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The World

April 1, 2011

Gadhafi: Leaders of airstrikes should go, not me

(Continued)

AJDABIYA, Libya —

He compared Gadhafi to a wounded animal.

"An injured wolf is much more dangerous than a healthy wolf. But we hope the defections continue and I think he'll find himself with no one around him," Gheriani said.

Most high-level Libyan officials are trying to defect but are under tight security and having difficulty leaving the country, said Ibrahim Dabbashi, the deputy ambassador in Libya's U.N. mission, which now backs the opposition.

Koussa is privy to all the inner workings of the regime, so his departure could open the door for some hard intelligence, though Britain refused to offer him immunity from prosecution.

"Koussa is one of the pillars of Gadhafi's regime since the 1970s," said Abdel Moneim al-Houni, a former Libyan Arab League representative who was among the first wave of Libyan diplomats to defect this month. "His defection means that he knew that the end of Gadhafi is coming and he wanted to jump from the sinking boat."

Libyan officials, who initially denied Koussa's defection, said he had resigned because he was sick with diabetes and high blood pressure. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said Koussa was given permission to go to Tunisia, but the regime was surprised to learn he had flown to London.

"I talked to many people and this is not a happy piece of news, but people are saying, 'So what? If someone wants to step down that's his decision,'" Ibrahim said.

Nations behind the campaign of international airstrikes that have hobbled Libya's military hailed Koussa's resignation as a sign of weakness in Gadhafi's reign. They're hoping for nonmilitary solution, in part because the rebels have been seriously outgunned.

The U.S. has ruled out using ground troops in Libya but it is considering providing arms to the rebels.

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