Civil war fears overshadow Libya diplomacy

By Alex Stevenson

A warning from former Libyan foreign minister Musa Kusa has made clear what is at stake as William Hague struggles with a busy week of Libya diplomacy.

Mr Kusa, who fled from Muammar Gaddafi’s side to London nearly two weeks ago, used his first public interview since his defection to warn of a bleak future for his country.

“I ask everybody to avoid taking Libya into civil war,” he said. “This would lead to so much blood and Libya would be a new Somalia.

“More than that, we refuse to divide Libya. The unity of Libya is essential to any solution and settlement for Libya.

“The solution in Libya will come from the Libyans themselves, through discussion and democratic dialogue.”

Although international forces have succeeded in preventing Col Gaddafi loyalists from overrunning the rebels the Tripoli regime appears far from collapsing.

Following talks with Col Gaddafi by South African president Jacob Zuma and four other leaders, the brightest prospect for a swift resolution of the situation now appears to be diplomatic.

But rebels said they rejected the African Union-brokered proposal because it did not involve Col Gaddafi stepping down.

“There should be no ceasefire that does not meet the conditions of UNSC Resolutions 1970 and 1973 in full, and that is not acceptable to those representing the opposition in Libya, including the Interim National Council,” foreign secretary William Hague said in a joint press conference with his Italian counterpart Franco Frattini yesterday.

“Anything short of this would be a betrayal of the people of Libya and would play into the hands of the regime, which has announced two utterly meaningless ceasefires since the fighting began, without its vicious military campaign skipping a single beat. And we will therefore continue to judge the regime by its actions and not its words.”

Mr Hague met with Libya’s ambassador to the United Nations yesterday. Tomorrow Mr Hague will co-chair the Libya Contact Group in Doha with Qatar’s prime minister, before attending a crucial summit of Nato foreign ministers on Thursday.

Meanwhile, British jets continue to implement the no-fly zone in the skies over Libya. The Ministry of Defence’s latest update said Tornado GR4s had hit ten main battle tanks and one armoured fighting vehicles on their latest sortie around Misrata, Brega and Ajdabiya.