- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The odds are higher than 80 percent that the 42-year-rule of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi will be over by the end of 2011.

That is the verdict of the popular Irish-based “news futures” website, Intrade.com, where thousands of bettors around the world put their money on everything from the Academy Awards to the 2012 presidential election.

The odds of Col. Gadhafi’s ouster spiked after Intrade opened the market on Friday, with initial trades at just 11 percent.

Closing-time odds were 25 percent on Friday, 45 percent on Saturday, 60 percent on Sunday, 85 percent on Monday, and 87 percent on Tuesday. Wednesday’s odds, which fluctuated between 78 and 87 percent, were down from highs of 90 percent reached Monday, when rumors swirled that Col. Gadhafi had fled to Venezuela.

Gamblers give 60-plus percent odds that Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh and Bahraini Prime Minister Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, both of whom have been in power since 1972, will also be ousted by the end of the year.

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are seen as somewhat safer, each with roughly 20 percent odds of not surviving the year.

The new markets have drawn some notice in the blogosphere because Intrade forecasts have proven cannily accurate in recent years, particularly on the eve of elections.

Intraders predicted how all 50 states would vote in the 2004 presidential election, called every Senate race correctly in the 2006 midterms, predicted that Barack Obama would get 364 electoral votes in 2008 — one less that he actually got — and correctly forecast that Republicans would pick up more than 60 House seats in last fall’s elections.

So what else are Intraders saying about the future?

• Odds that the United States or Israel will “execute an overt air strike against Iran” by the end of 2011: 10 percent.

• Odds that Osama bin Laden will be “captured or neutralized” by the end of the year: 6 percent.

• Odds that a successful terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction will occur anywhere in the world by the end of 2013: 29 percent.

One world leader who appears relatively safe in his job is President Obama. His odds of winning re-election are now over 60 percent, up from 50 percent in December.