Friday, January 07, 2005


I don’t know if you have already heard of the fella, but I did back in 2003 already: the guy in question is Seif al-Islam, one of Gaddafi’s sons (he’s got another one who is football player in an Italian club). The guy’s comments struck me as unbelievable, since in the article – it was a CNN piece on Internet, can’t find it back and besides, the link will by now be expired – he literally begged for the west to be friends again and forget all that Lockerbie and Berlin stuff.

Seif al-Islam

Anyway, my interest being aroused, I was on the lookout for some time and indeed, you could regularly find other articles in which Mr. al-Islam continued to come over as surprisingly pro-western. Here are just a few excerpts from an AP article (thanks to the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler):

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) - The son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi said Wednesday Arab countries should support President Bush's campaign to promote democracy in the Middle East.

"Instead of shouting and criticizing the American initiative, you have to bring democracy to your countries, and then there will be no need to fear America or your people," said Seif al-Islam Gadhafi. "The Arabs should either change or change will be imposed on them from outside."

Seif denied reports that he is a candidate to succeed his father, who rules Libya with little tolerance of opposition.
"Many Arab countries are now following the policy of inheriting the leadership, but there are hundreds of Libyans who are better (suited) than I. " Seif said.

Seif even praised Israel, saying that unlike Arab countries, sons do not tend to succeed their fathers in power there.

"We don't put the appropriate person in the right place, but Israel is a democratic country," told the Al-Jazeera television station.

Gulp. We have all known Libya and what it stood for for twenty-five years, haven’t we? Now what is strange is that suddenly this guy comes out and Libya shows –surprise, surprise – an uncanny willingness to cooperate with the West in terms of WMD reduction and payback for the terrorist acts committed by blasting the Jumbo out of the air above Scotland or the French UTA flight over Niger or the Berlin disco. One would think this is more than a coincidence, and indeed, my Time Issue of the past week has a whole article "Libya’s New Face" on Seif al-Islam and his apparently successful attempts to coerce his dad back to sanity and to open the country again for western investors. Sounds promising, huh?

Well, it appears Michael Totten thinks otherwise: Where the Communist Manifesto meets the Koran.

Seif al-Islam: "'We don't have an opposition -- there is no opposition,' he said, asserting that there were 'just five people' seriously opposed to the current government and that all of them were in the United States."

So now I don't know anymore what to think. I have learned to know Michael Totten as a reliable source for over a year now (to the best of my knowledge, he's also being typed as a "liberal hawk"). And he had a marvellous series of photographs about a recent journey to Gaddafiland. It seems that we should not be fooled and that despite the windowdressing Libya is still a hardcore Commie dictatorship, albeit with a (much) lesser, if not nonexistent, Islamist element. Totten reports too about an ancient city, Ghadames, the "jewel of the Sahara", where allegedly all inhabitants where forced out to live in newly erected concrete barracks on the outskirts of town. Hardly a democratic move, methinks. And most of us have heard about the failed assassination attempt against Saudi royals by Libyan agents, as admitted by a fella named Mohamed Ismail, presumed Libyan intelligence officer, currently in jail in KSA.

One of the more annoying aspects of the Internet is that you get so flooded with information that in the long run you seem to ultimately get not much further than the types sticking to newspaper and TV. You read so much pro and contra that everything is liable to kaputtnuancing. In the case of Seif al-Islam, I'm really clueless. Is he really a person who will favour true democratic reforms in Libya and the Arab World? Or is he merely a smart marketeer intent on breaking the sanctions while trying to stick to the old ways and succeed his daddy in a couple of years? If anyone has thoughts, I'd be grateful.