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Report: Gadhafi Orders Libyan Security Forces to Target Oil Pipelines

Gaddafi or chaos?

A report from Time is predicting the terrible situation unfolding in Libya is only poised to get "much worse."  According t a "source close to the Gaddafi regime," the Libyan president has ordered security services "to start sabotaging oil facilities."

"They will start by blowing up several oil pipelines, cutting off flow to Mediterranean ports," Time reports.  "The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya's rebellious tribes: It's either me or chaos."

Time's Robert Baer reports:

Two weeks ago this same man had told me the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt would never touch Libya. Gaddafi, he said, had a tight lock on all of the major tribes, the same ones that have kept him in power for the past 41 years. The man of course turned out to be wrong, and everything he now has to say about Gaddafi's intentions needs to be taken in that context.

The source went on and told me that Gaddafi's desperation has a lot to with the fact that he now can only count on the loyalty of his tribe, the Qadhadhfa. And as for the army, as of Monday he only has the loyalty of approximately 5,000 troops. They are his elite forces, the officers all handpicked. Among them is the unit commanded by his second youngest son Khamis, the 32nd Brigade. (The total strength of the regular Libyan army is 45,000.)

My Libyan source said that Gaddafi has told people around him that he knows he cannot retake Libya with the forces he has. But what he can do is make the rebellious tribes and army officers regret their disloyalty, turning Libya into another Somalia. "I have the money and arms to fight for a long time," Gaddafi reportedly said.

As part of the same plan to turn the tables, Gaddafi ordered the release from prison of the country's Islamic militant prisoners, hoping they will act on their own to sow chaos across Libya. Gaddafi envisages them attacking foreigners and rebellious tribes. Couple that with a shortage of food supplies, and any chance for the rebels to replace Gaddafi will be remote.

Noting that the embattled president feels "deeply betrayed" by the media and the West, Time's source also says Gaddafi is "a desperate, irrational man" who could likely bring Libya to the brink of civil war.

Currently, an interruption in Libya's oil exports would damage Europe who imports 85 percent of the country's exports.  The Washington Post notes that the United States receives 51,000 barrels of oil from Libya each day, equivalent to .5 percent of America's total daily oil consumption.

According to the Associated Press, oil prices jumped 6 percent, soaring to the highest level in more than two years on Tuesday. While only a small part of Libya's oil supply has been affected by the growing protests, analysts worry that similar revolts will spread to other OPEC countries like Iran.

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