At about 5pm on Thursday, Nicolas Sarkozy and David Cameron will meet at the Elysée palace in Paris. It promises to be a moment rich in political theatre. Joining the French president and British prime minister will be the leaders of Libya’s rebels, as well as governments and organisations that backed Nato’s mission over the north African state. It will be the first time they have come together since the fall of Colonel Muammer Gaddafi.
Five and a half months ago, Britain and France led an international mission to halt Col Gaddafi’s crackdown against Libyans rising up against his despotic 42-year rule. From the outset, it was an operation fraught with risk. Some Nato allies refused to support the mission and an array of experts said it would never work – diplomatically or operationally. On Thursday in Paris they celebrate the victory of the country’s opposition and begin charting Libya’s future.