08/22/2011 12:53 EDT | Updated 10/22/2011 05:12 EDT

Good News From Libya -- at Last

In my blog last week "Good News From Yemen - at Last," I referred to the tightening noose around Tripoli. It was clear last week that it was only a matter of time. But today we hear that this tightening is occurring even faster than most had predicted. The distance between the advancing freedom fighters and the city centre, we are told, is a matter of 17 kilometres. If it is true, the overrunning of the Khamis brigades should be a significant blow to the regime, given its previously touted reputation for ferocity and efficiency.

The inner circle of Gaddafi is fraying and the news of defection of someone of the political weight of Abdessalam Jalloud must be heartening for the opposition. Although it is a significant psychological gain, one wonders why some of the big fish in the inner circles of defeated tyrants make their moves so late in the game. The Libyan people, who know or will get to know the circumstances of such defections, will be able to assess their genuineness and significance because on the day of the fall of any tyrant, everyone in his circle would be more than happy to jump ship.

In the meantime, and during the coming hours, Gaddafi and his supporters should be expected to continue their speeches and tirades of denial. This is a pattern that has occurred so repeatedly, witness the animated if not amusing pronouncements of the spokesman of Saddam Hussein as Baghdad was falling. Although life is precious, and no one wants to die if there is an alternative, after 42 years of absolute rule, Gaddafi, who is a rather eccentric personality, may choose to go down fighting. His sons, much younger, and with remote possibilities of getting out of jail young enough to enjoy a few normal years of life in old age, may not share their father's enthusiasm for his chosen end. They are likely to try to cut a deal, and may even be instrumental in forcing the old man to surrender, if that would save their lives.

How do I know all this? I don't! But it is interesting to make wild predictions. Otherwise, what's the point in writing after the outcome is known?

And the next title should read "Good News from Syria - at Last!"