World View: We seem to have learnt little from recent history. Trying to impose a no-fly zone in Libya looks like a mistake and the rebels' credentials to rule are thin
By Patrick Cockburn
".....But the new military leadership, which Britain, France and to a decreasing extent the US, will be supporting, inspires even less confidence than their men. The careers of several make them sound like characters out of the more sinister Graham Greene novels. They include men such as Colonel Khalifa Haftar, former commander of the Libyan army in Chad who was captured and changed sides in 1988, setting up the anti-Gaddafi Libyan National Army reportedly with CIA and Saudi backing. For the last 20 years, he has been living quietly in Virginia before returning to Benghazi to lead the fight against Gaddafi. Even shadier is the background of Abdul Hakeen al-Hassadi, a Libyan who fought against the US in Afghanistan, was arrested in Pakistan, imprisoned probably at Bagram, Afghanistan, and then mysteriously released. The US Deputy Secretary of State, James Steinberg, told Congressmen he would speak of Mr Hassadi's career only in a closed session. It is these characters, and others like them, whom Britain is now fighting to install in Tripoli to replace Col Gaddafi.....
There is still something extraordinary about the alacrity with which Britain has plunged into the dangerous but also comic opera world of Libyan politics. And it has done so despite the recent examples in Iraq and Afghanistan of what can go wrong when you join somebody else's civil war – for that is what we have done, despite all the demonising of Gaddafi and glorification of his opponents. Life in Libya always seems to have a farcical but dangerous element to it....."