Two of Moammar Gadhafi's seven sons reportedly are pushing a plan to oust the Libyan dictator and replace him with themselves, according to The New York Times
, a move that may indicate a civil war inside the "Godfather"-like family that rivals the real battles taking place throughout the country.
Indications are that the family is split between two sons who are pushing the deal on diplomats and two “hardliner” siblings who would reject any such deal.
Lost in all of this is any indication of whether the old man himself, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, is even aware of the negotiations. Moreover, the sons apparently think they could stay in power over a population that clearly wants all of the Gadhafis gone.
Speaking in Rome, a representative of the rebels, Ali al-Essawi, the former Libyan ambassador to India, said on Monday that it is unacceptable to replace Colonel Gadhafi with one of his sons. “There’s no way to replace Gadhafi with a small Gadhafi,” he said in an interview.
The plan promoted by Seif al-Islam Gadhafi and his brother, Saadi el-Gadhafi. Seif would be familiar to American TV viewers as the son who took to television early on in the conflict to back his father and threaten bloody vengeance against any who turned on him.
“We are coming,” he declared to a crowd of supporters who chanted, “Seif al-Islam, step on the rats.”
And this is the “moderate” son.
While Seif and Saadi have leaned toward Western-style economic and political openings, Gadhafi’s sons Khamis and Mutuassim are considered hardliners, according to the Times. Khamis leads a fearsome militia focused on repressing internal unrest. Mutuassim, a national security adviser who also commands his own militia, has been considered a rival to Seif in the competition to succeed their father.
The two sons “want to move toward change for the country” without their father, one person close to the Seif and Saadi camp told the Times Sunday. He spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.
“They have hit so many brick walls with the old guard, and if they have the go-ahead, they will bring the country up quickly.” One son, this person said, has said many times that “the wishes of the rebellion were his own.”
The proposal could be a sign that the regime is weakening and looking for an exit after weeks of airstrikes that have severely damaged the Gadhafi militias. There have been frequent reports since the beginning of the conflict that Gadhafi would accept asylum in a friendly country like Venezuela, Cuba or one of the mean regimes he has supported in Africa.
Libyan rebels on Monday took back much of a strategic oil town that has repeatedly changed hands in weeks of battles with Gadhafi's forces along the nation's northern coast.
There were bursts of artillery and shelling from Gadhafi's forces in the west as rebels pushed into eastern sections of the town. Women and children were seen fleeing Brega as the battle raged.
"New Brega is under control of our forces and we are mopping up around the university," said Lt. Muftah Omar Hamza, a former member of Libya's air force who had a satellite phone and a GPS around his neck.
Brega stretches out over several miles of the coast and is concentrated in three main sections: New Brega, a largely residential area on the east end; West Brega, which includes a refinery and housing for oil workers; and a university between them. West Brega was still contested.
The uprising that began in February against Gadhafi's 42-year rule has reached a stalemate, with a series of towns along one stretch of Mediterranean coastline passing back and forth multiple times between the two sides. Though the regime's forces are more powerful and plentiful, they have been unable to decisively defeat a poorly equipped and badly organized rebel force backed by NATO airstrikes that have kept the Gadhafi loyalists in check.
Rebel forces made up of defected army units and armed civilians have seized much of Libya's eastern coast, but have been unable to push westward toward the capital, Tripoli. Two rebel advances on Sirte, a Gadhafi stronghold on the road to Tripoli, were cut well short, and government forces pushed the opposition back 100 miles or more after each attempt. Rebels were hoping for more this time.
"We're advancing. By today we'll have full control of Brega," said Salam Idrisi, 42, a rebel fighter. "We're more organized now, and that's played a big role."
Italy recognized the rebel-led Libyan National Transitional Council as the country's only legitimate voice on Monday, becoming only the third country, after France and Qatar, to do so.
After speaking with the council's foreign envoy, Ali al-Essawi, Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said the only way to resolve the conflict in the former Italian colony is for Gadhafi to leave — along with his sons.
"They are leaders of the military operations against Libyans," Al-Essawi said, explaining why the council refuses to accept one of Gadhafi's sons as Libya's leader.
Frattini also said proposals from Libyan government envoy Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, who met with Greek officials Sunday, were "not credible" because nothing was said about Gadhafi's departure.
Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said that, based on al-Obeidi's comments, "it appears that the regime is seeking a solution," but few other details of the Athens talks were released publicly.
Al-Obeidi, a former Libyan prime minister, arrived in Turkey Monday for talks with senior officials, Turkey's Anatolia news agency said, and he also plans to travel to Malta.
Gadhafi's government has declared several cease-fires but has not abided by them, and the council says it will not negotiate with him or settle for less than his ouster.
Gadhafi's efforts to crush the uprising that began Feb. 15 led the international community to approve the U.N. resolution and launch airstrikes, which the United States led initially but now are under the control of NATO. Libya's revolt has been the most violent of the popular uprisings across the Arab world inspired by those in Tunisia and Egypt.
On Sunday, Gadhafi's forces pressed on with attacks against Misrata, the last key city in the western half of the country still largely under rebel control despite a weekslong assault.
Government troops besieged civilian areas for around two hours Sunday morning with Grad rockets and mortar shells and lined a main street with snipers, said a doctor in the city.
Two shells landed on a field hospital, killing one person and injuring 11, he said. The attacks, including tank fire, began again after nightfall, he said. He did not want to be identified by name out of fear for his security.
A Turkish ship carrying 250 wounded from Misrata docked in Benghazi, the rebels' de facto capital, on Sunday. The boat, which carried medical supplies, was also expected to pick up around 60 wounded people being treated in various hospitals in Benghazi, as well as 30 Turks and 40 people from Greece, Ukraine, Britain, Uzbekistan, Germany, and Finland.
A military plane carrying medical supplies from Jordan landed in Benghazi on Monday. Jordanian Col. Aqab Abu Abu Windi, who arrived on the plane, said it contained 7.5 tons of medical supplies to help the Libyan people and promised, "This plane is just the beginning."
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