So Who Benefitted From Gadaffi's Largesse?
Mark Seddon is the former United Nations Correspondent and New York Bureau Chief for Al-Jazeera English TV. He reported from eighteen countries during that time, including North Korea, China, Haiti, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He has interviewed, amongst others, Ban Ki-Moon, Lech Walesa, Tony Blair, Hans Blix, Michael Foot, Mia Farrow, and George Clooney. In a journalistic career spanning over twenty years, he has been Editor of Tribune and an elected member of the UK Labour Party's National Executive Committee. He has written for most British newspapers and many magazines, including The Guardian, The Independent, The Daily Mail, The Times, The Spectator, New Statesman, Private Eye, British Journalism Review and Country Life Magazine. For a number of years he was a Diarist at the London Evening Standard, and has also reported for, amongst others, the BBC and Sky TV. He lives in Buckingham, England.
AS the United Nations Security Council meets in New York, Secretary General Ban ki moon is calling for “decisive” action to be taken against the Libyan regime. The UN Secretary General deserves all of the support he can get, and is absolutely right to call for tough sanctions and for Gadaffi and his henchmen to face charges of crimes against humanity. We shall see if Permanent Members, China and Russia go along with the UN consensus, or simply abstain. To vote against the Security Council resolution would set both countries against the Pale of international opinion.
We must surely hope that the global reaction to Gadaffi’s slaughter of his own people is such that he cannot survive much longer in his Tripoli fastness. How risible seem his ludicrous claims now that the uprising is the property of drugged youth – or of Al Qaeda! But then it wasn’t that long ago that some political leaders in the West really did believe that Gadaffi had become a bulwark against Islamic fundamentalism, which goes part of the way to explain how it was the Britain in particular began to sell arms to Libya again.
This we were told was ‘real politic’, but how ghastly it all seems now. To an extent, there was a time when I could understand why Libya was being brought in from the cold, although having reported from that country and interviewed Libyan dissidents; I imagined that we would be supping with Gadaffi from a very long spoon.
I began to wonder about the policy as Gadaffi’s son Saif al-Islam was being so assiduously courted, in particular by Western politicians such as Tony Blair and Peter Mandelson. I also began to wonder as the deal to release convicted Lockerbie bomber, al Megrahi began to unravel – not because I believed al Megrahi was guilty, but because there was such an obvious political narrative to the whole affair. Saif al-Islam, according to Libyan dissidents was just as much a thug as his father. The only difference being that he wore a tie and periodically showered money on various Western pet projects, including one organised by the London School of Economics.
In recent days, Saif al-islam has tried to cash in on that friendship with Blair, by asking him to intervene to save his father's regime.
Said al-Islam revealed his true colours in a long winded, frankly barmy speech that verged on the schizophrenic earlier in the week. The man that Gadaffi and some Western leaders wanted and expected to succeed was revealed to be every bit as a brutal as his father.
If and when the Gadaffi clan to appear in front of a court in The Hague, my earnest hope is that the prosecution will also follow the money. Who benefitted from Gadaffi’s largesse and why? Was Western policy influenced by Gadaffi’s largesse? And, did any Libyan money find its way into any projects supported by Tony Blair’s Foundation or business interests?
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