As Rebels Close In Around Tripoli, Hints Of A Gaddafi Exit Appear

This week Libyan rebels took the city of Az Zawiya, which contains Libya’s last working oil refinery. The loss of the town cut the territory Gaddafi controls into two and brought the rebels within just 30 miles of Tripoli. The outcome of the battle in Az Zawiya makes an eventual rebel victory a virtual certainty, but what will the fall of Gaddafi look like? Today some hints of an answer have appeared as rumors that Gaddafi is preparing to flee Libya have started flying fast and furious: on August 19th:

A Venezuelan plane has landed on the island of Djerba to evacuate members of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s family, Tunisian radio, Mosaique FM, reported on Friday. The news was announced by the radio’s correspondent on the Tunisia- Libyan border.

AFP on August 19th:

Libya’s besieged leader Muammar Gaddafi is seeking refuge in Arab countries and has sent a message to the governments of Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria to receive his family, a Libyan dissident said in published remarks.

NBC News on August 19th:

Moammar Gadhafi is making preparations for a departure from Libya with his family for possible exile in Tunisia, U.S. officials have told NBC News, citing intelligence reports.

Asharq al-Awsat on August 19th:

Libyan and Arab sources have informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the Libyan leader has sent one of his closest advisers, Bashir Saleh, to Mali and the Tunisian island of Djerba, to meet with British and French officials with the objective of discussing “securing a safe exit for Gaddafi and his family from Libya.”

I would take any of these rumors with a thick dose of salt. However, it does seem clear that something is happening. Welcome to the endgame.