Any hopes that South African President Jacob Zuma would be able to mediate a resolution to the Libyan civil war have apparently gone by the boards after his one-day visit. Zuma did meet with Moammar Gadhafi, and said that Gadhafi was ready to implement the African Union “roadmap” accompanying a cease-fire. But while that plan includes reforms, it does not call for Gadhafi to step down, and it’s unclear whether he would agree to that. Anyway, the AU roadmap is already a dead document, having been rejected by the opposition.
Zuma said Gaddafi had insisted that “all Libyans be given a chance to talk among themselves” to determine the country’s future, but made no mention of the Libyan leader’s possible departure. His office denied rebel claims that the South African president had raised the subject.
The BBC’s report is even more dour – they say that Zuma acknowledged that Gadhafi would not step down.
NATO allies have made clear they won’t end hostilities until Gadhafi leaves power, and the rebels are united on that point as well.
The other two major developments concern military operations. First, eight major government military officers showed up in Italy after defecting from Libya, and they plan to now fight on the side of the rebel forces. Second, an Al Jazeera report clearly showed armed Westerners, perhaps British former SAS personnel, on the ground near the front lines west of Misurata. This yet again violates the UN resolution which explicitly stated that it excluded any foreign troops on Libyan soil. The Guardian report has additional details:
There have been numerous reports in the British press that SAS soldiers are acting as spotters in Libya to help Nato warplanes target pro-Gaddafi forces. In March, six special forces soldiers and two MI6 officers were detained by rebel fighters when they landed on an abortive mission to meet rebel leaders in Benghazi, in an embarrassing episode for the SAS. The group was withdrawn soon afterwards and a new “liaison team” sent in its place.
Asked for comment on Monday, a Ministry of Defence spokeswoman said: “We don’t have any forces out there.” [...]
There were unconfirmed reports… that Britain would send former SAS members and other experienced soldiers to Libya under the cover of private security companies, paid for by Arab states, to train the anti-government forces.
In other words, you could have some Blackwater copycat – if not the reformed Xe themselves – operating in conjunction with the rebels.