Rebel without a clue
Salah Malkawi/Getty Images I had been looking forward this morning to a speech by Moammar al-Qaddafi at the Middle East Institute’s one-day conference at the Ritz-Carlton here in Washington. Alas, it was not to be. The Libyan leader was having “technical difficulties” with the satellite feed and I left before he had a chance to ...
Salah Malkawi/Getty Images
I had been looking forward this morning to a speech by Moammar al-Qaddafi at the Middle East Institute’s one-day conference at the Ritz-Carlton here in Washington. Alas, it was not to be. The Libyan leader was having “technical difficulties” with the satellite feed and I left before he had a chance to speak. I had been hoping to catch a taste of the type of straight talk Qaddafi delivered at the hapless Arab League summit in Damascus this weekend:
If they (Arabs) will not reorganize themselves … they will be marginalized and turn into garbage dumps,” he said.
He warned Arab leaders they could be overthrown like the United States toppled former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. “Your turn is next,” Khadafy told the leaders, some of whom looked stunned while others broke into laughter at his frankness. “Destruction will be yours.”
I did catch some comments by Charles Cecil, who did an eight-month stint as chargé d’affaires at the nascent U.S. Embassy in Tripoli before his retirement last year.
Cecil noted that for a country that has proclaimed its openness to the world and especially to foreign oil companies (today’s event was sponsored in part by Exxon-Mobil), Libya sure behaves erratically. Oil services companies such as Halliburton have complained that their employees can’t get visas on a reliable basis, and on one occassion Qaddafi’s government denied entry to a foreign-service officer based in Cairo who was overseeing the United States’ scientific cooperation programs. Libya is supposedly eager to acquire Western technological and scientific expertise, but Qaddafi also warned Libyans not to study in the United States because half of them would come back as CIA agents. Interesting guy.
Blake Hounshell is a former managing editor of Foreign Policy.
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