Hague under fire for botched Libya mission
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 08, 2011, 21:57
  
London: A botched special forces mission into Libya has left British Foreign secretary William Hague red faced as he came under fire after he admitted to a "serious misunderstanding" that led to the team being held captive by the rebels.

The bungled mission was ridiculed by the critics as a "unilateral act of James Bond diplomacy". Opposition leaders said the mission was "ill-conceived, poorly planned and embarrassingly executed".

The shadow foreign secretary and the Labour leader Douglas Alexander said the government had "no grip or direction on the Libyan crisis".

Even the British media joined the 'Hague bashing' bandwagon, screaming "nabbed while escorting a junior diplomat in a city that would have welcomed them.....this was not England's finest hour".

The famed Special Air Service (SAS) cited the world over for their dare-devil exploits in Falklands, Iraq and Afghan war faced the flak too from the media who said "tamed by ragtag fighters".

But an unfazed Hague said he planned to send another diplomatic team to the war-torn country to liaise with the North African nation's opposition council who are spearheading the revolt against 41-year-old rule of Col Gaddafi.

The team reportedly comprising two diplomats with links to Britain's intelligence agency MI6, escorted by a team of six SAS commandos flew into Libya in helicopter and made their way to a eastern rebel held city.

Instead of welcome which they were hoping for, the team was rounded up by lightly armed rebels.

The hush-hush mission angered the Libyan opposition leader who denied they had asked for any help, and the hapless team was packed off to Malta on a Royal Naval ship.

While admitting to being hasty in dispatching the team, Hague told parliament that ministers and officials had been in touch with the rebel interim national council who had welcomed the "idea of a British diplomatic mission to Libya".

The Foreign secretary said he had authorised the mission escorted by protection "because such engagement was vitally important to understanding the situation on the ground".

"They had to be withdrawn yesterday after a serious misunderstanding about their role leading to their temporary detention," Hague said.

He claimed the situation has been subsequently resolved and the mission had been able to meet the council chairman Abdul Jalil.

"However it was clearly better for this team to be withdrawn. We intend to send further diplomats to eastern Libya in due course," he admitted.

Al Jazeera quoted Libyan opposition spokesperson as saying that opposition groups refused to talk to the delegation as they had entered the country without prior permission.

PTI


First Published: Tuesday, March 08, 2011, 21:57


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