The U.S. government has expressed some concern about Libya's chemical weapon supplies and dictator Muammar Gaddafi's irrationality, as protesters march on the Libyan capital of Tripoli. The demonstrators claim to be acting to preempt any Gaddafi's retaliation, in light of his comments Friday about arming loyalists to strike back at the rebels and brutal government crackdowns.
"When you have a guy who's as irrational as Gadhafi with some serious weapons at his disposal, it's always a concern," an unnamed U.S. official told the Wall Street Journal. "But we haven't yet seen him move to use any kind of mustard gas or chemical weapon" during the unrest. The official was referring to Libya's aging Scud B missiles, 1,000 metric tons of uranium yellowcake, and significant quantities of mustard gas.
The crackdown on protesters reached new levels as Gaddafi promised to arm anyone who would retake the country for his "Green Revolution." In comments before supporters in Tripoli's Green Square, he said that his forces would defeat the protesters as they had driven out Italian imperialism many years before. The police and the army also heavily redeployed on the route to Mitiga airport near Tripoli, where unconfirmed reports stated that the air force had staged a key mutiny.
The anger of the protesters has reached a high point, as the people are taking more territory in advance of a feared retaliation by Qaddafi. "I have many friends in Benghazi and we want to go to Tripoli," said Essam al-Mansouri, who was at the forefront of an attack on the last stronghold of pro-Gaddafi forces in the capital. "We have many guns from the army. If Gaddafi doesn't leave, we will have to go to his palace."
Gaddafi's message to the protesters today was just as stark. "I'm in central Tripoli now. The nation that doesn't love me doesn't deserve to live," he said.
The international response is also intensifying. The United States said it was moving forward with sanctions against the Libyan government. In addition, more Libyan ambassadors turned on the regime. The Libyan ambassador to the United States said he would be raising his country's former flag – before Gaddafi's reign – over the Washington ambassador's residence.