In a defiant and rambling speech as protests rage in Libya, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi urged Libyans to take to the streets and defend his regime against "the greasy rats” calling for the end of his 42-year iron grip on the country.
Qaddafi blamed the unrest blazing through Libya’s streets on foreigners, young people taking hallucinogenic drugs, and subversive forces who he said were paid to instigate the violence.
Practically yelling in Arabic, Qaddafi urged those who “love” him to fight for his regime. “Get out of your homes, secure the streets, take the greasy rats out of the streets... chase them,” he said, according to the Al-Jazeera translation.
“Do you want America to come and occupy you? Our country will become like Afghanistan. Is that what you want?” Qaddafi continued. “Go out on the streets, chase them, take their arms from them, prosecute them.”
Qaddafi escalated his crackdown on the protesters on Monday, when warplanes and militia fired on the crowds, the latest in a campaign of violence that’s also included pro-regime drive-by shootings. The revolt against Qaddafi’s rule began on February 15 when riot police clashed with protesters, who have since taken control of Benghazi, the country’s second-largest city. Protesters also set fire to security and police buildings in two other cities.
“Do you want Benghazi to be destroyed? Cut off from electricity and water?" he said today. "These rats can reach the oil fields and blow them up. Benghazi -- I built it block by block and we are still building it, and they are coming to destroy it.”
Nonetheless, Qaddafi insisted he has "not yet given the orders" to use bullets on protesters. He also said that he is the leader of the revolution and will not leave Libya but would rather die a "martyr."
“Fighting will carry on street by street until Libyan soil is liberated," he said. "Anyone who undermines the sovereignty of the state will be punished with death…. I will fight until the last drop of my blood.”
Qaddafi is not the only one calling for Libyans to act. One influential Muslim cleric is calling on Libyan soldiers to assassinate Qaddafi and disobey the regime's orders to fire on anti-government protesters, as Libyan diplomats call for help from the international community.
"Whoever in the Libyan army is able to shoot a bullet at Qaddafi should do so... to rid Libya of him," said Egyptian-born cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who issued a fatwa against the Libyan leader, on Al-Jazeera television.
Libya’s own diplomats have turned on Qaddafi. “This regime is shaking. And this is the time to get rid of him,” Libya’s recently resigned ambassador to the U.S., Ali Suleiman Aujali, said on ABC’s "Good Morning America."