- The Washington Times - Monday, April 4, 2011

Cracks are emerging in Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s inner circle, raising the possibility that the Libyan dictator’s grip on power may be weakening after 42 years.

The regime appears split between two cease-fire proposals: one by Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, a son of and one-time heir apparent to the Libyan dictator, and the other carried by Deputy Foreign Minister Abdel Ati al Obeidi.

While the former plan envisions Col. Gadhafi stepping aside in favor of Seif al-Islam Gadhafi, a Greek official said Col. Gadhafi’s fate “was not an issue of discussion” with Mr. Obeidi in Athens on Sunday night, according to an Associated Press report.

Libyan rebels and Western officials have dismissed both proposals.

The proposals have pitted Col. Gadhafi’s sons against one another, shining a spotlight on an intense sibling rivalry.

Seif al-Islam Gadhafi’s plan is opposed by two of his brothers, Mutassim Gadhafi, the regime’s national security adviser, and Khamis Gadhafi, the Russia-trained commander of elite forces, according to a Libyan dissident, who spoke to The Washington Times on the condition of anonymity.

In another sign of panic, Col. Gadhafi, rattled by high-level defections, has placed members of his regime and their families under heavy guard on his military compound in Tripoli, according to defectors and former Libyan officials. He is holding families hostage to force officials to think twice about defecting, they said.

Even Col. Gadhafi’s close friends, Abubaker Younes and Abdul Salam Jalloud, have been put under house arrest. His brother-in-law and trusted confidant, Abdullah Senussi, is now also viewed with suspicion, the Libyan sources said.

The defection last week of Col. Gadhafi’s confidant and foreign minister, Musa Kusa, rattled the regime, according to some Libyans who were surprised that he fled to London, leaving his family behind. Reports of a firefight at the Gadhafi compound Bab al-Aziziya in Tripoli last week were followed by rumors that security forces had arrested Mr. Kusa’s wife.

Musa Kusa’s defection shook the family very hard,” said Fadel M. Lamen, president of the American Libyan Council.

“We will see more splits, and ultimately the family will unravel,” he said.

The Obama administration on Monday lifted sanctions against Mr. Kusa.

David S. Cohen, acting under secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement that Mr. Kusa no longer will be subject to an asset freeze because he had severed ties with the Gadhafi regime.

“One of the intended purposes of sanctions against senior officials in the Libyan government was to motivate individuals within the Gadhafi regime to make the right decision and disassociate themselves from Gadhafi and his government,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement.

In his peace plan first reported in The Washington Times on Monday, Seif al-Islam Gadhafi proposed that his father step down and he assume control over a transitional government, according to sources familiar with the proposal.

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