Tag Archives: Qaddafi

BENGHAZI – Part 4 – The Libyan Civil War to remove Qaddafi

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment it is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the fourth in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

From the beginning of April 2011, NATO targeted sites associated with residences or other potential locations where Qaddafi and members of his inner circle may be found around Tripoli. Pro-Qaddafi officials immediately charged NATO with attempting to kill Qaddafi. Soon thereafter, Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Arab and three of his grandchildren were killed in NATO air strikes. This prompted a diplomatic effort from an African Union delegation to travel to Tripoli to attempt to negotiate a cease-fire plan. Shortly thereafter, the African Union announced that Qaddafi had accepted their plan. However, pro-Qaddafi forces continued attacking the rebels, causing the rebel leaders to reject the African Union plan—and not only because they were still being attacked, but also because their plan did not call for Qaddafi’s departure from Libya.

Despite the NATO attacks on pro-Qaddafi forces, the poorly armed and disorganized Libyan rebels were unable to remove Qaddafi. So, on April 19, the conflict still a stalemate, the United Kingdom announced that it would send a team of military liaison officers to advise the rebel leaders on military strategy, organization, and logistics. They were joined the next day by the French and Italian advisers. All three countries specified that their officers would not participate in fighting. However, NATO forces were already fighting alongside the rebels. This prompted an immediate protest from the Libyan foreign minister. Yet, the British Foreign Secretary claimed that the deployment of advisers was within the provisions of UN Security Resolution 1973, despite its language specifically forbidding a foreign occupation in Libya.

On May 11, the Polish Foreign Minister traveled to Benghazi to show his country’s support for the future of the National Transitional Council. The next day, the British Foreign Secretary recognized Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the leader of the rebel National Transitional Council and a former judge who had constantly opposed Qaddafi, as the “legitimate representative of the Libyan people.” That same day, British Prime Minister David Cameron invited the rebels to establish a permanent office in London.

On May 24, representatives of the National Transitional Council were invited to the White House to discuss the future of Libya with President Obama’s National Security Advisor, as well as open a representative office in the United States. It is of future importance to note that within the National Transitional Council were members of the Muslim Brotherhood of Libya, an organization that Qaddafi had restricted from becoming formally organized in Libya, unlike their counterparts in Egypt and Tunisia.

Next, Russia officially recognized the National Transitional Council as a legitimate negotiator on the future of Libya. On May 27, French President Sarkozy announced plans to visit with the National Transitional Council in Benghazi.

On June 1, NATO, the Gulf Cooperation Council (Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates) , and Sweden agreed to extend the military campaign for an additional 90 days from the end of June in an effort to protect civilians from pro-Qaddafi forces. On June 9, a conference was held between participating Western and Arab nations. They offered over $1.3 billion in aid to the rebel forces for a post-Qaddafi Libya. At that same conference, both Australia and the United States formally recognized the rebel government as the legitimate representative of the Libyan people.

On June 16, another of Qaddafi ‘s sons, Saif al-Islam, announced his father was willing to hold free elections within three months, as well as draft a new constitution. The rebels demanded Qaddafi ‘s resignation. The son claimed his father was willing to give up power through a free election, but wished to live out his life and die in Libya. However, when the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Qaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and the Libyan intelligence chief, Abdullah Senussi, for ordering attacks against civilians rebel leaders believed this would prevent negotiations for Qaddafi to leave Libya in a bloodless coup. .

In June, the rebels, assisted by NATO attacks, were finally able to achieve some success as they advanced in the eastern and western regions of Libya. This left Qaddafi’s regime isolated internationally, yet still holding power in Tripoli.

On June 29, the French air-dropped a considerable cache of weapons, munitions, and food to aid Berber tribal fighters in the Jebel Nafusa region. Naturally, the French claimed the air-drop did not violate the arms embargo because the weapons were necessary for civilian protection. However, the air drop was met with disapproval by Russia and the African Union. Both expressed concerns these weapons would end up in the hands of al-Qaeda or another terrorist group, leading to further destabilization in the region. The next day, the British supplied 5,000 sets of body armor, 6,650 police uniforms, and 5,000 high-visibility vests to police loyal to the Transitional National Council. The equipment would allow police to perform their duties more securely and enable them to better protect Transitional National Council representatives and the refugee communities in rebel-controlled areas.

On July 3, the Turkish government officially recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate representative body. They also promised to provide $200 million in aid. This was in addition to the $100 million already provided to the rebels.

On July 4, Iran dispatched its third round of humanitarian aid to Libyan refugees living in Raas al-Jadir on the Libyan-Tunisia border. Two days later, Russia also delivered supplies to the rebels. On the same day, the UN World Food Program (WFP) established a regular sea route to deliver relief supplies and aid workers to Misrata from Benghazi. Over the previous four months, the WFP had distributed over 6,000 tons of food to at least 543,000 civilians attempting to flee the civil war.

On July 11, rebel commander General Abdel Fattah Yournes was assassinated by his own supporters. He was killed because his long-time association with Qaddafi created mistrust.

At the beginning of August, rebel forces advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli, taking control of strategic areas, including the city of Zāwiyah, the site of one of Libya’s largest oil refineries.

Then on August 21, the rebels overran a military facility also on the outskirts of Tripoli that had been run by the government’s elite Khamis Brigade. That brigade was commanded by one of Moammar Qaddafi ‘s sons, but rebels did not announce they had captured him. On the same day, rebel fighters moved into Tripoli’s central Green Square after breaching pro-Qaddafi defenses. In the fighting that ensued, rebel forces announced they had captured another of Qaddafi ‘s sons, the wanted Saif al-Islam, and Libya’s intelligence chief.

Following the rebel push into Tripoli, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and US President Barack Obama made statements indicating that Qaddafi’s regime was over. Qaddafi vowed to stay in power until the bitter end as rebel forces surrounded his compound in Tripoli. Qaddafi slipped into hiding, only occasionally issuing defiant messages. Rebels raised Libya’s pre-Qaddafi flag over the compound as jubilant crowds destroyed symbols of Qaddafi. Then, while conducting an interview on Al Jazeera, Qaddafi ‘s eldest son, Mohammad, was captured.

By early September, rebel forces solidified their control of Tripoli. Then the Transitional National Council transferred its operations there. Rebel forces focused their attention on the few remaining cities under loyalist control. However, before moving on these cities, they attempted to negotiate with commanders still loyal to Qaddafi to surrender peacefully and avoid a bloody ground assault. These attempts failed, so rebel troops began to push into the remaining cities.

On September 15, the Transitional National Council achieved new international legitimacy when the UN General Assembly voted to recognize it as the official representative of Libya.

On September 21, the Secretary General of NATO announced the extension of Operation Unified Protector, the mission to protect civilians in Libya, by another 90 days. This meant that NATO forces would continue their missions to enforce the embargo, enforce a No-Fly Zone, and continue with the protection of the civilian population. In a press briefing the next day, Lieutenant General Bouchard, Commander for Operation Unified Protector, announced NATO was pleased to report there were only three isolated areas where regime forces continued to fight.

On October 20, Qaddafi was discovered and killed by rebel fighters in his hometown of Surt. Qaddafi got his wish—he died in Libya.

How would the results of the civil war impact Libya’s future?

When the fighting was over, organizing a new government under the supervision of the National Transitional Council proved to be more difficult than toppling Qaddafi. Quickly, three main political powers emerged, including the Justice and Construction Party, the political branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Amin Belhajj, the head of the Justice and Construction Party, wanted to quickly rebuild the Muslim Brotherhood party along the lines of neighboring Egypt and Tunisia. They had finally prevailed to have a voice following years of repression at the hands of Muammar al-Qaddafi.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Libya had been formed in 1949. But the growth of their organizational structure was squashed with the coup of Colonel Qaddafi. Thereafter, the Brotherhood was never allowed to operate openly. Many fled to the United States, where they reorganized under the new name “Islamic Group – Libya.”  They made one last attempt to reorganize in 1982, when students returning from the United States pushed their political position, but Qaddafi either executed or imprisoned the organizers.

During the reorganized Libya’s first election, Khaled al-Mishri, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood,  was elected as the chairman of the High Council of State. The Western World hoped the elections would unify the divide between eastern and western Libya. Not everyone was pleased with the first election in forty years, in Benghazi, where the initial uprising began, armed protesters stormed several of the poling centers claiming the process method was flawed. After stealing away with ballot boxes and voter rolls in several places, the local gunmen took control of the eastern Libyan crude oil exporting terminals.

So now let’s look back at Benghazi Part 2 – The Gold. The World Prime European bankers and European leaders got what they wanted; using the Arab Spring Movement, they prevented Qaddafi from implementing his gold-backed currency for Libya and parts of Africa. Not only did they stop the issuance of the gold-backed currency, but some of the country’s central bank gold disappeared from official records. What happened to it? Since World War II, gold placed under the control of European banks and their controlled warehouses has magically disappeared. If you think this is an overstatement, just ask individuals and other entities who had claims against Ferdinand Marcos’ estate.

Moreover, what happened to Qaddafi’s assets? Supposedly, they are frozen around the world so his family cannot abscond with them. The question is, who will?

 

BENGHAZI – Part 3 – NATO Responds to the UN Resolution 1973

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment it is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the third in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

My last blog referred to the gold and assets that Qaddafi owned and the world’s concerns of him creating a gold-backed currency. How did the world get to UN Resolution 1973? Let me explain.

On February 21, 2011, Libyan’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN, Ibrahim Dabbashi, went before the council and requested a no-fly zone to keep supplies and mercenaries from joining Qaddafi regime’s military fighting and killing Libyan citizens. Remember, Qaddafi had fought his own citizens for years—killing anyone or any group he remotely believed could attempt to overthrow him.

Then two days later, French President Sarkozy went to the European Union, expressing his concerns regarding Qaddafi, and stating they must stop the attacks on his citizens, which got sanctions passed to freeze Qaddafi’s assets abroad.

On February 26, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution 1970, which referred the current Libyan government to the International Criminal Court for gross human rights violations. The UN also called for an arms embargo. Remember this fact. Then they agreed to freeze Qaddafi’s—and several other government officials’—assets outside of Libya.

On the last day of February, British Prime Minister David Cameron also proposed a no-fly zone so Qaddafi could not use the Libyan Air Force against his own citizens.

Surprisingly, without any explanation to the press from either the President or the Secretary of State, on March 1, the United State Senate unanimously passed a non-binding resolution urging the UN Security Council to impose a Libyan no-fly zone. Plus, they called for Qaddafi to step down as leader of the country. At the time, the U.S. had naval assets sitting near the Libyan coast, including the USS Enterprise.  Canada joined the stakes the next day. Oh, by the way, they, too, coincidentally already had naval assets near Libya. They upped the threat, saying NATO was looking at this as well. To set this straight, NATO’s charter was established to defend NATO countries from aggressors, more particularly,  the Soviet Union, now Russia. Was Libya threatening the citizens within any NATO country? This seemed like a stretch.

The next week, this worldwide movement against the pariah of the earth, Qaddafi, increased, beginning with NATO announcing twenty-four-hour a day AWACS flights. Britain and France increased their refining of the no-fly zone resolution to be brought before the UN Security Council. To keep the momentum going, the Gulf Cooperation Council, the Arab equivalent to the European Union, of which, coincidentally enough, Libya was not a member, called for the establishment of a no-fly zone to protect Libyan citizens.

The Libyan National Transition Council, based in Benghazi, pleaded for the international community to impose the no-fly zone immediately, fearful that if Qaddafi’s forces reached Benghazi, they would kill “a half-million people.” For the record, the last available (2006) census of Benghazi placed its population at 670,797. According to Wikipedia, which is not a reliable reference but the only one with figures, the city’s population was 631,555 in 2011, while the greater metropolitan area held a population of 1,110,000. So, the National Transition Council believed that half of the population would be killed off? Seems like a stretch to me.

Then, on March 10, after a meeting with Sarkozy, France recognized the Libyan National Transition Council as the legitimate government.

The big development came on March 14, just before the G8 meeting in Paris. Sarkozy and the French Foreign Minister met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to push her to lead the U.S.’s intervention in Libya.

After you have read about how the elites and diplomats brought drama to this bad situation, here are some of the facts, which may not be a complete list of the actual on-the-ground situation.

Let’s look back at the beginning.

On February 16, 2011, Libyan anti-government protestors, inspired by uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (you will remember the Arab Spring Movement), clashed with police. These protests continued for five days, spreading from Tripoli to Benghazi, which resulted in the deaths of a least five hundred Libyan citizens, while hundreds—perhaps as many as a thousand—were injured. By February 23, the eastern cities, including Benghazi, had fallen to the control of the “Arab Spring Movement”—or the rebels—or what was now pegged as the “good guys.” As violence continued throughout the country, it was estimated that more than 100,000 citizens had fled to surrounding countries.

Two weeks after the beginning of the uprising, it was estimated six thousand citizens had died, both pro-Qaddafi and anti-Qaddafi. Qaddafi loyalists had lost control of much of the country, except Tripoli. By the time the UN Security Council brought Resolution 1973 to a vote, the resolution stated: “Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute “crimes against humanity”, the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace — a no-fly zone — and tightened sanctions on the Qaddafi regime and its supporters.” civil unrest had tumbled the entire country into turmoil. Just before the UN no-fly zone was to go into effect, the Libyan government called for negotiations with the opposition—but Qaddafi’s forces attacked rebels in the city of Misrata, which unraveled any glimpse of hope Qaddafi had of his government withstanding what was about to be unleashed.

The first forces to intervene in Libya were the French on March 19, just two days after the resolution. Then on March 24, the French government agreed to let NATO take over all military operations, no later than March 29. NATO was empowered with enforcing the no-fly zone and the arms embargo (not to the rebels, of course, but only for the loyalists of Qaddafi). Only Turkey wanted to veto the forthcoming air strikes, but it never came to an official vote. The NATO operation began with the defense of Benghazi, the new capital of the Libyan Coalition Government.

On March 27, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was provided an intelligence briefing by one of her intelligence gatherers that the NATO-backed rebels were also committing war crimes. So, both Qaddafi fighters and the rebels were committing war crimes against one another. Additionally, it was reported from other sources that the rebels suddenly had a large number of AK-47s, which they had not had just days earlier. So, despite the arms embargo, the rebels were provided weapons.

On March 28, the day before NATO was to take over operations, President Obama addressed the American people on the Libyan situation. . He explained why it was the responsible thing to stop “violence on a horrific scale,” keeping Qaddafi from slaughtering thousands of Libyans, acting with a mandate from the UN, and being a part of a coalition force. Obama discussed that intervention was important to the peaceful transition of power in both Egypt and Tunisia, due to Libyan refugees pouring into those countries. It is important remember, as mentioned above, these two countries overthrew their dictators as a part of the Arab Spring Movement. President Obama claimed it was the right, albeit belated, decision to join with allies.

Was President Obama too slow to explain that decision or his long-term strategy to Congress and the American people?

 

 

 

BENGHAZI – Part 2 – The Gold – The Lead up to September 11, 2012

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment what I am about to tell you is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a totally different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the second in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

I assume when Qaddafi led a “bloodless military coup” and deposed of Libyan King Idris, he took possession of all of the assets of the Libyan King still in the country. I can find no reference to this assumption, although a small amount was returned to the country’s coffers. King Idris’s estate would have been small in comparison to other royal estates.

Nevertheless, it provided a good building block for Qaddafi. By 2011, it was rumored that Qaddafi had between 100 and 200 million US dollars hidden away in various corporate investments, as well as in front companies and bank accounts not associated with his name. It is my opinion the lower figure was more accurate. Plus, I assume a portion of his wealth was in physical gold. Additionally, his net worth was reported at $200 billion dollars, which included his personal and corporate ownership in crude oil field assets in Libya.

Within the decade that Qaddafi took over the Libyan oil and gas industry, political unrest resulted in  a significant increase in crude oil prices. Libya became the richest country in Northern Africa.  Despite the growth of a middle class, there was not a “trickle down” to the general population in proportion to the crude oil income.

The crude oil reserves in the country were the best in Africa and attracted the interests of many European countries in close proximity, including but not limited to Italy, Germany, Spain, and France. Additionally, Libya purchased goods from many of those same countries, including Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, and France.

As I had written in the first blog, Qaddafi had withdrawn from the terrorist business after September 11, 2001. Thus, he became “more acceptable” to the Western World, particularly with the countries with which they were doing business. Naturally, business was conducted in Euros, British Pound Sterling, Italian Lira, German francs and French francs, while crude oil was purchased in U.S. dollars.

As mentioned in the first blog, by 2011, Libya officially claimed to have 4.6 million troy ounces—or 146 metric tons—of gold associated with their central bank. The value of this gold had grown to approximately $8 billion dollars USD.

Qaddafi still had dreams of becoming the egotistical name he’d given himself—the “King of Kings”—which had little meaning for the most part. That is, until his plan was revealed that could make him the power broker for most of Africa. Again, most in the Western World paid little attention until Qaddafi decided to create a gold-backed Dinar, which could potentially become a currency used throughout Africa. It should be noted that Qaddafi believed he had a sufficient quantity of gold in the Libyan central bank to initiate his plan.

Suddenly, Qaddafi was a problem to the World. The official story, sold to the public via meetings at the United Nations, was that he was mistreating his own Libyan citizens. Now, as I stated earlier, Qaddafi was not a “prince,” but there had been no major change in the way he treated his people over the past decade or more. The “Arab Spring” movement—the last of several uprisings he’d put down—caused a segment of his own population to threaten to rise up against his reign. In the past, he had put down several uprisings, but the Western World paid little attention, while obviously hoping someone would take him down.

But this time was different to the Western World. Nicholas Sarkozy, then President of France,  was under extreme pressure from French banks to step in. If I had a guess, the British, Italian and German leaders were also receiving pressure from their bankers. But it was the French whom had the most to lose, as the French franc was one of the largest exchange currencies throughout most of Africa, and replacing it with the Libyan gold-backed dinar would have a huge ripple effect throughout the African continent. Those four European countries, as well as the World Prime banks in Europe, could not have that gold-backed currency go into circulation. Why, you ask? A gold-backed currency would cause non-gold-backed currencies to drop in value.

As a result of frantic meetings at the United Nations Security Council on March 17, 2011, there was a vote on Resolution 1973, with ten countries for it and five countries abstaining. Surprising to me, Germany was one of the abstention countries. Here is a portion of the quote of this resolution:

“Demanding an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute ‘crimes against humanity,’ the Security Council this evening imposed a ban on all flights in the country’s airspace—a no-fly zone—and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and its supporters.

“The Council authorized Member States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory—requesting them to immediately inform the Secretary-General of such measures.” Quotation taken directly from the United Nations text of Resolution 1973

However, in then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails, there was an e-mail that painted a different picture than the diplomatically crafted U.N. Resolution 1973, which came from none other than President Sarkozy, with the subject line “France’s client and Qaddafi’s gold”:

“…leading the attack on Libya with five specific purposes in mind: to obtain Libyan oil, ensure French influence in the region, increase Sarkozy’s reputation domestically, assert French military power, and to prevent Gaddafi’s influence in what is considered ‘Francophone Africa’.” Quotation from one of 3000 new Hillary Clinton emails released by the State Department – source – website http://thefreethoughtproject.com

As the Arab Spring movement went from talk to action, Qaddafi turned his army and mercenaries loose on the small group of poorly armed and organized rebels, which was composed of military deserters and ill-trained militiamen. They called their ill-fated movement the National Transitional Council (NTC). Qaddafi quipped these rebels were “17-year-olds, given pills at night, hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe.” Quotation of Qaddafi taken from website www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-12699033

Clearly, Mrs. Clinton bought into Resolution 1973. It can only be assumed that she also had undocumented conversations with bankers from the World Prime European banks. After the U.N. Resolution 1973 was enacted, there was no problem with President Obama getting on board, which is where he coined the famous phrase “Leading from Behind.” In my opinion, he wasn’t completely on-board with this action, but with Mrs. Clinton and the other European leaders egging him on, the United States joined the process.

Therefore, one can conclude that Resolution 1973 was carried out by world leaders, diplomats and elites to initiate a false narrative regarding Qaddafi, and start in motion a process not necessary for the protection of the Libyan population, but instead to stop Qaddafi from issuing a gold-backed African currency that would compete with the Western central banking monopoly.

Was there a precedence of stopping a gold-backed currency from going into effect by a third world country? Yes. Read up on Indonesian President Soekarno was planning to start an independent “third world bank” with a gold-backed currency in 1965. Shortly after he started this push, he was removed from office and a man the West could control, Suharto, was put in charge of the country.

In my next blog, I plan to write about what NATO did in Libya with respect to the United Nations Resolution 1973.

BENGHAZI – Part 1 Libyan Background – The Lead up to September 11, 2012

Suppose just for a moment that what I am about to tell you is what really happened. Suppose for a moment what I am about to tell you is the truth that diplomats and elites do not want you to know.

First off, it will help you to understand that the world exists at two different levels: the one the elites want us to see, hear about, and is written about by the press; the other, which exists only for elites, takes place in a totally different realm, where only the few live.

In order to understand what really happened at Benghazi, this is the first in a series of articles that will provide the background to what led up to the diplomatic disaster that cost the United States the lives of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Management Officer (IMO) Sean Smith, and CIA contractors and former Navy SEALS Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty.

In 1969, Muammar al-Qaddafi rose to power via a military coup. At NO POINT am I saying Qaddafi was a GOOD GUY, but I want to convey how he ran his country.

In the early part of his iron-fisted rule, Qaddafi was a known sponsor of terrorism against the Western World. There were many training camps for terrorists throughout the desert, an unpopulated part of the country. Most Libyans live along the Mediterranean coast between Tripoli and Al Bayda, and most of the population are Sunni Muslim.

Shortly after Qaddafi took over the government, he nationalized the oil and gas industry, but still allowed joint ventures with outside corporations. His government utilized their huge crude oil income to build and maintain a relatively strong economy. Moreover, he used that income to attempt to develop agriculture and industry to diversify his country’s economy. It didn’t always work when crude oil prices were low.  Still, Libya’s per capita income was among the highest on the African continent. His government established a welfare state, which provided medical care and education at minimal cost to the people. Libya imported goods predominately from Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and South Korea, while it exported petroleum to Italy, Germany, Spain, France, Tunisia, and Turkey. Libya has had a positive trade balance since the 1960s. Additionally, the country and Qaddafi accumulated a large amount of gold bullion, 4.6 million ounces worth more than $8 billion dollars, received as payment for both legal and illegal activities. Some came from when Qaddafi overthrew the King of Libya. I will deal with the gold in a later blog.

Their school system has a similar structure to the Western World through the ninth grade.  After ninth grade, a student, male and female, may choose between higher education or vocational training. About 80% of the adult population is literate, and the government sponsors an adult educational program to attempt to increase that number.

As the oil and gas industry grew, the population did as well, including an influx of foreign workers. By the end of the 20th century and into the 21st century, death rates had greatly declined while birth rates were very high. Therefore, Libya has a young population. Their infant mortality rate was not only the lowest on the African continent, but well below the world’s average.

Qaddafi allowed some of the most liberal women’s rights of any Arab country. Women were allowed to receive an education, drive and hold jobs. He passed a law requiring equal pay for equal work. Young women marriages were banned. In 2008, there Libya had their first female commercial pilot. Qaddafi even had several female bodyguards.

Despite all this, Qaddafi was your usual despot. He ran Libya as an authoritarian state, with power concentrated among members of his inner circle of relatives and security chiefs. However, there was still a large segment of the population, which reasonably good lifestyles, comparable to the Western World. That is, up until the year 2011, when the “civil war” began.

Qaddafi’s relationship with the outside world was quite different. Beginning in the 1980s, Qaddafi and Libya were one of the main sponsors of worldwide terrorism. Because of the high crude oil prices at the beginning of the 1980s, Qaddafi had deep pockets filled with cash and was willing to fund the torment of the Western World. In 1986, Qaddafi sponsored the bombing of the LaBelle Discotheque in West Berlin, in which three individuals were killed and two hundred twenty-nine were injured, including seventy-nine U.S. soldiers. Ten days later, U.S. coalition forces struck Libya with jets and Tomahawk missiles, including landing one in the Qaddafi compound.

In 1988, Qaddafi responded to the attack on Libya by carrying out his most brazen, notorious deed: sponsoring the taking down of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.  In all, 243 passengers, 16 crew members and 11 Lockerbie residents were killed. Following a joint investigation completed in 1991 by the British MI5, Scotland Yard and the FBI, it was determined that two Libyan intelligence agents were behind the Pan Am 103 bombing disaster. Stiff sanctions were placed against Libya. After several years of fighting with Qaddafi, in 1999 he agreed to turn over the two agents. They were tried in the Netherlands. One of the agents was convicted, while the other was acquitted. In 2003, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing. The next year, the U.S. government and Libya agreed to a payment of eight million dollars to each victim’s family. Three years after Pan Am went bankrupt, the international court awarded it thirty million dollars from the Libyan government for its lawsuit over the Lockerbie incident.

Following the attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Qaddafi attempted to improve his image with the Western World by offering assistance with al Qaeda’s North African camps. But in reality, he was still only looking out for himself. The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, the al Qaeda affiliate, he assisted in taking them down, previously tried to oust him from power.

However, on March 1, 2003, Qaddafi’s true character re-emerged when he got into a television feud with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah regarding Saudi-allowed U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. Qaddafi said, “King Fahd told me that his country was threatened and he would co-operate with the devil to protect it.”

Crown Prince Abdullah retorted, “Saudi Arabia is a Muslim country and not an agent of colonialism like you and others. You, who brought you to power? Don’t talk about matters that you fail to prove. Your lies precede you, while the grave is ahead of you.”

I will pick up with the history here in the next blog.