News / Africa

Libyan Defection Is Potential Intelligence Goldmine

Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa reads a statement to foreign journalists at a hotel in Tripoli, March 18, 2011 (file photo)
Libya's Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa reads a statement to foreign journalists at a hotel in Tripoli, March 18, 2011 (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
Gary Thomas

Western officials have hailed the defection of Libya’s foreign minister as a sign that Moammar Gadhafi’s government is falling apart. However, Colonel Gadhafi’s forces have mustered a blistering counter-offensive that has pushed back opposition rebel forces. The minister’s defection, though, is a potential gold mine of intelligence about the Libyan government.

Prior to his job as Libya’s top diplomat, Moussa Koussa was the chief of Libyan intelligence, making him one of the most senior figures around Gadhafi. Reva Bhalla, Middle East analyst with the private intelligence firm Stratfor, said that makes Koussa’s defection an intelligence bonanza for the West.

"This is somebody that every Western intelligence agency has a big file on. He knows where the bodies are buried, so to speak. And so he would have an enormous amount of information that would be useful to the coalition partners in basically just figuring out Gadhafi’s vulnerabilities," said Bhalla.

Former senior CIA intelligence officer Emile Nakhleh said Koussa was at the center of just about every policy decision made by Gadhafi, and is intimately familiar with the workings of the Gadhafi government.

"I think it is extremely important because he has perhaps over the years been one of the closest people to Gadhafi - and not just the closeness, the proximity to power, but the involvement," said Nakhleh. "He has been involved in so many decisions, major, major decisions regarding Libya, both nice and nefarious, if you will."

Koussa led the negotiations with the West to have Libya abandon its nuclear weapons programs in return for the lifting of international sanctions. But analysts say that as Libyan security chief, he also was involved in Libyan support for terrorism.

Analysts believe efforts to get Koussa to abandon Gadhafi have been ongoing for some time. Nakhleh said that, given Koussa’s position and knowledge, he would be a prime target.

"I don’t believe that he necessarily decided on his own. I judge that intensive behind-the-scenes contacts must have been occurring between him and Western - people from the West, let’s say. I would be appalled, frankly, if our intelligence services and our government had not attempted to contact him and encourage him to leave," said Nakhleh.

Koussa surfaced in Britain, which, analysts say, make it likely the defection was engineered by the British intelligence service, MI-6. He also was Libya’s ambassador to Britain in 1980.

In announcing Koussa’s arrival, British Foreign Secretary William Hague pointed to the defection as a sign that Gadhafi is fast losing support. "His resignation shows that Gadhafi’s regime, which has already seen significant defections to the opposition, is fragmented, under pressure, and crumbling from within. Gadhafi must be asking himself, who will be the next to abandon him."

Other Libyan officials are reported to have defected. Bhalla points out, however, that some of those defection reports have proved false, and warned against reading too much about Gadhafi’s staying power into them.

"I think the defections overall are being exaggerated to some extent. There was a lot of rhetoric that followed from the European capitals and from Washington saying that, well, this was the clearest sign that Gadhafi is completely isolated and that his days are numbered. And, of course, Gadhafi is in a difficult position. But I don’t think that his situation is as dire as some are portraying him to be in."

Nakhleh said the real defections to watch for would be of any of Gadhafi’s sons. That, he said, would be the clearest indicator that the Libyan leader really is on his last legs [ready to collapse].

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Replaced

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid