The End of Gadhafi?
(FDL is undergoing some maintenance, so posting here for the moment)
There have been a lot of ups and downs in the Libyan civil war, and with the unpredictability on both sides I think it's fair to question whether anything can be decisive. But the rebel taking of the oil refinery at Zawiya is crucial because it cuts off the key supply line and the key supply (oil) to Moammar Gadhafi and his forces in Tripoli. It turns Gadhafi into a sitting duck.
On Thursday , jubilant rebels set up checkpoints at the refinery. Engineers were turning off the supply of petrol to Tripoli, the besieged capital of Gaddafi's rapidly shrinking empire. "Some people were for Gaddafi. Today, these people are less. Sooner or later he is finished," (refinery engineer Yusuf) Hamad predicted, adding that it would be possible to get the refinery going again soon.
After an uprising that has already gone on for seven months, it would be rash to make predictions about when, or if, the Gaddafi regime will crumble. But the government's options are narrowing. The rebels now control the coastal highway between Tripoli and the Tunisian border, a crucial gateway and main supply route for water, petrol, rice and tomatoes.
The rebels are now confidently predicting that they will control Tripoli by the end of the month. A UN envoy is meeting with both sides of the civil war in Tunisia. I don't believe the report that Gadhafi will flee to the neighboring country, but he certainly may be looking for an escape, either to Venezuela or inside Libya as part of a negotiated settlement. That's if the rebels agree to any concessions when they have Tripoli staring them in the face. If they are motivated by freedom and not revenge, they will cut a deal and reduce the loss of human life.
I share the uncontroversial opinion that Gadhafi is a bad guy, and that he should be brought to justice. This six-month ordeal still leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Even today we don't have a full picture of who the Libyan rebels are. There have been reports of atrocities and frontier justice against regime supporters. There has been infighting which led to the assassination of the top military commander. Employing NATO for close air support puts the coalition in a position of responsibility in the future that may or may not be desirable.
Throughout I hoped it would work out, and the potential end of Gadhafi's reign of terror is an objectively good thing. Like all of the Arab uprising revolutions, it's a beginning, not an end.