As forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi appear to be retaking strategic Libyan away from increasingly demoralized rebel factions, a U.S. intelligence official has predicted that Gaddafi will emerge victorious from this brutal conflict.
James Clapper, US national intelligence director, told the US Senate that Gaddafi's dominant military force will crush the opposition over the long-term.
Clapper, the number one intelligence adviser to President Barack Obama, told Senators he has seen no evidence that Gaddafi will resign and warned his military is more powerful than previously thought.
Gaddafi is in this for the long haul, Clapper said.
I don't think he has any intention, despite some of the press speculation to the contrary, of leaving. From all evidence that we have... he appears to be hunkering down for the duration.
Meanwhile, the US seems somewhat reluctant to get involved militarily in Libya without universal international support for such action.
Clapper told Senate officials that he was not sure that a no-fly zone over Libya would be effective, citing that Gaddafi's air defense system was quite substantial and included Russian surface-to-air missile installations.
He added, however, that the Libyan air force pilots can't shoot straight and probably had not caused many casualties during their air strikes on rebel bases.
As for how the current crisis may be resolved, Clapper suggested that Libya may eventually be divided into three autonomous states.
In an effort to tamp down Clapper’s harsh rhetoric, Obama's National Security Adviser Tom Donilon subsequently commented that Clapper’s comments represented static and one-dimensional analysis.
Donilon told media figures that Gaddafi’s military power could be subdued in the face of international sanctions.