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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora