Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Libya contact group meets in Qatar

[This is the headline over a report published today on the Aljazeera English language website. It reads in part:]

Libyan rebels seeking international recognition are to tell world powers at a meeting in the Qatari capital Doha that Muammar Gaddafi's removal from power is the only way out of their country's deepening crisis.

Wednesday's conference of the "International Contact Group on Libya" is expected to focus on the future of Libya after an African Union attempt to broker a peace deal between rebel groups and Gaddafi collapsed.

On the eve of the meeting, a spokesman for the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC) said it will accept nothing short of the removal of Gaddafi and his sons from the country.

Mahmud Shammam, whose group seeks international recognition as the legitimate government of Libya, also stressed: "We want to move from the de facto recognition of the council to an internationally-recognised legitimacy."

Shammam said the contact group is comprised of high-level international diplomats, and was set up at a conference in London last month.

The Libyan government has dismissed the talks and Qatar's role in the ongoing conflict.

"We are very hopeful that the American people and the American government will not buy into the Qatari lies and Qatari schemes," a spokesman of the Libyan regime told reporters in Tripoli on Tuesday.

"Qatar is hardly a partner of any kind. It's more of an oil corporation than a true nation," the spokesman said.

Among those expected to come to the Doha talks is Moussa Koussa, Libya's former foreign minister, who fled to Britain last month after he defected. He has reportedly arrived in Qatar to meet Libyan rebels.

Koussa, a long-time top aide to Gaddafi, will not formally participate in the meeting but is expected to hold talks on the sidelines, British sources said.

"He's not connected to (the rebel) Transitional National Council in any way or shape," Mustafa Gheriani, a media liaison official of the rebels, said.

Gheriani added that he was personally surprised to learn that Koussa was leaving Britain to attend the Qatar talks, and suggested that British officials should explain why he was going and in what capacity.

Koussa, the most prominent Libyan government defector, sought refuge in Britain on March 30. A friend said he quit in protest at attacks on civilians by Gaddafi's forces.

The former spy chief was questioned by Scottish police over the 1988 Lockerbie airliner bombing, which killed 270 people, but the British government said he was now free to travel.

"We understand he is travelling today to Doha to meet with the Qatar government and a range of Libyan representatives to offer insight in advance of the contact group meeting," a Foreign Office spokesman said.

No Gaddafi representatives are expected to attend.

"Moussa Koussa is a free individual who can travel to and from the United Kingdom as he wishes," the spokesman said.

British government sources said they expected Koussa to return to Britain after his talks, although others questioned the wisdom of letting him leave. (...)

Scottish police interviewed him last week but do not have power over his movements.

"We have every reason to believe that the Scottish authorities will be able to interview him again if required," Alex Salmond, Scotland's first minister, said.

US and Scottish authorities had hoped Koussa would provide intelligence on Lockerbie which could lead to more convictions.

Pamela Dix, whose brother Peter was killed in the bombing, said she could not understand why Koussa had been allowed to leave Britain. "I'm astonished that he is apparently free to come and go in this way," she told Reuters news agency.

"This current 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."

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a former Libyan agent, was sentenced to life in prison in 2001 for his alleged part in blowing up the US airliner but was released by the Scottish government in 2009 when he was judged to be terminally ill with cancer.

Koussa played a key role in the release of Megrahi, who is still alive. Britain's Conservative-led coalition government, which came to power in May 2010, has heavily criticised the decision to let Megrahi go.

Koussa is believed to be no longer under the supervision of British security agencies who had questioned him at a secret location after his defection to Britain.

[The Scotsman's long report on reaction to Moussa Koussa's departure can be read here.]


  1. NB Gala said: (not ebol)

    "I'm astonished that he is apparently free to come and go in this way"

    What if Moussa Koussa's trump card is the truth?
    The truth about Lockerbie is the one thing that both British and American governments must prevent from emerging at all costs, so perhaps therefore Moussa Koussa is free to come and go
    in case otherwise he might tell the truth - not about Libya's involvement or non-involvement, but about what it is that successive UK and US governments are so desperate to keep hidden.

  2. People keep demanding to know why he hasn't been arrested as a Lockerbie suspect, but as far as I can see they have no evidence against him at all, merely supposition. That supposition seems mainly to be based on the assumption that Megrahi actually carried out the bombing, but even there, it doesn't seem to me to be something that would stand up in a court of law without actual evidence to support it.

    Maybe he does know how the bombing was carried out and by whom. However, maybe what he knows doesn't fit with the official conspiracy theory of Megrahi levitating the magic invisible suitcase into KM180 at Malta. In that case, are the authorities going to be happy about it?

    I suspect that if Musa Kusa showed up with conclusive, bank on it and take it to court evidence that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, and who did it, they'd cover it up.

  3. I suspect that if Musa Kusa showed up with conclusive, bank on it and take it to court evidence that the bomb was introduced at Heathrow, and who did it, they'd cover it up.
    Of course, and provide him with a 'free to come and go' passport, and a 'get out of jail free' card. In much the same way that Megrahi's second appeal had to, by whatever means, be dropped lest damning (for the UK and US governments) truths came to light.
    It's all speculation, but in this climate of cover-ups, lies and obfuscation, it is a scenario that could make sense of these bizarre goings on.