by Umair Khan
Will Gadhafi remain in Tripoli?
|If Gadhafi's resistance to the resistance fails, he is likely to die a martyr. No comfortable exile in Caracas for him. Remember, Gadhafi is no Mubarak or Bashar al-Assad, a second or third generation bureaucratic heir to once revolutionary dictatorships. He is a founding revolutionary cut from the same cloth as Nasser and Castro, and his revolutionary rhetoric, if seemingly incoherent and irrelevant to the modern world, is authentic, rooted in the (mostly) vanished world of colonialism, imperialism, socialism and people's democracy.
If, then, Gadhafi loses the "revolutionary" struggle to maintain his Libyan Jamahiriya (people's democratic revolution) and his tribal struggle to uphold the "honor" of his clan, the Qadaffa, against rivals like the Zuwayya in the East or the Warfalla in the South, Libya may be in for -- if not the "civil war" and the "rivers of blood" predicted by Saif Gadhafi on Sunday night -- a long period of civil unrest and tribal turmoil. There is no coherent force like a Muslim Brotherhood or a Baathist Party or a professional military to step in either to rule or to pave the way to elections.
IF HE SURVIVES: On the other hand, it is unlikely, but not impossible, that Gadhafi will survive, not just because he has access to overwhelming firepower (if he can control those who wield it), but because he has clan and tribal support and at least tacit consent from many Libyans who have depended on him over the years for their own survival. He is a crafty and intelligent survivalist. No autocrat endures for 42 years holding no formal political office because he is a bumbling buffoon totally out of touch (as the media have always treated him and are treating him now). Indeed, the current efforts at the UN to establish a "no fly zone over Libya" can only give credence to his and Saif's argument that the uprising will become an excuse for foreign "imperialist" intervention. It was no accident that Gadhafi stood today in front of his old residence, where his daughter died in the U.S. bombing during the Reagan era, to offer his rambling diatribe against foreigners.
And my own guess about whether Gadhafi survives or is deposed? Given what has already transpired on the ground elsewhere in the Middle East, given the brutal and barbaric response to the protesters, and given the widespread revulsion against him outside of Libya, I would say he is likely to go. Chances are three or four to one that his revolution is over. But there is still a slim chance he could survive, and if he does, all those who cast him as nothing more than a monstrous buffoon will have to rethink their easy dismissal and deal with stark reality again. Monstrous maybe, buffoon not. And if he goes, we still we have to take the measure of what might have been, had Saif chosen his country over his clan.