Rebels in Libya are scouring the country for Moammar Gadhafi, looking through bunkers and secret underground tunnels in Tripoli as well as marching toward his home city of Sirte.
With anti-government forces tightening their grasp on the country, it is only a matter of time before Gadhafi surfaces. What is becoming clear is that Gadhafi is not going to turn himself in. When he does finally appear, it will either be in rebel hands or in foreign lands.
Below is the a list of the five places that Gadhafi could find refuge, should he decide to flee Libya.
Rumors last week that a fully-fueled Venezuelan airplane was sitting on a Libyan runway waiting for Gadhafi to climb aboard highlighted the still-strong relationship between Gadhafi and President Hugo Chavez.
Chavez said on Tuesday that he only recognizes Gadhafi as the leader of Libya, and claimed that the NATO campaign is an imperialist effort to gain control of the Libya's oil wealth. If needed, Chavez would likely provide his friend with amnesty in Venezuela.
Without a doubt, we're facing imperial madness, Chavez said in his televised address.
“Today they dropped I don’t know how many bombs, and they’re falling in a shameless and open way... on schools, hospitals, homes, work places, factories, farm fields at this very moment,” Chavez said, according to the Associated Press. “It’s the excuse to intervene and seize a country and its riches.
An adviser for President Daniel Ortega said that Nicaragua would be happy to take Gadhafi in if the Libyan could make it to Central America.
“I do not know how Gadhafi could get here from Libya, because we do not have an embassy in Libya,” Economic Adviser Bayardo Arce told Channel 63 television, according to the AP.
Ortega has been and still is a Gadhafi ally, and in February the Nicaraguan President called Gadhafi to say that Gadhafi was again waging a great battle.”
3) Saudi Arabia
If he wanted to stay closer to home, Gadhafi could flee to Saudi Arabia. Ugandan President Idi Amin famously settled there after his exile and recently, two Yemeni leaders went to Saudi Arabia to recover from assassination attempts. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Ali Mujawar returned home, where anti-government protestors are gaining support, but President Ali Abdullah Saleh is still waiting safely in the Islamic kingdom.
In 2009, Gadhafi insulted Saudi Arab's King Abdullah at an Arab summit, accusing the King of bringing the Americans to occupy Iraq before storming out of the meeting. The two reconciled later, and would have plenty of time to rebuild a relationship if Gadhafi chose to stay in Saudi Arabia permanently.
4) Africa Union countries
In the past decade, Gadhafi has devoted much of his time to the African Union. He chaired the continental organization from 2009 to 2010, and according to the Guardian he still has support in Burkina Faso, Chad and Equatorial Guinea.
In the last week, South Africa has twice announced that Gadhafi is not welcome in the country, but other African nations may not be as reluctant to deny the leader and his wealth.
5) The Hague
OK, so this doesn't really count as refuge, but Gadhafi could nonetheless find himself in the Netherlands soon. The International Criminal Court, based in The Hague, has issued an arrest warrant for Gadhafi, as well as for his son Saif al-Islam and his former head of military intelligence, Abdullah al-Senussi. The three men are wanted for war crimes related to the shooting of unarmed protestors in February.
When rebels reported on Monday that they had captured Saif al-Islam, the I.C.C. immediately petitioned for custody. The once heir-apparent was actually not in hands of the rebels and was in Tripoli, but if when any of the men are indeed captured, the world will their fate watch intently.
Libyan rebels clearly want justice and will try to keep Gadhafi for themselves. World powers, with backing from the United Nations, will likely push for an international tribunal, and the National Transitional Council would do well to pass along Gadhafi. The move would win them support from nations not already confident in their new government, and it would make Libya more friends than enemies.