The Cooperation Between George Bush and the Libyan Dictator Against Al-Qaeda

Libya is a part of Sahara, the largest desert in the world. See the following Britanicca and Wikipedia maps.

Map Sahara (Britanicca)

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Map 2 Sahara (Wikipedia)

Map of Sahara Wikipedia.JPG

The overwhelming majority of the Libyan people live at the northern coasts, with Tripoli (west) and Benghazi (east) being the two urban centers.

Map 3 Tripoli and Benghazi

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Map 4 “List of cities in Libya”

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Libya is not divided to Sunni, Shia and Alawite Muslims, as it is the case with Syria and Iraq. Sunnis constitute the overwhelming majority of the Libyan population. The Arabs, who live at the Mediterranean coasts, also constitute the overwhelming majority of Libya. With brown on the following map you can see the Arab regions of Libya, with purple the ones with the Tuaregs, with Green the ones with the Tabu, and with gray the uninhabited ones. But as I already said most of the population lives at the Mediterranean coasts (Arabs).

Map 5 Demographic Map of Libya

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Libya never existed as “Libya” in history. During the last centuries she was mainly under Ottoman control, and from 1911 she was an Italian colony. In 1951 Libya became an independent state. There are various Arab tribes living in Libya. A basic separation can be made between the three main Libyan provinces i.e. Tripolitania, Cyrenaica and Fezzan. Tripolitania, with Tripoli as its center, and Cyrenaica, with Benghazi as its center, are the highly populated areas. Sahara desert seperates the three provinces, and it is one of the reasons the different tribes did not become homogeneous over time.

Map 6 Provinces of Libya

 Tripolitania Cyrenaica Fezzan.JPG

These three provinces were for the first time administratively united by the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, something which was not very appreciated by the local tribes that were not used to have any central authority. Tripolitania and Cyrenaica were mostly operating on the north-south axis and not on the west-east axis i.e. the emphasis was not on communicating with each other. Maybe the reason was that they were separated by 650 kilometers of desert, or maybe because they had many differences, or a combination.

The first Libyan oil fields were discovered in 1956, and the largest Libyan oil fields were discovered in 1959. See “National Oil Corporation : History”

Libya, with 48 billion barrels of oil reserves, is the richest African country in oil reserves, and the 10th richest in the world, with a population of only 6 million people. See Energy Information Administration.

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As you can see at the following maps from Al Jazeera and Wikipedia, Cyrenaica is the richest region of Libya in terms of oil.

Map 8 Libyan Oil Fields and Pipelines (Al Jazeera)

Map Libyan Pipelines.JPG

Map 9 Libyan Pipelines Wikipedia


The strong tribe of Cyrenaica has traditionally been the Senussi or Sanusi. See Wikipedia “Senussi”.

The Senussi fought the Italians during World War Two on the side of the British, and in exchange the British promised that in case of victory they would make sure that Cyrenaical wasn’t controlled by the Italians. The British kept their promises and in 1951 Libay became an independent state, with the leader of the Senussi tribe as her King (King Idris). King Idris considered Cyrenaica to be his homeland, and he was actually not very enthusiastic about governing Tripolitania and Fezzan too.

King Idris was a pro-Western king, and Muammar Qaddafi, a Soviet ally, used King Idris alignment with the West in order to attack him and eventually overturn him in 1969. Qaddafi overturn King Idris in 1969, ten years after the main Libyan oil fields were found. Qaddafi used socialist and Arab nationalism to homogenize the population of Libya, and he often used violence to achieve his goal. Qaddafi was from Syrtis (Tripolitania) and favored the Tripolitanians, and the people of Cyrenaica were frustrated by that. Remember that Cyrenaica is richer in oil than Tripolitania.

However Qaddafi rose to power in 1969, and he appointed approximately 70% of Libyans as civil servants, in order to keep them happy and calm. Qaddafi was lucky because the oil prices were high during the 70s, due to the embargo on the oil sales that was imposed on the United States by the Arab members of the international oil cartel (OPEC). The Arabs did that to retaliate for the US support to Israel during the Arab-Israeli War of 1973. I guess the high oil prices were for the Arabs very convenient too.

However during the 80s, when oil prices were lower, it became tougher for Qaddafi to keep the various Libyan tribes happy, especially the ones from Cyrenaica, who were very often oppressed by him.

Map 10 “Oil Prices Since 1861”

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 Oil Prices.JPG

The Arabs of the Persian Gulf took advantage of the frustration of the people of Cyrenaica, in order to promote Islamism and attack Qaddafi. Remember that Qaddafi and the Arabs of the Gulf were competitors in the European and African oil markets, and Qaddafi was a Soviet ally while the Arabs of the Gulf were American allies. Qaddafi was using socialists to attack the monarchs of the Gulf, and the Arabs of the Gulf were using Islamists to attack Qaddafi. Also remember that Qaddafi, who was an Arab, supported Iran during the Iran-Iraq War (1980-1988), while all other Arabs with the exception of Syria supported Iraq. For the reasons that Qaddafi supported Iran and not Iraq see “Libya and Syria : The 2 Arab Allies of Iran”.

As you can read at the following article from the Council of Foreign Relations, which is a center-left American think-tank, Muammar Qaddafi helped organize many assassinations, or assassination attempts, against pro-Western leaders in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Zaire, Tunisia. Moreover, as you can read at the same article, Qaddafi was running an academy for training socialist terrorists. Members of the most famous socialist terrorist organizations were trained in Qaddafi’s academy i.e. members of IRA (Ireland), the Red Brigades (Italy), ETA (Spain), PLO (Palestine). Qaddafi had also supported the overturn of pro-Western leaders, for example the overturn of the Shah of Iran, who was a very strong US ally, and who was overturn by the Islamists in 1979. For the terrorist academies of Qaddafi see “The Rebellion of the Tuareg Desert Warriors in 2012”.

Even though Qaddafi was a very enthusiastic supporter of terrorism, he never supported Al Qaeda, and he was the first one to issue an international warrant against Osama bin Laden. The reason was that in the same way Qaddafi was using socialists to attack the Arabs of the Gulf, the Arabs of the Gulf were using Islamists to attack Qaddafi during the 42 years of his dictatorship. Many Libyan Islamists who were on the run ended up in Afghanistan in the 80s, where they fought against the Soviets during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. Some of these fighters later became Al-Qaeda members after the Soviets left from Afghanistan, and the ones from Libya were in 2011 among the protagonists when the Arab Spring broke out in Libya. It was no surprise that the Arab Spring in Libya started from Cyrenaica. For the article of Council of Foreign Relations see “How Libya Got Off the List”, October 2007.

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On May 15, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced that the United States was removing Libya from its list of state sponsors of terrorism and would soon resume normal diplomatic relations with the one-time pariah. Rice said the move was in response to “historic decisions taken by Libya’s leadership in 2003 to renounce terrorism and to abandon its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.” Yet the resumption of diplomatic ties remains unsettling to some Americans. Though Libya has made a concerted effort to enter the good graces of the international community, leader Muammar el-Qaddafi has amassed a bad human-rights record since he took power in 1969.

In the early 1970s, Qaddafi established terrorist training camps on Libyan soil, provided terrorist groups with arms, and offered safe haven to terrorists, say U.S. officials. Among the groups aided by Qaddafi were the Irish Republican ArmySpain’s ETA, Italy’s Red Brigades, and Palestinian groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization. Libya was also suspected of attempting to assassinate the leaders of Chad, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Tunisia, and Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo).

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One group that Libya never supported was al-Qaeda. As Libya expert Lisa Anderson told’s Bernard Gwertzman, al-Qaeda regards Qaddafi as “no better than the Saudi government, no better than any of these other governments that they hate.” In fact, Qaddafi issued the first Interpol warrant for Osama bin Laden in 1998 for the killings of two German counterterrorism agents in Tripoli four years earlier.

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At the same time, Qaddafi increasingly moved to cut Libya’s ties to terrorism. Starting in 1999, Qaddafi expelled the Abu Nidal Organization, closed Libya’s terrorist training camps, cut ties to Palestinian militants, and extradited suspected terrorists to Egypt, Yemen, and Jordan. In the 2002 edition of the state sponsors of terrorism list, the State Department said Qaddafi had “repeatedly denounced terrorism.”

In August 2003, after protracted negotiations with UN, U.S., and UK representatives, Libya finally agreed to pay some $2.7 million in compensation to the victims of the Pan Am 103 bombing. Days later, Libya delivered a letter to the UN Security Council accepting responsibility for the attack.

I must also say that in 1990 the Libyan Islamists created the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group”, an Islamist organization that was cooperating with Al-Qaeda, and which carried out 3 assassination attempts against Qaddafi. As a result, when the United States started having problems with the Saudis, and Al-Qaeda started attacking the Americans, Qaddafi saw in the US a potential ally against the Islamists.

As you can read at the following article from the American think-tank Jamestown Foundation, after the Al-Qaeda attack at the Twin Towers in September 2001, Qaddafi started cooperating with George Bush against Al-Qaeda. At the same article you can read that CIA agents, and agents from the British Intelligence (MI6) met in London the head of the Libyan Intelligence, and he gave them files with the details of the members of the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group”. Fort the article see “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)”, May 2005.

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Colonel Muammar Qadhafi’s decades-long confrontation with the West has never given him much purchase among militant Islamists in Libya. In fact, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG – Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyyah al-Muqatilah fi-Libya) has waged a violent insurgency for ten years – with a hostility toward the eccentric dictator so implacable that it refuses even to negotiate with his envoys. Ironically, this internal challenge has led Qadhafi to abandon his quixotic defiance of the United States and join the Bush administration’s war on terror, while the prospect of a LIFG takeover in Libya has facilitated American and European forgiveness of past transgressions.

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So long as oil revenues remained plentiful, however, clerical angst did not inspire broad-based challenges to Qadhafi’s rule. With the decline of oil prices in the 1980s, however, educated Libyans began to deeply resent the regime’s heterodox religious orientation, conspicuous corruption and economic mismanagement. Adding fuel to the fire, Saudi Arabia stepped up its support for radical Wahhabi militants in the 1980s, nine of whom (including three army officers), were executed by the regime in 1987. As in other Arab states, government repression at home led many militant Libyan Islamists (estimated to be at least 500) to join the mujahideen fighting Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Some returned to Libya in the early 1990s; others traveled to the Sudan, where Osama bin Laden had begun building what would become the al-Qaeda terrorist network, or took up residence in Britain.

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Qadhafi demanded that the Sudanese government expel Libyan operatives from his camps and began ejecting thousands of Sudanese workers from the country. Under pressure from his hosts, bin Laden reluctantly informed his Libyan compatriots that they had to leave and gave them $2,400 each and plane tickets out of the country for their families. “Most of them, they refused the offer…they were very upset and angry,” a Moroccan member of al-Qaeda later recalled.

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Following 9/11, Qadhafi jumped at the opportunity to collaborate in the Bush administration’s war on radical Islamist terrorism. Just weeks after the attacks, a CIA team flew to London to meet face to face with the man believed to have planned the 1988 Lockerbie bombing – Musa Kusa, the head of Libyan intelligence. Kusa provided the CIA (and also Britain’s M16 foreign intelligence service) with the names of LIFG operatives and other Libyan Islamists who trained in Afghanistan, as well as dossiers on LIFG leaders living in the UK. In light of the central role of Libyan Afghans in al-Qaeda, this was a major intelligence windfall for the Bush administration.

The American government, for its part, officially designated LIFG as a terrorist organization. Although LIFG does not have a presence in the United States, the Bush administration’s designation is not merely symbolic. For starters, it means that any state providing assistance to LIFG can potentially be designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the U.S. State Department. More importantly, it means that any member of LIFG living in undemocratic countries backed by the United States (e.g. Pakistan, Egypt) runs the risk of arrest and “rendition” back to Libya.

Qaddafi’s cooperation with the US and England was a great geopolitical change, given that in the past they have been bitter enemies. As you can read at the following Guardian article there it is possible that the British Intelligence had in the past helped the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in its attempts to assassinate Qaddafi. See “The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group – from al-Qaida to the Arab spring”, September 2011.

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British intelligence and security service interest in Libya has focused for 20 years on the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), whether it was opposing Muammar Gaddafi and working with al-Qaida, later renouncing its old jihadi worldview – or taking part in the armed uprising that has now overthrown the regime.

Founded in 1990 in eastern Libya and accused of attempting to kill Gaddafi three times – according to unconfirmed claims with help from MI6 – the LIFG was effectively defeated on its home turf by 1998. Its cadres fled first to Sudan and Afghanistan and Iraq where hundreds joined al-Qaida. It was officially disbanded in 2010.

According to Noman Benotman, a former LIFG commander who fought with Osama bin Laden, at its peak the group had 1,000 active members, training camps in Afghanistan and a network of supporters and fundraisers in Libya, the Middle East and Europe. Benotman now works as an analyst for the Quilliam Foundation, a UK government-funded counter-radicalisation thinktank in London.

Other top ex-LIFG figures remain in al-Qaida. Its chief of operations, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, a Libyan, was killed two weeks ago in a CIA drone strike. His likely successor, Abu Yahya al-Libi, is also Libyan.

Their cooperation against Al Qaeda was on of the reasons the Americans were initially reluctant to intervene in Libya after the Arab Spring broke out in 2011, even though in the end they followed the French.  See “The American General Wesley Clark and NATO’s Intervention in Libya”.

Wesley Clark, the American General, was probably right when he was saying that an intervention in Libya could make things even worse. Toady there are two separate governments in Libya, an Islamsit one in Tripoli, supported by Turkey and Qatar, and a socialist one in Tobruk (east), supported by Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Egypt.


“Revealed: how Blair colluded with Gaddafi regime in secret”, January 2015

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Tony Blair wrote to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi to thank him for the “excellent cooperation” between the two countries’ counter-terrorism agencies following a period during which the UK and Libya worked together to arrange for Libyan dissidents to be kidnapped and flown to Tripoli, along with their families.

The letter, written in 2007, followed a period in which the dictator’s intelligence officers were permitted to operate in the UK, approaching and intimidating Libyan refugees in an attempt to persuade them to work as informants for both countries’ agencies.

Addressed “Dear Mu’ammar” and signed “Best wishes yours ever, Tony”, the letter was among hundreds of pages of documents recovered from Libyan government offices following the 2011 revolution and pieced together by a team of London lawyers.

The lawyers are bringing damages claims on behalf of a dozen Gaddafi opponents who were targeted by the two countries’ agencies during the covert cooperation. The claimants were variously detained and allegedly mistreated in Saudi Arabia, rendered from Mali to Libya, or detained and subjected to control orders in the UK.

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Blair’s letter from Downing Street was written on 26 April 2007, to inform Gaddafi that the UK was about to fail in its attempts to deport two Libyans allegedly linked to an Islamist opposition organisation, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG). The following day the court of appeal handed down ajudgment in which it said LIFG associates could not be deported to Libya as they could be tortured, regardless of any assurances offered by Gaddafi. Lawyers representing the two men did not know at that time that the intelligence assessments of their clients were based in part on information extracted from victims of the UK-Libyan rendition operations.

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Blair’s letter was written following several years of rapprochement between the UK and Libya, a process that gathered pace after the al-Qaida attacks of 9/11.

The UK can point to a number of achievements that arose from the relationship, including Gaddafi’s decision in 2003 to abandon his attempts to develop weapons of mass destruction.

“Why is the Iran deal bad? Think North Korea”, July 2015

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Libya is the shining success story of negotiated disarmament — one of the very few. On Dec. 19, 2003, following nine months of secret talks with the United States and Britain, Moammar Kadafi agreed to give up his entire arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. The component parts were to be either destroyed or shipped abroad.

Only a few months later, American officials were able to display at Oak Ridge, Tenn., nuclear equipment taken from Libya. Tons of chemical weapons and weapons precursors were destroyed. Kadafi even turned over to the U.S. for “safekeeping” five Scud-C missiles as part of his pledge to get rid of any missiles with a range longer than 300 kilometers. Earlier, Kadafi had renounced terrorism and agreed to pay $2.7 billion in compensation to the families of victims of the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland.

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group

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However the organisation has a troubled history being under pressure from Muammar Gaddafi and shortly after the 9–11 attacks, LIFG was banned worldwide (as an affiliate of al-Qaeda) by the UN 1267 Committee.[4][6] Listed at the Foreign Terrorist Organizations,[7] the group has denied ever being affiliated with al-Qaeda, stating that it refused to join the global Islamic front Osama bin Laden declared against the west in 1998

“France, U.K. Have Differing Motives For Intervening In Libya”, March 2011.

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France and the United Kingdom have led the charge on the intervention in Libya. For a month, both pushed the international community toward an intervention, ultimately penning U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing the no-fly zone on March 17.

Paris’ and London’s interests in waging war on Libya are not the same, and Libya carries different weight with each. For the United Kingdom, Libya offers a promise of energy exploitation. It is not a country with whichLondon has a strong client-patron relationship at the moment, but one could develop if Moammar Gadhafi were removed from power. For France, Tripoli already is a significant energy exporter and arms customer. Paris’ interest in intervening is also about intra-European politics. Paris has been the most vociferous supporter of theLibya intervention. French President Nicolas Sarkozy made it his mission to gather an international coalition to wage war on Libya, and France has been at the vanguard of recognizing the legitimacy of the Benghazi-based rebels.

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The domestic political story is fairly straightforward. At the onset of the unrest in the Middle East, Paris stalled on recognizing the protesters as legitimate. In fact, then-French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie offered the Tunisian government official help in dealing with the protesters. Three days later, longtime Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was forced to flee the country

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The intervention in Libya therefore is a way to reassert to Europe, but particularly to Germany, that France still leads the Continent on foreign and military affairs. It is a message that says if Europe intends to be taken seriously as a global power, it will need French military power. France’s close coordination with the United Kingdom also is an attempt to further develop the military alliance between London and Paris formalized on Nov. 2, 2010, as a counter to Germany’s overwhelming economic and political power in the European Union.

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As for interests in Libya, France has plenty, but its situation could be improved. French energy major Total SA is involved in Libya but not to the same extent as Italian ENI or even German Wintershall. Considering Libya’s plentiful and largely unexplored energy reserves, French energy companies could stand to profit from helping rebels take power in Tripoli. But it is really military sales that Paris has benefited from thus far. Between 2004 — when the European Union lifted its arms embargo against Libya — and 2011, Tripoli has purchased approximately half a billion dollars worth of arms from France, more than from any other country in Europe. However, the Italian government was in negotiation for more than a billion dollars worth of more deals in 2010, and it seemed that the Rome-Tripoli relationship was overtaking Paris’ efforts in Libya prior to the intervention.

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London has another significant interest, namely, energy. British energy major BP has no production in Libya, although it agreed with Tripoli to drill onshore and offshore wells under a $1 billion deal signed in 2007. The negotiations on these concessions were drawn out but were finalized after the Scottish government decided to release convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset al-Megrahi on humanitarian grounds in August 2009. He was expected to die of prostate cancer within months of his release but presumably is still alive in Tripoli. The Labour government in power at the time came under heavy criticism for al-Megrahi’s release. British media speculated, not entirely unfairly, that the decision represented an effort to kick-start BP’s production in Libya and smooth relations between London and Tripoli. BP announced in 2009 that it planned to invest $20 billion in Libyan oil production over the next 20 years.

“Italy’s Berlusconi exposes NATO rifts over Libya”, July 2011.

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Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said on Thursday he was against NATO intervention in Libya but had to go along with it, an admission that exposed the fragility of the alliance trying to unseat Muammar Gaddafi.

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Potentially adding to the pressure on Italy to review its stance on Libya, a senior Libyan government spokesman said negotiations had begun with Russian and Chinese firms to take over the role of Italian energy firm ENI in oil and gas projects.

“Eni, RepsolExpatriates Evacuated from Libya”, July 2014.

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Oil giants Eni SpA and Repsol SA have evacuated expatriates from Libya following escalating violence atTripoli’s airport, Libyan oil officials said over the weekend.

The move by the country’s two largest foreign oil and gas investors, which comes after France’s Total SA also pulled out its foreign staff, comes as capital’s worst fighting in six months threatens Libya’s fragile oil recovery.

“Libya: Turkey’s troubles with Nato and no-fly zone”, March 2011

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It would be absurd, unthinkable, he said. It should not even be discussed. Two weeks later he repeated that view. Nato intervention would be useless, he said, and would have dangerous consequences.

But this week, Turkish policy towards Libya appears to have done a complete U-turn. Criticising the French government for taking the lead role in air attacks on Col Gaddafi’s forces, Turkey has insisted that command of the operation be handed over to Nato, and Nato alone. For this to happen, the agreement of Turkey – a Nato member since 1952 – is essential.

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So when the Arab uprisings began, Mr Erdogan was presented with a dilemma.

His political success in Turkey is partly due to his finely-tuned populist instincts. As a politician who has loudly stood up to Israel, he is something of a hero both among his largely Islamic constituency at home and among Arab populations elsewhere. So he wanted to do the popular thing by supporting the uprisings. But doing so put the profitable relationships his government had nurtured with the governments confronted by these uprisings at risk.

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It was also spurred on by seeing France take the lead. Relations between France and Turkey are badly strained over French objections to eventual Turkish membership of the European Union. There was outrage in Turkey over President Sarkozy’s first official visit last month, when he stayed only six hours. There was further outrage when Turkey was not invited to the summit meeting on Libya that Mr Sarkozy convened after the UN vote.

French air attacks on Libyan ground forces were denounced by the Turkish Foreign Minister as going beyond what the UN had authorised. So when France objected to Nato taking command, Turkey instinctively pushed the other way.

“Libya after Gaddafi”, July 2011,%20Libya%20after%20Gadhafi.pdf

“Libyan PM says Turkey supplyingweapons to rival Tripoli group”, February 2015

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Libya‘s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said his government would stop dealing with Turkey because it was sending weapons to a rival group in Tripoli so that “the Libyan people kill each other”.

Two administrations, one in the capital and Thinni’s in the east, have been battling for power since the armed group Libya Dawn seized Tripoli in July and reinstated lawmakers from a previous assembly, four years after Muammar Gaddafi was ousted.

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In the CBC interview, Thinni said Turkish firms would be excluded from contracts in territory controlled by his government, adding that any outstanding bills would be paid.

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Thinni also accused Qatar of giving “material” support to the rival side in the Libyan conflict. He did not elaborate.

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The Brotherhood has a presence in the rival parliament in Tripoli and western Libya.

“Libyan PM says Turkey supplying weapons to rival Tripoli group”, February 2015

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Libya‘s internationally recognized Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said his government would stop dealing with Turkey because it was sending weapons to a rival group in Tripoli so that “the Libyan people kill each other”.

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A spokesman for Turkey’s Foreign Ministry strongly denied Thinni’s allegations.

“Instead of repeating the same baseless and untrue allegations, we advise them to support U.N. efforts for political dialogue,” ministry spokesman Tanju Bilgic said.

“Our policy vis-a-vis Libya is very clear. We are against any external intervention in Libya and we fully support the ongoing political dialogue process under U.N. mediation.”

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In the CBC interview, Thinni said Turkish firms would be excluded from contracts in territory controlled by his government, adding that any outstanding bills would be paid.

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Thinni also accused Qatar of giving “material” support to the rival side in the Libyan conflict. He did not elaborate.

“Libyan PM accuses Qatar of sending planes with weapons to Tripoli”, September 2014

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Libyan Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni said on Sunday Qatar had sent three military planes loaded with weapons to a Tripoli airport controlled by an armed opposition group, accusing a second country of interfering in the lawless oil producer.

The government had already accused Sudan of having tried to arm an Islamist-leaning group which seized Tripoli last month, forcing senior officials and the elected parliament to relocate to the east, part of a growing state of anarchy.

“Pakistan releases ‘father’ of nuclear bomb from house arrest”, February 2009

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Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist accused of selling nuclear secrets, was today freed from five years of house arrest by a court and immediately declared that he can now “lead a normal life”.

Khan, lionised as the “father” of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya. He was immediately pardoned but detained in his home.

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Khan was detained in early 2004 after making a televised confession to nuclear proliferation, following intense international pressure on Pakistan. His nuclear trading network had been discovered by western intelligence agents.

A national hero in Pakistan for spearheading the country’s nuclear weapons programme, Khan subsequently retracted his confession.

He said that, aside from having to maintain guards around him, he had been freed with the “blessing” of the government, which had been “very helpful”.

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Pakistan has prevented foreign investigators from questioning Khan, insisting it has passed on all relevant information about nuclear proliferation. That bar is likely to remain.

“In U.S.-Libya Nuclear Deal, a Qaddafi Threat Faded Away”, March 2011

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The cache of nuclear technology that Libya turned over to the United States, Britain and international nuclear inspectors in early 2004 was large — far larger than American intelligence experts had expected. There were more than 4,000 centrifuges for producing enriched uranium. There were blueprints for how to build a nuclear bomb — missing some critical components but good enough to get the work started.

The whole package of goods came from a deal the Qaddafis struck with Abdul Qadeer Khan, one of the architects of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, who built the world’s largest black-market network in nuclear technology. The $100 million to $200 million that the Central Intelligence Agency later estimated that Libya spent on the nuclear project has never been recovered. For their part, the Libyans could never get the system working; many of the large centrifuges were still in their wooden packing crates when they were turned over.

“Turkey’s Secret Proxy War in Libya”?

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The Libyan Civil War, which began after Qaddaffi’s fall, is often describedas a proxy war, with Egypt and the United Arab Emirates reportedly backing al-Thinni and the officially recognized government in Tobruk, and Qatar and Turkey reportedly backing the Islamists and other opposition factions. Turkey has made no secret about backing the country’s Islamists after Qaddaffi’s fall in 2011, and it openlyliaises with the self-declared Islamist government in Tripoli. Yet Turkey’s Libyan envoy complains that these latest allegations are a “dangerous smear campaign.”

Saudis Detail Alleged Libyan Murder Plot”, March 2005

Saudi Arabia has concluded that a Libyan plot to assassinate the kingdom’s de facto ruler in late 2003 was cloaked to look like an al Qaeda-inspired domestic revolt and was broken up only days before it was to have been carried out, according to Saudi officials and documents that detail the investigation.

“US to renew full ties with Libya”, May 2006

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The US is to renew full diplomatic relations with Libya after deciding to remove it from its list of countries that support terrorism.

The US has not had normal relations with Libya since 1980, and blamed it for the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

It lifted many economic sanctions and restored some ties in 2004 after Libya renounced weapons of mass destruction.

The US secretary of state said Libya had since shown a “continued commitment to its renunciation of terrorism”.

Announcing the move to renew diplomatic ties, Condoleezza Rice praised Libya for its “excellent co-operation” in the US-led war on terror.

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The announcement comes more than 25 years after diplomatic relations were severed following the 1979 sacking of the US embassy in Tripoli by protesters.

The US carried out air attacks on Libya in 1981 and 1986 and Tripoli was held responsible for the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people.

In 2003 Libya accepted legal responsibility for the attack and has since paid compensation to relatives of the victims.

It is also reported to have helped Western intelligence agencies with information about the Pakistan underground nuclear network.

In September 2004 President Bush ordered the end of many economic sanctions against Libya and allowed air flights between the two countries.

“Libya indignant over Saudi rebuke”, December 2004

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Relations between the two states have a history of tension ever since Colonel Muammar Gaddafi overthrew the Libyan monarchy in 1969 and declared himself a revolutionary leader committed to fighting conservative Arab regimes – with Saudi Arabia at the top of the list – says the BBC’s Arab affairs analyst Magdi Abdelhadi.

Ties improved during the 1980s but nosedived again during the run-up to the Iraq war, he says.

Then, in a summit spat broadcast live on Arab satellite television, Colonel Gaddafi publicly accused the Saudis of betraying their Arab brethren and of being subservient to the Americans. Crown Prince Abdullah reacted angrily, calling him a liar.

“Libya compensates terror victims”, October 2008

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Libya has paid $1.5bn into a US compensation fund for relatives of victims of terror attacks blamed on Tripoli, the US state department says.

“Italy’s Bad Romance: How Berlusconi Went Gaga for Gaddafi”, February 2011

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The longest underwater pipeline in the Mediterranean runs from the coast of Libya to the Italian island of Sicily. Inaugurated in 2004 by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the 323 miles (520 km) pipeline and its northward flow of gas might as well be a symbol of the relationship between the two countries.

Of all the mutual back-scratching among Europe’s rich democracies and North Africa’s strongmen, Italy’s dependency on Gaddafi stands apart. Libya is Italy’s largest supplier of oil, providing for roughly a third of the country’s energy consumption. The dictator’s government owns a substantial share of the Milan stock market, including 7.5% of Unicredit, Italy’s largest bank; 2% of the Italian oil company ENI; 2% of the country’s second largest industrial group, Finmeccanica; and 7% of the Turin-based Juventus soccer club. Libya also provides a critical market for its northern neighbor’s struggling construction firms. And, since 2008, when Italy agreed to invest $5 billion in Libya, Gaddafi has kept a tight grip on the attempts by his citizens and other African migrants to take ships northward on the Mediterranean.

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The two countries — which are geographically close and connected by a history of colonialism, with complementary economies — have long had tight ties. But under Berlusconi, the relationship reached new levels of chumminess. Whenever Gaddafi visited Italy, he was paraded as a guest of honor. In 2009 he was given a seat at the table during the G-8 summit in Italy. At one point, Berlusconi was even filmed kissing the dictator’s hand.

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Today the Italian approach seems to have backfired. Libya risks sliding into civil war and anarchy. Hundreds of Libyans have lost their lives. Italian citizens are being evacuated. Europe is bracing itself for a new round of immigration. And investors have been racing to sell off shares of companies like ENI, which are strongly invested in Gaddafi’s Libya.,8599,2053363,00.html


4 thoughts on “The Cooperation Between George Bush and the Libyan Dictator Against Al-Qaeda”

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