- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy
In contrast to its inept response to the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt, Nicolas Sarkozy’s government was out in front in its response to Libya — condemning the Qaddafi regime, recognizing the rebel government, and pushing for a no-fly zone. The Qaddafis’ response? We want our money back:
Gaddafi’s son was then asked that as France was the first country to recognise the Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi, what was his opinion of President Sarkozy.
Saif al-Islam: “Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign. We funded it and we have all the details and are ready to reveal everything. The first thing we want this clown to do is to give the money back to the Libyan people. He was given assistance so that he could help them. But he’s disappointed us: give us back our money. We have all the bank details and documents for the transfer operations and we will make everything public soon.”
Saif isn’t exactly brimming with credibility at this point, but this isn’t the first time these sorts of accusations have been made against Sarkozy. There were the reports that Sarkozy’s campaign had accepted envelopes full of cash from France’s richest woman. There were more recent accusations that Sarkozy took kickbacks from a weapons deal with Pakistan to fund his campaign, to which the president responded by calling a bunch of journalists paedophiles. There have also been accusations that Sarkozy’s predecessor, Jacques Chirac, took campaign donations from the late Gabon strongman Omar Bongo.
It will be interesting to see if Saif can back up his big accusations. In any event, when the smoke clears from the current uprising, there will be a lot more questions about what exactly the two leaders talked about in that tent.