South African President Jacob Zuma will be in Tripoli on Monday, the latest in a growing collection of people to try his hand at negotiating an end to the ongoing civil war in Libya, presumably with Moammar Gadhafi leaving power.
The African Union already tried, and already got the Gadhafi regime’s support for a ceasefire, which was rejected by the rebels. Few expect Zuma’s visit to accomplish anything new, but looming over it are threats for yet another NATO escalation.
Behind the visit is a formal threat from NATO for Gadhafi to agree to unconditionally step down, and if he refuses a large number of British and French attack helicopters will hit across western Libya.
The East Libyan rebels, for their part, are said to be “upbeat,” both over the G8 demand for Gadhafi to step down and the belief that the escalation will help them in the war. Given the myriad NATO escalations over the past two months have changed virtually nothing on the ground, it appears to be wishful thinking.