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Will France let Gadhafi stay in Libya?
Foreign leaders are warming to the idea of letting the Libyan despot retire in the country he has ruled brutally for decades
 
Supporters of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi take part a rally in the town of Al-Ajaylat
Supporters of Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi take part a rally in the town of Al-Ajaylat
REUTERS/Louafi Larbi

After five months of war in Libya, France says foreign powers are ready to let Moammar Gadhafi stay in Libya, provided he steps down and stays out of politics for good. While opposition leaders have long said peace will be elusive as long as Gadhafi remains in the country, the proposal reflects a growing awareness that forcing Gadhafi out of Tripoli could prove prohibitively costly and bloody. If offering Gadhafi domestic exile will get him to stop the fighting, is it worth a shot?

It might be the only way out of this mess: The rebels will never be strong enough to depose Gadhafi, says Rick Moran at American Thinker, so he's staying put "unless NATO wants to send in ground troops to physically remove him." Everyone should have realized that hard truth long ago. It's a shame a once-great military alliance had to be humiliated by a "half-crazed, tinpot dictator" before coming to its senses.
"France may consider deal that keeps Gadhafi in Libya"

But letting Gadhafi stay in Libya would be disastrous: Granting Gadhafi internal exile is "madly impractical and risky," says Gideon Rachman at Financial Times. Even if Gadhafi and his tribe "get sent off to the desert way down south" with a $1 billion golden parachute ("I'm not kidding, that was the figure mentioned"), it's "a bit like sending Napoleon to Elba" island, from which he promptly escaped. Libyans simply can't "begin the task of reconciliation and reconstruction" with Gadhafi lurking nearby.
"Gadhafi and internal exile"

In the end, Libya might have to be split: Gadhafi will never bend to the wavering Europeans, says Steven Cook at the Council on Foreign Relations. The Libyan leader only respects one power, the U.S. But America's bargaining position has slipped since we outraged Gadhafi by recognizing the rebels as Libya's legitimate rulers. It's increasingly looking like Libya will be broken apart, with rebels having to settle for rebuilding the areas they control, and Gadhafi sticking around to rule "Tripolitania."
"Libya: The coming break-up?"

 

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