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THE SITUATION ROOM

Libya Nearing War?; Newt Gingrich For President?

Aired March 3, 2011 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, President Obama puts Moammar Gadhafi and his forces on notice. His message -- step down, stop the bloodshed, or you will all be held accountable.

This hour, what can the U.S. do to isolate the Libyan leader?

And a day after Gadhafi's troops dropped bombs on rebel-held towns, they come back for more. Standby from the battlefields in eastern Libya.

And Republican Newt Gingrich takes the first step, a little step, the former House speaker confirming his presidential plans, but stumbling along the way.

Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The uprising in Libya is looking more every single day like a full-fledged war between Moammar Gadhafi's troops and rebel forces, the opposition armed and on alert in Al Brega right now. It's one of two eastern towns bombed today by the Libyan military, the second round of attacks in two days.

President Obama says he fears a stalemate that could get even bloodier. And he warned the Libyan leader today that the violence must stop and stop now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Colonel Gadhafi needs to step down from power and leave. That is good for his country. It is good for his people. It's the right thing to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: As thousands more refugees flee Libya, Mr. Obama says he has authorized the use of American military aircraft to fly Egyptian refugees home from Tunisia. He says he's studying a full range of options for dealing with Libya and protecting defenseless citizens.

CNN was on the scene when Libyan bombs dropped on Al Brega yesterday. Our crew has been in the thick of the protests and the violence in rebel-held areas in at least eastern Libya. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now from eastern Libya, CNN's Ben Wedeman.

Ben, there are some indications that the Libyan military of Gadhafi may be on the move. What do are you seeing? What are you hearing?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we have seen actually is that the opposition forces are now firmly once more in control of Brega, that after the all-day battle yesterday in which they were really challenged by this Libyan force that came from the area of Surt.

What we saw today was that there's many more fighters for the opposition side. They have brought in a lot more heavy weaponry, including anti-tank guns, anti-aircraft weapons, as well as surface- to-air missiles. So it certainly seems that they have reestablished their control. And now they're talking about trying to move further west.

Their first goal is to take over Ras Lanuf, which is a key town with a large oil refinery. And then they're talking about if they get that far, possibly going as far as Surt, which is a hugely important city symbolically because that is the hometown of Moammar Gadhafi -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And what about the Libyan military loyal to Gadhafi? Are you still seeing indications of airstrikes today?

WEDEMAN: Yes, there were two airstrikes today, one on Ajdabiya, once again trying to target this ammunition dump that is the source of a lot of the weaponry the opposition forces have been using, another airstrike in -- in, rather, Brega, very close to that refinery.

But that was really it for the day. And for the most part, the area was quiet. And we just saw this continued beefing up of anti- Gadhafi forces in this area -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Are those airstrikes having a major impact on the opposition, on the rebels?

WEDEMAN: Not really. It seems that they're working around them. They weren't as intense as they were yesterday.

And certainly what the rebels are telling is that they want to see this no-fly zone imposed upon Libya, because really this their Achilles' heel, the fact that the Libyan air force has complete control of the skies. The opposition really has nothing in the way of airpower. And it leaves them very exposed.

But, nonetheless, morale seemed to be very high. They gained more confidence after yet another confrontation with the Libyan military in which, despite the fact that the Libyan armed forces still loyal to Moammar Gadhafi have an advantage in terms of weaponry, in terms of airpower, what they don't seem to have is a lot of willpower when it comes to keeping the pressure up on the opposition.

It seems that the opposition may have the upper hand because -- simply because they believe in what they're doing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ben Wedeman on the scene for us in eastern Libya, thanks very much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Libyan rebels will certainly have a very tough time toppling Gadhafi as long as he still has loyal troops who were willing to fight for him and kill for him.

Let's bring in CNN's Fareed Zakaria. He's the host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS."

Fareed, the president of the United States specifically told those majors, those colonels in the Libyan army, don't kill fellow Libyans; otherwise, we will hunt you down.

What's the strategy in weaning them away from Gadhafi?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I think it's precisely what you said, which is to try to make everybody around Gadhafi feel nervous about executing orders.

Remember, we already know that there are a lot of people who have not wanted to execute the orders that Gadhafi has -- has told them to do. They have -- there are pilots who haven't bombed places. The interior minister left and then defected.

So it's a sensible strategy. I think the idea is try to put as much pressure as you can around Gadhafi to see if there's a way to stop the sort of carnage that he's trying to instigate from happening. I think the president and the White House seems to realize there's not much you can do to influence Gadhafi, but you can try and influence the people around him.

BLITZER: Are you among those who believes Gadhafi in the end will stay and fight within Libya; he won't go into exile?

ZAKARIA: I think it seems like that.

Look, I think we have to remember Gadhafi is different from a Mubarak. Mubarak was really kind of a military bureaucrat who got promoted suddenly to become president. Gadhafi is the original revolutionary. He's a Castro. He's a guy who was the father of the revolution. He's a fighter. He's a risk-taker.

So I would imagine that this is going to be a very different trajectory from Egypt and Tunisia, because you have really a kind of risk-taking revolutionary who frankly also seems to be somewhat crazy at the helm.

BLITZER: You heard the president of the United States say that all options, all military options are on the table. He didn't want to get into specifics. Ben Wedeman saying the rebels, they really want a no-fly zone. But is that realistic?

ZAKARIA: I think a no-fly zone is a bigger deal than people are making it out to be. I think there's the military component that Secretary Gates has talked about, that it's not trivial. But it's not really even that.

I think the political issue is much greater, which is, you know, the lesson of the last decade, Wolf, surely is that you take on these military interventions after you have studied them and with some degree of caution, because, once you start them, they take on a life of their own. You don't know where they are going to go.

And this would be politically a very complicated, controversial move. The other Arab countries will absolutely denounce it. It will hand Gadhafi some ammunition to say he's now fighting Western imperialism and American aggression. And it would be -- this would be the third Muslim, Middle Eastern, broader Middle Eastern country the United States would have intervened in militarily in the last decade.

So you don't want to feed the perception that the United States is militarily trying to dominate or subjugate these places, particularly an oil country. I think there are also other ways to try and equalize the balance of power here. The rebels are not without their own resources. We can open up our arms supplies to them. We can do other things to assist them covertly.

And I hope we're looking into all those options very seriously. But a no-fly zone is a pretty -- it is a very aggressive military intervention. And I think at least at this stage, we should be cautious.

BLITZER: You have got an amazing special that's going to air this weekend on CNN, "Restoring the American Dream: Getting Back to #1," the implication being we're not number one any longer.

Tell our viewers what we can expect to see.

ZAKARIA: Well, it was prompted by all these American politicians during the campaign last November talking about how we're number one, we're the most exceptional nation in the history of the world, we have the most perfect Constitution, everything here is amazing.

And I just thought, have they looked at the numbers recently? And I spent some time going through the lists. And we're down to 23rd in infrastructure. We're 79th in high school enrollment in the world. Health statistics are awful.

So what I tried to do is give people an accurate picture of where we are -- look, there are some places where we lead the world -- but then ask what would it take to move back up some of the lists that we have dropped so far down?

BLITZER: It's a great special. I'm really looking forward to it, "Restoring the American Dream: Getting Back to #1," Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN. Don't forget, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" Sunday mornings, 10:00 a.m., and 1:00 p.m. as well. Is that right, Fareed?

ZAKARIA: You got it, Wolf. I should pay you.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," an excellent show.

Surprising new information today about a retired FBI about who disappeared in Iran four years ago. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says there's growing evidence that Robert Levinson is alive and being held somewhere in Southwest Asia. No further details were given by her, but Secretary Clinton urged the Iranian government to help bring Levinson home. The 63-year-old Levinson vanished in Iran during a business trip. He has a history of diabetes.

There were fears after several years that he might have died, but now the secretary of state says he's alive in somewhere in Southwestern Asia.

Stand by to hear more from President Obama on Libya and his new warnings for Moammar Gadhafi. We will talk about his words and his options, whether his Pentagon chief is on the same page as other officials in the administration.

We will also explore Gadhafi's options if he loses power. Does the Libyan leader have an exit strategy for himself?

And Newt Gingrich's first step toward a presidential bid, it could tell us a lot about the Republicans' chances of winning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty has been thinking about our dependency on foreign oil.

He's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Violence in the Middle East has been driving the price of oil higher for some weeks now. It has crossed north of $100 a barrel several times.

And it's times like these that our addiction to imported oil comes back to haunt us. It has gotten worse since the horrific BP spill in the Gulf of Mexico last spring, which killed 11 rig workers and dumped nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf waters.

Suddenly, virtually all drilling activity in water deeper than 5,000 feet was ordered stopped. The Obama administration has given no sign that drilling there would return anytime soon, at least not to the level that it was before the spill. The deepwater ban was lifted last fall, but no new permits were issued until just this week. Monday, the Department of the Interior issued the first permit for a deepwater well since last spring.

In a column on Politico.com, publisher and businessman Steve Forbes writes that by freezing U.S. energy assets in the Gulf, the U.S. government is -- quote -- "fueling an energy crisis that could bring this nation to its knees" -- unquote.

An estimated one-third of the oil used in the United States comes from the Gulf of Mexico. Forbes say by limiting the drilling there, we become even more dependent on oil-rich nations abroad.

The question then is this: In light of the Middle East turmoil, is it time to again drill aggressively for oil in the Gulf of Mexico?

Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. stand by.

A day after President Obama avoided questions about Libya, he made good on a promise to talk about the crisis today. During a news conference with the president of Mexico, the president of the United States offered new help for refugees and strong words for Moammar Gadhafi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Tens of thousands of people from many different countries are fleeing Libya, and we commend the governments of Tunisia and Egypt for their response, even as they go through their own political transitions. I have, therefore, approved the use of U.S. military aircraft to help move Egyptians who have fled to the Tunisian border to get back home to Egypt.

The violence must stop. Moammar Gadhafi has lost legitimacy to lead and he must leave. Those who perpetrate violence against the Libyan people will be held accountable. And the aspirations of the Libyan people for freedom, democracy, and dignity must be met.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

The president also making it very clear that those who help Gadhafi will be punished.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I spoke with a senior administration official after the president spoke.

And he made it very clear to me, this is about squeezing Gadhafi. This is about letting the people who follow his orders know in no uncertain terms, this official said, that we are watching you. We are taking notes. We know who you are. And you're going to suffer the consequences of this, and getting them to believe that sooner or later Gadhafi will leave, be pushed out, be forced out, and they will be left holding the bag in front of the international community, and the punishment will be strong and it will be tough.

BLITZER: When I heard the president say at one point, I have authorized military, and then I sort of -- I said to myself, whoa, he's going to make a major announcement. He said, I have authorized military aircraft to carry Egyptian refugees who are now stranded in Tunisia back to Egypt.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: The first thought out of my mind, the Egyptian air force is huge. They have C-130s. They have got a lot of transport planes. Egypt Air has a lot of commercial airliners. Why is the United States military taking Egypt refugees from Tunisia to Egypt?

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: Where is the Egyptian military?

BORGER: Well, you and I were talking about that. The Egyptian military are helping.

I was told that there are about 500,000 refugees in all that they believe they're going to have to deal with. And clearly the Egyptian military cannot do it on their own, Wolf. So this is something that the United States is helping with. But the president did stop short, as you know, and did not talk about any other military activity, including a no-fly zone.

And do you sense that there is -- that the administration has been letting Gates out there in a sense to let people say, don't over- romanticized this; a no-fly zone may be more difficult than you think?

BLITZER: Gates and -- Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Robert Gates, the secretary of defense, they have been outspoken. They're making it clear they have no appetite to engage the United States military in Libya, per se.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: And a no-fly zone is not an easy thing. It's not simply sending planes to fly over Libya.

The first thing you have got to do is attack Libya to knock out the anti-aircraft missile batteries, the radar systems. And that's launching airstrikes by U.S. or NATO planes against targets in Libya. That's an act of war. So, if the U.S. is going to start that, then there's a slippery slope of what happens after that.

BORGER: It's funny. At first, I thought that maybe Gates was off the reservation here, that he was speaking too honestly, if you will, about why he does not want to do a no-fly zone, although he said he would if he had to. He certainly would rather do it in concert with NATO or the U.N.

But after talking to administration officials, it seems to me that they actually wanted him out there. You have people like John McCain saying you need a no-fly zone. And they wanted him out there to tell people precisely what you're saying, which is, folks, this isn't so easy. And once you do this, you have to be there and you have to commit yourselves to being in Libya.

And, at this point, I think they're holding back and would rather wait.

BLITZER: It's an honest and blunt statement from the secretary of defense. And I totally understand his thinking, because it's absolutely true. I have covered the Pentagon. I appreciate how difficult a no-fly zone over Libya would be.

BORGER: Yes.

BLITZER: But there's a difference between making that statement privately in the White House Situation Room when you're having meetings and then publicly telling Gadhafi and his thugs, hey, don't worry, the U.S. is not going to get involved in a no-fly zone. We don't have the wherewithal. We don't have the stomach. Go ahead and kill a lot more Libyans. You have the skies over Libya at your disposal.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: It's another thing to say that publicly, because you know they're watching CNN International in Tripoli right now. Everything Gates is saying to us, he's telling Gadhafi, something you don't want to necessarily tell him.

(CROSSTALK)

BORGER: And I think, Wolf, in many ways, he was talking less to Gadhafi than he was to United States senators, some of whom have been calling for...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Right. He was talking to the American public, not necessarily, I don't think, appreciating how it's going to be interpreted by Gadhafi.

BORGER: But the point is what they're doing is, they're waiting to see what Gadhafi does. And then, if the international community joins with them, don't rule out a no-fly zone. They just don't want to do it unilaterally. It's something they would rather do...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: What you want to do is scare Gadhafi, not sort of make him go at ease. But that's another story.

BORGER: But, as people have said, Gadhafi is not a rational man. So...

BLITZER: Yes. Gloria, thanks very much.

Libya, by all accounts, in a state of civil war right now. Tens of thousands of exhausted refugees are spilling out of the country. As the border crisis nears catastrophe, the U.S. is dispatching some help. But is it too little, too late?

And a former speaker of the House sets his sights on the White House. We have got new information right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Republican Newt Gingrich is sort of kicking off the first phase of his possible run for the White House today. The former House speaker attempting to clear up confusion about whether he's ready to explore a committee or not.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is in Atlanta, where Gingrich started to explore an exploratory committee, shall we say.

Is that right, Jessica?

(LAUGHTER)

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. That's right, Wolf. It's an unusual development. He said that he's entering an exploratory phase, or he's testing the waters for 2012. So how is this really different from what he was doing yesterday? Well, for one thing, Newt Gingrich put up a Web site, NewtExplore2012, where he can start gathering e-mail addresses, contact information of supporters who write in. And he also made these remarks to reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We will look at this very seriously, and we will very methodically lay out the framework of what we will do next. And we think that the key is to have citizens who understand this is going to take a lot of us for a long time working together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

YELLIN: But, Wolf, this is clearly far short of announcing that he's in the race. He hasn't even announced -- he hasn't even formed an exploratory committee, which two other minor candidates have done.

We tried to ask him follow-up questions. What are his next steps? Why does he think this might be his moment to be president? But he wouldn't take them. He bolted out of the room.

As you know, Newt Gingrich, as a candidate, he's a larger-than- life personality. As a candidate, some of his pluses are he's a strong communicator filled with ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. But sometimes he has a history of being disorganized. And we have seen some of that, it would seem, play out in the role -- in the lead-up to this announcement of his interest in possibly, maybe running for president someday -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, he just gave up a million-a-year contract reportedly with FOX News. That indicates to me he's pretty serious about running for president. You don't give up a million dollars a year if you're not going to do what you suggest you might be doing.

Jessica, thanks very, very much.

They are tired. They are filthy. They want to go home. We're taking you to the refugee camps along the Libyan border right now, where crowds are desperate and they are overwhelmed.

And who are what might convince Moammar Gadhafi to call it quits? We will talk about the ways the conflict in Libya may play out for better or for worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: New help for the exploding refugee crisis along Libya's border, President Obama today approving the use of the U.S. military aircraft to help Egyptians return home from refugee camps in Tunisia.

The president praising both Egypt and Tunisia for accepting refugees, while those countries deal with their own political transitions right now.

CNN's Ivan Watson is along the Tunisian border with Libya.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Exhausted and filthy, hundreds of Egypt refugees waiting in a warehouse in Tunisia after fleeing the conflict in Libya, among them, a 29-year-old accountant named Mahmoud Abdullah.

MAHMOUD ABDULLAH, ACCOUNTANT: The police in Tripoli is not good.

WATSON (on camera): What did they do?

ABDULLAH: Take anything. Take everything. Take money. Take watch. Take telephone. Take everything.

WATSON (voice-over): Abdullah starts to tell us he can't wait to be reunited with his children in Egypt, when some refugees get angry at the sight of our camera. Though small in stature, the accountant rushes to protect us, and we quickly leave the warehouse.

Here's why the crowd is so anxious. They're desperate to board this Egyptian navy ship waiting at the dock outside.

(on camera): Around 1,200 very tired, but very relieved Egyptian refugees are lined up right now to board this Egyptian navy ship, one of several that have been sent to help evacuate stranded people.

But the United Nations says more ships and boats and planes need to be sent in to help move out these legions of stranded travelers. They say the number that are being taken out on this ship is just a drop in the bucket.

HOVIG ETYEMEZIAN, UNHCR: It's a drop in the ocean so far. We need to have more of that coming in. And more ships which can take more than 500 each. And air also and an air base so that we can have more people signing up. (voice-over) Over the past 24 hours, a sprawling tent city for an estimated 18,000 people has sprung up near the Libyan border. The U.N. is supplying thousands of tents. But it's the Tunisian military and many volunteers who are helping feed the refugees.

Foreign aide workers say the Tunisian response to this crisis has been astounding.

ETYEMEZIAN: The entire organization is being done by them. It's...

WATSON (on camera): They're welcoming all of these people.

ETYEMEZIAN: It's an amazing -- I mean, I have never seen such solidarity in my life.

WATSON (voice-over): Back at the port, a line of Egyptian refugees clutched bags in one hand and passports in the other. One man so excited he kisses the ground before stepping onto the gangplank. And we find our friend, the accountant, Mahmoud Abdullah (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm very happy.

WATSON (on camera): Very happy. Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will see my family in Egypt. I will see my daughter and my son and my wife. My mother, my father. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) and my family. All my family. I'm very happy.

WATSON (voice-over): At last, Abdullah boards the ship for what he hopes will be the last leg of a long and dangerous journey.

Ivan Watson, CNN, at the Tzarzas (ph) port in Tunisia.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We're joined now by Professor Fouad Ajami. He's director of Middle East studies at the John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.

Fouad, the outcome in Libya is far from certain right now, but how will whatever happens in Libya play throughout the region?

FOUAD AJAMI, JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY: Well, Wolf, it depends, obviously, you realize, on who wins. If indeed Gadhafi holds on, if indeed he triumphs over the opposition, if the people in Benghazi are defeated, the autocracies in the region will take heart. Let's face it. They will conclude that this popular upheaval, this revolution had an easy success in Tunisia and Egypt and finally met its test in Libya.

And that's why the stakes, I think, are so high for the pax Americana, for the American role in the region. And that's why we've been watching the president, our president hesitate before entering this conflict. And I think we just simply have to see how this will score and who prevails and who is defeated.

BLITZER: Is there any world leader that can talk some sense into Gadhafi right now?

AJAMI: Yes, of course. His buddy Hugo Chavez. And I can see -- I can see this -- if this conflict degenerates, if Gadhafi holds on, we'll begin to have peace missions. We'll begin -- maybe we can draw all kinds of people into it. It's a joke. But he is an isolated man. The Arabs can't stand him. He has made enemies throughout the Arab world. He has no friend in the Arab world. That's why he gave up on Arab nationalism and he headed to Africa.

In Africa he spent a lot of money, and there, too, he's despised. There are these regimes in Cuba and Nicaragua and, of course, in Venezuela. These are his revolutionary friends.

BLITZER: If there is a protracted stalemate, a civil war that goes on and on, no decisive win by Gadhafi but no decisive win by the rebels either, what happens?

AJAMI: Well, I think his is the nightmare. And a friend of ours we both respect, Leon Wiesenthiel (ph), objects to the notion of a civil war. He says it's not a civil war. It's a popular upheaval. It's a regime against an entire country in many ways. That Gadhafi really has no side, if you will. Gadhafi said he could -- in his recent speech, he said he could arm three million Libyans.

As we know, since Libya has six million people, the implication is that he has three million people for him and three million people against him. It isn't so simple. I think this remains a confrontation between the forces of freedom, arrayed in Benghazi, and Muammar Gadhafi in his bunker, with his mercenaries and with the assets of the regime.

BLITZER: We're spending a lot of time looking at Libya. What's happening in Yemen right now is pretty incredible, too, when you think about it and when you think that there is a group there in Yemen, al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula. Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric. The ramifications for the U.S. enormous there.

AJAMI: Absolutely. This is Afghanistan with a coastline. That's really what -- what Yemen is. And the stakes in Yemen are huge. And we keep saying that our ally in Yemen, our partner, Ali Abdullah Saleh, is in trouble. But he is no partner of ours if you listen to him. He has actually said that all this upheaval in the Arab world has been manufactured by the United States.

So even our friends, our allies, always are playing from the bottom of the deck, and they are not to be trusted. And the stakes in Yemen are huge, both for the United States and, of course, for Yemen's influential and wealthy neighbor. That's Saudi Arabia.

BLITZER: I keep getting a lot of e-mails from opposition types in Iran right now, saying that there's a moment, yet another moment, for something to happen dramatically in Iran against Ahmadinejad, shall we say? Are they overly hopeful, or is there a moment in Iran right now for some revolutionary change?

AJAMI: Well, my Iranian friends may have to forgive me. I think the regime won that confrontation in the summer of 2009. And American polls see then, too, we must remember hesitated. And the argument was the same, that the United States didn't want to make this an American issue, an American role in Iran. And we -- we pretty much took a path. We're doing the same thing now.

I just have a feeling that the Arab condition, if you will, and the Arab circumstances differ greatly from the Iranian dilemma.

BLITZER: I want to get back to Libya in a moment. Fouad, if you can, stand by. We're going to continue this conversation.

Gadhafi has sworn to remain in Libya or die fighting. Chances are he has few, if any, other options. Stand by. We'll discuss that.

And funds frozen and bridges burned. Where could an exiled Gadhafi actually go? Fouad Ajami standing by. Brian Todd has got a report, as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: If Libya's Moammar Gadhafi were driven into exile, where would he go? Who would take him? CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this part of the story for us. What are his options, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he doesn't have as many options as other dictators before him. Moammar Gadhafi has got some money and some friends left, but both are dwindling by the day. And it may mean a dire ending to all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): He says he'll fight to the death. His son Saif says the only options are to live and die in Libya. They may not have many other options. Analysts say there was a day when dictators on the ropes, like Moammar Gadhafi, could bail out with their millions to places like the French Riviera or Switzerland's Lake Geneva. No more.

SCOTT HORTON, INTERNATIONAL COMMERCIAL ATTORNEY: Deposed dictators now are subject to lawsuits. Both civil suits by the governments that succeeded them and human rights suits. And they wind up being -- being prosecuted and successfully sued.

TODD: Scott Horton is an international lawyer who's helping two countries retrieve money from their former leaders. He says the investigation by the International Criminal Court of Gadhafi for crimes against humanity will scare off some potential hosts, if Gadhafi leaves Libya.

Saudi Arabia is a refuge of choice for ex-dictators, especially those who are Muslim, and Horton says the Saudis don't feel beholden to that court. Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled there from Tunisia. Egypt's Hosni Mubarak may wind up there. But Saudi Arabia is not an option for Moammar Gadhafi.

HORTON: He was shown in a criminal investigation to have had close ties to an effort to assassinate then crown prince, now King Abdullah. And the decision to extend asylum is going to be Abdullah's. And it's hard to imagine him welcoming Moammar Gadhafi.

TODD: One leader who might, Robert Mugabe, the equally brutal and uneven dictator of Zimbabwe. Mugabe and Gadhafi are close allies. Analysts say Gadhafi's poured millions of dollars into Zimbabwe's coffers over the years. Gadhafi still has got some money he could bring with him to Zimbabwe. But experts say with much of his money now frozen, Gadhafi's not as attractive a guest, even to Mugabe.

So as for staying entrenched in Libya...

(on camera) Do you think that means he'll die there?

BARAK BARFI, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: I think there's a very good possibility that he'll fight to the death, knowing that he has very few options in front of him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, even Gadhafi's old Latin American confidants, Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua, may be getting cold feet. Scott Horton says during this Libyan uprising, their opponents within their own countries are getting more vocal against Chavez and Ortega for supporting Gadhafi. And they may feel in the end it's just not worth it to take him in -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, Brian. I want to bring Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University back into this conversation. So it used to be a time, as Brian just reported, Fouad, and as you well know, there were a whole bunch of countries ready to accept these guys. Maybe not so much anymore.

AJAMI: Well, look, Gadhafi, I mean, he's come to the end of the -- of this journey. He owned and still, I suppose, in his mind, owns the country. I mean, he said something remarkable about Libya. He said, "I made Libya, and I can destroy Libya."

Whatever happens if he wins the next round will not be pretty. His hope is that he can still win this one. And of course, remember his fabulous, or as the WikiLeaks says, his voluptuous Ukrainian nurse. Well, now she's made a prediction. She said, "Papa is love." That's the name she has for him, Papa. "Papa is eternal." And she is sure that Papa is going to win the fight within one and a half to two months. So in addition to being a nurse, she's also a great strategist.

And that's, I suppose, the bet of the house of Gadhafi, is that the world will give them the reprieve. The powers beyond will not come to the rescue of the folks in Benghazi, and that the man in the bunker will wait out this great upheaval.

BLITZER: But as -- nuts is the word of Nicholas Kristof, the "New York Times" columnist -- Gadhafi might be, what about specifically Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, who as you have pointed out repeatedly, is a graduate of the London School of Economics?

AJAMI: Now, I've got something. I'm glad you asked me this. This is Saif al-Islam in an interview with a newspaper, "Al Shalasik (ph)," a very big Arabic paper out of London.

"My friends," he said, "Libya is not Egypt or Tunisia. And to hell with Al Jazeera, and to hell with Qatar. And to hell with the 6th Fleet and NATO. They are all 'expletive deleted.' They're all 'expletive deleted.' And I don't care about them."

Some other thoughts from the great Saif al-Islam with the Ph.D. He said, "When things were going well, I was a reformer. However, when people cross the red line, I hit them with my shoe, and I hit their fathers with my shoe."

So you can see that the son is very much in the mold of the father, British degree or not.

BLITZER: Good point, Fouad. Thanks very much. Fouad Ajami joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Thanks to Brian Todd, as well.

A new move by Egypt that could force President Hosni Mubarak to pay for alleged corruption.

And the tangled web that's forcing another car recall.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including Hosni Mubarak, now ex-president of Egypt.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Well, prosecutors in Egypt want to talk to ousted President Mubarak. A former member of parliament says Mubarak will be brought to Cairo next week for questioning in connection with a number of corruption charges.

Mubarak is believed to be at his residence in Sharm El Sheikh. This week Egypt's attorney general issued a freeze of Mubarak's assets and prohibited the family from leaving the country.

And the NFL players union and the owners, they have agreed to a 24-hour extension to try to hash out a new collective bargaining agreement. At issue is how to share $9 billion in annual revenue and expand the NFL regular season from 16 to 18 games.

Without an agreement there will likely be a lockout, and players won't get their salaries or bonuses. And all of this could lead to the first NFL work stoppage since 1987. President Obama told reporters today he has no plans to intervene. And Mazda is flagging more than 50,000 Mazda 6 sedans, not because of any defects. And if you have a fear of spiders, you might want to turn away now. But apparently, there is a certain type of spider that likes to nest -- build its nest inside the car's fuel system. Mazda says those webs can block air intake, potentially causing fires in the car's gas tank. The recall covers Mazdas built in 2009 and 2010.

And I know for folks who do not like spiders, that looks like a scary one, Wolf.

BLITZER: They only like the Mazda, those spiders? They don't like other fuel tanks?

SYLVESTER: They apparently are a fan of the Mazda.

BLITZER: Who knew? Thanks very much.

Our question of the hour, once again, "In light of the Middle East turmoil, is it time to again drill aggressively for oil in the Gulf of Mexico?" It's Jack's question. He's got your e-mail. It's coming up.

And later, why would we show you an ousted Egyptian president being natty in his pinstripe suit? Guess what? There's a secret in the stripes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack is back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: "In light of the Middle East turmoil, is it time once again to drill aggressively for oil in the Gulf of Mexico?" That deepwater drilling three has come to a virtual halt since the spill last spring.

Andy in Massachusetts says: "No, leave the Gulf of Mexico alone, at least for now. Why not commit the country to finding alternative fuels? Why not create a NASA-like agency to produce alternative energy sources? The sad truth is big oil owns our Congress, both parties. As long as the corporations, oil companies which don't have the ability to vote in our elections, contribute heavily to both Democrats and Republicans, we will never have a national effort to solve our energy problems."

Steve in Florida writes: "For the life of me, I don't understand all of you 'drain America first' people. If we can, we ought to buy and use other people's oil and save ours in reserve. That way, when the rest of the world goes dry or becomes really hostile, we'll have plenty."

Russ in Pennsylvania: "Does it matter? And isn't the oil taken from the Gulf going to go to the highest bidder anyway, which could be China at this point? What a horrible government we have nowadays. Girl Scouts can't sell cookies without permits, and oil companies can't drill. Ron Paul in 2012." J.C. writes: "Why don't you ask all the dead baby dolphins that are washing up on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico?"

Terrance in Texas: "No, Jack, it's not time to drill in the Gulf. What it's time to do is step away from oil, coal, and natural gas. They pollute our air and water, poison and kill our animals which could end up being our food. It's time we made the difficult choice of kicking our addition to dirty energy and get on the path to clean energy that will ultimately be cheaper and help bring our debt down. In no uncertain terms should we be drilling again in the Gulf of Mexico."

Pete in Georgia writes: "Drill, baby, drill. And quit pretending we live in a Disney movie. We don't."

And Conner in Chicago: "Totally. Let's have BP and Halliburton do it. That ought to work out just fine."

You want to read more about this? You'll find it on my blog: CNN.com/CaffertyFile.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thanks very, very much.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right at the top of the hour. But coming up next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, why the former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak's, suits have made him the talk of the fashion Web sites. It's all in the pinstripes.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here a look at some "Hot Shots."

In South Korea, U.S. soldiers sport chemical warfare gear during a military exercise.

In India, spiritual leaders clean the banks of a river.

In Pakistan, Pakistani children fleeing Libya are greeted with flowers at an airport.

And in Germany -- check it out -- a girl dresses as a dragon, and her parents as police officers to celebrate carnival.

"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

The ousted Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, suits are a big buzz on fashion Web sites. But it takes a magnifying glass to see what all the buzz is about. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sure, any filthy- rich dictator can have his name monogrammed on sheets, towels, shirts. Look closely at the suit of Egypt's former president. Closer, closer. This is no eye exam. Hosni Mubarak's pinstripes actually spell out his name over and over again. STACY JONES, TOME JAMES CLOTHING: He strikes me as the type of man who's going to buy a pinstripe suit with his name on it.

MOOS: Though you practically need a magnifying glass to see it...

JONES (on camera): Really, the seam is just great.

(voice-over) ... it's monogramming for megalomaniacs, worn by then-President Mubarak during a state visit to Slovenia in 2009. With a single suit, Mubarak has knocked Muammar Gadhafi right off the fashion throne. Mubarak's suit is being called "dictator chic," "despot swag." " It's actually kind of gangster."

Fashion Web sites are agog.

JONES: It's not like they had a spool of fabric and then printed his name on it. They created a fabric that has his name woven into it.

MOOS: So who made it?

JONES: It looks like one of ours.

MOOS: Stacy Jones represents Tom James Clothing. While they have no record of creating Mubarak's suit at their mill in Scotland, they've made plenty of others like it. For instance, the suit worn by the owner of the New Orleans Saints when he won the Super Bowl last year. One stripe says...

JONES: New Orleans Saints. And then the very next stripe he had "Super Bowl champions."

MOOS: Boxer Evander Holyfield ordered two successive suits.

JONES: The first one says "the champ" in the stripe. And the second one says "the champ again."

MOOS (on camera): If you want to see your name in pinstripes, a suit like Mubarak's will set you back about 15,000 bucks, unless you want it in the fanciest cashmere, in which case it will cost you about 25,000.

(voice-over) Mubarak, by the way, did not misspell his suit. His first name, Hosni, can be spelled with either an "I" or a "Y" at the end.

(on camera) At least you don't have to worry about them mixing up your suit at the dry cleaners.

(voice-over) But aren't you supposed to keep your distance from dictators?

(on camera) If you were Mr. Mubarak, how close would I have to get to know that his name was on the suit?

JONES: About this distance.

MOOS: Really? You could see it?

JONES: Yes.

MOOS (voice-over): Maybe instead of his name he should have woven what one guy posted: "If you're reading this, you're too close."

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Love Jeanne Moos. Thanks, Jeanne.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.