Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where is Gaddafi?

Rebels yesterday stormed Gaddafi’s Bab al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli. Whilst it seems their victory is near complete the question remains: where is Gaddafi and what are his plans? Is he in a position to continue to fight or is he simply on the run? World leaders, NATO and the rebels have all stated that they have no idea where Gaddafi currently is. South Africa has denied helping him flee the country and the US department of defence has confirmed that they believe he is still in Libya.

In a recent audio message Gaddafi pledged ‘martyrdom or victory’ and his son Saif Gaddafi said that the situation is Tripoli was ‘a trap’, presumably to lure rebels into a false sense of victory. Another possibility is that he may have gone to his birthplace of Sirte, which has been a stronghold of loyalists, or to his ancestral home of Sabha in the south of Libya.

The persistence of fighting in towns outside Tripoli, as well as the presence of pro-Gaddafi snipers on the streets of Tripoli, suggest that the fighting is not yet over. A spokesman for Gaddafi said loyalists were capable of carrying on fighting ‘not just for days or weeks, but for years’ and in his broadcast message Gaddafi called for ‘youth, seniors, women, men and armed committees’ to ‘attack Tripoli and comb the areas and eradicate the traitors and rats’. In response to the concerns of prolonged violence world leaders have called on Gaddafi to stop fighting and admit defeat.

The fall of Gaddafi could have consequences around the region, particularly for countries like Syria where the regime is teetering on the edge.

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