The Gaddafi Exit Strategy

Eliza Griswold
The Gaddafi Exit Strategy

Whither Gaddafi?

Two planes are reportedly waiting on the runway at Tripoli’s airport to carry off Muammar Gaddafi to places unknown, according to Al Jazeera.

Saif Gaddafi, Libya’s heir apparent, who has been arrested and is likely to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court at the Hague, seems to be headed for an extended European vacation in Geneva. (He has always wanted to call Europe home.)

But whither père Gaddafi, The Leader?

Venezuela? Possible. His friend, Hugo Chávez, is busy mouthing off about American bombs destroying Tripoli, and Gaddafi was spotted on a shopping spree some 18 months ago on a Venezuelan island.

Saudi Arabia? It was good enough for Uganda’s Idi Amin to end his days, but the kingdom has its own worries right now.

But if history offers any lessons, it’s likely that the man who calls himself “King of Kings” in Africa will be headed farther south on his favorite continent.


Here’s a short list:

Tunisia seems out for The Leader, although Gaddafi’s wife and daughter escaped there in May. But Gaddafi has slagged off the revolution, of course. And for Libya’s rebels who will be forging their own shaky government, Tunis is a little too close for comfort.

Another horrifying possibility is Zimbabwe, where Ethiopia’s Mengistu Haile Mariam is now in exile. Three maniacal killers—including the country’s own Robert Mugabe—may be too many.

Uganda is an option, but the cozy relationship between President Yoweri Museveni and the U.S. makes this unlikely. Gaddafi has to find a fetid corner where America holds less sway.

South Africa is emerging as a contender. President Jacob Zuma failed on at least two attempts to get Gaddafi to agree to a ceasefire, but at least he has visited. And believe it or not, Nelson Mandela is an old friend of Gaddafi’s.

That leaves, in alphabetical order, Angola, Burkina Faso, Chad, or Equatorial Guinea (President Teodoro Obiang Nguema is a Gaddafi fan, a petro-thug, and a long-running dictator.) The Washington Post has more.

And then of course, there’s this chant, from the Libyan street.

“Where will Gaddafi go?”

“To Hell.”