Three reasons Qaddafi won't seek exile in the Americas

Both Nicaragua's President Ortega and Venezuela's Hugo Chávez have issued encouraging statements to Qaddafi. But logistics and politics could keep him out of the Western Hemisphere.

Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters/File
Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi attends the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Food Security Summit in Rome in this Nov. 16, 2009 file photo.

For months, rumors have bounced around that Libyan leader Qaddafi is going to hop on a plane and seek exile in Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua, three of his only remaining allies in the world.

There are some strong reasons against his doing this:

1. Transportation. In order to get to any of these countries in the Western Hemisphere, Qaddafi would need to arrange a direct flight and avoid flying over any territory where ICC [International Criminal Court] warrants might come into play. This obstacle can be overcome, but it's a transportation hassle.

2. Surrender. If Qaddafi comes to the Americas, he is essentially giving up the fight. Logistics are challenging in getting to this hemisphere, but they are much harder and potentially impossible if he wants to lead a rebel or insurgent movement to regain power from this side of the world. Coming to Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua means he gives up the fight and admits he will never again lead Libya, which goes against his personality.

3. Change. While this is less true for Cuba (though anything is possible), the prospect for a government change in Nicaragua or Venezuela should concern an exile-seeking dictator. As certain as Ortega and Chávez are that they will win reelection in the coming months, there is always the possibility that they will lose in this election cycle or the next. Qaddafi, who ruled for four decades, doesn't want to fly into exile only to have to change countries again as soon as the leadership changes.

I think those three reasons are good enough to dissuade Qaddafi from showing up in this hemisphere, meaning that if he chooses exile, he will probably choose an African neighbor over a Latin ally.

However, one reason does work in favor of these rumors:

1. Qaddafi is not logical. Even though basic logic says Qaddafi should not do something doesn't mean he won't do it. It's that uncertainty in his actions that has kept people guessing for so many years. So while he may understand the reasons he should not show up in Cuba, Venezuela, or Nicaragua, he may decide to do so on a whim.

--- James Bosworth is a freelance writer and consultant based in Managua, Nicaragua, who runs Bloggings by Boz.

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