Qaddafi could step down and stay? That's not going to happen.
France's foreign minister says Muammar Qaddafi could remain in Libya after he leaves power. But that's the least likely of all possible outcomes.
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And Qaddafi has no institution behind him – just patronage networks that will be figuratively decapitated the moment he's gone from power. He's spent much of the past few months barking that his political opponents are cockroaches, drug addicts, and foreign spies who will be hunted "house to house, alley to alley." The belief is passionately held in Benghazi that there would have been a bloodbath if Qaddafi's troops had overrun the city. This is not a man to be left alone to be good on his own recognizance.Skip to next paragraph
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So whatever promises France might make in public (or perhaps a crafty emissary from Qaddafi's rebellious east might whisper in his ear), as a practical matter, a Qaddafi out of power in Libya is going to be either dead or in jail. A dictator doesn't hold power for 40 years by being a fool. Qaddafi knows he must find a way to win his battle or quit the country.
Among them are a video of the public execution of Sadiq Shwehdi in 1984 at the Benghazi basketball stadium. Shwehdi had studied in the US and met with Libyan exile groups critical of Qaddafi. When he came home to Benghazi in 1984, he was quickly arrested in a crackdown on political dissidents following a failed assassination attempt on Qaddafi.
A "revolutionary court" was assembled (the sole membership qualification being rabid fealty to Qaddafi), the stadium packed with jeering Qaddafi supporters and busloads of schoolchildren. The events that culminated in the murder of Shwehdi and others were beamed live on state television. In Benghazi, most of those old enough to remember have vivid memories of the horror of that day. Spreading that horror around was Qaddafi's point.
Though the video at The Guardian is better quality, I found this grainy old network news report on Shwehdi's execution far more interesting. It captures the way Qaddafi has used mob violence and state terror, while telling Shwehdi's story.
It is graphic in parts, so be warned (after the 2-minute mark, it shows the hanging of Shwehdi).
France's Juppe should watch it to understand why his proposal isn't likely to fly.