As Libyan rebels continue to hunt Tripoli for Moammar Qaddafi—and to battle the remnants of his forces—the elusive strongman again delivered two broadcast messages during the night. In a speech carried by the website of the TV station headed by his son Seif al-Islam, he said he had abandoned his Tripoli compound after it had been bombed by NATO warplanes. “Bab al-Azizya was nothing but a heap of rubble after it was the target of 64 NATO missiles and we withdrew from it for tactical reasons,” he said. The speech gave no indication of his whereabouts. In a later audio message on Syria-based Arrai Oruba TV, Qaddafi urged residents to “cleanse Tripoli of rats.” He claimed he had walked the streets of Tripoli incognito, and was heartened by Libyans fighting back against the rebels. (Middle East Online, Aug. 24)
The Libyan rebel leadership has announced a 2 million dinar ($1.7 million) bounty on Qaddafi’s head. Mustafa Abdel Jalil, leader of the National Transitional Council (NTC) said that anyone who kills or captures Qaddafi will be pardoned for any past crimes—a bid to entice one of his inner circle to give him up. Jalil said the money had been raised by unnamed private businessmen.
Jalil also said that if Qaddafi renounces his claim to power, the NTC would give him safe passage to any country that would accept him for exile—even one that is not a member of the International Criminal Court, which has issued a warrant for Qaddafi’s arrest on charges of crimes against humanity. This would effectively allow Qaddafi to escape ICC trial. (CSM, Aug. 24)
The Libyan embassy in Beijing appears to be the latest to switch its loyalty to the new regime. Two days ago, a China Daily photographer snapped a picture of the embassy flying both the green Qaddafi-era flag and the rebel’s resurrected flag of the Kingdom of Libya flying side by side. The green flag was later lowered, with an embassy employee telling Chinese media that “the Qaddafi regime is finished.”
There was further reaction in China to the controversial statement by Abdeljalil Mayouf, an information manager at Libyan rebel-run oil firm, AGOCO, that Beijing could lose oil deals with the post-Qaddafi regime as punishment for not supporting the rebellion. Yin Gang, a senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing told Reuters he doubted that rebel leaders would terminate China’s oil contracts: “This was one individual’s opinion. I can say in four words: They would not dare; they would not dare change any contracts.” (NBC Behind the Wall blog, Aug. 24)