If you expected Qaddafi to be begging for an escape hatch by now, after a month-long NATO air assault on his troops, think again. It may be the other way around. The Obama administration is reportedly shopping around for African refuges for the Libyan dictator if he agrees to step down—despite the painfully obvious fact, that is, that Qaddafi has shown no interest in ceding power. The New York Times reported that the U.S. and its allies have conducted an “intense search” for some country—any country—to take Qaddafi in, “even though the Libyan leader has shown defiance in recent days, declaring that he has no intention of yielding to demands that he leave his country, and intensifying his bombardment of the rebel city of Misurata.”
Exile has been an option available to Qaddafi for awhile now, and so far he’s neglected to take it. The one motivation for him to accept the current exile offer is that he might be able to negotiate a better deal out of it, now that NATO is growing increasingly desperate. But based on the reports coming out of Libya, it sounds as if things may get worse for NATO before they get better.
For one, the Times is reporting that NATO may not be able to sustain the operation unless it comes up with more war planes. The countries involved in the attack mission also operate under different rules, which are complicating the effort. “Some pilots have refused to drop their bombs for this reason,” the Times said, “but allied air-war planners cannot predict which pilots will be matched against particular targets.”
With these reports, why wouldn’t Qaddafi try to hold out longer? After all, if things get worse for him, he can always take the exile option later.