Opinion Brief

Could Russia lure Gadhafi out of Libya?

Moscow reportedly believes Moammar Gadhafi is open to stepping down. But the embattled despot may have already missed his best chance to negotiate

A Russian newspaper says Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is sending signals to Moscow that he might agree to step down if he's given "security guarantees." Gadhafi's government says the report is "simply untrue," and that the regime's loyalists will "die to defend him." Western diplomats also can't confirm that Gadhafi has begun looking for a way out after a rebel advance and sustained NATO bombing. Is there really any chance he'll give up after vowing to fight to the death? (Watch a BBC report about Russia's role.)

Gadhafi might recognize he has no choice: "Moammar Gadhafi likes to play chess," says Robert Zeliger at Foreign Policy, "and it may be that he sees a checkmate nearing." His money and fuel are running out, and the rebels and NATO are pummeling what's left of his military. He can't let his supporters know defeat is an option, but at some point, if there's a plane on the runway waiting to carry him to safety and freedom, he might decide the best thing to do is climb aboard."Could Russia broker a way out for Gadhafi?"

It might be too late: If Gadhafi wanted to make a deal, says Merv Benson at PrairiePundit, he should have spoken up months ago. "It will be more difficult to meet now than it would have been before he was indicted by the International Criminal Court." Now he's not simply a pariah, he's wanted for crimes against humanity, so finding a country that will take him in "is much more complicated.""Gadhafi wants security guarantees if he leaves"

Plus, the rebels won't accept Gadhafi's terms: Even if Gadhafi agrees to step down, says Jason Ditz at Antiwar, he apparently wants his son, Saif al-Islam, to succeed him, plus immunity from prosecution, plus all his family's frozen assets. Those terms would obviously "be a non-starter for Libya's rebels." The only hope for changing their minds is for NATO to get behind a rapprochement, and so far, "NATO's hostility to peace" has made any deal unlikely."Russian official: Gadhafi agreed to resign if son takes over"

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