Lisa Mullins: The Libyan opposition has yet to produce a clear leader and there are some concerns in Washington, Paris, and London about just who the rebels are and what kind of Libya they envision. Bayless Parsley is a North Africa analyst with Stratfor, a global intelligence company based in Austin, Texas. He says there is a leading opposition group. It's called the Transitional National Council and a couple of its members are out in front.
Bayless Parsley: The man who's leading the Transitional National Council is a guy named Mustafa Abdul Jalil. He's a former justice minister of Libya who defected to the opposition in the earliest days of the uprising. There's another guy named Abdel Goga, he's a Benghazi-based human rights lawyer who is currently the spokesman of the Transitional National Council. Both of these guys were claiming to be the leaders of the Libyan opposition in late February. They were both claiming to lead a council. They went by the exact same name, giving interviews, making statements for an entire week as if the other guy didn't even exist.
Mullins: Well, what do they agree on and what do they disagree on?
Parsley: They agree on the fact that Gaddafi has to go. And they agree just like everyone else in the eastern opposition, they agree that foreign troops are not welcome in Libya, but they're more than happy to accept foreign air strikes. So, would help slow the process of the Libyan army so that they could in theory mount an invasion force on the west. They want to unify Libya. This is not a secessionist struggle.
Mullins: Well, General Ham of African command for the United States specifically said today that the mission is to protect civilians from attack, not to necessarily support the rebels, even though the United States might be getting information from them. Do you know if the U.S. is talking to either side, what kind of information they might be getting, and who they're relying on on the ground?
Parsley: Well, we know that Hillary Clinton held a meeting with the two people that comprise what's known as the Executive Team of the eastern Libyan rebel group known as the Transitional National Council. They met about I think about 10 days ago. We don't really know who exactly the U.S. is talking to. We know that they're making some sort of contact, but to be quite honest, no one really knows these people and that's one of the biggest problems. You know, we're trying to make contact with an opposition force that can do the job for us on the ground, but we don't really know these people. So the U.S. talks about air strikes and protecting civilians, but Stratfor believes that the implicit goal is regime change, despite the fact that the U.S. is saying the opposite publicly. The only problem is how do you actually implement that? Air power is very limited in what it can do, and what it can't do really is dislodge a force from a city where it already exists.
Mullins: Yeah, but then why your organization, Stratfor, why would you believe that the United States, even though it says it's not trying to eject Gaddafi, that it really is? Because the United States and this coalition could be doing a lot more if that was the intent in terms of arming the rebels, in terms of helping get a leader in charge. There are contradictory efforts going on right now which may be undercutting their final effort to get Gaddafi out.
Parsley: The U.S. is in a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. It painted itself into a corner when the administration began to make comments about how Gaddafi has lost legitimacy and he needed to exit office. It then allowed itself to be pulled into this situation where it had to do air strikes. It's now facing a situation where no matter what it does it's gonna be criticized on all sides.
Mullins: If Gaddafi goes is the Transitional National Council, is it prepared to move in with political power?
Parsley: The Transitional National Council tries to act like it would be able to fill the void. It would be posed with immense difficulties in doing so, both militarily and geographically. This is the biggest problem. If Gaddafi goes, what's next? No one knows. I mean we really are in a position where it's just a big unknown.
Mullins: Bayless Parsley is a North Africa analyst with Startfor Global Intelligence Company. Thank you very much, Bayless.
Parsley: Thank you.