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Thursday, July 14, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Gadhafi, facing fuel and cash shortages, 'prepared to blow up Tripoli'

WASHINGTON — The U.S. intelligence community has assessed that the regime of Libyan Col. Moammar Gadhafi faces a fuel shortage and soon may be strapped for cash.


A Russian diplomat said the Gadhafi regime, which also may be running out of main battle tank and other munitions, was prepared to blow up Tripoli to prevent a rebel takeover. The diplomat, Mikhail Margelov, told the Moscow-based Izvestia daily that Gadhafi was ready to use his arsenal of ballistic missiles against the rebels, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The Libyan prime minister in Tripoli told me: 'If the rebels occupy the city, we will cover it with missiles and blow it up,' " Margelov said. "I believe that the Gadhafi regime does have such a suicidal plan."

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Western diplomatic sources said the Gadhafi regime was showing signs of a fuel shortage in areas still under its control in Libya. The sources said the shortage has been detected in Tripoli and in the battlefield.

"Until a few weeks ago, there was no problem with fuel anywhere, but now it is getting much harder to obtain regular supplies," a diplomat said.

The sources said Gadhafi could face a cash shortage as well by September. They said NATO states have frozen Libyan assets throughout Europe and the United States, including some $500 million in Turkey.

"Gadhafi is offering very generous repayment terms, but his credibility that his regime will survive is fading," the diplomat said.

The sources said the fuel shortage comes in wake of a tightening of an embargo on the Gadhafi regime. They said the regime has been unable to acquire significant amounts of fuel from Asian and Arab allies because of a NATO blockade of major Libyan ports.

The fuel shortage was said to have hampered operations of the Libyan Army against the rebel movement. The sources reported fewer combat vehicles in the field, which have allowed the rebels to advance toward Tripoli.

In June, the rebels attacked a crude oil pipeline deemed crucial to the Gadhafi regime. The sources said the pipeline, designed to feed the refinery in Zawiya, was severed in the Nafusa mountains.

"Right now, Gadhafi is mainly dependent on fuel imports and that requires a lot of money as well as getting past the embargo," a Western diplomat said.

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