The end of talking in Libya

Not for the first time this morning, the International Criminal Court (ICC) changed the political calculations in an ongoing conflict. When Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo announced that he will request warrants for the arrest of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and a brother, Al-Sanousi, he sent a clear message to anyone who might have been tempted otherwise: No negotiations with the alleged war criminals. For Qaddafi this was no big change; governments of the Western and Arab worlds have already made it clear there's no solution to this crisis that sees the Libyan leader still in power. But there was still some latent hope that Saif al-Islam could -- maybe -- work out a transition. Now it's official: Saif is out. Actually, there pretty much no one left to negotiate with.

Interestingly, however, the United Nations has been doing exactly that -- negotiating with the Libyan government to ensure humanitarian access to the besieged city of Misrata. Earlier this month, the U.N. aid chief, Valerie Amos, called for a ceasefire across the board, including NATO strikes, to let that agreement be honored. 

Humanitarians have always had to walk that tricky line -- between getting the access they need to work and appeasing the aggressors. The ICC's announcement will certainly complicate that already fraught task. True, the Qaddafi regime hadn't shown many signs of actually honoring humanitarian pledges; after the agreement a few weeks ago, the military shelled Misrata pretty much non-stop.  Yet if there was any budge room, it's gone now.

But what raises more questions in my head is the fact that an ICC warrant might actually entrench Qaddafi's (and his son's and brother's) incentives to stay put. There will be no cushy exile, if that was ever in the cards in the first place. There will be no happy transition. It's either this regime -- and all its brutality -- or nothing. Everything we know about the Qaddafis tells us that they will always choose the former over the latter.

Which means the strategic thinking behind these indictments may well be this: to encourage as many defections as possible now, before the warrants spread. 



Will the Fujimori maneuver work for the Shinawatras?

The latest polls from Peru's presidential race show Keiko Fujimori with a slight but widening lead over left-wing rival Ollanta Humala. If elected, Fujimori has promised to wait for a constitutional court rulling before pardoning her father, former President Alberto Fujimori, who is currently in jail serving a 25-year sentence on corruption and human rights charges, but it's hard not to imagine that her election would improve his chance of an early release.

Obviously the political and legal circumstances are completely different, but it's hard not to think of the Fujimoris when reading about the Shinawatra family's latest gambit to get back into politics in Thailand:

The sister of Thailand's ousted prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra has been named as the main opposition party's candidate to contest the 3 July poll. Yingluck Shinawatra would become the country's first female leader if the Pheu Thai party wins the election.

The 43-year-old businesswoman has almost no experience of politics.

Thaksin Shinawatra was forced from power in a 2006 military coup and lives in self-imposed exile in Dubai to avoid a prison term.

Despite this, he still effectively controls the Pheu Thai party.

Clearly, if you're an out-of-power but still popular leader with legal troubles, a younger relative with less political baggage can be quite an asset.