Letter to president also wishes him luck with his re-election bid
In a rambling, three-page letter to Obama obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, Gadhafi implored Obama to stop the NATO-led air campaign, which the Libyan called an “unjust war against a small people of a developing country.”
The letter arrived as U.S. military officials said Gadhafi’s forces have made some hard-fought gains, seizing the coastal town of Brega from the rebel forces. The officials told NBC News that the Libyan forces appear to be “positioning” themselves to move eastward and make another run at Ajdabiya within the next couple of days.
“You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action,” Gadhafi wrote in the letter that was sent to the State Department and forwarded immediately to the White House, according to a U.S. official who has seen the letter. “I am sure that you are able to shoulder the responsibility for that.”
“To serving world peace … Friendship between our peoples … and for the sake of economic, and security cooperation against terror, you are in a position to keep Nato off the Libyan affair for good,” Gadhafi wrote.
Miseries abound for besieged Libyans
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rebuffed the personal appeal, saying Gadhafi should impose a cease-fire, withdraw his forces and go into exile.
“With respect to the letter you referred to, I think that Mr. Gaddafi knows what he must do,” Clinton told a news conference with Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini.
In the letter, which the White House confirmed it had received earlier Wednesday, Gadhafi says his country had been hurt more morally than physically by the NATO campaign and that a democratic society could not be built through missiles and aircraft. He also repeated his claim that his foes are members of the al-Qaida terrorist network.
Addressing Obama as “our son” and “excellency,” the letter was composed in formal but stilted English, and includes numerous spelling and grammatical errors.
“Our dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama, your intervention is the name of the U.S.A. is a must, so that Nato would withdraw finally from the Libyan affair,” Gadhafi wrote. “Libya should be left to Libyans within the African union frame.”
Gadhafi said his country had already been unfairly subjected to “a direct military armed aggression” ordered by then-President Ronald Reagan, who famously called the leader the “Mad Dog of the Middle East,” in 1986, as well as earlier rounds of U.S. and international sanctions.
Although he listed a litany of complaints, Gadhafi said he bears no ill will toward Obama.
“We have been hurt more morally (than) physically because of what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you,” he wrote. “Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened. We still pray that you continue to be president of the U.S.A. We Endeavour and hope that you will gain victory in the new election campaigne.”
The letter, dated April 5, 2011, in Tripoli is signed by “Mu’aumer Qaddaffi, Leader of the Revolution.”
The uprising against Gadhafi began in February, and U.S.-led airstrikes had initially thrown the Libyan military into disarray and given rebels the chance to seize several cities.
But a senior U.S. military official said the rebels are “no match” for the Libyan military, which is an “organized, capable, disciplined, and well-armed military force.”
NATO officials warned Wednesday that Libyan military forces now “pose a direct threat” to Ajdabiya, with an eye toward attacking the unofficial rebel capital city of Benghazi. The officials again said the Libyan military has “increasingly shifted to non-conventional tactics” by using civilian vehicles to blend in with traffic, and positioning their tanks and armored vehicles within cities to use the civilian population as “human shields.”
Slideshow: Conflict in Libya (on this page)
Despite the increased difficulty in targeting Libyan military from the air, NATO reported airstrikes against Libyan forces, logistics and munitions supply chains in an effort to cut off ammo and supply routes.
NATO reported that Libyan military capabilities have been reduced by 30 percent, the same number it reported four days ago.
Also on Wednesday:
•Several members of Gadhafi’s inner circle want to defect but are too scared about the safety of their families and friends to do so, Libya’s former energy minister said. Omar Fathi bin Shatwan, who also served as Libya’s industry minister, said that he had fled by fishing boat to Malta on Friday from the western city of Misrata. Shatwan, who left the government in 2007, said he still was in contact with some top government figures. He explained that many feared for their safety if they flee — in some cases, their families are under siege, he said.
•A former Republican congressman was due to meet with Moammar Gadhafi Wednesday in a bid to persuade the Libyan leader to step down and allow democratic elections. Writing in The New York Times, Curt Weldon said it would be “very hard” to bomb Gadhafi into submission and suggested one of his sons, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, could play a “constructive role” in a new government. Weldon, a representative from Pennsylvania from 1987 to 2007, who has been to Libya and met Gadhafi before, said there were others within the regime who could be part of any “new Libya.”
•A U.S. envoy arrived in Benghazi, site of rebel headquarters, to get to know the opposition and discuss possible financial and humanitarian assistance, a U.S. official said. The visit by Chris Stevens, former deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, reflects a U.S. effort to deepen contacts with the rebels, whose uprising began on Feb. 15.