In yet another sign of Muammar Qaddafi's loosening grip on power, the fugitive Libyan leader announced today that he would soldier on in Libya by phoning Syria-based Arrai TV, which has aired most of Qaddafi's audio messages through its sister channel Al Oruba since the fall of Tripoli. Bloomberg explains that the station is managed by a Libyan who's close to Qaddafi and owned by former Iraqi lawmaker Mishan Jabouri, who the U.S. has accused of broadcasting secret messages through patriotic songs to the Sunni terrorist group the Islamic Army of Iraq (the BBC adds that Jabouri, a Sunni Arab who was once close to Saddam Hussein, is also notorious for broadcasting television footage of attacks against coalition troops in Iraq). Arrai also has links with Rami Makhlouf, the Syrian telecommunications tycoon and cousin of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Arrai isn't just conveying Qaddafi's messages. According to the BBC, it's also broadcasting statements by his son Saif al-Islam and running pro-Qaddafi news bulletins and commentary on a daily basis. "Even though Arrai is a private channel, it would not have been able to broadcast had it not been approved by the Syrian regime," Stanford's Lina Khatib tells Bloomberg. "By allying himself with Qaddafi like this, Assad is risking alienating himself further from the international community and the Arab community." When Bloomberg contacted Paris-based Eutelsat Communications, which carries the channels through a wholesale arrangement, about its story, Eutelsat said it was trying to shut down Al Oruba and Arrai.