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In Libya, a campaign to confuse

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People who called themselves witnesses told different stories about the event, in which one person – or none – was injured. US-made missile parts littered the area, and there was clear evidence of an impact with shrapnel. But the site may have also been made to look more convincing with what appeared to be gunfire sprayed against some outside walls and white plaster thrown onto interior floors.

Libya's true believers

Despite the elaborate theater going on in Tripoli, there is no shortage of true believers in Qaddafi or his regime here. Even away from the official flag-waving loyalists who attend events set up for foreign eyes, they announce themselves.

Unprompted, one Libyan businessman says: “Tell the world about Muammar Qaddafi: He is our oxygen. We cannot live without him. We cannot breathe without him.”

But signs of discontent have erupted across Libya since mid-February, when protests began and eastern regions rebelled en masse against Qaddafi’s nearly 42-year rule.

There appears to be no lukewarm support for the Qaddafi: only pure devotion or hatred. The confusion and opacity may stem from the top with Qaddafi himself, and his unique style of rule.

It has made Libya a place where being targeted by more than 170 cruise missiles has been greeted in the capital’s main square with a perpetual, official party and frequent celebratory gunfire.

'Borderline personality'

Qaddafi has a “borderline personality” that “often swings from intense anger to euphoria,” says Jerrold Post, a political psychologist at George Washington University, in a recent analysis in the journal Foreign Policy.

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