Mideast Expert: Gadhafi's End in Sight

Wednesday, 23 Feb 2011 10:13 PM

By Dan Weil and Kathleen Walter

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Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi’s days of butchering his own people are almost over, Mideast expert Robert Rabil tells Newsmax.TV. The trigger for his departure will be when his tribe deserts him, Rabil says.

Gadhafi now relies on a few loyal soldiers, his tribe, other acquiescing tribes and mercenaries, says Rabil, a Mideast studies professor at Florida Atlantic University.

“The most important factor is his tribe. If it goes, I think he’s going to be out,” Rabil says.

“I think he’ll go pretty soon — the sooner the better,” Rabil said during the exclusive interview.

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And what will come next? It’s unlikely to resemble Egypt with a cohesive military assuming control.

“The army in Libya is built around tribes. I see a transition committee to lead the country into elections,” Rabil said. “The committee will comprise tribes and senior figures in the regime who are against Gadhafi.”

President Barack Obama could have spoken more strongly to protect the Libyan people, Rabil said. He could have issued a strong statement forbidding Gadhafi from bombing his own people with the Libyan air force. “The administration could have said that will be considered a hostile act,” he says.

As for Iran, the dictatorial regime of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is unlikely to be booted from power in the short term, Rabil said. “They have determination, the army (mainly the Iranian Revolutionary Guard) and close to 20 percent of the population that supports the regime.”

That support comes from the fact that the government gives money to those people. “That doesn’t mean they will stay in power for long, but there is a slim chance of hardliners turning reformers” in the short term, Rabil says.

And what should the United States do differently in the Mideast? “The U.S. should have a broad-based strategy to support basic universal rights,” Rabil said. “I’m not calling for open democracy throughout the Mideast. That takes time.”

But the United States should support human rights in Iran, Libya, Bahrain, Jordan and Syria. First, the United States should support judicial review and the rule of law, because these regimes arrest opponents arbitrarily. Second, the United States should support freedom of assembly.

As for Israel, it and the United States need to ensure stability in Jordan, he said. “That’s extremely important to Israel. It can’t afford to have two disruptions [on its borders] — Egypt and Jordan.”

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