Sunday, March 6, 2011

How Saif al-Islam Seduced the Greedy West

This week the BBC's Hugh Miles examines Saif al-Islam Qaddafi's shallow post 2003 performance as a reformer in front of greedy Western politicians and business leaders. Miles focuses attention on Saif al-Islam's personal project called the Libyan Investment Authority, a multi-billion-pound Libyan sovereign wealth fund with lucrative ties to the Financial Times and numerous American Banks. Of course it was always evident that none of the money from this fund ever reached the Libyan people, two thirds of whom live in abject poverty. Even some of the clan's closest acquaintances admit that without the country's vast oil reserves this charlatan would have not have been embraced by the neoliberal hegemons.

And those elites who refuse to admit their greed merely show their stupidity by saying that they actually believed Saif al-Islam was acting on behalf of Libyans. It also illustrates how far out of touch they are with ordinary people throughout the world (including their own). What they failed to understand is that for this brutal family Libya = the Qaddafis, plain and simple.

The radio documentary opens with Saif al-Islam giving a speech to a privileged London audience, joking that "in theory Libya is the most democratic state in the world". The audiences giggles, then guffaws and starts applauding. Suddenly words fail me.

Listen Here / The Report: Backing Gaddafi

BBC World Service
4 March 2011
29 minutes

The recent uprisings in Libya came after four decades of dictatorship under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

The regime had pariah status until the Libyan leader's son, Saif al Islam, managed to persuade outsiders that Gaddafi was committed to reform. But in the face of opposition protests, both Saif and his father refused to relinquish their power and wealth.

In recent years, Saif played a crucial role in wooing big business, former dissidents, academics and Western governments.

Hugh Miles talks to some of those charmed into assisting the regime and to former members of Saif al Islam's circle who saw much of Libya's wealth squandered on buying influence.

Hugh Miles is an award winning writer and broadcaster. He is the author of Al Jazeera - How Arab TV News Challenged the World.

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