one to watch...

Winnipeg Free Press - Section H - - FRONT PAGE -

FOR the sec­ond week, the news story of news sto­ries is about the king of kings of Africa, as Moam­mar Gad­hafi has styled him­self. Al­though the civ­i­lized world has turned against the Libyan mad­man, and even his fel­low klep­to­crat dic­ta­tors are keep­ing a dis­creet dis­tance, Gad­hafi has grown marginally stronger in past days. Op­po­si­tion forces have taken over much of the coun­try and its rich oil fields, but Gad­hafi was still able to strike back at them with a com­bi­na­tion of loyal guards and mer­ce­nar­ies re­cruited from im­pov­er­ished sub-Sa­ha­ran Africa. And though the West did some sabre-rat­tling about en­forc­ing a no-fly zone, there is still not one in place, and Gad­hafi was able to send air­craft to bomb rebel po­si­tions in east­ern Libya. As well, a Dutch mil­i­tary he­li­copter sent to pull some civil­ians out of the dan­ger zone fell into Gad­hafi’s hands. That means the Dutch must ne­go­ti­ate, gov­ern­ment to gov­ern­ment, with Gad­hafi’s regime if they hope to free the Dutch marines cap­tured with the he­li­copter. That makes it hard to main­tain the po­si­tion that Gad­hafi has no le­git­i­macy as the de facto Libyan head of state. Gad­hafi is not yet done and his longevity will be en­cour­ag­ing to despots across the Arab world and be­yond. His op­po­nents have the num­bers, but he has the weaponry. His rapid over­throw seems un­likely and the other two pos­si­bil­i­ties — a bloody stale­mate with a refugee cri­sis or a Gad­hafi vic­tury fol­lowed by a mas­sacre are grim.

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