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Friday, July 30, 2021

What should Qatar do with Moussa Koussa?

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It’s been six months. 

Six months since Moussa Koussa, one of Moammer Gaddafi’s longest serving aides and the regime’s most prominent defector, has taken up residence at Doha’s Four Seasons Hotel.

His comfortable presence here – perhaps not bankrolled by Qatar, but protected by its security guards – has infuriated many Libyans who have not forgotten the bloody role he played in Gaddafi’s decades-long rule.

Earlier this week, former Libyan prison inmates testified that Koussa, previously head of external intelligence, interviewed them after they were tortured and in at least one case carried out an assault himself with an electric rod.

Last night, a veritable Twitter uproar ensued when Koussa’s alleged presence at the annual Tribeca Film Festival came to light.

Now that Gaddafi is gone and buried, does Koussa provide any strategic advantage to Qatar or Libya’s National Transitional Council?

David Roberts at the Gulf Blog lays out the possible scenarios:

It is likely that there will be a sizable push to bring Koussa to some kind of justice, perhaps in Tripoli, perhaps in the Hague. This will put Qatar in a difficult position, as it will be difficult for Qatar to give up Koussa.

Not only would such a notion go against deep-seated notions in this part of the world of hosting a guest (whomever that may be) but Qatar will not want to set a precedent of cow-towing to other powers to hand over someone with whom they have had dealings…Yet if Qatar does not hand over Koussa as demanded by ‘the Libyan people’ (such a demand is surely not far off) then it risks frittering away the credit that it has built up…

As for Koussa, Qatar’s best bet would either be to send him economy class to the Hague now, sticking up for justice and all that, or send him off to some tin-pot African country that wouldn’t care a jot about ICC demands. No, this is not an edifying conclusion, but this is high politics that we’re referring to, after all, not never-never land.

What do you guys think?

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