Under relentless international pressure, the inner core of the Qadhafi regime may be heading for a major split, with two of the sons of Libyan strongman, Muammar Qadhafi, signalling their apparent readiness to find a formula for a political transition, without their father in the picture.

Citing a “diplomat” and a Libyan official, The New York Times is reporting that Seif and Saadi e-Qadhafi are proposing a plan to end the Libyan conflict without their father in the driving seat. “They have hit so many brick walls with the old guard, and if they have the go-ahead, they will bring the country up quickly,” the Times said quoting a person close to the camp of the two siblings. Regarding Mr. Qadhafi's own view, as speculation spirals that a “palace coup” might be in the works, the daily said “it is not clear whether Qadhafi, 68, has signed on to the reported proposal backed by his sons, Seif and Saadi el-Qadhafi, although one person close to the sons said the father appeared willing to go along”. The plan, if enforced could trigger a family feud, launching Seif and Saadi el-Qadhafi into a confrontation with Khamis and Mutuassim, two other sons of Mr. Qadhafi, who are known hardliners.

Responding to the report, Ali al-Essawi, the former Libyan Ambassador to India, who has broken ranks with the regime, said on Monday that Mr. Qadhafi's replacement by one of his sons was unacceptable. Speaking in Rome, he said: “Any political initiative which does not include the departure of Qadhafi is not acceptable.”

In yet another indication that the regime might be seeking a diplomatic bailout, Libya's Deputy Foreign Minister Abdul Ati-al-Obeidi travelled to Greece for talks with his counterpart, Dimitris Droustas. After the meeting, Mr. Droustas said: “From the Libyan envoy's comments it appears that the regime is seeking a solution.”

Mr. Obedi is heading for Turkey, which has been among the strongest advocates of diplomacy to end to the Libyan crisis.

Ahead of the Libyan envoy's visit, the Turkey said that it was looking for an opportunity to broker a ceasefire.

Offering humanitarian assistance in the line of fire, Turkey has taken the bold step of sending a hospital ship to rescue Libyan civilians who have been seriously injured during fighting in the embattled city of Misurata, Libya's third largest. The ship, Ankara, has brought more than 250 casualties to Benghazi, the nerve centre of the anti-Qadhafi revolt.

The current international focus on diplomacy followed a perceptible drop in the West to arm the opposition with modern weapons. In the United States, fears of Al-Qaeda infiltration, and lack of internal cohesion, have fuelled a debate on arming the opposition.

Intervening on the air waves, the former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, told ABC television that Washington should not “shut the door” on arming the rebels.

On Monday, Italy has asserted that it was ready to transfer weapons, especially if they were required to save civilian lives in Libya. Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini made this remark after formally recognising the opposition Transitional National Council (TNC) as the representative of the Libyan people. Before joining ranks with France and Qatar — two countries which have also recognised the TNC — there had been a regular stream of visitors from Italy to Benghazi. Reuters is reporting that Paolo Scaroni, the head of Italian oil group Eni, recently discussed energy cooperation with the Libyan opposition during a visit to the eastern city.

The opposition's demand for new weapons comes after the battle lines have frozen in the conflict zone, despite the availability of aerial fire power from the West. On Monday, the anti-Qadhafi forces had advanced inside the oil town of Brega, but were still facing heavy resistance from their foes, who had apparently mined some of the approach roads.

In Misurata, regime loyalists were shelling the city from Monday morning, an opposition spokesman said.

Keywords: Libya crisis

More In: International | News