Muammar Qaddafi's regime has long portrayed the revolt against its rule as an Islamist conspiracy. But in an interview just published by The New York Times, Qaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam, appeared to change course, declared that the regime was secretly partnering with radical Islamist factions among the Libyan rebels in order to sideline the more liberal elements of the opposition. "Libya will look like Saudi Arabia, like Iran. So what?" he asked. The Times' David D. Kirkpatrick explains that the claim, which a Libyan Islamist leader dismissed, may be designed to further divide the rebels following the mysterious death of their military chief, Abdel Fattah Younes. "At times," Kirkpatrick writes, "Mr. Qaddafi's comments sounded like a taunt or a dare to the Western powers, a new version of the Qaddafi argument that by assisting the rebels the Western intervention could usher in a radical Islamist takeover."
While Saif may be floating a new talking point, he did stick to a trusted food metaphor he's been using in recent interviews. In a sit-down with Russia Today in July, Saif compared Libya to a "piece of cake" full of oil, gas, and cash, and accused the rebels and Western powers of regarding Libya as something off of a McDonald's menu to be consumed quickly. In today's interview with the Times, Saif explained "Libya is very sexy ... Libya is a small country, small population, a lot of cash, and oil. So it's a very delicious piece of cake." You can read Kirkpatrick's full write-up here.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.