last update June 1
At the center of Franco Bechis' allegations of a pre-planned Libyan civil war is one Libyan defector and his hosts in Paris, France. Nouri al-Mesmari, formerly head of state protocol for Libya, is clearly of a shared spirit with those who've left service to side with the rebellion. But unlike the rest, seems to have split off from the Gaddafi regime four months before the February 17 uprising, rather than in the days and weeks after. In that time, he instead spoke to the world from Paris, as seen at left (al Jazeera, February 27).
And as for what he did with this four month head start, we have a report from Italian journalist Franco Bechis suggesting that with French support, Nouri al-Mesmari helped pre-arrange the rebellion-to-regime change in Libya that is still awkwardly unfolding.  Not all of Bechis' sources are verified to my satisfaction, but it's all consistent with what we do know (to be explained separately) and worth consideration. Following is an abbreviated chronology, drawn from that:
Oct. 20 2010 - Mesmari flies off to Tunisia, with his immediate family, for "health reasons" (heart-related).
Oct. 21 - The family is in France, reports Maghreb Confidential.
Nov. 28 - Libya issues an arrest warrant for Mesmari, for embezzlement of state funds. He's put under house arrest the next day.
Dec. 12 - An alleged meeting is held, in Paris, between al-Mesmari and three high-level members of the opposition February 17 movement.
Dec. 15 - He's released for irregularities, making his detention illegal, and housed at liberty on the state dime in a fancy hotel.
Feb 5 - Gaddafi’s son Moatassim returns alone after a week in Paris trying to presuade Mesmari to come back to Libya
Feb 1-16: The regime launches pre-emptive arrests of protest leaders (including the three who reportedly met Mesmari) and February 17 leader Jamal al Hajj, who had called for the uprising to happen.
Feb 15 - Protests begin two days ahead of the called-for "Day of Rage," marking a Benghazi uprising 15 years earlier. Violence flares from the start, with police stations and such attacked. Predictably, the state cracks down with counter-violence in numerous cities. Regime change wouldn't happen the way it did in Tunisia and Egypt.
Feb 18-22 - "Protesters" somehow seize all cities on the northeast coast and several cities in the west. They vow to topple the regime and, ideally, to kill Gaddafi.
Feb 22 - In protest, Mesmari formally resigns and joins the rebels, from Paris, on live TV. It's his first public appearance. As he said to al Jazeera on the 27th, complaining of the later defectors and resignations:
"Some of them are just resigning lately because they found out there is no choice for them only to resign. Why they did not do it from the beginning, from the starting? But at the moment, they didn't know that it would be successful. And now because it is the end of it, everybody is resigning."Again, that was only ten days and about 400 dead into the civil war he allegedly helped engineer.
Reasons for Leaving Previous Job (please explain fully)
In the days after his resignation, al-Mesmari gave several TV interviews, in which he described himself as "a pure diplomat," who never participated in Gaddafi's terror machine, never tried to "polish his face," and "never been around with him." "I am [was] in charge of the diplomacy in Libya," he told al Jazeera on February 27. "Relationship with the embassies. And you can reference to those embassies how I was with them."  According the French news site Jeune Afrique, he also did things like arrange for the travel of world leaders in Libya, and even handled the routing of monthly payments from the treasury to col. Gaddafi's children. 
Mr. al-Mesmari has a lean and unsettled look, but adorned with with an artsy glasses-and-goatee combo, frequently dyed hair, and occasional Gaddafi-esque designer military costumes. Alex Lantier at the World Socialist Website describes him as "a prominent pro-free-market reformer in the Libyan ruling elite."  Considering the February 17 leaders are described (by another leftist at the Monthly Review) as western-educated "entrepreneurs,"  this might give us a taste of the freedoms they seek. But I've yet to see (direct) supporting evidence of any of their economic inclinations.
Business intelligence site Maghreb Confidential reported on his arrival in France "normally, Mesmari sticks closely to his boss’s side, so there’s some talk that he may have broken his long-standing tie with the Libyan leader.”  But he's never given a reason for splitting, aside from the regime' response to protests in February. Until then he was in France for "health reasons" only. The exact motives behind his flight can't be known for sure, but if he'd decided to split with Tripoli, two possibilities pop to mind.
Perhaps a deeper reason, as Jeune Afrique reported, "the gunshot murder of his son in 2007, disguised as a suicide by authorities."  That must have an interesting back-story (no further details available). However, the immediate temporal trigger has been speculated as a public slap to the face from col. Gadddafi, for some disappointment, at a mid-October African Union conference in Sirte.  He was in Paris within eleven days after that.
A month into his unscheduled vacation, Tripoli issued the arrest warrant over stolen money. If the Jeune Afrique report is correct, he might have access to state funds and perhaps decided to steal some he felt entitled to. Asked in if he had enriched himself under Gaddafi's rule, he responded:
Thanks to God I never done it, I - thanks to my family I can - I come from a rich family, I have even some of the wealth of my family have been monopolized [nationalized], and I am still struggling to get it back. I never enriched myself, I never touched the house of the people ... Jeune Afrique also noted Mesmari "is the son of a former minister of the monarchy, but he broke with his past by trading his name to that of Ben Shaban his tribe."  And he had his family money partly swallowed by the state, and his son potentially murdered by it. This is a man with grievances. However, these charges were only filed after he'd flown unauthorized to France, and it's not likely they only "noticed the money missing" after that. He was wanted back, but probably for something else. French inteligence DGSE called him a "Libyan wikileaks," according to Bechis. 
Libya tried hard to convey forgiveness and entice the defector back. On December 16, a state media official named Abdallah Mansour tried to meet with Mesmari in Paris, but was arrested.  At the end of January, the leader's son Moatassim Gaddafi was allowed to have meetings, but was unable to convince Nouri to return.
"[Gaddafi] left Paris alone on February 5. The son of Muammar Kadhafi, who had been staying at the luxury Bristol hotel since late January, failed to persuade Nuri Mesmari to return home. [...] While claiming 'everything has now been resolved’ with Libya, Mesmari seems reluctant to return without iron-clad 'guarantees.’" Or, alternately, he had a hunch the regime he was being invited to re-join would soon be overthrown. If any uprising or revolt was planned, February 17 would be the obvious zero day. Mesmari's unwillingness to return less than two weeks before this, might well have been taken as a bad omen.
Alleged Contacts, Notable Surprises
But the planners in Benghazi and the defectori in Paris appear on the surface as just ships passing in the night. Libyan rebel site Feb17.info included this in an article on post-rebellion defections:
A less expected deserter, however, was Nouri Mesmari, Libyan Chief of Protocol. Because of his long history of loyalty to the Gaddafi and his regime, Mesmari’s televised statement of resignation given on Tuesday from Paris (where he was staying for “health reasons”) came as a shock to Libyans around the world. Not necessarily so to those he'd been talking with secretly - including the GDSE. But to the rest of us outside that loop, the surprises kept coming from Paris. Well known for rejecting Cowboy Bush's Iraq war back in 2003, France took the lead in this UN Security Council-approved mission to keep Gaddafi from "bombing his own people." This "no-fly zone" acted as a trojan horse, releasing on Libya an unathorized full-on air campaign for regime change. From protecting innocents to tactical air support for rebel forces, the way was led, unexpectedly, by Sarkozy's France, the very nation that had hosted Mr. al-Mesmari. Coincidence?
His knowledge of the regime and the future are not so useful (see below) but his contacts apparently were. According to Bechis, he spoke with intelligence people while under custody, and put them on the path to contacting a potent clandestine dissident. This was Libyan Air Force colonel Gehani, whom agents managed to meet with in mid-November in Benghazi. 
Gehani then talked to whoever he did, and as the 15-year anniversary of the February 17 uprising drew nearer, three leaders of the group of that name reportedly flew to Paris and met with Mesmari. Bechis gives these as Fathi Boukhris, Farj Charrani, and Ali Ounes Mansouri, all arrested prior to the uprising, along with col. Gehani.  But as Bechis notes, it was too little too late - they'd managed to convey something from up north, steeling the resolve of those less known who remained at liberty and moved so effectively two weeks later.
More small clues in interviews
There are very few sources around of his words since "coming out" to the world as anti-Gaddafi. There are his two TV interviews of the February 23rd, available on Youtube. One in Arabic, channel unknown.  I cannot tell what he's saying, but he's got an odd and unhappy face. One eye blinks incessantly, the other - apparently prosthetic - not at all. It's this, plus his demeanor - awkward cadence, frequent devolution to frustrated shouting - that led one commentator to feel that
"[At] any moment, tentacles could burst from his chest to shoot acid or bat-like brain parasites at the studio crew. It makes me very uneasy to watch him, and my cats refuse to be in the same room when he is on the screen." A much longer video, done in English, was aired the same day on Qatar-based al Jazeera (in standard media disclosure form, it should be noted that Qatar is heavily underwriting the Libyan civil war which al Jazeera has reported on so partially). He discusses there the state of Gaddafi's regime now, from what he's seen on TV. Mercenaries have replaced the military, which has all either defected or was were in danger of such. "He has no more trust in the armed forces," he said, because they "let him down and went to the people." 
Four days later, he again spoke of a survival instinct among those who still remained loyal, to escape prosecution for past crimes abroad.  The free-form defection of Foreign Secretary Musa Kusa, who flew to London and then left for Qatar without being arrested for either Lockerbie or the Yvonne Fletcher shooting, again shows Mesmari's poor predictive skills. Mr. Kusa is currently living in Qatar, it must be noted, deciding not to taunt the brits by waltzing in - and out - again with his secret formula.  He remains there now, as the Qatari Mesmari.
From what he says to al Jazeera, the French one has not so much usable inteligence as well-rehearesed rebel talking points. For example, throughout these interviews, Mr. Mesmari and his anti-Gaddafi co-guests all agree in denying any silly talk of a civil war. That is Gaddafi propaganda to scare people, they all said in late Feruary, one whole week into it. The people as a whole, east and west, and the government, and the military, and the tribal leaders, had risen up unanymously in rejection of the governmnet.
Yet in coming weeks, all cities in the west reverted to government control with relative ease, aside from the vital and strategically-reinforced Misrata. Otherwise, as the front has stayed around or in Ajdabiya in the east, this really does look like an east-west civil war here with a few more weeks to feel it out. These are sometime solved by partition, which none of the rebels or western leaders seem favorable towards. They seem to require a full take-over.
Around 14:20 in the video, Mesmari almost seems to be reading from a teleprompter positioned below the camera. He seems to be moving his head to follow scrolling text, once stumbling over a word and having to catch up quickly. (14:48). If so, he's only getting prompts, not any well-written script (that would sound unnatural, wouldn't it?). What he says in that block is interesting:
"The time is coming and the date is coming and it is very short. Nobody saw it, nobody was expecting this revolution of my compatriots. They never expected. They just got upset, and they went so quickly. So quickly. They didn't receive any international aid. And I feel very sorry that the international aid is coming only now, and it is too late. They let my people down. Children, old people, old women dying in the streets, and God - knows - wherearetheir bodies now, buried - some - where" So the revolt was planned to happen a little more slowly, I gather, and with better material support at the very outset (remember, this complaint came only ten days after the Day of Rage). As far as I can tell, he pretty much went quiet after this period. But the plan he might have helped set up was well under way and other players - inside "free Libya," in world capitols and board rooms, in TV studios and command centers - were taking center stage in shaping the long-awaited new nation.
 Bechis, Franco. "Sarkozy manovra la rivolta libica." Libero March 23 2011. Original text (Italian): http://www.stampalibera.com/?p=24406
 Interview with Mesmari. "Inside Story." Al Jazeera. February 27 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObAbe2CvjjA
 Barrouhi Abdelaziz. "Fin de partie pour Mesmari." Jeune Afrique. December 7 2010. (Google translation used) Original URL: http://www.jeuneafrique.com/Article/ARTJAJA2604p021.xml0/arrestation-mouammar-kaddafi-seif-el-islam-detournement-de-fondsfin-de-partie-pour-mesmari.html
 Lantier, Alex. "Reports suggest French intelligence encouraged anti-Gaddafi protests." World Socialist Website (WSWS). March 28 2011. http://wsws.org/articles/2011/mar2011/inte-m28.shtml
 Prashad, Vijay. MR zine, Monthly Review. April 2 3011. http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2011/libya030411p.html
 Interview with Mesmari. "Inside Story." Al Jazeera. February 23 2011. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9uUNZDD1LAE
 It's Easy to Jump a Sinking Ship. By contributor "F4T1." Posted February 28 2011. http://feb17.info/editorials/it’s-easy-to-jump-a-sinking-ship
 Daily Mail. April 14. http://m.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1377043/Libya-Anger-Musa-Kusa-allowed-flee.html