Thousands of Moammar Gadhafi's supporters gathered in Tripoli on Monday for the funeral of the Libyan leader's sixth son, Saif al-Arab Gadhafi, and three grandchildren. The Libyan government reported that the embattled leader's relatives were killed in a NATO airstrike on the son's villa (apparently, Gadhafi himself was there, but escaped unscathed). NATO says it fired at a military command center, not a house. Regardless, crowds angry over the bombing vandalized the British and French embassies, plus the U.S. diplomatic mission, in retaliation over the weekend. Will this airstrike backfire on NATO?
The airstrike will haunt NATO: The death of Saif al-Arab Gadhafi was "a grievous strategic error — militarily insignificant but diplomatically disastrous," says Shashank Joshi at BBC News. "Saif al-Arab was, unlike his brothers, not a senior military commander or propagandist." His death will only stir up sympathy for his father, like the 1986 U.S. strike that killed a girl, whom Gadhafi claimed was his adopted daughter, at the same compound. And it is bound to "harden the diplomatic opposition to the war, from Russia and China amongst others."
Death of Saif al-Arab Gadhafi may backfire for NATO"
This smells like a propaganda trick: "There's no question that a building west of Tripoli was hit," says Allahpundit at Hot Air, but there's no independent confirmation "that any little Gadhafis are dead." This could be a big propaganda ploy by the regime. Since this son played no role in the regime, it's highly unlikely that NATO would shoot at his house. But if they did, Gadhafi is the one who made himself a legitimate target, so the blood of those around him is on his hands.
"Did NATO really kill Qadhafi's son and grandkids in a missile strike?"
The death of innocents can only help Gadhafi: "If not for NATO, Gadhafi might very well be living in exile by now," says Justin Raimondo at Antiwar.com, swept away just like other Arab leaders "faced with the wrath of their own suddenly-awakened people." But his ability to fight NATO to a draw has magnified his credibility on the street. And now that "the defenders of innocent civilians" are raining death on his 12-year-old grandsons, the NATO forces have made it harder to remember who the good guys are here.
"Libya: The bizarro war"