The Libyan government has announced that it is willing to discuss political reform, as long as any changes don't result in the removal of Col. Moammar Gadhafi.
That news was no doubt greeted with skepticism and dismay by the rebels who have seized much of the eastern part of the country, including the second-largest city, Benghazi, and by Western leaders who have helped institute a United Nations Security Council resolution-mandated no-fly zone over the country as a civil war raged below.
Italy became the latest country to support the resignation of Gadhafi, with that country's foreign minister joining high-ranking officials from France, the United States, and the United Kingdom in calls for a more democratic governmental structure and certainly a new name at the top. Earlier, two key top officials had resigned their posts and fled the country. Both former foreign ministers, they were thought to have much key information about Gadhafi's forces' strengths and capabilities.
Gadhafi, who appeared briefly on state-run television in front of a crowd of cheering supporters, has ruled the country for 42 years after taking the reins in a bloodless coup. He has built a reputation for being at turns ruthless and pacifying, trying to curry favor with much of the rest of the world while firing tear gas at protesters and endorsing brutality at the hands of the mercenaries and troops that support him..
Throughout the past several weeks, reports have surface of great brutality visited on the rebels by government forces, who have far more guns and tanks than the poorly armed and ill-equipped rebels. Making the difference between a "reunited" Libya and the current situation so far has been the no-fly zone, which included authority for other countries to hit Gadhafi-held positions and installations. However, the refusal of other countries to put troops on the ground in support of the rebels has resulted in a relative stalemate, with territory changing hands quite quickly from day to day, depending on the severity and frequency of airstrikes.
Neighboring Qatar has joined the rebel cause, joining in the no-fly zone and also offering to sell much of the oil coming out of key eastern cities on the open market and transfer all of the money back to the rebels. Other countries in the region has so far stayed on the sideline.
Already, international officials are warning of food and medicine shortages, now and in the future, even if the civil war ended tomorrow. Oil and gasoline are particularly in short supply, with almost all of it going to fuel the war effort on both sides. People in many cities spend several hours a day in line to buy basic goods, which are also in short supply.