Interpol has issued a Red Notice for Moammar Gadhafi, the deposed Libyan leader who is currently in hiding. The international policing agency is reaching out to law-enforcement offices around the world with the hope that Gadhafi will be found and eventually extradited to the International Criminal Court for trial.
While the Red Notice is the most serious issuance that Interpol can give out, it will have little effect on Gadhafi's fate. Here are five reasons why.
5) Gadhafi is already wanted
The Interpol notice backs-up a warrant already issued by the International Criminal Court in June.
Gadhafi, as well as his son Saif al-Islam Gadhafi and former director of military intelligence Abdullah Al-Senussi, is wanted for war crimes stemming from the killing of unarmed protestors in February. While not all the countries in Interpol are those that are I.C.C. signatories (The United States, for example, is in Interpol but does not recognize the I.C.C) the notice, which will be circulated around police forces world-wide, doesn't provide any new information or urgency to the already infamous issue.
4) Interpol notices don't do much in high-profile cases
Interpol is certainly an important world agency, and a necessity when it comes to catching international bad guys.
But in this case, the Red Notice, which isn't a warrant, is more symbolic than practical. There are conceivably few, if any, Interpol member states that aren't aware that Gadhafi is a wanted man. Flagging Gadhafi's passport is not what's going to lead to his arrest. Additionally, a grainy wanted poster won't be the determining factor in a potential capture.
However, the Red Notice is a further indication that the Libyan was not just a poor leader, but a criminal who committed terrible acts on his own people. It is also a gesture to Libya's interim government, the National Transitional Council, that the international community supports them.
3) Gadhafi still has powerful friends
And he still has money. If Gadhafi does try to travel, which would be unlikely (see #2), he would only go where he knows he is safe. Gadhafi can still pay for favors, and will not travel any route that will endanger him. If he does move, it will not be clear until he arrives at his destination.
Possible countries that could take Gadhafi in include Venezuela, Nicaragua and Saudi Arabia. A number of Gadhafi's generals have already escaped to Niger, possibly on route to Burkina Faso. Burkina Faso has already stated that Gadhafi is not welcome there.
But, if Gadhafi's promises are to be believed, he will not attempt an escape at all. Gadhafi has repeatedly stated that he will never leave his homeland, and would rather die in battle than run.
2) Gadhafi will not escape Libya
If Gadhafi is to be turned over international authorities, it would likely be in the hands of the loyalists, in an attempt to broker an immunity deal for themselves in exchange for their former leader.
A more probable scenario, however, is that rebels will find Gadhafi themselves. The National Transitional Council already claims to have a 40-mile perimeter around the Colonel surrounded.
If true, either his capture or death is imminent.
Rebels are currently fighting pro-Gadhafi forces in Bani Walid, one of the last remaining strongholds for loyalist troops. The council believes that Saif al-Islam and a number other Gadhafi officials are still in the city. During the last few days, loyalists have launched a fierce counter-attack against rebel troops outside the city, firing a barrage of Grad rockets and short-range projectiles.
1) Rebels will keep Gadhafi for themselves
In the event of Gadhafi's capture, Libyans will want -- and deserve -- to hold their former leader accountable themselves.
Although The Hague will push for extradition, the National Transitional Council will not let Gadhafi out of their sight. If not killed in military action, Gadhafi will be tried by his own people, as he should be.