The Talking Heads are puzzled that Muammar Gaddafi called a press conference, then phoned it in rather than appearing on camera as he is fond of doing. And – he only talked for about 3 minutes. Why would that be? He likely learned a few things the last time his country was attacked, 1986, with Ronald Reagan leading the way. His home (his palace in Tripoli) was hit. He tried to generate a story that his daughter was killed, but most believe that to be a propaganda lie. Gaddafi is surely somewhere bunkered-down, however, because his home received a direct hit then. It is March Madness in the Arab world and a farmer standing at Gaddafi’s palace says he is there to protect Gaddafi, and if his country is attacked he issued this threat:
We will open up Libya’s deserts and allow Africans to flood to Europe to blow themselves up as suicide bombers.”
Al Arabiya quotes a 10-year-old boy standing guard at the palace to protect “our leader.” Libyans clearly do not believe Obama’s pronouncement that we will not putting boots on the ground. If one of those missiles is aimed at the palace (Bab Al-Aziziyah compond), what then for the thousands human shields?
The huge Tripoli complex, which includes military barracks, was the target of a 1986 U.S. bombing of Libya. Then U.S. President Ronald Reagan said it was in retaliation for what he called Libyan complicity in the bombing of a Berlin night club.
The government took foreign reporters to the normally closed site on a rare visit to showcase people’s support for Gaddafi.
Inside the compound’s high olive-green walls, people danced to a song setting an oft-repeated phrase from a recent Gaddafi speeches — “house by house, alley by alley” — to a melody.
Nearby, a man watched the crowd from the back of a pick-up truck equipped with an anti-aircraft gun.
An image of a hand crushing an F-16 fighter was superimposed on the window of a house gutted in the 1986 attack. Men with AK-47 rifles stood nearby. Soldiers looked on from watch towers.
The gates of the compound, the heart of Gaddafi’s powerful security apparatus which is usually off-limits to the general public, were wide open, and people continued to stream into it throughout the evening.
This video shows Gaddafi’s supporters celebrating in the streets – there’s a sign: We’re waiting for you. So are the fishes.”
Libyan rebel Iyad Ali said they will NEVER FORGET that France stood with them, saying Benghazi would have been overrun tonight. Haaretz says the operation to clear a no-fly zone killed 48 and wounded 150 today.
Hours later, U.S. and British warships and submarines launched 110 Tomahawk missiles against air defenses around the capital Tripoli and the western city of Misrata, which has been besieged by Gadhafi’s forces, U.S. military officials said.
Haaretz reports 25 coalition ships, including three U.S. submarines, in the Mediterranean. Admiral Gortney characterized the U.S. as the “leading edge” in the opening phase of the attack – but elsewhere, we hear that France made the first strikes by air.
Our Navy fired cruise missiles about 2 pm EDT today. It took them one hour to reach the targets. Damage could not be assessed until daylight. It’s minutes before 6 am there now. On the map above, you can see both Tripoli and Benghazi are right on the coast.