Well-armed Gaddafi will prevail in long term: U.S.

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 22, 2011 11:07 AM
Well-armed Gaddafi will prevail in long term: U.S.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is "hunkering down" and his better-equipped forces will prevail in a long-term fight with rebels, the top U.S. intelligence official told a Senate hearing on Thursday.

"We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul," said U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper.

"He appears to be hunkering down for the duration," he told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Clapper said that Libya's large arsenal of Russian weapons, including 31 surface-to-air missile sites and radar systems, mean that forces loyal to Gaddafi are better equipped and have more logistical resources, and "over longer term, that the regime will prevail."

"The Libyan air defense structure on the ground, radars and surface-to-air missiles, is quite substantial. In fact, it's the second largest in the Mideast, after Egypt," he said.

Some of Libya's Russian weaponry has been seized by rebels, Clapper said, but added there are worries certain weapons could fall into the hands of terrorists.

"They have a large, large number of MANPADS -- that is, man-portable surface-to-air missiles -- and of course there's great concern there about them falling into the wrong hands," he told the Senate panel.

(Reporting by Paul Eckert; Editing by Will Dunham)