By Mick Krever, CNN
Western countries exercised “bad judgement” in failing to put troops on the ground during the Libyan revolution, Former Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Tuesday.
“There was bad judgement on [the] part of the West for not putting too many troops on the ground,” Zeidan said through an interpreter.
Amanpour clarified whether he believed that, in retrospect, he wished that the West had “put boots on the ground, forces to maintain security.”
“Any means to have security will be accepted in Libya,” he said. If Libya wants stability, “we should have forces that are part of the United Nations, regional or Middle Eastern troops, or countries that have relations or connections in Libya – and if this takes place under the international community, under the United Nations, it will be accepted.”
Three years after Moammar Gadhafi was forced from office and killed, control of Libya is largely in the grip of militias.
Zeidan himself was forced from office by a parliamentary vote earlier this month and fled the country.
He insists that he is still the prime minister.
“The situation requires a few arrangements, and I will go back there,” he said.
“How are you going to go back,” Amanpour asked, “What are you going to do?
“I will return to Libya in a normal way … Through an airport or an airplane.”
“I did not commit any crime that requires me to be arrested. There are forces from within the army – legitimate forces – in the country that will protect me. And I am supported by a segment of the population that will be behind me.”
The poster child for instability in Libya is Ibrahim Jadran, a 30-something militia leader who controls a large swath of eastern Libya, including crucial oil ports.
A week ago U.S. Navy SEALs took control of a commercial tanker that had been seized by three armed Libyans.
Jadran, who has been trying desperately to defy the Libyan government and sell the oil he controls on the international market, claimed that the tanker had been legally hired.
In an interview with Amanpour in January, Jadran said the Libyan government was one of the “most corrupted” in the world.
He is demanding autonomy and profit sharing for eastern Libya, which he calls by its Roman name, Cyrenaica.
Is there any chance that Cyrenaica could break away from Libya, Amanpour asked, as Crimea has from Ukraine?
“This will not happen in Libya,” Zeidan said. “You have extremist elements … but once these issues are resolved I think the situation will become much better.”
Libya became the focus of world attention in September 2012, when U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stephens and three other Americans were killed in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.
The attack became, and remains, a political football, in the United States.
Nobody was ever arrested for the killings.
“There is weakness in the security agencies and the intelligence groups,” Zeidan said by way of explanation.
“The intelligence apparatus was destroyed after the revolution,” and “there are people who wanted the security apparatus to be weak.”
“However, the government was cooperating with the U.S. and achieved some results on the ground. But we hope that the perpetrators can be arrested in order for us to reach the truth.”