Wednesday’s defection of Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa is a major embarrassment for Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi and a sign of lagging morale in the top echelons of his regime.

Koussa was not just the foreign minister, which is often just a mouthpiece position in Arab dictatorships; more importantly, he was the head of Libya’s main intelligence agency between 1994 and 2009. He was also a longtime confidante of the Libyan dictator, who had previously lost his minister of interior and minister of justice to defections and is increasingly dependent on members of his own family and tribe to maintain his grip on power.

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