What Qaddafi loses with Moussa Koussa's defection
Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa, who as former intelligence chief is intimately familiar with Qaddafi's most notorious operations, defected from the Libyan regime yesterday.
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It was not clear how much the CIA effort – which reportedly includes small teams tasked with airstrike targeting, and gauging rebel military needs, alongside British special forces – could help the manifestly disorganized, poorly equipped, and inexperienced rebels.Skip to next paragraph
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“The alliance is really waging a two-pronged war, with a political and diplomatic campaign in addition to the airstrikes, and Koussa’s defection – along with the expulsion of the five Libyan diplomats [from London] yesterday – signals the first shots in [that] war,” says Gerges in London. “They want to send an unambiguous signal to the people around Qaddafi that the game is over and that time is running out on them.”
A statement released late Wednesday by the British Foreign Office did not use the word “defection,” when it described Koussa arriving at the small Farnborough Airport just outside London “under his own free will,” and declaring only that he was “resigning his post.” But it clearly supported the move.
“We encourage those around Qaddafi to abandon him and embrace a better future for Libya that allows political transition and real reform,” the Foreign Office said.
However, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Thursday that Koussa was “not being offered immunity from prosecution” in British or international courts. As Libya’s top diplomat in Britain in 1980, Koussa was expelled for stating that he would eliminate Libyan dissidents living in the country; some reports also link him to planning the destruction of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in 1988.
Debate over whether to arm rebels
News of the defection came as reports emerged that President Obama had signed a presidential finding authorizing covert operations in Libya. Reports first emerged in The New York Times that CIA operatives had been deployed to the rebel side in eastern Libya.
That development comes as Washington debates the possibility of providing arms and other fighting expertise to the rebels. The United Nations Security Council resolution approved on March 18 authorizes “all necessary means” to protect civilians, but also rules out foreign military forces on Libyan soil.