Only a year ago, Muammar Qaddafi was held up in Washington as an example to the Arab and Muslim world of a ruler who renounced the sponsorship of terrorism and was willing to relinquish his weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear resources. He was also praised to the heaven for passing to Washington, London and Paris priceless intelligence data on the terror groups targeting the West.
President Jacques Chirac of France, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of German, Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and British premier Tony Blair, all went on pilgrimage to Tripoli and were received in the Libyan ruler’s exotic silk tent.
But not US president George W. Bush or any top administration official.
Although American congressmen, intelligence officers and oil company executives visited the Libyan capital, the Bush administration kept its distance from Qaddafi and his son Seif al Islam.
There are four reasons for Washington’s cold shoulder:
1. The Americans have never been absolutely sure that the Libyan ruler and his intelligence services have cut themselves off completely and finally from terrorists and their methods. For more than a year, a Libyan intelligence colonel has been locked up in the central prison in Riyadh after he was captured in Egypt and accused of being on a mission for Libyan intelligence to assassinate the Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah. The plot required the colonel to draw on North African elements in Saudi Arabia with former ties to al Qaeda for assistance.
2. No one in Washington, or anywhere else for that matter, is sure what Qaddafi’s real views are on any important issue.
3. Libya’s expansionist policies in Africa are violently anti-American. He is in league with Washington’s most extreme opponents on the continent, South Africa’s Thabo Mbeki and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
4. Neither the Libyan ruler nor his powerful son shows any inclination to join the Bush democracy drive in the Middle East.
There is nothing surprising therefore in the report DEBKA-Net-Weekly received exclusively from Paris whereby, on April 18, a secret conclave of five Libyan opposition groups took place in Washington, organized jointly by US and French intelligence. It was the first time in three decades that the fractious Libyan opposition factions were prepared to sit in one room and around one table. They even agreed to move forward and arrange a large assembly this summer in Paris to discuss ways of promoting democracy in Libya. Our Washington sources stress that the Libyan resistance movement is still embryonic, and political organization, demonstrations and protest action inside Libya are still still to come.
The Washington encounter ended with a document signed by representatives of the following groups: The Republican Alliance for Democracy and Social Justice, the Libyan Islamic Organization, the Libyan Movement for Reform, the National Libyan Movement, and the largest and most important organization of them all, the National Front for the Salvation of Libya.
The Bush administration plans to lead this opposition movement not only into a campaign to promote democracy in Libya but, straight after the Paris meeting, the establishment of a Libyan government in exile that will draft a new national constitution.
This operation rests on the shoulders of six key Libyans: Abrik Ibrahim Jibril, Abdullah Kadoura, Ibrahim Sawiasi, Khiyari Abu Shoukour, Salem Admousi and Faraj Bulasha, the last being the live wire of the Libyan opposition in Europe.
According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, the US government has spent large sums on the Libyan project and is planning to spend several millions of dollars more.