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LongOdds
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double post

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at March 06, 2011 14:58:48 UTC

ChrisVanNiekerk
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LongOdds, interesting comparison with the North Korean regime. Although nothing can really compare to them on a global scale. They are unrivaled in their totalitarian system.

I don't think there has been a "complete loss of acceptance by the international community" for the regime. We should not confuse the West with the world at large. Gaddafi was a pariah in the West for a long time and (in his own way) he seems to relish that status once again. He retains some support in Latin America and Africa. He also maintains some popular support throughout the Middle East.

Traditionally Libya receives no aid but has disbursed a lot of aid (in Africa in particular). This is part of the reason why Gaddafi was very popular throughout Africa.

The existing sanctions are targeted at the Gaddafi clan rather than Libyan sovereign funds (although the two may be difficult to separate). In any case, sanctions are tricky... If they hit the general public, they will be hugely unpopular among Libyans. If they only target the Gaddafi family, they could easily be circumvented.

Remember Saddam Hussein in 1991? Most pundits thought he was finished and done for after the Americans took Kuwait and were on the doorsteps of Baghdad. He faced revolts in the north (Kurds) and south (Shias). Yet he bounced back while he remained almost completely isolated internationally throughout the 1990's...

It is far too early to write off Gaddafi.

I think the best option for his regime would be to contain the rebellions in the west and not to march on the urban rebel strongholds in the east in the near future. As financial transfers from Tripolis collapse and economic resources are depleted, the "revolutionary fervor" will fade...

As for the question of massacres and atrocities, Gaddafi never was an angel. It would not surprise me if forces under his command were extremely brutal in squashing the rebellion. But I doubt that civilians were deliberately and systematically targeted. I would take those reports with a grain of salt.

So I don't see a rationale for international intervention. In Libya, we are increasingly witnessing an armed conflict between two parties (pitting the Gaddafi regime against renegade elements of the regime together with an assortment of others). As long as either of the two parties don't commit crimes against humanity on a large scale, there is no reason to get involved.

This message was edited 15 times. Last update was at March 06, 2011 18:15:15 UTC

ranthambhore
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LongOdds wrote: I agree that a good segment of the population loves him. Some outside observers falsely believe that all displays of affection within a dictatorship are done out of fear or coercion, when the reality is that after forty years immersed in a personality-cult you do become attached to the leader because that's all you've ever known and it represents some twisted form of stability. It's the same deal why so many North Koreans came out and publicly mourned for months after Kim Il Sung died in '94. Some of that was fear, but a lot of it was genuine affection because the leader had become larger than life, almost like a deity with his writings being taught in elementary schools and his face plastered on every bilboard in the city. It's the same exact deal with Gadhafi in Libya.


There's an important difference. In the case of Kim Il Sung (and Stalin and Mao) the personality cult survived intact until their death. There were no videos of people shouting insults or defacing pictures or burning flags. Wherever these images have been openly broadcast, the personality cult has fallen to pieces. Hence the defections in the East and among his own diplomats. Tripoli so far has been sheltered from these images, but this cannot last for much longer.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at March 06, 2011 20:47:35 UTC

arex1337
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If an external force (NATO, US, UN, ...) intervenes in Libya, it will implicitly be responsible for the end result (which probably will be a lot messier than in Egypt or Tunisia).

The US military, the US public's hunger for military interventions, and the US image in the Arab world is already over-extended.

Although some of the rebels want limited help from the outside (a no-fly zone and airstrikes), they want to handle Gaddafi themselves.

I simply don't believe the rebels have the numbers, weapons and training to be successful. There are many angry people, but who will actually pick up a gun and not run away when the fighting starts? Gaddafi seems to have more trained people and more hardware/weapons.

I think the momentum, sadly, is on Gaddafi's side and I don't see it changing unless an external force intervenes - which will only happen if he uses chemical weapons or slaughters people by the thousands a day.

Gaddafi's probably aware of this, and that's exactly why he won't do any of these things. (Plus the fact that the delivery system for the mustard gas has been destroyed.)

My bottom line: No external force will intervene in a way that will make the rebels successful.

I have a small short position in this market.
ChrisVanNiekerk
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Interesting observations, Arex. I didn't realize that you're such an astute political observer.

One thing I have been wondering about is why the Gaddafi regime would announce that they've recaptured towns that they have not taken. Since Libyans have family and friends all over and gossip spreads quickly what would the point be in doing so?

Ultimately, it would just create the false expectation that this is over when in fact it isn't and thus serve to undermine confidence among their supporters and the neutral segment of the population... I don't see the regime ultimately benefiting from such announcements.

Maybe Saddam Hussein could get away with announcing that the first Gulf war was the "mother of all battles" and a great victory for Iraq. But today people (except the North Koreans) tend to be better informed through the Internet (which has now been cut off temporarily) and other media. Although Libya today effectively is a divided nation, people still have contacts to individuals on the other side.

This message was edited 5 times. Last update was at March 07, 2011 14:09:04 UTC

ranthambhore
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Any credibility to this?

http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4038635,00.html

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at March 07, 2011 15:14:57 UTC

Delphi
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Shorted a token 10 at 75 last night. No lose here: if he leaves I'll be thrilled for the Libyan people (and holding my breath on what takes his place). If he hangs on I'll donate winnings amount to International Rescue Committee since they'll probably be needing it.

http://www.rescue.org/news/irc-launching-sanitation-and-shelter-assistance-tunisian-libyan-border-10260
ChrisVanNiekerk
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Delphi, quite commendable. I'll follow suit and donate a part of my gains if he stays in power till the end of the year.

Ramthambore, I really doubt there is any substance to this report. Another piece of disinformation based on unquoted sources. Right now the regime has the upper hand. Why go on the offensive militarily simply to negotiate an exit from power? Makes no sense to me.

What is true is that the regime has formally offered to negotiate. Ultimately, I see them as being in a better position but for now the rebels have said that they refuse to enter into negotiations. So no room for any kind of settlement right now...

As this continues, there might be more room for negotiation. What could a possible compromise look like? Maybe some sort of armistice whereby each group rules the territory it controls for an unspecified period of time coupled with a revenue-sharing agreement to be followed by an internationally-supervised election at a later point?

Right now the two parties just seem to be too far apart in their demands to reach any sort of agreement...

Another problem is the question of who could mediate between the two parties. Maybe some tribal elders? Obviously both Chavez and the West would be unacceptable to one of the two parties.

Another major problem is the fact that the National Council is quite heterogeneous in its makeup. It will be difficult to get all of the groups and factions on board...

An interesting development on the BBC live blog on Libya was this bit of news today:

A decapitated corpse found in the eastern town of Ajdabiya could be that of the former director of Libyan intelligence, Abdallah al-Sanusi, the Europe-based online newspaper Libya al-Yawm is reporting. Mr Sanusi was recently sacked by Col Gaddafi. The body has been transferred to Benghazi for positive identification.


If this is true, it could point to a "cleansing" within the regime. Maybe the regime will come out with the narrative that their internal investigation has concluded that al-Sanusi was guilty of ordering the excessive use of force during the first days of the protests and is wanted for this crime with his current whereabouts unknown (or he was killed while attempting to flee, etc.) Anyway if he's gone, he could become an obvious scapegoat.

This message was edited 19 times. Last update was at March 08, 2011 09:55:03 UTC

ranthambhore
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Duplicate post: deleted

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at March 08, 2011 01:09:23 UTC

ranthambhore
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Chris, maybe this is disinformation too:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/07/gaddafi-resigning-libya-resignation_n_832578.html

But I'm starting to see signs that there may be pressures from within his own circle that he should step aside. Not unlike the elite around Mubarak. The next few days will be interesting.

Update: Further confirmation that something is afoot:

Reuters says that there is still no official confirmation on the offer Col Gaddafir is reported to have made to the rebels. But a source said to be close to the rebel council told the agency that "one formula being proposed by the other side would see Gaddafi hand power to the head of parliament and leave the country with a certain guaranteed sum of money".


Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/9417359.stm

More details now on the offer Al-Jazeera says Col Gaddafi has offered to the rebels. The channel's correspondent in Benghazi was told by the rebels that the leader had asked for safe passage for his family and immunity from prosecution. They would hold a People's Congress to discuss the details, it reports.

This message was edited 1 time. Last update was at March 08, 2011 00:57:54 UTC

LongOdds
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Yeah, I've seen the Gaddafi (Gadhafi? Ghadafi? I can't wait until he leaves, because attempting to spell his name always gives me a complex) story about him looking for an exit on enough credible news sites now that I have to believe it carries some legitimacy.

The idea of a no-fly zone or even surgical airstrikes are coming back into favor due to.... shock.... rising prices at the pump.

Debate about whether foreign intervention is ethical is trumped by the immediate concerns about being a President that presides over the steepest gas price increases since Hurricane Katrina. So I think the contract might climb back into the 80's in the next couple days.

Chris, I know this isn't the right thread, but what are your opinions of the situation in Bahrain and Yemen?
ChrisVanNiekerk
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LongOdds, I've been following the Libyan situation primarily. Jemen is a very complex society. The tribal element is even more significant than in Libya. So whether Saleh is able to hold on will depend on how he plays off the various groups. He's played the game effectively for a very long time. I think the situation there is even less transparent than it is in Libya. For now, I've gone short there (albeit with a very small amount).

I think the Bahraini Prime Minister could well be replaced and haven't taken any position on that conflict. On the one hand, the Khalifas are willing to use repression as a last resort to continue their rule and they can count on the army which is mostly composed of foreign Sunnis (mercenaries). On the other hand, they will be loathe to do so given the international repercussions and will try to offer political concessions short of relinquishing power... Too early to tell how that will play out.

Ramthambore, there still is a good chance that Gaddafi will go one way or another. But I don't think, he'll go like this. This rumor was first published in a Saudi newspaper in London. This is what Al Jazeera reported in their live blog today:

6:04am Libyan state television has denied a report by Al Jazeera and two Arab newspapers that Colonel Gaddafi has sought a deal with the rebels that would see him step down with certain guarantees.


This is what the BBC had to say:

Libyan TV has mocked Al-Jazeera, saying the channel has switched from news to "comedy". It calls the broadcaster it Al-Jarirah, which in Arabic means "guilt" and "transgression", and accuses it of spreading "despicable rumours".


The original story was that Gaddafi wanted an assurance that he could leave Libya free from persecution as well as a guarantee that he could take a larger sum of money.

Think about it. If the dude wanted to leave, he could simply board a plane with his family and fly to Zimbabwe, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, Belarus, North Korea, etc. And if he wanted to take the gold reserves of the central bank on his journey to exile, he would not need to consult the National Council.

Any guarantees that he would be free from persecution in the future would be totally worthless anyway because any elected future Libyan government could simply revoke this. It would not be bound by any pronouncements of the (unelected) National Council.

Finally, the denial on Libyan state television is pretty clear. In the Middle East the loss of shame and honor is a powerful behavioral motive. Imagine the loss of shame and honor to Gaddafi if he exits after denying it on state television. Unimaginable for me.

Besides, I see him as being in a much better bargaining position than the National Council. Why should he give power away and abandon his supporters when he has the upper hand in return for nothing?

I also can't forget that dismissive laugh of Gaddafi when he was asked whether he was going to step down or leave the country. He might be a borderline personality but he certainly isn't a clinical case (yet).

Maybe a call was made. I would not exclude that possibility. If it was made, I would think it was a prank call (somebody in Libya retained their sense of humor notwithstanding the unfolding disaster around them).

It wouldn't surprise me if representatives of the National Council took a prank call to be real. They seem like a fractious, inexperienced and incredibly naive lot to me. The other day they accused various governments such as Algeria of supporting Gaddafi (not necessarily a smart move diplomatically). They've also spread lies about mercenary forces and aerial attacks on civilians. Then they're on and off again about the no-fly zone. Now some of them claim that they won't negotiate with Gaddafi under any circumstances but at the same time the head of the council says that he would be willing to provide an amnesty if Gaddafi steps down.

There also was the fiasco of the SAS mission. On the one hand, it exposed the incompetence and knee-jerk approach of the British government. On the other hand, it revealed the naivety and dilettantism of the National Council which allowed this incident (with perhaps the government that was most vociferous in its support for them) to result in a propaganda coup for Gaddafi and an embarrassment to everybody else.

Moreover, I wonder whether they really have the areas "under their control" under control. This from the BBC:

NHCR says that a team at the Egypt border on Monday interviewed a group of Sudanese who arrived from eastern Libya who said that armed Libyans were going door to door, forcing sub-Saharan Africans to leave. In one instance a 12-year-old Sudanese girl was said to have been raped. They reported that many people had their documents confiscated or destroyed. The agency says it heard similar accounts from a group of Chadians who fled Benghazi, al-Bayda and Brega in the past few days.


Given the recent pronouncements by the National Council, it may also be that there is a systematic and concerted campaign (sanctioned by some of its members) to persecute sub-Saharan Africans... I think that there are a number of legitimate, outstanding, questions to be addressed concerning the political makeup of the "National Council," the policies they can agree on and their ability to govern...

On the international front, let's see what happens with the no-fly zone... I don't think it will go anywhere. How ironic that the G.C.C. or Gulf Cooperation Council (also known as the Group of most Corrupt Countries) is calling for the U.N. Security Council to intervene in Libya.

Sanctions look like a more promising option. The question is how much money the Libyan government still has access to. How long can they survive with what they have? I think this isn't clear as of yet.

The other question is what happens to Libyan government funds if Gaddafi comes out on top in this conflict. The U.N. sanctions are targeted at his family but the West has summarily frozen all Libyan government funds. Will a Libyan government under Gaddafi be able to recover those funds in the medium-term?

Personally, I am worried that if Gaddafi retains power this would send a signal to other governments in the region that they can crush resistance as a last resort (which is why he enjoys the tacit support of some other governments). As a political realist, however, I see the balance of forces favoring the Gaddafi regime (barring an assassination in the short-term). But we shall see...

This message was edited 36 times. Last update was at March 09, 2011 00:04:05 UTC

ranthambhore
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Chris, my point was not that Ghaddafi wants to negotiate his own departure - of course he could leave at any time. But I don't believe that he is in control in Tripoli. There are regime elements who think they can survive with their fortunes intact if they throw him overboard. Not unlike Egypt. The freezing of the sovereign fund and central bank assets is a big deal, as is the loss of his diplomats, the recognition of the opposition as a legitimate authority, the travel bans, and the ICC investigations. This is not about a prank call, there's a lot of jockeying going on behind the scenes.
ChrisVanNiekerk
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Ram, maybe it wasn't a prank call. Could have just been a deliberate bit of disinformation spread by the National Council to disquiet the circle around Gaddafi.

Nonetheless, (unfortunately) developments on the ground at this point surely have to favor the regime rather than the opposition.

Shocking account from Zawiya:

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Libya-Sky-News-Witnesses-Zawiyah-Rebels-Battle-Gaddafi-Soldiers-In-Bloody-Fight-For-Control-Of-City/Article/201103215948211?lpos=World_News_Top_Stories_Header_1&lid=ARTICLE_15948211_Libya%3A_Sky_News_Witnesses_Zawiyah_Rebels_Battle_Gaddafi_Soldiers_In_Bloody_Fight_For_Control_Of_City

This message was edited 3 times. Last update was at March 08, 2011 19:21:15 UTC

ChrisVanNiekerk
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Looks like the regime probably has the upper hand in the struggle for Zawiya. Both Zawiya and Misurata will be difficult to hold for the opposition. They're not as well organized, outgunned and their supplies are running out...

If, as is likely, the country is effectively divided and this settles into a stalemate in the next few days, the calls for U.S. intervention will increase.

Here are three authors taking a critical view of intervention:

http://www.cnbc.com/id/41973400

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/08/AR2011030803149.html

http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/concoughlin/100079152/a-libyan-no-fly-zone-is-no-different-to-invading-iraq/

This message was edited 2 times. Last update was at March 09, 2011 14:33:01 UTC

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