What Would Qaddafi Tell the International Court?

15:00 03.11.2011 • Armen Oganesyan , Editor-in-Chief, International Affairs



"MUAMMAR QADDAFI'S GRUESOME DEATH sent a message to dictators around the world." These words by U.S. President Obama sent waves of enthusiasm in the West European media (the German media, however, remained immune). The question is: What sort of a message? What produced a greater impression: the bodies of lynched Mussolini and his mistress hung upside down on meat hooks from the roof of an Esso gas station or the Nuremberg trial which revealed the man-hating nature of Nazism? The answer is obvious even though the scopes of historical contexts and personalities are widely different.

If the message is intended for Assad and Saleh it will hardly produce the desired effect. Washington did not hesitate to hand over Hosni Mubarak, its loyal ally of many years, to the opposition. This and lynching of Qaddafi will make those who are called dictators even more determined to suppress the opposition. In Syria this will lead to an even greater bloodshed.

There were those who tried to raise their voices to be heard amid the noise of the choir. Swiss sociologist Jean Ziegler admitted that he had hoped that Qaddafi would be tried by the International Criminal Court in The Hague. None of the leaders of the Unified Protector coalition voiced his regrets. One wonders why.

Indeed, what could Qaddafi tell the International Court? An accomplished orator, he had mastered a fairly uncomfortable manner to hold forth with what he wanted to say irrespective of what the interviewer wanted to know as Mikhail Gusman who interviewed him for the Russian TV learned from personal experience.

As soon as the UN had passed a corresponding resolution Qaddafi was compared with Milosevic, not in favor of the latter. Qaddafi's oratorical skills had nothing to do with it: Unlike Libya which is rich in high-grade oil, Serbia has no "black gravy." Today access to oil means an intimate involvement in world politics; an intimate knowledge of secret springs which move the world; an incomparably wider circle of contacts in the upper echelons of power and business and a superior quality of communication.

The leader of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya was not a "hand-shake" only but a very desirable partner for presidents, kings, oil tycoons, and TNC heads. Leonid Brezhnev himself pushed away the protocol to personally greet Qaddafi at the aircraft; carried by emotions Premier of Italy Berlusconi kissed his hand.

The continent's largest proven oil reserves are concentrated in Libya; in 2008, American-Libyan JVs accounted for nearly one-third of oil extraction. According to WikiLeaks, one of the diplomatic cables on the eve of the visit of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Tripoli in 2008 sounded the alarm of "growing evidence of Libyan resource nationalism" on the part of the Qaddafi government.

Determined to increase his country's share in oil-created incomes the Libyan leader sought big bonus payments up front: "Oil companies are controlled by foreigners who have made millions from them. Now, Libyans must take their place to profit from this money."

I have already written that oil and politics share many secrets. Economy was not the only field of the Western, American in the first place, interests in Libya: political haggling with Qaddafi was no less intensive. He used the huge money at his disposal to address the social problems; his country attracted labor migrants from Egypt, Tunisia and other neighboring countries; outside Libya he used vast sums to become actively involved in politics.

He loved to put on multicolored ethnic garbs to be photographed at the map of Africa: Toward the end of his life he became increasingly aware of his mission as the continent's leader and spokesman. It was at that time that he devised a bold plan of setting up an all-Africa system of easy (or even gift) loans which could have buried the IMF economic and political influence.

Washington was no less concerned with another of the Libyan leader's ambitious plans to set up the gold dinar as a single African currency to undermine the position of the dollar. The audacious Libyan leader who sought control over the continent, the last and so far undi-

gested resource of globalization, should have been stopped; in future, Tripoli might have gone even further to seek an alliance with Beijing.

Recently the International Affairs journal and the Institute of International Studies, MGIMO (U) gathered together the Soviet and Russian ambassadors who had represented our country in Libya in the last two decades, for a roundtable discussion: What could Qaddafi tell the International Criminal Court in The Hague?

The Libyan leader knew a lot about the terrorist bomb blast that had destroyed UTA Flight 772 over Niger in 1989. The French had finally extracted compensations for the victims albeit mush less than he later extended to the relatives of the victims of the Lockerby disaster.

Investigation has failed to clarify the Lockerby case; it was resolved in the form of a deal between Tripoli and London as a result of which Abdel Baset al-Megrahi (convicted and imprisoned in Edinburgh) was set free for medical and humanitarian reasons, formally by the decision of the court of Scotland independent from London. In August 2009, he was greeted in Tripoli as a national hero. The Brits, the BP in the first place, were rewarded with $18 billion- worth oil and gas contracts.

The Libyans were accused of a terrorist attack on the La Belle discotheque in West Berlin, Germany, an entertainment venue that was commonly frequented by United States soldiers, several of them were killed. The U.S. and the UK responded with bombing attacks at Tripoli and Benghazi in April 1989.

Libya maintained close contacts with Palestinian groups of all sorts (mainly with Abu Nidal, the Palestinian Liberation Front and other leftist forces); it used their units in Africa, in a war against Chad; Libyan leaders knew a lot about contacts between terrorist groups and special services.

Qaddafi gave money to the Irish Republican Army, Jorg Haider, the African-American Civil Rights Movement and the presidential campaign of Sarkozy. Tony Blair was not forgotten, either.

Before the recent events, his personal wealth was assessed at $110 billion; today his heirs can count on about $38 billion in African, Asian and Latin American banks; the rest was frozen in European banks.

Under Qaddafi corruption was a family (clan) business and was absolutely systemic: The country could well be described as Qaddafi & Sons Inc. Corruption spread far beyond the Libyan borders.

Ruthless exploitation of the Libyan and African resources (Qaddafi was well aware of this) was but a minor problem which could have resurfaced in the International Court. The so far unknown facts of corruption and bribery could have proved destructive for many reputations. This explains why the Russian ambassadors are convinced that Qaddafi had no chance to live long enough to be brought to The Hague.

The fierceness with which the mob treated the dead body of Qaddafi; the ferocious cruelty and the fact that the disgusting scenes were offered to the public should be contemned. President Obama did precisely this. The savage reprisal and the way Qaddafi's dead body was treated is a serious lesson and a warning not only to the dictators and tyrants but also to all those who believe themselves to be human beings.


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