In a recent article published on the BBC News website ("Libya crisis: no 'happy ending' for Colonel Gaddafi"), Shashank Joshi, an Associate Fellow at a British defence think-tank, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), paints a bleak picture of the long-term prospects for Libyan dictator Mu'ammar Gaddafi.
I beg to differ.
But before I offer some thoughts on this subject, I would like first to bow to the courage of all those who have fallen in the fight against Gaddafi, the stench of whose regime has suffocated Arabs from the Atlantic to the Gulf and all Africans from Sirt to the Cape.
Sadly, I have little doubt that Gaddafi's forces will prevail over the revolutionaries and that Benghazi and all the towns and cities that have been liberated from the regime will be recaptured within the next few weeks.
First, now that Gaddafi's forces are mobilized, the rebels are no match for them, even though, despite their British special forces training, Gaddafi's elite praetorian units are rubbish by European or other Arab standards.
Second, even in the unlikely event that a no-fly zone is authorized by the UN Security Council, the impact on the ground will be minimal as Gaddafi will still be able to use his tanks, heavy artillery and Grad rockets against the rebels and civilians in towns under rebel control.
What will follow a Gaddafi victory, especially in Benghazi, does not bear thinking about: a massacre – probably of tens of thousands of civilians – carried out under cover of a total information blackout and a travel ban, possibly lasting years.
The question is, what can the outside world do about this? The answer is that the international community can play a decisive role but will probably do nothing, because there is unlikely to be broad agreement on the type of action that would swing the balance in favour of the rebels.
What the rebels need are the following:
- Shoulder-held, short-range surface-to-air missiles
- Light guided anti-tank missiles
- Jamming of Gaddafi's military communications and
- Surgical air strikes against Gaddafi's command and communications centres.
Nos. 1-3 above would take time to have an impact (training, deployment, etc) but No. 4 would have an immediate effect. But there's almost no chance of No.4 happening.
This leaves the question of the long-term viability of the Gaddafi regime. In contrast to Shashank Joshi, I think Gaddafi's prospects are good. After the massacred are buried and forgotten, the television crews are expelled and the internet in Libya is shut down, perhaps permanently, the oil will start flowing again, at first to China and then to the US and the European Union.
Yes, Gaddafi's oil will eventually flow once again to the US and EU. And don't be surprised to see British and American politicians and businessmen grovelling at his – or his mentally deranged sons' – feet, begging for a slice of the oil business.
Finally, there is something else that neither Shashank Joshi nor the mainstream media dare mention.
That is, in contrast to the case of Iraq under Saddam, there is no Israeli interest in toppling Gaddafi. That means there will be no pressure from Israel via its stooges in Congress on the White House to take decisive measures against the Gaddafi regime.
On the contrary, the continued existence of Gaddafi and the absence of democracy in Libya – just as was the case with the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia and the senile pharaoh Mubarak in Egypt – is highly desirable from Israel's point of view.
Besides, Gaddafi's demented son, Saif al-Islam, has excellent personal relations with Israel's far-right settler foreign minister, the fascist Avigdor Lieberman, and was once (and maybe still is) romantically involved with an Israeli actress, Orly Weinerman.
In a regime that is as highly personalized as Gaddafi's, that counts for a lot.