Er, what about after Gaddafi. Anyone?

Gaddafi has appeared on Libyan TV to prove he's still alive. Why aren't we planning for when he's gone?

Faces of the Libyan revolution
George Grant
On 12 May 2011 07:20

If there’s one thing of which events in North Africa and the Middle East should have reminded policymakers – yet again – it’s that there’s no such thing as a certainty in global geopolitics.

As British fighters roared into action over Libya exactly five months to the day after Britain’s ill-conceived Strategic Defence & Security Review (SDSR) asserted that “in the short-term, there are few circumstances we can envisage where the ability to deploy air power from the sea will be essential”, we have serendipity to thank, not our Whitehall planners, that Cyprus and Gioia del Colle happened to be situated nearby.

So it would certainly be premature to believe that reports of the capture of Misurata airport by opposition forces move this conflict any closer to a conclusion. On the contrary, though all things are possible, it seems unlikely indeed that this is a war that will be brought to a close by force of arms.

NATO air power prevents Gaddafi from retaking eastern Libya, whilst the prospect of some rebel conquest towards Tripoli conjures images reminiscent of England’s advance into Aquitaine in 1453, only without the initial jubilation and success.

Uncertainty, however, is no excuse for lack of forward planning. On the contrary, it makes it all the more important. So just how do we plan on getting rid of Colonel Gaddafi? Unless a stray tomahawk lands in his living room, or unless an ICC arrest warrant provokes some daring Bin-Laden-style raid on the Mad Dog’s compound, it seems clear that the most viable way to get rid of this repugnant sexagenarian will be to persuade those on the inside to bring him down.

Whether we like it or not, this will require both the international community and the opposition Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC) to deal with some key regime figures. Indeed, it is almost inconceivable that a sustainable peace could be brought to Libya without large sections of the extant regime infrastructure being incorporated into a post-Gaddafi Libya, albeit subservient to a democratic government.

So who within the regime should we be targeting to persuade them of the merits of belatedly doing the honourable thing? How far will we be willing to go in terms of preserving the brutal security architecture that Gaddafi built up over so many years? With whom inside the regime is the ITNC willing to deal? Are immunity deals to be on the table?

These are questions to which we have thus far heard virtually no answers, and they are questions we urgently need to be asking.

George Grant is Director for Global Security & Terrorism at The Henry Jackson Society in London. This article is cross-posted on the Henry Jackson Society's website, by permission.

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