Liam Fox conceded yesterday that Libyan rebels were unlikely to muster the forces to topple Muammar Gaddafi, and the Defence Secretary admitted that the best chance of ousting him was a palace coup.
Mr Fox's striking change of emphasis came more than four months after Britain, France and the US began bombing raids on Colonel Gaddafi's troops in an effort to protect rebels in the east of the country. Yet Colonel Gaddafi shows no sign of relinquishing power and a military stalemate appears to be developing. Mr Fox, who flew to Washington yesterday to discuss the operation told BBC Radio 4: "The key for the Libyan resolution will be whether or not the close circle around Colonel Gaddafi realise there's no point in investing in him: he's a busted flush, he will sooner or later have to leave power. When the penny drops with them that that's inevitable, then you're likely to see the sort of change, the political momentum, that we've been looking for."
Clashes between rival factions of the Libyan rebels killed four people yesterday in the opposition stronghold of Benghazi, deepening the worst crisis so far for the movement after its chief military commander was killed, possibly by fighters from his own side.
One group of rebels overran the base of a faction suspected of breaking pro-Gaddafi fighters out of a prison, the rebel Information Minister, Mahmoud Shammam, said.
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