Britain’s Guardian newspaper recently sat down for an interview with Muammar Qaddafi’s eldest son and supposed heir apparent, Saif al-Islam, who now claims that NATO is in secret negotiations to end the civil war in Libya in exchange for dropping the international arrest warrants issued against Saif and his father. Calling the International Criminal Court in the Hague (ICC), which issued the warrants, a “Mickey Mouse court,” Qaddafi’s son went on to say that: “Under the table [NATO] are trying to negotiate with us a deal: ‘If you accept this deal, we will take care of the court.’”
Saif’s rather recent transformation from Western-educated, reform-minded rising star to foaming-at-the-mouth spokesperson for his father’s crumbling regime means much of what he now says is tinged with the bravado so characteristic of his father’s almost 42-year rule. (James Verini writes in New York about how not so long ago, Saif was America’s greatest hope for Libya.) Saif’s credibility aside, it’s not such a stretch to imagine NATO’s higher-ups looking for a way out of Libya sooner rather than later, what with Congress putting pressure on President Obama to limit America’s involvement in NATO’s air campaign there. And there are certainly many here at home who would like to see a weakened ICC — the United States is still one of just a handful of countries to not ratify the court.
But with the rebels still unable to make good on their promised revolution — their latest advances put them some 50 miles outside the capital Tripoli — they are likely to push NATO to keep up the heat until Qaddafi is out of power. It’s likely no coincidence that the Hill this morning reported that the Libyan rebels’ “government” has hired D.C.’s leading lobbying firm, Patton Boggs, at a cost of up to $600,000 a year to keep Washington on their side.