Turtle Bay

Moammar Qaddafi’s Viagra war?

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council today that there is another good reason to confront Libyan forces. Moammar Qaddafi has reportedly been passing out tablets of Viagra to his front line troops to help them rape women. Rice made the allegation in a closed-door meeting of ...

Susan E. Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council today that there is another good reason to confront Libyan forces. Moammar Qaddafi has reportedly been passing out tablets of Viagra to his front line troops to help them rape women.

Rice made the allegation in a closed-door meeting of the Security Council after facing criticism from council members that the Western-backed coalition has effectively sided with Libya’s rebels in the country’s ongoing civil war. China, Russia, India and other have expressed concern that the NATO-backed military coalition has exceeded its mandate to protect civilians, and had become a party to the country’s conflict.

Rice countered that it is "ridiculous" to describe the conflict in Libya as an ordinary civil war, or to draw moral equivalence between Qaddafi’s forces and the rebels. She said the opposition only took up arms after Qaddafi’s forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators.

She also cited reports of Qaddafi’s forces shooting at mosques, targeting children and "issuing Viagra to his soldiers so they go out and rape," according to an account by a U.N. diplomat present in the room.

U.N. council diplomats said that Rice provided no evidence to support her claim, which appeared earlier this week in the British tabloid, the Daily Mail. Human rights advocates say the allegation first surfaced publicly last month when a doctor in Ajdabiya, Suleiman Refadi,  claimed in an interview with Al Jazeera English that Qaddafi’s force’s had received packets of Viagra and condoms as part of a campaign of sexual violence. "I have seen Viagra, I have seen condoms," Refadi told Al Jazeera.

Human Rights Watch had interviewed the same doctor previously, and determined that he had no direct evidence to support the claims, and they were not able to identify victims and witnesses in Adjabiya who confirmed such reports. Though they also had no evidence to refute the claims.

Fred Abrahams, a special advisor for Human Rights Watch, said the organization takes reports of sexual attacks seriously, and "we are actively investigating" allegations of the use of sexual violence by Qaddafi’s forces in the conflict. "We have a few credible cases of gender based violence and rape, but the evidence is not there at this point to suggest it is of a systematic nature, or an official policy. On Viagra and condom distribution we have nothing so far. It’s not to dismiss it, but we do not have" the evidence.

Follow me on Twitter @columlynch

Colum Lynch is Foreign Policy’s award-winning U.N.-based senior diplomatic reporter. @columlynch

Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola

By Taboola

More from Foreign Policy

By Taboola