March 16, 2011 / 12:21 AM / 9 years ago

Gaddafi taunts critics, dares them to get him

TRIPOLI, March 15 (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi lashed out on Tuesday at backers of a no-fly zone over his country and urged Libyans to take up arms and prepare to confront a possible invasion by Western powers.

“France now raises its head and says that it will strike Libya,” Gaddafi told a gathering of supporters at his Bab al-Azizia fortified compound in central Tripoli.

“Strike Libya?” he asked. “We’ll be the one who strikes you! We struck you in Algeria, in Vietnam. You want to strike us? Come and give it a try.”

The speech was carried as world powers wrangled over a draft resolution on imposing a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Gaddafi’s advancing forces from using their air superiority to take the rebel capital Benghazi in the east.

In the short, emotional speech, Gaddafi lashed out at Britain for calling for a no-fly zone. “What right do you have? Do we share borders? Are you our tutor?” he asked.

Libyans would fight to the death to defend their country, he said.

He hit out at the Arab League, which has backed a no-fly zone, saying it was “finished,” and the Gulf Cooperation Council, which he said had lost its legitimacy.

“The Arab League is finished. There is no such thing as the Arab league,” he said.

“The Gulf Cooperation Council is finished. It’s actually the ‘Gulf Uncooperative Council’ ... The Arab people (however) remain.”

Reporting by Souhail Karam, editing by Tom Heneghan and Michael Roddy

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