And now we’re bombing Gaddafi on behalf of al-Qaeda, go figure.

NATIONAL HARBOR, Maryland (AFP) — The former chief of the CIA on Tuesday praised Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi’s past cooperation and said his downfall could complicate US interests in the short term.

Retired general Michael Hayden, who led the Central Intelligence Agency from 2006 to 2009 under president George W. Bush, said that restive Syria also helped US intelligence but only in selective areas.

Speaking at a conference of the Marine Corps University, Hayden said the CIA had worked well with Kadhafi and Mussa Kussa, the foreign minister who defected last month as Libyan forces moved against rebels.

“Whatever you think of Kadhafi and Mussa Kussa . . . they were good and they were good counter-terrorism partners,” Hayden told the conference near Washington.

Hayden said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was “pretty good” at fighting Sunni Muslim militants but supported Shiite radicals. Assad belongs to the Alawite sect, a Shiite offshoot despised by Sunni extremists such as Al-Qaeda.

“In both cases, you have real near-term turbulence that could — that will — make the closer fight in the immediate time-frame much more difficult,” Hayden said.

Kadhafi, a longtime international pariah due to the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and other attacks blamed on Libyan spies, started to reconcile with the United States in 2003 and found common interests in fighting Al-Qaeda.