Top diplomats say Moammar Gadhafi’s regime is now part of Libya’s past, despite not knowing the dictator’s whereabouts as his 42-year reign crumbles.
“I think what’s clear is that the rebels are winning, that it’s only a matter of time before Gadhafi has to step down, before Gadhafi loses the entire country,” said Jeffrey Feltman, assistant secretary of state for near Eastern affairs, told “Good Morning America” today.
“People don’t have a good sense of where he is right now … but it almost doesn’t matter,” Feltman said.
Rebel forces in Libya have taken control of much of the Gadhafi stronghold of Tripoli. They are attempting to take over Gadhafi’s presidential compound, Bab al-Aziziya, but have been met by tanks. Firefights are also raging in Green Square, the symbolic heart of Gadhafi’s regime, and outside the Rixos Hotel, which houses several journalists.
On Sunday, rebels renamed Green Square, calling it Martyrs’ Square. Diplomats said that the rebels have taken control of 95 percent of Tripoli.
“The rebels are clearly taking over the city, taking over the institutions … taking over state television. He [Gadhafi] has become for all intents and purposes of Libya’s past and now people need to look to building Libya’s future,” Feltman told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on “GMA.”
“The Gadhafi regime is clearly crumbling,” Rasmussen said. “The sooner Gadhafi realizes that he cannot win the battle against his own people, the better, so that the Libyan people can be spared further bloodshed and suffering.”
While Colonel Gadhafi is nowhere to be found, at least two of his sons, including his heir, Saif al-Islam Gadafi, have been captured.
The Transitional National Council, the administration set up by the rebel forces, claimed that three of Gadhafi’s sons have either been captured or surrendered.
Muhammad Gadhafi, son of the Libyan leader, told Al Jazeera in a weepy phone call that he had surrendered to opposition forces and that his house was surrounded by gunfire. His brothers, Seif al Islam and Saadi, were captured by rebel forces in Tripoli before the phone call, according to the NTC.
Diplomats worry that the fall of Gadhafi could spark violence if some Libyans seek retribution. Following the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein in Iraq, sectarian violence was widespread.
“I don’t want to predict anything here. A lot of that sectarian mix that was in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq doesn’t exist in Libya,” Assistant Secretary of State Feltman said.
When pressed about whether Libya would see an Islamist government take hold, Feltman said that he believed that Libya’s future government would be secular.
“The overwhelming vision that we are hearing across Libya is that they want a Libya that is modern, that is secular, that is unified and independent,” he said.