Saturday, March 29, 2008

Gaddafi warns leaders they face the same fate as Saddam

By Duraid Al Baik, Foreign Editor, Published: March 30, 2008

Damascus: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi on Saturday warned Arab leaders to unite or face death.

Gaddafi, whose speech lasted for more than 30 minutes - the longest at the summit's opening session - pointed at the gathered Arab leaders and told them they faced the same fate as former Iraqi president Saddam Hussain.

"Don't say you are friends of the US. Saddam was a close American ally and he fought on its behalf with Iran. He did nothing wrong to the Americans that deserved such a fate," he said. "Saddam was hanged in front of you and no one dare call for an investigation into his execution.
"A foreign force occupied an Arab country and hanged its president and we stood by and watched," Gaddafi said.

"One day, you will see yourselves in a similar situation and at that time no one should blame [anyone] but himself because we did not work sincerely to build a strong and unified Arab nation. Each one of you hates others. Syria is not on good terms with its neighbours, while Libya has stronger ties with Italy than it has with Tunisia or Egypt," he said.

Gaddafi called for a unification between Arab countries in Asia and the African Union and proposed rich Arab countries invest in Africa.
He told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Palestinians achieved nothing from their meetings with Israelis and there should be a democratic state in the region that combines both Israelis and Palestinians under one authority.

Despite his fierce comments, Gaddafi's speech elicited laughter on several occasions.
Commenting on the speech, Touati Slimani, an Algerian political analyst, said Gaddafi always has the ability to reflect the opinions of ordinary Arab people and was the only leader in the Arab world speaking in a transparent and direct way.

Slimani said even if some Arabs feel that Gaddafi is idealistic or comical, he appeals to many ordinary Arabs.
"Gaddafi bears part of the responsibility for the declining situation. He should work to [increase] hope," Slimani said.
On Saturday, Libya lashed out at the West over the low turnout at the Damascus summit, boycotted by half of the leaders who blame Syria for the crisis in Lebanon.

"There has been US pressure on Arab countries to reduce their participation," Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Rahman Shalgham told reporters.
"And the latest is that [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy is interfering in Arab affairs.
"We as Arabs do not interfere in European summits. It has become a farce and this situation must be remedied by a joint Arab effort," he added.
On Thursday, Sarkozy said he supported the decision by Saudi Arabian and Egyptian leaders to send only low-level delegations. (GulfNews)


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