Moussa Koussa, the former foreign minister of Libya, is the highest-profile defector from the Qaddafi regime to date. He told the BBC he was “devoted to his work” during the 30 years he served Qaddafi, but the dictator’s brutal suppression of the recent popular uprising “changed things, and I couldn’t continue.”
He’s now warning that Libya is on the verge of becoming a “failed state,” which could degenerate into “another Somalia.” In a statement, Koussa said “I ask everybody, all the parties, to avoid taking Libya into a civil war.”
You might wonder what he thinks has been going on there lately, what with the bombing and the shelling and the screaming, but what apparently worries Koussa is the possibility that Libya will be permanently split into two countries, the Republic of Nato and Greater Qaddafistan. “We refuse to divide Libya. The unity of Libya is essential to any solution and settlement for Libya,” he declared, inviting himself into a rebellion that might not be all that eager to have him.
It sounds like the top defector still has a bit of nostalgia for the good old days, when it was him and Moammar cruising down Route 66 in a Corvette convertible, fighting terrorism and dismantling weapons of mass destruction. “We worked together against terrorism and we succeeded,” he told the BBC, fondly tapping his Qaddafi bobblehead doll and watching its head bounce around for a while, as he thought of times gone by. “We worked together to dismantle weapons of mass destruction. It is a great job. It is great work and it makes the world safer.”
Before he was foreign minister, Koussa’s previous great job involved working in the Libyan intelligence service, which made the world safer by blowing up planeloads of innocent people. Scotland Yard is said to have “questioned” him on his involvement in the Lockerbie terrorist atrocity, but the families of the victims want him questioned a lot harder. They’re thinking less Piers Morgan and more Jack Bauer.
Koussa is on his way to a round of meetings on Libya’s future in Qatar, where the UK Independent says he “will not participate in the meeting but is expected to hold talks on the sidelines.” The British government says he’s a “free individual who can travel to and from the United Kingdom as he wishes,” but Pamela Dix, who lost her brother in the Lockerbie bombing, said she was “astonished that he is apparently free to come and go this way.” She added that the current British government “has been very quick to condemn the previous one over Lockerbie, but they too have been very hands off. This demonstrates their continuing lack of interest in solving the biggest mass murder we have seen in this country.”
The previous government’s most widely condemned action was releasing Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who was supposedly dying of cancer, into Libyan custody. Thanks to the wonders of Libyan medicine, he made an astonishing recovery and spent years living in luxury as a Libyan national hero.
Conservative Member of Parliament Robert Halfon, whose family fled Libya when Qaddafi came to power, growled that “many people will be very anxious that Britain is being used as a transit lounge for alleged war criminals. We should learn from the release of Megrahi that we should not release those people associated with Gaddafi or let them out of the UK until they have faced the full course of the law, whether in British courts or international courts.”
Others worry that giving Moussa Koussa the business would make other high-ranking Libyan officials hesitant to defect. There’s no shortage of war criminals in the Qaddafi inner circle. Of course, the flow of defectors appears to have stopped, now that Qaddafi is winning the war, and not just in the Charlie Sheen sense. The two-state solution Koussa frets over would be little more than an official recognition of the stalemate in Libya… and Qaddafi wins by surviving.
This troubled world certainly does not need another Somalia. It’s not clear that someone with Moussa Koussa’s shadowy past is the right person to lead negotiations to prevent it. He really should be talking to Scotland Yard some more, not jetting off to Qatar to run the regime-apologist concession stand at a diplomatic circus.