I just read something interesting – one of the Libyan oil companies, the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, has announced a plan to have its oil revenues go to benefit the rebellion in Libya. Their website seems to be down, no surprise there. However, they are based in Benghazi, and so it seems that even if the rebels are pushed back to the point where they have no hope of taking Tripoli, even a stabilized situation that sees them retain control of Benghazi and the surrounding area (some of their oil fields are to the South East of Benghazi, which is well away from the current front line) would give the rebels a steady stream of income and thus the ability to maintain themselves.
This leads to the possibility for preventing disaster even if Gaddafi is not removed. Material, if not military, support from the West, combined with something of an economic base as well as an international border with Egypt, could make the rebels self-sustaining and thus somewhat able to shelter themselves from government reprisals, averting humanitarian disaster. The continued threat of an as-yet unimposed no – fly zone may keep Gaddafi from exploiting his air power too much. Suspension from the AU would be appropriate, but unlikely. And finally, the US ought to have an open policy towards Libyan refugees. It’s unfair to expect Europe to absorb all the refugees created by Maghreb instability; moreover, a networked group of refugees living outside Libya would reduce pressure on the rebel government and could raise funds and awareness for the cause.