Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Not Home By Christmas: Gadhafi, Under Attack, Has History of Digging In

Inside Col. Moammar Gadhafi's Bab Azizya residential complex, where a building was struck this weekend by coalition fighter jets, stands another, older ruin.

It is a previous home of Col. Gadhafi, struck by U.S. airstrikes in 1986 after Libya was implicated in a deadly Berlin discotheque bombing. The damaged home has been kept intact as a "house of perseverance" and a monument to Libyan defiance against the attack. In front stands a statue of a fist crushing a U.S. fighter plane. It was here, when Libya's anti-Gadhafi demonstrations first turned violent, that Col. Gadhafi angrily rallied his supporters on television to pursue his enemies "from house to house."

The coalition airstrikes against Libyan military targets that started this weekend were aimed at preventing Col. Gadhafi from finishing off opposition groups in the east and in other pockets around Libya. Among the targets hit was a building in Bab Azizya, Col. Gadhafi's residence-cum-military barrack, that officials said was used for administrative purposes.

If Col. Gadhafi's past serves as a guide, the international attacks will set the leader's resolve to fight back at any cost against enemies inside the country and out. "The more you challenge him, the more he'll dig in," said George Joffe, a Libya expert at Cambridge University.

The offensive also appears to have fed Col. Gadhafi's view of himself as a champion of the masses across the world. (read more)