Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi will fight to the death — regardless of the murderous destruction it inflicts upon his country, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Judith Miller tells Newsmax.TV. As Libya joined the phalanx of Mideast nations teetering from or falling to popular protests, Miller says the United States was wise to take a low-key approach to the uprisings.
The Gadhafi regime has lost control of half of the country but has not, and will not, relinquish control of the rest voluntarily, Miller said in the exclusive interview. Comments from Gadhafi’s son Mutassim that the family will fight to “the last man, woman, child, and bullet in the country” are disturbing, said Miller, a contributor to Newxmax.com and a contributing editor to Newsmax magazine.
“I think, unfortunately, all the indications are it’s going to end badly,” she said. “Gadhafi’s words are something that everyone has to consider carefully because it’s very clear at this point that he doesn’t want to join Tunisia’s Ben Ali in that compound for deposed dictators in Riyadh. He does not see himself as living in exile. He intends to fight it out.”
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Estimates coming out of Libya are that 500 to 1,000 people have been killed, some by foreign mercenaries Gadhafi hired, said Miller, who was chief of The New York Times’ Cairo bureau before winning a Pulitzer Prize as part of a team that wrote a series on Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida.
Gadhafi also has threatened to blow up oil pipelines in a scorched-earth campaign that could push oil prices to $400 a barrel and, by some estimates, propel gas prices to $15 a gallon at the pumps.
His main goal now is “to terrify the West, to make it impossible for people who care about the stability of the world economic system to keep rooting for the underdog, in this case the protesters,” she said. “He is certainly capable of doing that, but the problem at least for Gadhafi is most of the oil assets themselves are in the western part of the country which is now in the protestors hands.”
Turning to Saudi Arabia, Miller said calls for a day of rage there, against the world’s largest oil exporter, could gain traction. They probably are behind the return of King Abdullah, who has been out of the country receiving medical care. Upon his return, he announced new wage and pension benefits.
The hope is that, “by giving a little more up front immediately before protests start, they can ward off the kind of instability that has already brought down two autocrats in the region and could possibly threaten them,” she said.
The Obama administration was “feeling its way” regarding the situation in Egypt that led to the downfall of President Hosni Mubarak, she said. The United States was caught between allegiance to a stalwart ally and a desire to support demands for democracy. The administration seems to understand that the less said, the better, with vague commitments to the goals of the protesters.
“I think the United States has been pretty wise for the moment staying out of it,” Miller said. “The United States was a marginal factor in the protests and then the mass demonstrations that swept through Cairo and Tunisia. There were no American flags burning in the streets of Tunis or Tahrir Square, and I think the Americans’ deliberately low-key response to these events has insured that the ire of the Arab world has not been turned on Washington as yet.”
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