. He said the Libyan people hold power in the country, explaining that he and others gave it to them in 1977.

It's true that in 1977, Qaddafi invented (!) a new system of government called the Jamahiriya, or state of the masses, which Time magazine describes as a system where a country "is supposedly governed by the populace through local councils." But although Qaddafi technically holds no formal office — besides Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution — the Jamahiriya "has been dismissed by several international observers, including the CIA, as a military dictatorship." Which helps explain why Qaddafi's sons can afford to hire Mariah Carey to perform in St. Barts while a third of Libyans live below the poverty line.

Hours before Qaddafi's speech, rebels appeared to regain control of al-Brega, the headquarters of several oil companies, in the east after pro-Qaddafi forces tried to take over the town. But there are conflicting reports as to who is now in control of the oil refinery city. Meanwhile, ignited by rumors that al-Brega had fallen to Qaddafi, rebel forces headed to reinforce support in Ajdabiya, after a military aircraft bombed camps on the outskirts.

Britain is now backing away from its stance on the no-fly zone to help protesters after the Obama administration distanced itself from the proposal. The West's reversal comes just as the rebel council in Benghazi is debating whether to ask the United Nations to sanction air strikes, something it previously opposed.

Gadhafi blames unrest on former prisoners at Guantanamo Bay [CNN]
Gadhafi Forces Retake Oil Plant as Lines Harden [WSJ]
Qaddafi Vows to Fight to the ‘Last Man’ as Rebels Are Hit [NYT]
Cameron retreats from Libya no-fly plan after US shows caution [Guardian UK]
Related: The U.S. and Europe Contemplate Military Intervention in Libya