I don’t believe the Gadhafi regime is that concerned about the rebels themselves, who are just learning to use their guns and who have serious issues with dissension among their military leadership. But the military air campaign from the international coalition gives time and space for the rebels to work out their differences and figure out how to fight. And in the meantime it’s destroying most of their heavy-duty military assets. The regime probably rightly believes that some ground forces will eventually be introduced to the conflict. And anyway, with the chaos of war comes palace intrigue.


At least two sons of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are proposing a resolution to the Libyan conflict that would entail pushing their father aside to make way for a transition to a constitutional democracy under the direction of his son Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a diplomat and a Libyan official briefed on the plan said Sunday.

The rebels challenging Colonel Qaddafi as well as the American and European powers supporting them with air strikes have so far insisted on a more radical break with his 40 years of rule. And it is not clear whether Colonel Qaddafi, 68, has signed on to the reported proposal backed by his sons, Seif and Saadi el-Qaddafi, although one person close to the sons said the father appeared willing to go along.

But the proposal offers a new window into the dynamics of the Qaddafi family at a time when the colonel, who has seven sons, is relying heavily on them. Stripped of one of his closest confidantes by the defection of Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa and isolated by decades of attempted coups and internal purges, he is leaning on his sons as trusted aides and military commanders.

There’s almost no chance that the opposition would accept Seif al-Islam, who has been the voice of the regime in many ways, as a new leader. But in this leak, Seif and the backers of this move are talking in the language of the protests, saying that he shares the “wishes of the rebellion” and seeks to transition to a new constitutional democracy with “change for the country.” Maybe he actually feels this way, but moreover, this signals a need for acceptance from the opposition and an acknowledgement that the next leader must be responsive to them. That’s a key admission by a member of the Gadhafi family.

It’s not a shared belief; there are hardliners among the Gadhafis, and if the patriarch stepped down or were killed, you would see brother-to-brother fighting, in all likelihood.

So it’s not so much whether this move will come to fruition so much as what it says about the current war effort.