The curse of the colonel comes back to haunt the man who wrecked his country and had him killed
By Abdel Bari Atwan rai alyoum
Millions of Libyans, and many more Arabs and Muslims, will have felt pleased by the news that former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was held for questioning, and later released on bail, on charges that he received more than 50 million euros from former Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi to fund his successful 2007 election campaign. None more so than the direct victims of the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that wrecked Libya, turned it into a failed state and led to the deaths of tens of thousands of its inhabitants and the flight of millions more to live in misery in neighbouring countries. This does mean that those remaining in their homeland are better off: in most cases, their conditions are even worse.
Sarkozy’s French interrogators have confirmed that they have serious evidence of criminal activity by him on several counts, including corruption, money-laundering and violating French election campaign financing laws.
It is ironic that Qadhafi helped Sarkozy get into the Elysee Palace and is now the cause of his undoing and detention, after years of scandal-filled investigations.
Sarkozy thought that by unleashing NATO airstrikes on Libya and getting Qadhafi captured and summarily killed, in the ugly and bloody manner he was, he could bury the Libyan leader’s secrets along with his body in an unknown location in the Libyan desert. He did not know that the ‘Curse of the Colonel’ would come back to haunt him, destroy his political and personal future, and consign him to a well-deserved place in the dustbin of history.
The millions of Libyans who now long for Qadhafi’s days — having seen what his successors have wrought on the country — have French-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine to thank. He revealed that he had delivered three briefcases stuffed with 200 and 500 euro notes to Sarkozy’s chief of staff when he was minister of the interior and met him in person at the ministry, and supported that with an affidavit from former Libyan foreign intelligence chief Mousa Kousa that Qadhafi’s regime had provided 50 million euros in cash to Sarkozy’s campaign.
In March 2001, after Sarkozy’s role in engineering the NATO intervention became apparent, Qadhafi himself spoke of this in a speech: “I helped Sarkozy reach power. I gave him money so he could become president… He came here and visited my tent when he was minister of the interior and asked for help.” His son Saif-al-Islam, for his part, said in a television interview that “the clown” Sarkozy should “give back the money he took from Libya to fund his election campaign.”
Sarkozy stands a good chance of being convicted. Unlike Qadhafi, most of the witnesses are still alive and can be summoned to testify or visited by prosecutors to give witness statements. These include Saif al-Islam and former security chief Abdallah as-Sanousi (in Libya), Mousa Kousa (in Qatar), and the former head of Qadhafi’s office Bashir Saleh (currently in South Africa).
It is ironic that Sarkozy should have claimed to investigators – according to the daily Le Figaro – that he was the victim of a campaign which Qadhafi began against him and which was continued by his henchmen, costing him the 2012 election, and denied all accusations.
Sarkozy may have lost his bid for re-election, but thanks to his scheming the Libyan people lost their country, their security and their normal lives, which have been turned into hell for millions both inside and outside the country.
These Libyans are entitled to relish Sarkozy’s come-uppance and want to see him thrown behind bars, at the very least. He bears primary responsibility for the death and destruction wreaked on Libya, which nobody could have imagined and which – even more seriously – is continuing to this day and perhaps for years to come.
It is the curse of the good-natured Libyan people who were subjected to the biggest fraud in their history when they believed that NATO and its warplanes would bring them freedom and social justice and establish a model of security, stability and prosperity for a brighter future. This curse has struck Sarkozy but it will also chase others who were complicit in that disastrous conspiracy, including Libyan figures and Arab leaders who know well who they are.
Revenge will not bring Qadhafi back to life, nor the 35,000 victims of NATO’s bombing and the militias it brought to power, who have spread death and destruction throughout the country and looted it of more than $360 billion dollars which Qadhafi left behind as state assets. But it does provide a kind of divine justice, which is the least that can be hoped for.