ABC News has obtained a copy of a letter from Libya's Colonel Moammar Gadhafi to President Barack Obama, in which Gadhafi refers to Obama as "our son," an affectionate honorific in that part of the world by an elder to someone younger.
"We have been hurt more morally that [sic] physically because what had happened against us in both deeds and words by you. Despite all this you will always remain our son whatever happened," the Libyan leader wrote to the American president. At another point in the letter, dated April 5, Gadhafi refers to Obama as "[o]ur dear son, Excellency, Baraka Hussein Abu oumama."
Gadhafi uses the familial term as an indication of the high regard in which the Libyan leader holds Obama – still, despite a call for regime change and bombing of Libya.
I interviewed Gadhafi in late February at a fish restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in the Libyan capital, Tripoli. He was wearing flowing robes and aviator-style sunglasses in the flamboyant style he has perfected. He was at ease and eager to talk. Amidst the harsh condemnation of protestors and fierce declarations that his people loved him, Gadhafi had only kind words for President Obama then.
"I said many times, on many occasions, I said my opinion about Obama. I thought he was a good man, a good young fellow, I supported his international policies and when I made a speech in the United Nations, I praised him and I praised his policies," Gadhafi told me. He also welcomed Obama, saying the United States could not be the world's policeman.
What struck me in his letter, and in our interview, was the Libyan strongman's constant high regard for the American president, despite the heavy sanctions on the regime back then and the no-fly zone and bombing campaign that have followed.
In the letter, Gadhafi even hopes for Obama's reelection.
"We still pray that you continue to be president of the U.S.A. We Endeavor [sic] and hope that you will gain victory in the new election compaigne [sic]. You are a man who has enough courage to annul a wrong and mistaken action," Gadhafi wrote. "I am sure that you are able to shoulder the responsibility for that."
The letter was sent from the Libyan foreign ministry and received by Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman, who forwarded it to the White House.
After two and half weeks of bombing, Gadhafi is still there. And as of Monday night there are far fewer bombing raids against his forces as the United States stopped sending their planes on these missions, providing only support and surveillance now. With rebels unable to convert and demanding more NATO bombing, there appears to be no military solution to this standoff.
Diplomatic sources tell me there was no plan other than preventing a bloodbath in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. They confirm that the United States reluctantly agreed to the United Nations resolution and the military operation, after it appeared the French and the UK would go it alone if necessary. While there have been a very few high level defections from his inner circle, for now at least, Gadhafi is sticking to his script.
When I interviewed Gadhafi in Tripoli as the protestors erupted just over a month ago, he told me, "I am in the country 'til the end, with my people."
At the same time his powerful son, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi said, "Listen, nobody is leaving this country. We live here, we die here."