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

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

Iraqi Kurdish Leader: Protect Syrian City

Islamic State fighters are besieging Kobani, also known as Ayn al-Arab, after seizing at least 21 surrounding villages in a major assault against city on Syria's northern border with Turkey More

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

Conservationists hail ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015 More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctionsi
X
September 18, 2014 2:28 AM
A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid