Libyan rebel chief says Qaddafi could stay after all
British Foreign Secretary William Hague backed up Mustafa Abdul Jalil's comment yesterday that rebels would be willing to sign an agreement allowing Qaddafi to remain in Libya.
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Mr. Jalil's acquiescence on the question of allowing Qaddafi to remain is a significant softening of the rebel position, the Wall Street Journal reports. He made similar comments to Reuters earlier this month, but quickly denied it amid protests in Benghazi. This time, he left the window open for imposing tough conditions on Qaddafi in exchange for allowing him to stay, which may make it more palatable to the rebels.Skip to next paragraph
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Monitor reporter Dan Murphy, who spent nearly two months in eastern rebel-controlled Libya after fighting broke out in mid-February, wrote recently that even if Qaddafi were technically allowed to remain in the country it would be impractical for him to do so. Hatred of Qaddafi, who executed Libyans on an "industrial scale," is too strong.
He's a terrifying figure to his subjects after decades of haphazard executions and massacres. Even many of the gleeful political cartoons that erupted on walls across the east within days of his downfall often depicted him as a figure of fear – a vampire, or a ghoul, or the devil.
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.
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.