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The tribal chief who made terrorism business The tribal chief who made terrorism business
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-03-03 09:54:48
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When Muammar Gaddafi became the Libyan leader due to a military coup back in 1969 not much moved internationally except some complains in the Security Council and the Italian community with interests in the country. But 1960s and 1970s was the pick of the cold war and Gaddafi’s Libya in the gigantic board game between USA and USSR was on the other side so by definition was one of the bad guys.

The same time colonel Muammar Gaddafi was fulfilling all the stereotypes. A leader combination between president, emperor, comrade, tribal chief, magician and war lord all together and the same time, he was Amin Dada and Haile Selassie together with Amin winning most of the time. The Mediterranean countries mainly were watching his moves and often laughing with his declarations and speeches and despite all the screaming about capitalists and enemies business continued with Italy and money kept flooding Gaddafi’s bank accounts. And that’s something we all knew since 1970s.

Gaddafi was not only fulfilling our stereotypes about the crazy third world dictator with communist terminology and peculiar behaviour but he actually decided to go one step further and embrace his identity and why not, make business out of it. You see at that time terrorism was synonym with communism and Marxism was the ideological background for all these activities so most of the time they had the - at least behind the curtains – support of the USSR, not always officially but the labyrinth bureaucracy of USSR was finding way to fund those organizations most of the time with a lot of money. Gaddafi turned Libya into terrorists’ entertainment park with camps for training in the desert and organized communication’s centres in the cities. And all of that with some exchange and a lot of pounds or dollars in his bank accounts.

Don’t think that the other side did nothing or Gaddafi didn’t use them. Libya became in late 1970s the Switzerland of the terrorists in the sense that Gaddafi was offering a neutral ground for negotiations and sometimes he was also “helping” the side that offered more. It took over a decade for the Irish IRA and the Basks to find out that it was not the American’s technological sophistication or the British secret services’ talent that had penetrated their camps in Libya but the colonel who was informing them for every move. He was selling to them weapons he was getting from USSR in the name of the international revolution – often for free- and the same time fully informing the American and British services for their serial numbers and the number of bullets.

And this is just one example of the work the colonel did in a very critical region for a small fee for very long time, actually for more than forty years. Don’t forget that Libya was the country that opened the door to the western construction companies in the Arab world and he was the key for the money laundering in the west. The colonel has played a certain role in that corner with the gigantic geopolitical interests for more than forty years and he knows too many secrets even to blackmail situations. That’s why Tony Blair could exchange pleasances with him, that’s why Sarkozy and Berlusconi could invite him to their houses and that’s why Bill Clinton and George W. Bush could turn on the other side when Gaddafi was doing his crimes with some small exceptions – like the bombardment of a factory a few years ago - that look more like slap on the hand than punishment or warning.

And Gaddafi’s crimes are not new, Gaddafi didn’t suddenly become the notorious ruthless dictator in one night, he was exactly the same forty years ago, it is just that he was …convenient and don’t doubt that if he was still convenient nothing would have happened to him. What has changed is that he became greedy and after forty years he has made more enemies than clients – friends is an unknown word for the colonel. The people of Libya don’t rebel for the first time, the tribes in Libya have rebelled before, even back in 1970s but nobody really gave a damn about them then. There are hundreds; thousands of Libyans who have escape mainly in Italy reporting his atrocities for decades with nobody doing anything; on the contrary everybody has been reporting the team of amazons’ bodyguards that always accompanies him and the media till now have been more interest in his tent than the tortured citizens of Libya.

When Gaddafi accused al-Qaeda for his troubles we all laughed but Gaddafi has used similar excuses in the past a lot of times and they always worked, they worked so well that he even found himself negotiating as equal with Francoise Mitterrand back in mid-1980s, the reason we laugh at him is because his excuses have expired and nobody needs him anymore for the dirty work he did for so long and let’s hope that despite the geopolitical games that are still playing in the area – if anybody thinks that Egypt is free and democratic because Mubarak left, lives in illusions – the Libyan people will take some breathe of freedom soon.


    
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