BEIRUT, LEBANON (1:40 P.M.) – A new report by British newspaper, The Independent, revealed the content of secret negotiations that could have saved the life of the late Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, from the fate he suffered, and avoided the chaos that followed.
The British newspaper said that the negotiations would have brought the world closer to resolving the Libyan crisis peacefully in 2011, noting that the two sides of the negotiations, from the government and the opposition, agreed on a proposal stipulating that Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, relinquish power and leave politics, provided that institutions continue.
However, the newspaper reported that the negotiations collapsed, which ultimately led to Gaddafi’s capture and execution by rebel fighters near the coastal city of Sirte.
Former Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Store, who brokered the agreement, accused France and Britain of opposing the negotiated solution, and said that “I felt that the mindset in London and Paris didn’t have openings for really reflecting on the diplomatic option.”
He told The Independent. “Were [France and Britain] willing to look at something beyond military solutions? The jury is still out.”
“Had there been in the international community a willingness to pursue this track with some authority and dedication, I believe there could have been an opening to achieve a less dramatic outcome and avoid the collapse of the Libyan state,” he continued.
Store, who is now the leader of the opposition Labor Party in Norway, indicated in an interview with the newspaper that the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, was eager to negotiate, but France and Britain were not interested.
“Had there been a will to do it … one could have imagined some kind of ceasefire in the military campaign to allow diplomats to move in,” Store said.
“But the military operation had already lasted for eight weeks, the dynamic on the ground was changing and, frankly speaking, the will to rally behind such a process was not there,” he stressed.
Store added that two senior Norwegian officials were in the presidential palace in Tripoli with Saif al-Islam when the United Nations resolution was issued in New York, and it was necessary to rush them across the border with Tunisia as the date of the first NATO air strikes approached.