RAS LANOUF: A high-ranking member of the Libyan military flew to Cairo on Wednesday with a message for Egyptian army officials from Moammar Qaddafi, whose troops pounded opposition forces with artillery barrages and gunfire in at least two major cities.
Qaddafi appeared to be keeping up the momentum he has seized in recent days in his fight against rebels trying to move on the capital, Tripoli, from territory they hold in eastern Libya.
Qaddafi’s successes have left Western powers struggling to come up with a plan to support the rebels without becoming ensnared in the complex and fast-moving conflict.
President Barack Obama’s most senior advisers were meeting Wednesday to outline what steps are realistic and possible to pressure Qaddafi to halt the violence and give up power.
They planned to examine the ramifications of a no-fly zone over Libya and other potential military options, US officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss internal administration deliberations.
Britain and France are pushing for the UN to create a no-fly zone over the country, and while the US may be persuaded to sign on, such a move is unlikely to win the backing of veto-wielding Security Council members Russia and China, which traditionally object to such steps as infringements on national sovereignty.
In Cairo, an Egyptian army official told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that Maj. Gen Abdul-Rahman bin Ali Al-Saiid Al-Zawi, the head of Libya’s logistics and supply authority, was asking to meet Egypt’s military rulers.
There have been no public contacts between the Libyan regime and Egypt’s ruling generals since the Libyan uprising broke out on Feb. 15, and there have been no known government-related flights during that time.
Qaddafi said in a Turkish television interview that Libyans would fight back if Western nations imposed a no-fly zone to prevent his regime from using its air force to bomb government opponents staging a rebellion.
He said imposing the restrictions would prove the West’s real intention was to seize his country’s oil wealth.
"Such a situation would be useful," Qaddafi said. "The Libyan people would understand their real aims to take Libya under their control, to take their freedoms and to take their oil and all Libyan people will take up arms and fight."
Qaddafi spoke with Turkey’s state-run TRT Turk television late Tuesday after a surprise appearance at a hotel where foreign journalists are staying in Tripoli.
In separate remarks, he called on Libyans in the rebel-held east of the country to take back control from the opposition leaders who have seized the territory.
Forces loyal to the Libyan leader have been fighting rebels in the east as well as in a handful of towns close to the capital Tripoli, where he has total control.
Libyan state television also broadcast remarks by Qaddafi addressing a group of youths from the town of Zintan, 120 kilometers southwest of Tripoli. Qaddafi again blamed Al-Qaeda operatives from Egypt, Algeria, Afghanistan and the Palestinian territories for the turmoil roiling his country since Feb. 15.
State television broadcast Qaddafi’s address early on Wednesday, but did not say when the Libyan leader had spoken.
Qaddafi has been in power since 1969, when he led a military coup that topple the monarchy.
In the TRT Turk interview, Qaddafi said there were no legitimate grounds for a foreign intervention in his country, insisting that Libya was only fighting Al-Qaeda as in Afghanistan or Pakistan.