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Tripoli ready to negotiate – will money talk?

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Laaska News Apr.06,2011.
Apr 5, Libyan authorities are ready for talks. The Libyan government’s official spokesman Moussa Ibrahim has declared that Tripoli agrees to political reforms. However, Gaddafi’s change of mood has not raised his opponents’ enthusiasm.

Measures to solve the conflict, put forward by Muammar Gaddafi’s associates, are not trustworthy. This  comment was made by Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini who also said that from now on Rome recognizes the oppositional National Council as Libya’s only legitimate representation. Earlier, France made a similar declaration.

The opposition, inspired by western support, has also refused to have anything to do with Gaddafi. Meanwhile, the leader of the Jamahiriya still hopes for a peaceful solution of the conflict. Gaddafi’s emissary has set off on a tour of Greece-Turkey-Malta with a task to persuade the independent parties to assume the role of a go-between in the settlement of the situation. Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif-al-Islam is ready to take the reins of power and lead the country to a constitutional government system. However, even this scenario is far from perfect, says Alexander Tkachenko, the director of the Centre of Arab and Islamic Research:

“These reforms, even if they work, are likely to have a superficial nature because radical reforms will inevitably result in a change of regime, which is not in Gaddafi’s and his associates’ interests.”

It is equally unlikely that Gaddafi’s emissary’s diplomatic mission will bring about a mechanism for talks on the settlement of problems which gave rise to the civil war. The main stumbling block in this situation is Muammar Gaddafi himself. Even common business has not become a guarantee of support on the part of Gaddafi’s western partners, says Alexander Tkachenko:

“Stable and diverse trade and economic links usually have a positive effect on relations between partners, but the Libyan case is an exception. The political component in the relations between Gaddafi’s regime and western democracies obviously dominates over the trade and economic element.”

Libya and the West began to establish political and economic ties in 2003. Tripoli officially recognized its involvement in the explosion of the airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988. Gaddafi paid $3 billion damages to the families of the victims of the terrorist act. The UN lifted the sanctions against Libya and western companies received free access to the Libyan energy sector. On its part, Libya also easily joined the western business. Tripoli paid $5 billion for 7.5% of the shares of the Italian UniCredit and invested $1 billion in the Eni energy giant. Libyans also bought shares of the Austrian Weinerberger construction corporation, the British Pearson media corporation and many others.

Gaddafi’s ties with the West also grew stronger. In their time, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French Presidents Jacque Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Italian Prime Minister  Silvio Berlusconi and other leaders visited Gaddafi, met with him all over the world, shook hands with him and demonstrated their respect in many ways. In other words, the colonel managed to guarantee support for his country on the highest international political level.  Whether he manages to retain this support and use it to advantage remains to be seen.