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
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
"They had to be withdrawn yesterday after a serious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withdrawn.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
First Published: Tuesday, March 08, 2011, 21:57