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Gaddafi’s Son Defiant: Calls Rebels 'Rats,” Predicts Another Vietnam For U.S.

In interview with Le Monde, Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi doesn't exclude a cease-fire and negotiations, but otherwise strikes an aggressive posture toward the rebels and the West.

Rebel forces near Brega (Al Jazeera)
Rebel forces near Brega (Al Jazeera)
Jean-Philippe Remy

TRIPOLI - Among Muammar Gaddafi's children, Saif Al-Islam was the one with the ambition to become Libya's reformer. The Libyan leader's second son lived and studied abroad and was the presentable face of the regime in the West. But when the insurrection broke out in February, this former engineer stunned the world in a televised speech in which he vowed to fighting against the rebels in Eastern Libya ""until the last man, the last woman, the last bullet."

Four months later, he's playing a key role in Tripoli. Because of NATO strikes, he's very secretive about his whereabouts but he says this last afternoon he went "swimming in the sea." Since June 20, he's facing an arrest warrant by the International Criminal Court (ICC), like his father and the head of Libyan intelligence.

Le Monde: Do you feel you are the target of NATO strikes?
Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi: NATO bombed my own house, my father's office, his tent and other places where they believe my father could be. They're trying to kill him. This shows they are gangsters, a group of criminals. I don't think the Security Council's resolution says, "You have to kill Mister Gaddafi," or my brother (Saif Al-Arab, Gaddafi's youngest son, killed with his family by a NATO strike in May,) or kill the children of Libya.

How do you deal with the International Criminal Court warrants?
Two months ago, several countries called us saying: "If you go into exile, we'll halt the charges. We'll fix this." That means it's not a real tribunal. It's a tool to put pressure on us. But right now we're thinking about the battle more than the ICC. God is with us, we will fight and we will win. They (the NTC and the rebels) are on the side of evil. They commit horrors. Benghazi is like Mogadishu, with terrorists everywhere.

You refer to the National Transitional Council (NTC) as "they." Are they not rebels?
I call them rats. There is no way they'll take control of Libya through NATO and France. Rats are very proud of themselves. They were nobodies, now they are invited to the Elysee Palace and 10 Downing Street, and by Obama. They have planes and submarines fighting a war for them. It's like in the movies, but the people don't support them. One day you'll remember what I said: rats will never control this country. They are traitors. They work with Europeans, with Americans and others to bomb their own people.

Some African countries also support the NTC.
France has its servants in Africa. They don't worship God, they worship the Elysee Palace. Some have their reasons. Abdoulaye Wade (the Senegalese President) received 20 million euros for his son (Karim, his possible successor.) Qatar paid for it. Our spies tell us everything. But we have many friends on the continent.

The crisis started with an uprising against Libyan power.
What is really at stake here is money, money, money and oil. Nobody supports the Syrian rebels. But here, there's oil. Libya is a giant cake that other countries want to share. That's enough: we're not in a bazaar. They're shedding people's blood in order to sign contracts.

Nicolas Sarkozy invited Muammar Gaddafi to Paris in 2007. Now France supports the NTC. What happened?
We thought of Sarkozy as our best friend in Europe. The relationship he had with my father was so special. We even had ties to his ex-wife. We had a sort of family relationship with him. Overnight he changed his mind. We heard he was angry because we didn't sign many contracts with France. We didn't by the Rafale (fighter jets). Brazil and Abu Dhabi didn't buy it either. Does France go and bomb them too? There's still a chance to mend this friendship. If you keep bombing us, you won't get anything. And rebels will never win. Oil, Rafale, contracts: Over! Total (French oil company)? Over! As for (the rebels), soon they'll disappear. If you want to do business in Libya, you should come to the right address. Right now, you're dealing with the wrong people.

Is there still fighting on the front?
There are only hundreds of rebel fighters, about 800 or a thousand in the whole country. They are relatively strong because they have NATO fighting for them, with money, media, arms and Apache (helicopters.) The Tornados, the Rafales, the Charles-de-Gaulle. The 6th flotilla (US), the Awacs. This is not a joke. If you supported Mickey Mouse with such means, Mickey Mouse would be somebody in Libya! Despite all this, they're losing ground every day.

What if NATO stopped its strikes? Would you stop the war?
With or without NATO, even if the devil helps the rebels, they will lose! Americans supported South Vietnam for a long time and in the end they had to run away. Today, Americans are trying to please the Taliban in Afghanistan, and are negotiating with them. The French Mirage 2000 are sent from Corsica, the British Tornadoes from Sicily. They carry out missions from Europe to bomb a Land Cruiser in Libya and go back to their bases. Do you think they will control Libya by doing this? Those on the ground will win.

The NATO operation is particularly stupid and ill prepared. Everything was done in a hurry. A fast-food campaign, a McDonald's campaign. We have our army. We have more ammunition, more arms. Morale is high. The others are getting weaker.

If negotiation is possible, can it stop the conflict?
You want peace? We're ready. You want democracy? We're ready. You want elections? We're ready. You want Libya to become like Switzerland? We're ready. You want a new Constitution? We're ready. You want war? We're ready too. We're ready for all the options.

I love democracy. I want Libya to be the Switzerland or Austria of the Middle East. I want us to have a modern economy, a modern democracy, with freedom and elections. But if you want war, we love to fight! Until death. Let the Libyans decide if they want a monarchy, a republic or anything else.

What are the chances that the negotiations will have a positive outcome?
Let us organize elections with observers from around the world and in a transparent manner.

Elections for what purpose? At what level?
On all levels. Just ask. We can set up a transition government with technocrats from across the country, for a three or four-month long transition. Then we write a new constitution. Elections will follow right after and we'll return to peace. Libya is not Iraq. Children will be able to go back to school, we'll travel, we'll swim in the sea, we'll do business, that's it. There are 5 million of us, we're rich, we can agree. It's only a problem because of the others, NATO, France, the UK, Italy, the US, Turkey and Qatar.

Will you judge the crimes that were committed?
In Benghazi, there is horror and you can them "freedom fighter." They accused Gaddafi of bombing Tripoli. There is no proof. Where are the victims? This time, they have a new story: rapes. We rape women and take Viagra. It's a real movie! And you know another story: we'd be ready to attack with chemical weapons. All this to make the situation "sexy." Like they did with Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

Does this country need a President?
No, this country needs strong local powers with a federal system.

What can your father's place be then?
My father isn't taking part in the negotiations. It's a Libyan conflict, with Libyans and traitors, militias, terrorists. Do you think we can find a solution that doesn't involve him? No, that's impossible.

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photo - Al Jazeera

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Influencer Union? The Next Labor Rights Battle May Be For Social Media Creators

With the end of the Hollywood writers and actors strikes, the creator economy is the next frontier for organized labor.

​photograph of a smartphone on a selfie stick

Smartphone on a selfie stick

Steve Gale/Unsplash
David Craig and Stuart Cunningham

Hollywood writers and actors recently proved that they could go toe-to-toe with powerful media conglomerates. After going on strike in the summer of 2023, they secured better pay, more transparency from streaming services and safeguards from having their work exploited or replaced by artificial intelligence.

But the future of entertainment extends well beyond Hollywood. Social media creators – otherwise known as influencers, YouTubers, TikTokers, vloggers and live streamers – entertain and inform a vast portion of the planet.

✉️ You can receive our Bon Vivant selection of fresh reads on international culture, food & travel directly in your inbox. Subscribe here.

For the past decade, we’ve mapped the contours and dimensions of the global social media entertainment industry. Unlike their Hollywood counterparts, these creators struggle to be seen as entertainers worthy of basic labor protections.

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