Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

The world stands up to Gaddafi a little too late | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Who is going to try the United Nations for the crimes it committed against Libya and the Libyans? Who is going to try France under Nicolas Sarkozy, Britain under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and Italy under Silvio Berlusconi? These questions are legitimate after the fall of Colonel Gaddafi’s regime, even though he remains a fugitive and hiding like a “rat”. The extent of Libya’s sufferings under his rule, which lasted 42 years, has been revealed to the world.

At first, Gaddafi intentionally aroused the hostility of the Libyan people, before forcing them to “love” him. Those who did not respond were thrown into prison, or to be more accurate, a network of secret prisons whose gates have now been opened by force after Colonel Gaddafi fled. Such prisons should not rest lightly on the conscience of the international community, the French President, the two former Prime Ministers of Britain, and the British security apparatus. As for the African states that strove to satisfy Gaddafi, it is enough to visualize Libya’s colonel revelling in the torture of his own people, in the inhumane jails he had built, to give you an idea about the state of affairs in those countries.

The cells were more like coffins; with the prisoner using his fingernails or maybe even his teeth to mark the walls in the early days of custody. Prayers to God for rescue are also engraved on these walls. Then the prison guards would shut off the air vents, ultimately suffocating the prisoner. Afterwards, they would “kindly” carry his dead body to a ward, where other corpses would be laid out. The ward was sealed with a strong metal door with large iron bolts, like those used in the vaults of central banks. The prison guards would then receive a “salute” from the Colonel, whenever he desired to examine the pile of corpses and smile at the increasing number of dead bodies.

Here the unethical role of the UN comes to prominence. In January 2003, Libya was elected chairman of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. That day it was said that Gaddafi had returned to the international arena. (Gaddafi went on to make an international appearance in 2010, when he delivered an address from the UN podium ridiculing the entire world. That day, American business magnate Donald Trump rented out a gardened villa to the Colonel and his entourage). Human rights organizations were outraged by this immoral act on the UN’s part, especially as mere membership in the Human Rights Commission grants the state in question immunity from criticism.

Afterwards, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi took it upon himself to defend his country’s “clear” human rights record and said that Libya’s chairing of the committee was “an opportunity to embarrass Middle East governments into improving their records.”

However, this exultation did not last for long, as the presidency was soon withdrawn from Libya. Nevertheless, the UN had already lost everyone’s respect, and the incident was added to its long list of embarrassing lapses.

Let us move from the UN to France, and precisely to December 2007, when President Sarkozy broke all taboos and welcomed Colonel Gaddafi. That day Rama Yade, a young politician of Senegalese origins, acting as France’s Secretary of State for Human Rights, couldn’t take the insult. In an interview with “Le Parisien” she said: “Colonel Gaddafi must understand that our country is not a doormat on which a leader – whether terrorist or not – can wipe off the blood of his crimes. France should not have accepted this kiss of death.” Sarkozy responded by saying that he had talked with Colonel Gaddafi about human rights!

In fact, Sarkozy’s true intentions were clear. Colonel Gaddafi had promised him approximately US$6 billion dollars by accepting to buy 14 “Rafale” combat fighter jets, after France had spent six years manufacturing this aircraft and failing to sell a single piece of it. It is worth noting that two months prior to Colonel Gaddafi’s visit to France, Morocco declined an offer to buy the “Rafale”, preferring the American “F-16”. When Gaddafi pulled out of the “Rafale” fighter deal, this motivated Sarkozy to launch a war against Libya.

As for Britain, it felt “proud” to have convinced Gaddafi to abandon his nuclear program. In return, Libya was allowed to bypass all red lines. Suddenly Saif al-Islam became the “gifted child” in the eyes of Britain. Even his “scribbles” were deemed as works of art, and hung along the halls of “Claridge’s” 5-star luxury hotel in London. Then came the relationship with Tony Blair, the “family’s friend”, as he was described by Saif al-Islam. Under this friendly façade, security and economic deals were struck. Western security apparatuses began to consider Libya as the home of the British secret intelligence service “MI-6”. The West began to request all the intelligence it wanted from Gaddafi and his former foreign and security minister Moussa Koussa. By virtue of this mechanism, thousands were detained, imprisoned, or killed through torture.

At least Britain is going to conduct an investigation into all these matters. Later on, we might hear: “We did all that for the sake of African leader Nelson Mandela. It was him who asked us to reintroduce Colonel Gaddafi to the international arena, because of his stance against racial discrimination.” Gaddafi won’t be able to tarnish the image of a famous personality like Mandela. However, as for all the other aforementioned world leaders, he has managed to show how they fell into his trap of insanity. This is highly disturbing, especially if we consider his disgraceful past and support for terrorism everywhere in the world.

The Gaddafi – Sarkozy game began with case of the Bulgarian nurses. The French President inaugurated his first days in presidency by sending his ex-wife Cecilia to accompany the nurses to Libya. There they were arrested along with a Palestinian doctor, and were sentenced to 8 years in prison on Colonel Gaddafi’s orders, under the fabricated charge of injecting Libyan children with the AIDS virus. Consequently, France intervened to try and save those nurses, and Bulgaria, a country with a weak economy, was forced to write off Libyan debts estimated at US$15 million. Today, Bulgaria is demanding the return of these cancelled funds.

After her release, one nurse named Snezhana Dimitrova preceded everyone by saying: “Muammar Gaddafi belongs in The Hague and he must be tried not only because he committed crimes against us but against his own people.” Because “a leopard can’t change its spots”, Sarkozy found out that he had been taken for a ride. He was informed by French banks that Colonel Gaddafi was about to transfer billions of Euros to Chinese banks. Then he was notified by French arms-producing companies that Colonel Gaddafi had withdrawn from the “Rafale” combat fighter deal, and that he wouldn’t be keeping his promise to offer contracts to French companies, to construct nuclear facilities in Libya. Moreover, French petroleum companies had their eyes set on bigger shares in the Libyan oil production industry, predominantly controlled by the Italian oil giant “ENI”. Italy won this privilege through the lavish hospitality extended to Colonel Gaddafi by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who provided the Colonel with Italian beauties and invited him to his “Bunga Bunga” parties.

Afterwards, Gaddafi’s former Chief of Protocol, Nuri Mesmari, fled to Paris in October 2010 and was seized by the French intelligence. A few months later, anti-regime mass protests broke out in Libya. Subsequently, self-named “philosopher” Bernard Henry Levi, who happens to be Sarkozy’s “friend” and Carla Bruni’s “foe”, for personal reasons, flew over to Benghazi to meet with the “revolutionaries”. From there he called his presidential friend and asked him to recognize the National Transitional Council as a legitimate authority. One thing led to another before “NATO” intervened, and it won’t leave before it ensures a military base is set up in Libya.

The Libyans are demanding that Gaddafi be tried, and some are calling for his execution. Gaddafi should be arrested and returned to Tripoli. He ought to be placed in a mobile, transparent cell, and taken to tour all Libyan towns and cities. Then he will see with his own eyes the people whom he had labelled “rats”, and witness how they are heaving sighs of relief, expressing joy, and working, building and looking forward to a future without Gaddafi, where they can speak and live freely.

What happened to Muammar Gaddafi should serve as a wakeup call to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. He should not believe that escorting John Kerry and his wife to a restaurant in Damascus, and having dinner with both of them, will protect him or enhance his image. He ought not to think that by playing a role in Iraq, Lebanon or Palestine he will be saved, or that his relationship with Iran will change the face of the world.

Assad might say that the oil brought about the end of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, and that he has no oil. Assad thinks that the cards he holds, as mentioned above, are enough to spare him the indignity of being overthrown. In the meantime, the day of reckoning in Iran is drawing closer. The Azeris have started mobilizing, all for the sake of Lake Urmia, the third largest salt water lake on earth. Besides, the Iranian regime has begun to fear and pursue groups of young people, whose only crime has been shooting each other with water pistols. Whatever next?