News / Africa

    Fight, Run or Hide - What Now for Moammar Gadhafi?

    Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi (file photo)
    Libyan leader Col. Moammar Gadhafi (file photo)
    Henry Ridgwell

    With their dramatic assault on the capital Tripoli, opposition forces in Libya claim they are on the verge of defeating Colonel Gadhafi’s regime. But renewed fighting in the city suggests the Libyan leader will not give up his 42-year reign of power easily.

    Gunfire and explosions can still be heard in parts of Tripoli - tempering the elation of opposition forces as they stormed the center of the capital Monday, amid claims they had captured one of the Libyan leader’s sons, Saif al-Islam.

    His subsequent appearance in front of jubilant supporters on Monday night is an indication of the challenges opposition forces face in trying to oust Libya’s ruling family.

    The Libyan Rebellion

    • February 15, 2011: Inspired by Arab Spring revolts in Tunisia and Egypt, riots break out in Benghazi.
    • February 26, 2011: The U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his family. The International Criminal Court is asked to investigate the crackdown on rebels.
    • March 19, 2011: U.S., Britain and France launch U.N.-mandated air attacks over Libya to halt advances on civilians by Gadhafi's forces.
    • March 30, 2011: Libyan Foreign Minister, Moussa Koussa, defects and flies to Britain. Other senior officials follow suit.
    • April 30, 2011: A NATO missile attack on a house in Tripoli kills Gadhafi's youngest son and three grandchildren.
    • June 27, 2011: The International Criminal Court issues arrest warrants for Gadhafi, his son Seif al-Islam and intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi.
    • July 15, 2011: The United States recognizes the Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya.
    • July 28, 2011: Former interior minister Abdel Fattah Younes, who defected to the rebels in February and became their military chief, is killed.
    • August 20, 2011: Rebels launch their first attack on the nation's capital, Tripoli, in coordination with NATO forces.

    “Frankly we just don’t know what levels of support Colonel Gadhafi still has because Libya has been repressed for so long," said Jane Kinninmont, a senior research fellow for the North Africa program at London analyst group Chatham House. "It is very different from Egypt and Tunisia, where in both countries the national army was a very strong institution. And essentially, at the end of the day the armies withdrew their support for the leader." 

    "In Libya the situation is very different. Gadhafi never allowed the army itself to become that powerful precisely because he is a very smart guy who knows a lot about how to stay in power,” Kinninmont added.

    In recent days opposition forces have made dramatic territorial gains - taking the strategic coastal town of Zawiyah before their assault on the capital. They - and their backers among the international community - say despite the continued fighting, the Libyan leader’s days are numbered.

    Fight, run or hide

    Colonel Gadhafi has vowed to fight to the death. Jane Kinninmont says his alternatives are to run or to hide.

    “It’s possible he could choose to stay and hide in Libya but there are of course scenarios that wouldn’t be that appealing to him, like the Saddam Hussein scenario where he hides for a long time but is eventually caught," she said. "Or the Hosni Mubarak scenario where he decided not to leave Egypt, probably thought he would be shielded by the army but ended up going on trial. On the other hand if Gadhafi does go into exile overseas he does face two risks - he faces the risk of international prosecution through the ICC. He also faces the risk of revenge attacks.”

    The International Criminal Court, or ICC, issued arrest warrants in June for Muammar Gadhafi, his son Saif al-Islam and Abdulla Al-Senussi, who is believed to head Libya’s military intelligence.

    “The ICC does not have a police force of military force so we only count on the cooperation of the states," said Fadi El-Abdallah, legal outreach officer for the ICC in The Hague. "Now the Libyan authorities have the obligation, under the Resolution 1970 adopted by the unanimity of the members of the U.N. Security Council, to cooperate fully with the court including to implement the warrants of arrest, so to arrest and surrender the suspects. If the suspects go to another state that is party to the Rome statute, there is the same legal obligation to arrest the suspects and surrender them to the ICC.”

    Future of Libya

    If opposition forces do succeed in ousting Colonel Gadhafi, there is much uncertainty over who would take over.

    “One of the big challenges for the opposition now is to try to win more people over, to try to develop a more representative and more inclusive leadership,” said Jane Kinninmont of analyst group Chatham House.

    Kinninmont says the dynamics of the Libyan uprising are more complex than those seen in other parts of the Arab world - and the outcome remains unpredictable.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.