Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi
Libya's leader Muammar Gaddafi REUTERS

Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi, who has vowed to fight to the death, is in way too deep to simply surrender.

At every chance he gets, he and his forces push towards the rebel strong hold of Benghazi, determined to take back the country he has ruled with an iron fist for over 30 years.

There have been rumors that he has sent teams to the rebels to negotiate an exit. The Guardian recently reported that Mohammed Ismail, one of Gaddafi’s “most trusted envoys,” is in confidential talks with British, possibly about an exit.

Moreover, a Western diplomat told the paper that “there has been increasing evidence recently that [Gaddafi’s adult] sons want a way out.”

Any exit, however, is for Gaddafi’s family and not the colonel himself. Indeed, even Ismail is a senior aide to Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, not Gaddafi himself.

Gaddafi isn’t like Tunisia’s Ben Ali. The latter was faced with stiff protestor resistance and incipient defection in the military. He got scared, blinked, and fled the country. In Mubarak’s case, the Egyptian military was an established and cohesive institution. When it became apparent that the military was on the protestors’ side, there was little Mubarak can do.

Gaddafi, on the other hand, isn’t fazed by defections; when an entire region defects, he responds by trying to take it back with his remaining Libyan supporters and hired foreign mercenaries. He has shown that he will not back down until the whole country is once again under his control.

US President Barack Obama recognizes Gaddafi’s ruthlessness and determination; in a recent speech, he expressed concern that the latter will try to slaughter his way back to power.

As for the rebels and their Western supporters, they are determined not to let Gaddafi take over again.

With both sides so unyielding, a peaceful resolution is unlikely. At best, the two sides will draw and Libya will be partitioned, thus ending the current civil war. However, the more probably outcome is a violent victory by either Gaddafi or the rebels.