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West should have put boots on the ground in Libya, says former prime minister

March 25th, 2014
05:15 PM ET

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.”

Filed under:  Christiane Amanpour • Latest Episode • Libya
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Western Propaganda

    Another Western "regime change" to install a puppet government and enslave the population.

    March 25, 2014 at 7:12 pm | Reply
  2. RLTJ's

    An artificial leader rediscovering himself and summing it up. He is right.

    In the first place it is wrong for a foreign power to intervene in an internal conflict of neighbors. One result of that is deprivation of nations to develop natural leaders and natural balance.

    If the intention is to remove a leader and leave a burning hell in place, Libya, not to mention others before that, is a big success. And this is could have been multiplied all over the middle east [Syria etc].

    March 25, 2014 at 9:44 pm | Reply
    • zamel

      wake up ...

      March 26, 2014 at 8:09 pm | Reply
  3. A Nafousy

    Mr Zeidan is a German Citizen and has no right to get involved in Libyan matters now he is out of the country and has no official position. He has broke all laws and lied to the Libyan National Congress about his dual citizenship also he is wanted for theft of the whole national budget which is 105 Billion dollars . There is an arrest warrant issued by the chief justice and Libyans ask for help in arresting this thief. If Zeidan has a grain of credibility or sense of nationality or pride he should appear in front of the Libyan legal system that he supported and described as fair. This man is a traitor by all measures and it is a shame that international news agencies still listen to his invented lies . Libya is going to be a better place without the plots of Zeidan and his bandit. The international community did the right thing not to have solders in the ground and Zeidan is deliberately misinforming the world. I am certain the countries he mentioned have people on the ground and has a more honest and precise assessment than the lies of Zeidan. Libyans are honest and simple and honorable people and no place for extremism in Libya , but also no place for liar and corrupt thieves like Zeidan and all former Gaddafi ministers such as Gibril and Shalgam.

    March 26, 2014 at 7:36 am | Reply
  4. gordonwagner

    Libya did not deserve to be attacked and destroyed. But once Kadaffi proposed a gold-backed pan-African currency, his fate was sealed. By whom? The globalist bankers. THE BANKERS. Humans have only one true enemy, and that is most definitely the bankers. Why was that Libyan oil tanker seized by US Navy Seals? Was it a threat to the "petrodollar" which appears to be the only thing keeping the US economy afloat?

    March 26, 2014 at 9:17 am | Reply
  5. Formerlibyan

    I am very surprised with Mr Zidan still considering himself the Libyan prime minister! i do not think so Mr Zidan you for sure no longer prime minister. The board of government, or general national congress (who brought you in to take the lead and to be the prime minister, same people and using the same procedure) they suspended you.

    I also do not agree with Mr Zidan opinion to bring in troops to Libya. Which would surely worsen the situation and escalate the violence. People of Libya are very brave and honorable and would never accept any western forces and troops exist on their soil, but people in Libya value the help of western to topple the dictatorship Gaddafi. It is indeed that there are some militias in Libya, but the revolutionaries are much more and we are so optimistic that Libya inshallah will just be better in the near future.

    what does not make sense to me is that Mr Zidan will in future go back to Libya claiming that he has loyalties and great support back in Libya. well what made you to leave Libya since you sure that you have support and localities who would protect you? If you have done no wrong and if you are sure that no public money was wasted you would never run away instead you would face all charges against you.

    March 26, 2014 at 5:29 pm | Reply
  6. zamel

    to all dreamers ....foreign forces in libya is a must...take it or leave it .

    March 26, 2014 at 7:00 pm | Reply
    • Fiona

      Yes Zamel, UN Security Forces definately needed. They should have been there years ago.

      March 26, 2014 at 8:58 pm | Reply
  7. Cecil Renfield

    And he would have headed the charge, right?

    March 27, 2014 at 12:15 am | Reply
  8. Andersson

    Libyans got what they wanted, let them enjoy it. About UN or other forces – they do not come free and they do not come cheap. Just now Libya can not pay extrenal peacekeepers so they have to learn to live in peace with each other.

    March 27, 2014 at 1:29 pm | Reply
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    "Professor" "interest", can look from "demmand" in Bank's.

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  12. Imran Butt

    There is no need to prop up another lousy dictator.....he should consider himself lucky he get out alive...he is a German citizen and his people have zero affinity to on the ground would be a terrible the end of the day he is lucky to be out....he should enjoy his free life and leave his people to sort out their problems which some day they will...good luck to them....

    March 30, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  13. Imran Butt

    Like the cant bring peace to Syria....if the people cant get along....they have to learn to be reasonable and get along....till they do that it is hopeless.....everybody wants to win in Syria at all costs in a TOTAL AND COMPLETE the expense of the other.....till they start to compromise with each other everybody will lose....still good luck to them one day they will solve their day....

    March 30, 2014 at 8:13 pm | Reply
  14. A A

    West is responsible about what is happening in Libya.
    It was a big mistake and wrong decision to support people who did not know to make Libya worst place on earth.
    Libya was one of the safest places in the world .
    Now, it is to bad

    May 8, 2014 at 1:34 pm | Reply
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