Libya: Mousa Kousa, Gaddafi’s foreign minister, defects to UK

Mousa Kousa says he is no longer willing to represent the regime in a morale boost for the rebels

Patrick Wintour, Richard Norton-Taylor, Nick Hopkins, and Chris McGreal
The Guardian
31 March 2011

Muammar Gaddafi’s authority inside Libya suffered a significant blow when his foreign minister quit and fled to the UK in a specially arranged flight organised by the British intelligence services.

Mousa Kousa, who was one of the Libyan leader’s closest allies, arrived on a chartered plane from Tunisia and said he was “no longer willing” to represent the dictator’s regime.

“We can confirm that Mousa Kousa arrived at Farnborough airport on 30 March from Tunisia,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.

Kousa’s defection provides Britain with a figure of unparalleled intelligence value in terms of understanding the situation within Gaddafi’s inner circle. The move also provides a morale boost to the disorganised rebel forces who have again suffered major reverses at the hands of pro-Gaddafi forces in the past 48 hours.

The Foreign Office said last night: “He travelled here under his own free will. He has told us that he is resigning his post. We are discussing this with him and we will release further detail in due course.

“Mousa Kousa is one of the most senior figures in Gaddafi’s government and his role was to represent the regime internationally – something that he is no longer willing to do.”…

…Kousa’s decision to abandon the regime came as it emerged that Barack Obama had signed a secret government order authorising covert US help to the Libyan rebels via such organisations as the CIA.

The order, known as a “finding” was signed within the last two or three weeks. The move will undoubtedly fuel speculation that the US and its allies are planning to arm the rebels.

The New York Times has reported that small groups of CIA operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks gathering intelligence for military air strikes and making contacts with the rebels battling Gaddafi’s forces, according to American officials. It also reported that “dozens” of British agents and special forces were also inside Libya, helping direct attacks by British aircraft…

The entire article is at the Guardian.

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