The rebels claim to control Tripoli (80%? 95%?). Although Gaddafi’s forces fight on in a few areas, the flamboyant dictator himself is nowhere to be seen, and two of his sons have reportedly been captured.
President Obama exhorts:
The surest way for the bloodshed to end is simple: Muammar Gaddafi and his regime need to recognise that their rule has come to an end. Gaddafi needs to acknowledge the reality that he no longer controls Libya. He needs to relinquish power once and for all.
That’s the sort of thing a president has to say, I suppose, but I see no reason whatsoever why Gaddafi would voluntarily comply. After all, why would he want to end the bloodshed? Especially when his own blood is on the line. If Gaddafi and sons fail to flee the country and end up losing this battle (which seems highly likely) they are marked men, whether they go slowly or quickly. Whether death comes by enemy hand in a fight, or his own hand in an act of suicide, or a trial and a death sentence, it’s hard to see how Gaddafi gets out of this without forfeiting his life.
That certainly makes for a pretty powerful motivation to fight on—or to escape, which for all we know Gaddafi may have already done. After all, fellow-tyrant Idi Amin died in a hospital bed in Saudi Arabia (first having fled to Libya, by the way) [emphasis mine]:
On 20 July 2003, one of Amin’s wives, Madina, reported that he was in a coma and near death at King Faisal Specialist Hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from kidney failure. She pleaded with the Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, to allow him to return to Uganda for the remainder of his life. Museveni replied that Amin would have to “answer for his sins the moment he was brought back”. Amin died at the hospital in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on 16 August 2003 and was buried in Ruwais Cemetery in Jeddah.
The people of Tripoli seem joyful that the grip of the tyrant appears to be finished, or near-finished, as well they might. I only hope for them that Gaddafi isn’t replaced with a new tyranny, which I think is unfortunately the most likely outcome both in Libya and Egypt. NATO will probably have a role in trying to prevent that; I wish them luck:
NATO, which helped provided air cover for the rebel assault on Tripoli over the weekend, said it stands ready to work with the Libyan people and the Transitional National Council. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the transition “must come peacefully.”
“They [the TNC] must make sure that the transition is smooth and inclusive, that the country stays united, and that the future is founded on reconciliation and respect for human rights,” he said in a statement.
But John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told Fox News late Sunday that the United States and its allies may not have done enough over the past five months to prepare for the fall of Qaddafi. He noted that Libya does not appear to have a stable military _ something that was instrumental in helping neighboring Egypt manage its civil uprising.
Egypt restored order fairly quickly—but then again, its revolution was relatively bloodless. What’s more, Egyptian society under Mubarak had never been subject to the same level of turmoil as Libya has, and had far less trauma to recover from and fewer institutions to rebuild. Even so, there is a good chance that the new regime will be a repressive and Islamist one. What are the odds that messed-up Libya can escape such a fate, and institute a government that favors liberty?
[ADDENDUM: This sounds inauspicious:
Even more so than in Egypt, Islamists are a powerful undercurrent in Libyan society and despite the apparent success of the partnership thus far between Libya’s Transitional National Council and Western allies, these Islamists — who were jailed, tortured and sometimes killed by Qaddafi — will have a claim on power and are suspicious and opposed to a strong Western stake-hold inside Libya.
From the start of the Egyptian overthrow of Mubarak and the Libyan rebel uprising, that has been my concern. The example of Iran is always before us, and an Islamist government is the most likely (although not the inevitable) outcome.]