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Qaddafi's Few Friends Mourn Death of a 'Hero'

Muammar Qaddafi didn't have many friends left in the days before his death, but the ones he'd maintained were still publicly supporting him against mounting odds. Earlier this month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who blames Western meddling for the unrest in the Middle East, praised Qaddafi loyalists for "resisting the invasion and aggression" and asked "God to protect the life of our brother Muammar Qaddafi." Another Qaddafi ally, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, refused to recognize Libya's interim government, called for the country's new leaders to negotiate with their fugitive ruler, and expressed sympathy for the Qaddafi regime, which, in his view, had been torn asunder by the "machinations of the imperialists." In Cuba, Fidel Castro condemned the "genocide" and "monstrous crimes" committed by the United States and its NATO allies in Libya. 

While Castro and Mugabe haven't yet made public statements about Qaddafi's death today, Chavez has already offered a eulogy. Upon returning to Venezuela after receiving treatment for cancer in Cuba, El Universal reports, Chavez expressed outrage at Qaddafi's  "murder," declared that the "Yankee empire" will "not be able to master this world," and said "we will remember Qaddafi forever as a great fighter, a revolutionary, and a martyr."

The state-run news outlets in Venezuela and Zimbabwe are dutifully expressing their solidarity with Qaddafi as well. Venezolana de Televisión reports that Qaddafi was "assassinated" -- a verb we're not seeing much in the coverage today -- while the Agencia Venezolana de Noticias ridicules Western leaders (the "patrons of aggression against Libya") for invoking freedom and democracy today while waging a military campaign in Libya and establishing crass commercial ties with its new leaders. The analyst Raimundo Kabchi tells AVN that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton "practically authorized and encouraged" Qaddafi's "assassination" during her recent visit to Libya.

The Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation's commentary, meanwhile, comes in the form of an obituary. The ZBC explains that while Qaddafi's "anti western, anti imperialism approach" made him an "enemy of the west" (surely it had nothing to do with the Berlin nightclub or Lockerbie bombings), his "strong military support and finances" won him "several allies across the African continent" (including, of course, Zimbabwe). "Rebel forces" may have killed him today, the news outlet adds, but Qaddafi was really toppled by the U.S. and its NATO allies, who "interfered in the Libyan uprising targeting Colonel Gaddafi using their airstrikes and killing thousands of civilians in the process." The ZBC meditates on Qaddafi's legacy:

He will be to many a hero who went down fighting and exposed the west's decolonising mission in Africa in order to secure the continent's rich resources, that is oil in the case of Libya.

Retired Major Cairo Mhandu, a member of Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party, echoed ZBC's view today, according to the Global Post, warning of the "beginning of a new recolonization of Africa." Qaddafi, Mhandu argued, "won elections and was a true leader. It is foreigners who toppled him, not Libyans. Qaddafi died fighting. He is a true African hero." (Mugabe's political opponents told Voice of America that Qaddafi was the architect of his own downfall and that his death was a step in the direction of democracy).

Qaddafi's friends aren't limited to a handful of anti-Western world leaders, either.  The Daily Beast reports that Qaddafi's former nurse Oksana Balinskaya, who's returned to Ukraine, is mourning the loss of her former boss, whom she considers a "brave hero" for making a last stand in his hometown of Sirte. "Why should we hate him or think of him as tyrant, if he gave us jobs and paid us well?" she asks.

Juan Barreto/AFP/Getty Images

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Decline Watch: Governor of U.S. territory offers to lease islands to China

Small Pacific islands have something of a track record of selling their allegiance to larger powers, but usually not U.S. territories!

The governor of the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. territory in the western Pacific Ocean, said he is willing to lease some of the islands to China as long as it’s not for military purposes.

“If you are interested, I am offering these islands to China,” Governor Benigno Fitial told a group of Chinese governors and provincial Communist Party Secretaries at a conference in Beijing. “Lease these islands so that I can have enough financial resources to provide for more full employment for my people.”

There are 15 islands in the Northern Marianas with a total population of 46,050, the biggest of which is Saipan, according to the CIA World Factbook. There are 10 uninhabited islands available for lease, and he has the right to lease them to “anybody,” Fitial said in an interview after his remarks.

Decline-o-meter: It's not really clear whether China actually has any interest in these islands, or if Fitial has the right to sell them, but it's not very encouraging that he's made the offer. 

 

Koichi Kamoshida Getty Images