- By Kedar PavgiKedar Pavgi is an editorial researcher at Foreign Policy.
During his last, desperate days, Colonel Qaddafi may have turned to an old friend, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi for help in trying to avert the international action being undertaken by NATO’s forces.
In a letter published by French weekly tabloid, Paris Match, Qaddafi allegedly wrote to Berlusconi, asking him to help stop the bombing and "turn the page" on the relationship between the Libyan people and Italy.
One quote, translated from Paris Match’s website:
Stop the bombings that kill our Libyan brothers and our children. Talk to your [new (striped)] friends and allies (1) to achieve [a solution that guarantees the great Libyan people the total freedom of choice that leads (striped)] that this aggression continues against my country (1).
The controversial relationship between Berlusconi and Qaddafi has been well publicized. In 2009, Berlusconi shut down Rome’s largest park to allow Qaddafi and his entourage of female body guards to set up a Bedouin style camp during a state visit. This comes on top of the extensive economic relations between Italy and Libya; along with being Libya’s largest trading partner, Libya’s sovereign wealth funds had invested in many Italian companies, including football club Juventus F.C. Initially, Berlusconi opposed the NATO mission over Libya, but had an about face in August, as he stood beside interim Prime Minister Jibril, announcing the release of frozen assets to the NTC.
If this letter is true, Berlusconi may have been one of the last world leaders to have received direct communication with Qaddafi before his death. South African President Jacob Zuma may have been the last to meet the Colonel, after an attempt in late May to negotiate an end to the fighting.