Sarkozy, Qaddafi and the myth of Libya’s ‘humanitarian’ war

Sarkozy, Qaddafi and the myth of Libya’s ‘humanitarian’ war

He who laughs last laughs better, according to an Italian proverb that applies very well to the case of Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president who joined the war in Libya to eliminate Muammar Qaddafi and a few months later also helped to bring down Silvio Berlusconi. That culminated in a famous meeting between Sarkozy and Angela Merkel at which the two used sarcasm toward Italy and laughed at Berlusconi by undermining his credibility. 
Quite a few, therefore, smiled in Milan and Rome when the French police detained Sarkozy for questioning over allegations that he was paid 50 million euros by the Libyan regime to finance his 2007 presidential campaign. 
No one in Italy ever believed the French fairytale narrative of the “humanitarian” war in Libya, which France said was “necessary to bring democracy.” Everyone knew that one of Paris’s objectives was to replace the Italians in the near monopoly of exploitation of the Libyan gas and oil fields, and to eliminate Rome’s residual influence in the Mediterranean area. 
Berlusconi was against the war, but he was worn down by a press campaign orchestrated by the left that accused him of having paid a 17-year-old Moroccan dancer for sex (he was convicted by a court, and later acquitted on appeal) and of being too friendly with “Arab tyrants” such as Qaddafi. The premier surrendered to international pressure and the Italian left.

As the former French president is questioned over financial links to the late Libyan dictator, few in Italy are surprised. 

Max Ferrari

The only Italian party that was vehemently opposed to the war in Libya was the Northern League, which said Italy was not a French colony and the war would destabilize Africa and the Mediterranean and bring millions of illegal migrants into Italy — as indeed happened. Libya was the leading oil supplier and the third-biggest gas supplier to Italy and it was clear to everyone that throwing the country into chaos would not be in Rome’s interest, but anyone who wrote about it was immediately accused of being a “friend of the tyrant.”
Then, in January 2016, “Foreign Policy Journal” began to shed light on the role of Barack Obama in the Libyan crisis, and that of his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. One of the 3,000 Clinton emails released by the State Department revealed an international plot to overthrow Qaddafi in order to obtain access to Libyan oil. The email, titled “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold,” was sent to Clinton by her unofficial adviser Sydney Blumenthal.
Even more explicit and full of indiscretions and twists is the book “Sarkozy-Qaddafi, the Secret Story,” published in France at the end of 2017, which gave rise to the police investigation that led to Sarkozy. Journalists Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske reconstruct the love-hate story between Sarkozy and Qaddafi in 400 pages full of documents, talk about tens of millions of dollars, suitcases full of money transported from Tripoli to Paris, mysteriously disappeared audio recordings, and the strong links between Sarkozy and Qatar.
The final chapter of the book is straightforward: “The war in Libya was started on the basis of false information and ends with a mystery: Who killed Qaddafi?” The authors suggest the French track and list various sources: First the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera,” which wrote: “In Western diplomatic circles in Libya the most widespread theory is that, if some secret services are involved, then it is certainly the French ... the fact that Paris wanted to eliminate the colonel was an open secret.” Former Libyan minister Mahmoud Jibril also claims: “It was a foreign agent who killed Qaddafi,” and Rami El-Obeidi, coordinator of the external information services of the National Transitional Council, tells the authors that “it was French agents who killed Qaddafi.”
We will never know the full truth, but one thing is now certain: Sarkozy’s “democratic war” was a huge and disastrous lie that harmed both Arab countries and Europe.
  • Max Ferrari is a journalist and politician. He is a former parliamentary journalist, a war correspondent in the former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, and director of a TV channel. He is an expert in geopolitics and energy policy. Twitter: @MaxFerrari
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