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Fareed Zakaria GPS

Stalemate in Libya; Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski; Interview with Noman Benotman

Aired April 03, 2011 - 10:00   ET


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, THE GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I'm Fareed Zakaria.

I want to talk to you about the Koran burning in Florida in just a moment. But first, let me tell you what's coming up.

First, we have one of the great minds of American foreign policy, Zbigniew Brzezinski, on what's going on in Libya and beyond.

Then, the private citizen who might have started the war with Libya. French intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy was instrumental in convincing his president, Sarkozy, that France had to act.

We'll bring in a panel to talk about the rebels, the CIA's involvement in Libya, other revolutions and much more. Richard Haass, Bob Baer, Robert Worth.

Next stop, is al Qaeda in Libya? We'll talk to a man who should know, a Libyan former al Qaeda commander.

And finally, we'll take a "Last Look" at robots at war. I'll explain.

First, let's talk for a moment about the Koran burning in Florida and its consequences. Most Americans are repulsed by the offensive actions of Pastor Terry Jones a publicity-seeking extremist. But they must wonder how an isolated act like that could produce so much violence halfway across the world.

So let's trace the event. The Koran burning took place two weeks ago to not much publicity. It was not highlighted by the international media and it was not a big story in Afghanistan. There were small -- a few small protests, all peaceful, last Wednesday in Afghanistan.

Then, Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai, decided to try to capitalize on the issue and score some political points. So, last Thursday, he made a speech, loudly condemning the burning and calling for the arrest of Pastor Jones. Having lived in America, Karzai of course understood well that people cannot be arrested here for engaging in free speech, which includes burning flags or books.

Karzai's speech opened the door for imams across the country to use their pulpits on Friday to call for protests and more. And that is the circumstance in which all hell broke loose.

But, even then, the killings appear to have been the handiwork of a few Taliban agitators who were using the occasion to score points against the United States, the Karzai government, and generally cause chaos in the streets. The senior U.N. official in Afghanistan said there was abundant evidence that the killings were not the result of out of control mobs but rather deliberate acts of murder by Taliban militia.

Keep in mind that these protests have been extremely small by Afghan standards. Not a single one had more than 100 people at it, according to the U.S. Army.

So it's politics as much as religion that is at work here, and yet there is something depressing about the fact that when something like this happens there is an imbalance in the reaction. Many Muslim leaders from the Afghan government to the Pakistani government to local activists condemned the burning of the Koran. That's appropriate. Burning the holy book of any religion is offensive.

But so is killing people in reaction to that burning, and this -- and this is where there is still far too much silence in the Muslim world. President Karzai has condemned the killings, presumably realizing that his political ploy backfired on him. But what about others? What about the Pakistani government?

And what about Muslim religious leaders in particular? Why are they silent about the murder of innocents in the name of religion? This is a perfect moment for them to stand for a modern, moderate Islam that condemns the burning of books but also the killing of human beings. We will keep watch for those statements.

Let's get started.

Let's begin in Tripoli. Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson has been in Libya right from the start. Nic, are we in a stalemate now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We certainly seem to be, Fareed. The fighting has bulked down around Brega in the east. The rebels, backed by the coalition, have beaten back Gadhafi's forces. They fought back and now it really is a -- a stalemate in an area where there are not a lot of civilians, around a key oil refinery area, and perhaps -- perhaps with the defections we've seen of the foreign minister this past week and others, perhaps there's a period and a phase here where some back channel diplomacy can take place.

We've heard the rebels talk about the possibility of a cease- fire. We've heard the government spokesman here dismiss that. But I get the sense, after two weeks of -- of coalition action here and intense see-sawing on the battlefront, perhaps -- perhaps there's a -- there's a window here for some sort of talks in diplomacy, even though the fighting continues, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Nic, what about the Gadhafi regime? Do they appear to have a game plan? Do they have a -- a way of actually recapturing the east?

ROBERTSON: I think they would like to. I think perhaps the recognition is sinking in here that they can't militarily retake it, as they want. As best we can understand, their game plan is still for Moammar Gadhafi to take complete control of the country again, to defeat this problem, as he sees it, to overcome this crisis and then perhaps to fade into the background.

This was an idea that was floated before, and sources that I'm talking to say that's still a current idea that could work. But Gadhafi, as best we understand, will not go at the point of a gun. He will not go under coalition bombardment, and he'll stand firm. His view is that this rebel opposition can still be defeated, or at least dealt with, and it's not until then that he's prepared to sort of leave the political playing field.

I think the interesting thing is that one of his son's, Seif al- Gadhafi's, right-hand man, Mohamed Ibrahim (ph), has been in London for the past few days, and perhaps there have been opportunities there to discuss ways forward. It's absolutely not clear. The -- the picture here is never clear because the regime tries to create a narrative that's an unreal narrative.

But I -- but I think Gadhafi wants to stay right now until he sees this country tidied up, as he sees it, and not walking away under the point of a gun, Fareed.

ZAKARIA: Nic Robertson, thank you so much, as always.

Later on the show, we'll speak to a former Libyan Jihadist who says he has helped Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa defect to the U.S.

But, up next, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski on the Obama administration's foreign policy. Stay with us.


ZAKARIA: And we are back.

Joining me now is Zbigniew Brzezinski. He was National Security Adviser under President Jimmy Carter, now a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Welcome back to the show, Zbig (ph).


ZAKARIA: We are in a stalemate, it appears. You were in favor of this intervention. You argued that it would be -- it would send a -- a politically damaging signal in the Arab world for the United States to have stood by while a slaughter took place.

But now we're in a situation that seems somewhat predictable, that is, that neither side has the ability to overturn or to win, and the United States is sort of in the middle here. What should we do? BRZEZINSKI: Well, first of all, I think we have to face the fact that if we hadn't acted, today Gadhafi would be standing astride the Middle East as the most successful anti-American defiant and hostile leader. So we have avoided that.

But now we have to make certain that he doesn't stick around, and I'm concerned that time is not on our side. The longer this thing lasts, the more likely he's -- end up entrenched in at least half of Libya.

So I think we have to push, and while caution and restraint are the proper words, especially since we need the support of the Arab League, in fact there are a lot of things we can be doing, I suspect we are doing, in any case we should be doing, to make certain that he doesn't stick around.

ZAKARIA: Now, one of the things that there seems to have been some mixed messages on is are we going to assist the rebels? The president seemed to signal that he might be inclined to do that, then Secretary Gates and Secretary Clinton said no.

You are somebody who has a real history here. You were the one who argued passionately and successfully that the United States should arm the Afghan rebels when they opposed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. So tell us whether you think arming the rebels in this case would be a good idea.

BRZEZINSKI: The United States wasn't alone in helping the Mujahideen against the Soviet invasion. There was a worldwide coalition, not only with our friends in NATO and so forth but also in the region, with Pakistan, with the Arabs and, curiously enough, also with the Chinese, and that did drive the Soviets out and we would be far worse off today if we hadn't done it.

Now, today it seems to me the United States is right in saying that it shouldn't take the lead in arming the rebels, even in being in the forefront of the military initiative. But, quietly, we can certainly do a lot, and I think our allies who have taken the lead are dependent on us in that respect.

So there can be a slight gap, not a total contradiction, if I may say so, between words and actions. I think the posture should be that we are in the back seat. As a matter of practice, I think we can be doing a lot more.

ZAKARIA: Do you worry about the blowback, you know, the -- the example everyone looks at is the Afghan case, where they say we armed the Mujahidden but then it turned out that there are elements within it turned into al Qaeda, and that therefore if we arm the Libyan rebels, we don't know who these people are and they would end up with guns and perhaps the elements here would be Jihadists as well.

BRZEZINSKI: Fareed, you know the history of the Afghan country quite well, and you'll recall that the Soviets were driven out, and after that the West totally ignored the ravaged, destroyed Afghanistan for years. And the Taliban appeared on the scene about half a decade later. And then, subsequent to that, al Qaeda made its appearance.

So I think these are the kind of failures we can avoid, we should avoid. But that does raise the larger issue of our position in the Middle East. Now, we have a short-term problem with Gadhafi, and I hope we resolve it decisively. But the longer range trend is inimical.

Now, the Middle East saw itself as liberated from French and British colonialism after World War II, and they welcomed us as a liberator. Today, increasingly, we are seen as the second phase of colonialism or imperialism in the region and the political trends in the region are turning against us.

Regimes that were once friendly towards us, whether it be in Iran or perhaps now in Egypt, are going to be less friendly, and certainly Iran is more than less friendly. It's hostile. And in Egypt we'll have difficulties.

And the masses are now awakened. They're stirring, and they're far less likely to be compliant to our political wishes than the old elites which were, to some extent, not only politically but financially, tied to us.

ZAKARIA: But that places us in a strange paradox where we've been supporting these -- these dictatorships that have been pro- American. We all welcome the -- the rise of this Arab spring and this Arab revolution, but you point out it may prove thorny for American foreign policy, and you see this in Egypt, you see this in Yemen most strikingly.

What should we -- what should the United States do? It -- it should welcome this -- these Arab revolutions, I take it, even though they might make life more difficult for American foreign policy?

BRZEZINSKI: Absolutely. I think we have to help them because one of the impulses for these revolutions is this hatred for corruption, resentment, frustration, unemployment, the youth bulge, all of which needs a lot of tender care in order to overcome the social stimuli that made these masses more driven, more revolutionary and more impatient.

And, beyond that, there's also the question of peace because whether we like it or not, the Israeli Palestinian conflict is a major impulse for hatred of the United States, and, therefore, it's in our interest and in Israel's long-run interest to move forward before the regimes that are now in the process of emerging begin to adopt an increasingly hostile position towards us and towards Israel. And I have particularly in mind Egypt, potentially also Jordan.

ZAKARIA: But there seems to be no progress on that so far, and it doesn't appear that President Obama at least has much leverage with Prime Minister Netanyahu. All efforts in that direction seemed to have gone nowhere.

BRZEZINSKI: Well, did you see the story today in the "New York Times" about the likelihood of the showdown taking place in the U.N.? Are we then going to be voting against Palestinian independence? How will that affect the attitude of the masses in the region?

In other words, time is running out, and this is why we have two problems -- a long-range one, which I'm talking about right now, and the shorter range one with Gadhafi. In both cases, in my judgment, the time is against us, and this is why we have to be quite decisive in responding to both, though each is of a different dimension.

ZAKARIA: Very briefly, do you think the Obama administration is handling things well?

BRZEZINSKI: I think it has approached the Libyan crisis well. I thought it approached the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, initially, quite well, but then it sort of run out of steam, it compromised itself by voting against a U.N. resolution, which was almost a verbatim quotation of our own official position, and therefore we conveyed the impression that we're powerless and are not prepared to act. And I think that is a mistake, but it is a mistake that's redeemable because the president still has a lot of credit over there and over here.

ZAKARIA: Zbigniew Brzezinski, as always, a pleasure to talk to you. Thank you.

BRZEZINSKI: Good to talk to you.

ZAKARIA: Stay with GPS. We have a fascinating panel of experts, including the French philosopher who some say spurred the war -- the world at war (ph) with Libya. You don't want to miss this.


ZAKARIA: And we are back. Joining me now, a truly terrific panel. Bernard-Henri Levy, the French intellectual who is said to have convinced President Sarkozy to presume military action against Gadhafi. Did he? I'll ask him.

Richard Haass is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations who has been skeptical about this intervention from the start. From Washington, we are joined by "The New York Times" reporter, Robert Worth, who wrote today's "New York Times Magazine's" cover story on Libya. And from Berkeley, California, Bob Baer is a former CIA agent who spent years in the Middle East and North Africa.

Welcome all.

You found yourself in -- you were in Egypt. You heard about what was going on in Libya. You went to Libya. You chartered a plane. You met the opposition. You then ended up taking them to see Sarkozy.

What -- at that meeting between you -- with you, the Libyan opposition leaders and Sarkozy, what happened that convinced France to take such a strong position?

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, FRENCH INTELLECTUAL: I think that Sarkozy was convinced before, a few days before, when I called him from Benghazi, when I made him the -- when I extended to him the proposal of bringing the opponents, he said immediately yes. And when I saw him in Paris a few days after, when I proposed the idea of recognizing them as a legitimate representative of the Libyan people, again he said yes.

ZAKARIA: Why? Because this is -- France has not tended to be so active in the past.

LEVY: Many reasons. I think that Nicolas Sarkozy, a long time ago, when he was minister of Balladur, 15 years ago, he was in favor intimately, in his heart, of intervention in Bosnia. And I think that he was one of the ministers of this time who was ashamed of France doing nothing in Rwanda, and not only doing nothing, probably helping --

ZAKARIA: The wrong side.

LEVY: -- (INAUDIBLE) the wrong side.

So Sarkozy -- this is my opinion -- had this sort of guiltiness since years and years. So maybe when -- when some people, including me, came to him and told him there was an occasion here. You have defenseless people, you have a threatening blood bath, you have a political solution available, and you can help that, I think he said, of course. Why not?

ZAKARIA: You met with all of these people, these opposition leaders. One of the big questions people have is, whom are we getting in bed with? You are convinced that these people are liberals, democrats?

LEVY: I did not go in bed with them, but I propose whoever wants to come with me there, and they will see, they are not ghosts. They are not (INAUDIBLE) secret army. It is not the Cambodian Ankara (ph). They are open. Anybody can see them, and anybody, if we see them, will admit that they are secular, that they are democrats, not Churchillian democrats but wanting to make serious steps on the world of democracy, that they are Western -- West-inclined, they are in favor of links with the Western world and so on.

It's quite clear. Everybody goes as if they were a secret government, as if they were a sort of dark, secret army. No. They came to Paris. They came to London when there was this summit last week. Any journalist can -- can speak with them.

ZAKARIA: Well, one of journalists who has spoken with them is Robert Worth.

Robert, you were in Benghazi. You met with these people. Would you agree with Bernard-Henri Levy's characterization?

ROBERT WORTH, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think there are mix. It's difficult to be really certain about who they are because I think for one thing they're all fighting on the same side of a war right now and so people with different perspectives are reluctant to talk about divisions.

There are certainly plenty of religious people. Are some of them Jihadists? Perhaps. But I think circumstances really depend a lot. I mean, I think another thing that's important is their ultimate identity is probably up for grabs, to some extent, in the sense that they're in the midst of a movement whose outcome could really help define how -- how they -- how they see themselves. And, if it goes right, I think this movement could help to undercut the power of radicalism across the whole region, not just in Libya, in way that even 100 years of drone strikes could not achieve.

So, I think, you know, I get -- at the moment, it's difficult to be sure of exactly who they are.

LEVY: Can I have one -- you know, (INAUDIBLE) Jihadists among the 11 who are known now, can you quote me? Because I was in Benghazi two weeks ago. I saw all of them. Do you have one name? Can you quote him, who is, as you said, perhaps a Jihadist?

WORTH: Well, I'm not talking about the leadership council necessarily. I mean, I've -- I spent a lot of time with a whole lot of younger people, and also with some of the fighters who went to break out the fight.

LEVY: No, but the reason --


WORTH: I'm not saying -- I'm not saying the leadership are Jihadists.

LEVY: Thank you very much.

This is -- Fareed, this is the point. He did -- he does not say about the leadership. You -- you cannot find them on the 11, one who -- who is a Jihadist or self-proclaimed.

ZAKARIA: When you look at the stalemate, does this worry you? Because, in a sense, this is the sort of thing you worried about from the start.

RICHARD HAASS, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Right now you have this juncture between American ends and the means. The ends are quite ambitious. We want to see not -- you know, not some big humanitarian outcome, but possibly want to get rid of the regime.

But we began with a no fly-zone. That wasn't enough. We made it a no-fly zone plus we attacked. That wasn't enough. Now there's talk about arming and training. That's unlikely to be enough. All we're doing is leveling the playing field, which by the way will lead to a prolonged civil war.

So now the United States and the world face a choice. Either we have to raise the means even more -- this could mean more arming or conceivably boots on the ground, something the United States has ruled out -- or we have to think about lowering the goals. And that's where I think we should think about Fareed, and what I'm -- what I would say is, look, we have something of a stalemate on the ground. I've been involved in negotiations before. Stalemates actually give you some of the raw material for a negotiated outcome.

Why couldn't we have a situation that's consistent, of all things, with the U.N. Security Council resolution? Some version of a cease-fire, some version of autonomy in the East.

What we should care about most is now who runs Libya but how Libya is run. Are basic human rights protected? Are you -- and so is the (ph) humanitarian intervention, so why isn't our policy more focused on humanitarian outcomes than on political outcomes?

So I would think very hard, because right now the path we're going on, prolonged civil war, that is not good for a humanitarian outcome.

ZAKARIA: But it's possible that the Obama administration is actually -- is actually going to follow something close to what you're describing here, because they're not ratcheting up the military means. They have actually started withdrawing the number of American combat aircraft and things like that in the area. They do seem to be pressing on the military -- on the -- on the negotiated side, trying to find elements of the regime.

So you -- you think that's with -- that's the way we should start (INAUDIBLE) --

HAASS: Absolutely. They were to --

ZAKARIA: -- and the president should stop -- stop calling for regime change?

HAASS: Certainly, as a near-term outcome, we should push the negotiations, whether it's ourselves, with the Europeans, through the United Nations, the modality doesn't matter. We should care most about the near-term humanitarian outcome. If we can negotiate up on (ph).

The question of long-term political control in Libya, make it just that, a long term political question. But if I were the administration, I would say, wow, if we could get something that calmed this down and return this to the kind of side show that it is so we didn't have American military forces involved, so the United States could focus on Egypt, Syria, Iran, Iraq, essentially (ph) -- Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, the most important countries in the region, that, to me, would be an enormous net plus for American foreign policy.

ZAKARIA: Bob Baer, when you see the reports about the Libyan opposition, importing generals from Virginia, these is -- there are guys you know. What does that tell you?

ROBERT BAER, COLUMNIST, TIME.COM: Well, bringing Khalifa Haftar back -- he was a former colonel that defected in 1988. He's -- he's an old man by now, and he -- you know, that -- that tells me a lot. He was named a commander at some point. That was disputed yesterday. There's a division between the former Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younes and him. So it's completely -- this -- this force cannot take Tripoli as it stands now. The possibility of training these people could take years and years. And even at that, I'm not certain of it because the tribal differences will come -- will come to play.

So this opposition is ineffective and we should lower our goals and we should even consider the country could be divided in half. There's no reason that Libya should stand as a state as it is without a very, very long civil war.

ZAKARIA: Bernard Henri-Levy, can you live with this -- this outcome? A humanitarian tragedy has been averted.

LEVY: Yes. This is postponed and it's a success. The operation led by America, France, England and Arab League is already a success. This is what -- is what we have to say. We avoided the blood bath in Benghazi. It could have been absolutely terrible when Gadhafi said that he would deal with the insurgents. Do we really perceive what is behind deal with when Gadhafi speaks, that's number one.

Number two, their aim of the war. There is no future in Libya with Gadhafi. In Libya and for the world, if Gadhafi goes out of this story, victorious, we will have the most infuriated dictator in the Arab world which we never had. He's a terrorist, as you know, not under past terrorist but the present terrorist.

Remember what was his reply when the United Nation Resolution was voted? His immediate reply was, if you kill one of my military planes, I will kill one of your civilian planes. If you kill one tank, I shoot one boat with passengers. So (INAUDIBLE) by 10 or 20. So we have a terrorist. There is no solution for the world and for the area with Gadhafi. This, I'm sure.

Now... ZAKARIA: And we will -- we will take a short break. Stay with us. Lots more to discuss with our panel.


ZAKARIA: And we are back with Bernard Henri-Levy, Richard Haass, Bob Baer and Robert Worth.

I want to broaden this discussion. Richard Haass mentioned that, you know, the problem is Libya is taking up so much air time that we're not talking enough and, well, thinking enough about Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain. So, you're all experts on so many of these countries.

Robert Worth, your last "New York Times" cover story was about Yemen. And Yemen is going through a fascinating problem where the -- the president seems to have decided that he can't hold on to power, but his family is -- is holding out for the best possible deal they can get.

Are we now in a stage where we're kind of discussing, you know, how many bank accounts can be kept? Is the president of Yemen on the way out you think? And is that going to be -- produce stability or instability in Yemen?

WORTH: Well -- again, in Yemen it's very difficult to tell. I'm told that there was a deal in principle for Ali Abdullah Saleh, the president, and the main military commander, Ali Mohsen, who defected to the protesters side about two weeks ago. For them both to leave power and possibly also leave the country, but with -- as you mentioned with the president, so many of his relatives, close relatives are part of the security services. And, you know, that was being worked out.

But the president of Yemen is also, you know, a master at playing political games. And it's -- it's not entirely clear to me that that -- that that proposal is really something that he's taking seriously. He may want to stay in power for a while longer. He has said that he's -- he's concerned that if he -- there's a transition now it could go into a state of chaos. Now, that is -

ZAKARIA: Could it? Do you -- do you think that there's a likelihood of chaos after him?

WORTH: It's possible. I mean, Yemen is a -- is a very, very chaotic, difficult country with all kinds of divisions in it, and I think he would have to be very careful about who took over next. On the other hand, the president, like other Arab leaders, is a master of presenting that as a stark choice, it's either me or absolute chaos. And that's been one of the ways in which he held the power for so many years.

ZAKARIA: Bob Baer, Syria, you know the country well. I think initially the Syrian president said, I'm not going to be affected by all this because I have adopted a populist foreign policy. I'm anti- American. I'm pro-Iran. I'm pro-Hezbollah and pro-Hamas.

It seemed as though he didn't have as much trouble because his security services were a little more brutal and repressive than -- that the Egyptians. What do you think is going to happen there?

BAER: Bashar al-Assad is sitting on a -- on a tiger. He can't get down. This is an Alawite-led regime. Every single military unit is commanded by an Alawite. In fact, while in name there's many Sunni commanders. The security services are al controlled by Alawites. Most of them have ties to the Assad family, either tribal or blood ties.

This whole system, if it came undone, would turn into a sectarian war. There's no doubt about it. At this moment, the Syrians are considering intervening into Tripoli, Lebanon because they're -- they are paranoid that the Muslim brotherhood is forming there, is going to start attacking cities (INAUDIBLE). It doesn't matter whether it's true or not. It is paranoia that drives that regime.

So when Bashar al-Assad has -- has not moved on reform, he's promised it but he doesn't move, it doesn't surprise me at all. Appointing the agriculture minister as prime minister is completely insignificant. It's not going to take the country anywhere soon. And what's going to happen on the street is going to unfold. We just -- we just can't predict it but it could get very, very nasty there.

ZAKARIA: So, Bernard Henri-Levy, if -- if some of the things Bob Baer says about Syria happen, what is your explanation for why the West should not intervene in Syria on behalf of protesters there, but should do so in Libya?

LEVY: We cannot intervene everywhere, of course. And in order to intervene, we have to have good chance, reasonable chance of success. So Syria is a very complicated story.

But with all of my heart, I hope that Bashar al-Assad will be defeated as soon as possible. And again, the support of Hamas, the fascist Hamas, the support of fascist Hezbollah, the ally of Iran and of Ahmadinejad for security of America and of the free world and of the world, this guy has to -- has to go out of power. So we'll see the way.

First of all, we have to get rid of Gadhafi. If we get rid of Gadhafi, it will be a signal addressed to every -- to all of these sorts of guys. What we heard about Yemen is disgusting. We are in America, which is a moral and even sometimes puritan country. How can we stand what we heard? These guys are dealing how many billions of dollars they ask in order to be allowed to -- to flow away. This is absolutely inconceivable. It's a joke.

ZAKARIA: All right. Last -- last word, Richard Haass. The problem is to do anything about all of these places would require American pressure, military pressure, right?

HAASS: That's out of the question. United States is heavily involved in Afghanistan. We still have 40,000 or 50,000 troops in Iraq. More important, in many of these cases, you can't see how introducing military force will get you where you want to go.

In Syria, for example, the kind of intervention we just did in Libya is -- is not possible. Just the terrain doesn't lend it and the demography doesn't lend itself. The politics. You can't have a one size fits all problem.

Inconsistency is inevitable and it's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to foreign policy.

ZAKARIA: Inconsistency inevitable and not a bad thing. Last word from Richard Haass.

With that, we have to leave it right there. Terrific panel.

We will be right back with a former associate of Osama Bin Laden. Is al Qaeda in Libya? Stay with us.


CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm Candy Crowley. Here are today's top stories. After three days of protests in Afghanistan over the burning of a Koran by a Florida pastor, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus today condemned disrespect of the Koran and the Muslim faith.


GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES AFGHANISTAN: That action was hateful. It was intolerant and it was extremely disrespectful. And, again, we condemn it in the strongest manner possible.


CROWLEY: The demonstrations have left more than 20 people dead.

Workers at Japan's Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant used a chemical compound mixed with sawdust and newspaper to try and plug a crack behind the facility's Number Two reactor that is leaking highly radioactive water into the Pacific. And earlier effort to fill the crack failed.

Meanwhile, the bodies of two plant workers missing since the March 11th earthquake have been found.

Those are your top stories. Up next, much more FAREED ZAKARIA GPS and then "RELIABLE SOURCES" at the top of the hour.


ZAKARIA: Welcome back to GPS. I'm Fareed Zakaria. Time now for the part of the show we call "What in the World." With all the allegations of al Qaeda's involvement with the Libyan rebels, we thought we'd try to separate fact from fiction. So who better to speak with than a Libyan former associate of bin Laden. Our guest, Noman Benotman, used to be a jihadist, a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an associate of al Qaeda. But he now works for the counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation. He joins us now from London. Noman, welcome.


ZAKARIA: Let me ask you very simply. You know these people who are involved in the Libyan affiliate of al Qaeda. Does it strike you that the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi, that the rebels, the opposition leaders in Benghazi, are they al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliated, al Qaeda associated in any way?

BENOTMAN: Look, Zakaria, I think any claims like this, it's a baseless claim. It's the bottom line, it's clear, because the revolution or the uprising in Libya, it's -- the main force behind it, it was the Libyans themselves, you know. If you were there, you will see there's like a lot of professors, doctors, engineers, cookers, taxi drivers, unemployment coming from like different aspects of life in Libya. So it has nothing to do with al Qaeda or even any Islamist agenda as well. It's not just al Qaeda. The agenda it's just based on one concept, which is like free, democratic country. That's it.

ZAKARIA: Let me --

BENOTMAN: So it suggests I think --

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, though. One thing that worries people is that Libya sent a large number of jihadist fighters to Iraq. By some calculations, Libya was the country that had the largest number of jihadists in Iraq. So it makes people think in Libya, there must be a large number of jihadist fighters. Is that true?

BENOTMAN: Look, it's a fact. You know, when you have like for many years, like many movements, adapted like jihadi or radical Islamic agenda, you'll still see these people.

But my point is, when you have like few hundred jihadists in Libya, the point is, are they organized based under one organization or umbrella, what's the leadership, what's their agenda? This is the most important thing. And there is one issue here as well. Should we ask them, because they have like past or some of them they are still like would be able to label as a jihadist, should we ask them just to stay home and watch while their own people and families and, you know, like, mothers, they are slaughtered by their own regime. Doesn't make any sense.

Yes, there is jihadists in Libya, of course. You know, but my point is they are insignificant and there is no way on earth they are going to be like the most powerful or dominant movement behind the revolution.

ZAKARIA: Is there--

BENOTMAN: It's 100 percent, I can assure you.

ZAKARIA: Is there a danger that as the violence goes on, Libya becomes a magnet for some of -- for jihadists for al Qaeda? Is, you know, al Qaeda seems interested in Libya. Could they move in?

BENOTMAN: Yes, of course, I agree with you. Al Qaeda is always interested in Libya, you know, like, either the al Qaeda leadership in FATA, around Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Ayman Zawahiri, or if we talk about al Qaeda like AQIM, al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb. They are, I think for them, when there's a chaos or war, it's always a chance. And they'll do everything possible, you know, to make -- to utilize that chance.

But I can assure you until today, until today, it's very difficult for them. And I know they are working very hard, especially Al Qaeda In Islamic Maghreb, and just recently they tried to send some people across the borders, the southern border of Libya through (ph) Algeria. But I think it's very difficult for them.

Yes, myself, I'll share my concern with you if the -- if the conflict it allowed to last for long, and the escalation of violence increased. It's a war situation, and when you are in a war situation, I'm not going to lie to you, that means the uncertainty is 100 percent. That's why every day Libya, we don't have a situation. Basically, we have a flow of situations. It's like the stock market, you need to follow it every single hour.

ZAKARIA: Noman Benotman, thank you very much.


ZAKARIA: Our "GPS Challenge Question of the Week" is, what was the most recent nation to be granted full membership to the United Nations? Was it A) Montenegro; B) Yugoslavia; C) Switzerland; D) North Korea.

Stay tuned and we'll tell you the correct answer. Make sure you go to for 10 more questions. While you're there, make sure you check out our World Affairs website, the Global Public Square. You'll find extra interviews with guests, post on events of the day by me and friends of the show. You can find it where you've always found it, at

This week's book is called "Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle with India." It's by Joseph Lelyved, the former editor of the "New York Times." It's not a conventional biography. It tells the story of a how a young lawyer, an Indian lawyer went to South Africa, politically inactive and was transformed into this great leader of a mass, nonviolent resistance movement. How did Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi become Mahatma Gandhi? A fascinating story.

And now, for "The Last Look." Let's take a look at the development of warfare. The U.S. Civil War and all the wars throughout time that preceded it were fought on horseback and on foot. World War I was the first mechanized war with the introduction of tanks and planes. And the War in Afghanistan will probably go down in history as the first robotic war. How so?

Well, according to the Marine Corps robotics guru, there are now more than 2,000 robots being used to fight back the enemy in Afghanistan. That's one out of 50 troops in that country. There are, of course, robots to detect bombs, to disarm bombs and to dispose of them, but also a robot whose main job is to get shot at.

And now this might be the newest robot of all. It goes by the very creative name of X-47B, sort of like R2-D2 and looks like a cross between a stealth fighter and drone. And it is that. But it's also much more. It requires almost no human interaction. It can take off and land by itself. Current drones require pilots, often thousands of miles away to complete those tasks for them by remote control.

The X-47B is even said to be able to take off and land itself on the rolling deck of an aircraft carrier. It will be able to find its target by itself. The only thing it needs a carbon-based life form for is to let it know it's OK to drop the bomb.

The correct answer to our "GPS Challenge" was A) Montenegro is the newest U.N. member state admitted in 2006. Go to our website for more questions and answers.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.