The firebrand Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi is on the brink of executing an extraordinary change of orientation, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s Middle East sources. He is about to announce a break with the Arab world and proclaim Libya the number one African power. Henceforth, he will focus his efforts on improving the lot of the African continent. To further his new goal, Qaddafi will seek close cooperation with the United States and other Western countries in the hope of acquiring an industry, a financial system, proper services and an education system of Western standards for his country.
As a first step, Libya will open its oil industry to Western firms.
Another key step will be Libya’s final departure from the Arab League and the initiation of economic relations with Israel.
Horrified by the news from Tripoli, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and Arab League secretary Amr Mussa are working hard to persuade Qaddafi to change his mind.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources were asked to find out how serious the generally unpredictable Qaddafi is this time. It appears that the Libyan ruler is motivated by fear of the United States. He has been closely observing the Americans in Iraq and the diplomatic and economic leverage Washington is applying against Pyongyang and Tehran to make them give up their nuclear weapons programs. He has come to the conclusion that American guns could be pointed at his head before US military might descends on North Korea or Iran.
What makes him most uneasy is that President George W. Bush, while making much of the “axis of evil” nations, Iran and North Korea, never mentions Libya, despite its secret nuclear program at the al Kufra oasis near the Egyptian frontier.
(DEBKA-Net-Weekly first exposed this program in Issue No. 75, on September 6, 2002).
According to our intelligence sources, Libya is not far behind Iran in its uranium enrichment capabilities and nuclear weapons development. Some say Libya may even spring its nuclear device on the world in a surprise announcement before long. Qaddafi is sly enough to launch his new pro-Western orientation and news of his nuclear bomb in the same announcement.
To this day, his program is shrouded in the deepest secrecy. All that we have discovered is that it employs 300 to 400 Iraqi scientists and technicians whose salaries were paid by Saddam Hussein until his overthrow. It is not clear who fills their pay packets today. Also employed at al Kufra are a similar number of North Koreans and around 200 Egyptian scientists.
The Libyan ruler lives in fear that the Americans turned up in Iraq documents naming the sources which finance his nuclear weapons program. DEBKA-Net-Weekly has reason to believe that those documents would name Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, as the main investors in the al Kufra program.
Qaddafi’s reckon it would pay the Americans to hit al Kufra before going for North Korean or Iranian nuclear installations. The latter would spread instability in two regions of the world, while a strike in the Libyan desert, far from any habitation, would administer a salutary lesson to the two would-be nuclear powers while producing very little regional fallout.