Monday, 21 February 2011

Wikileaks Guide to the Gaddafi Family

The leader of the Libyan revolution presides over a "famously fractious" family that is powerful, wealthy, dysfunctional and marked by internecine struggles, according to US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks. The documents shed light on how his eight children – among whom rivalries have sharpened in recent years – his wife and Gaddafi himself lead their lives.

Muammar Gaddafi
The patriarch, now 68, was described by US ambassador to Tripoli, Gene Cretz, in 2009 as a "mercurial and eccentric figure who suffers from severe phobias, enjoys flamenco dancing and horseracing, acts on whims and irritates friends and enemies alike." Gaddafi has an intense dislike or fear of staying on upper floors, and prefers not to fly over water, the cables add.

From Al Jazeera: (click text to follow link)
In power since 1969, Libya's Colonel Muammar Gaddafi is the longest-serving leader in both Africa and the Arab world.
He led a bloodless coup toppling King Idris at the age of 27, and has since maintained tight control of his oil-rich country by clamping down on dissidents. The ongoing bloody uprising poses the most serious domestic challenge to his rule.
Among his many eccentricities, Gaddafi is known to sleep in a Bedouin tent guarded by dozens of female bodyguards on trips abroad.
Gaddafi was born in 1942 in the coastal area of Sirte to nomadic parents. He went to Benghazi University to study geography, but dropped out to join the army.
After seizing power, he laid out a pan-Arab, anti-imperialist philosophy, blended with aspects of Islam. While he permitted private control over small companies, the government controlled the larger ones.
He was an admirer of the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser and his Arab socialist and nationalist ideology.
He tried without success to merge Libya, Egypt and Syria into a federation. A similar attempt to join Libya and Tunisia ended in acrimony.
Crushing dissident
In 1977 he changed the country's name to the Great Socialist Popular Libyan Arab Jamahiriyah (State of the Masses) and allowed people to air their views at people's congresses.
However, critics dismissed his leadership as a military dictatorship, accusing him of repressing civil society and ruthlessly crushing dissident.
To this day, the media remains under strict government control.
The regime has imprisoned hundreds of people for violating the law and sentenced some to death, according to Human Rights Watch.

At the UN General Assembly in 2009, Gaddafi accused the body of being a terrorism group like al-Qaeda
Gaddafi played a prominent role in organising Arab opposition to the 1978 Camp David peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
Later shunned by a number of Arab states on the basis of his extreme views on how to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict among others, Gaddafi's foreign policy shifted from an Arab focus to an African focus.
His vision of a United States of Africa resulted in the foundation of the African Union.
In the West, Gaddafi is strongly associated with "terrorism", accused of supporting armed groups including FARC in Colombia and the IRA in Northern Ireland.
Libya’s alleged involvement in the 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub in which two American soldiers were killed prompted US air attacks on Tripoli and Benghazi, killing 35 Libyans, including Gaddafi’s adopted daughter. Ronald Reagan, the then US president, called him a "mad dog".
The 1988 bombing of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie in Scotland is possibly the most well known and controversial international incident in which Gaddafi has been involved.
For many years, Gaddafi denied involvement, resulting in UN sanctions and Libya’s status as a pariah state. Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was convicted for planting the bomb. Gaddafi's regime formally accepted responsibility for the attack in 2003 and paid compensation to the families of those who died.
Isolation ended
Also in 2003, Gaddafi broke Libya's isolation from the West by relinquishing his entire inventory of weapons of mass destruction.
In September 2004, George Bush, the US president at the time, formally ended a US trade embargo as a result of Gaddafi's scrapping of the arms programme and taking responsibility for Lockerbie.
The normalisation of relations with Western powers has allowed the Libyan economy to grow and the oil industry in particular has benefited.
However, Gaddafi and Lockerbie came back into the spotlight in 2009, when al-Megrahi was released and returned to Libya. The hero’s welcome al-Megrahi received from Gaddafi on his return was condemned by the the US and the UK, among others.
In September 2009, Gaddafi visited the US for the first time for his his first appearance at the UN General Assembly.
His speech was supposed to be 15 minutes, but exceeded an hour and a half. He tore up a copy of the UN charter, accused the Security Council of being a terrorism body similar to al-Qaeda, and demanded $ 7.7 trillion in compensation to be paid to Africa from it's past colonial rulers.
During a visit to Italy in August 2010, Gaddafi's invitation to hundreds of young women to convert to Islam overshadowed the two-day trip, which was intended to cement the growing ties between Tripoli and Rome.

Safiya (nee Farkash)
Gaddafi's second wife travels by chartered jet in Libya, with a motorcade of Mercedes vehicles waiting to pick her up at the airport to take her to her destination, but her movements are limited and discreet. Hosted a banquet in the Bab al-Azizia compound on the occasion of the anniversary of the revolution that was festive but not extravagant. Hails from Benghazi, the centre of the rebellion in eastern Libya.

Saif al-Islam
Second-eldest son. Presumed heir-apparent in recent years who warned of civil war when he addressed the nation on Sunday night. A trained engineer who promotes political and economic reform and backed NGOs under the aegis of the International Charitable Gaddafi Foundation. Has PhD from the London School of Economics.

"Saif al-Islam's high-profile role as the public face of the regime to the west has been a mixed blessing for him. Has bolstered his image but many Libyans view him as self-aggrandising and too eager to please foreigners," the US embassy said.

Escorted the convicted Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi home to die in August 2009 "and persisted in his hard-partying, womanising ways, a source of concern in a socially conservative country like Libya". Cables claim at odds with siblings Muatassim, Aisha, Hannibal, and Sa'adi.

Third-eldest son. "Notoriously ill-behaved Sa'adi has a troubled past, including scuffles with police in Europe (especially Italy), abuse of drugs and alcohol, excessive partying, travel abroad in contravention of his father's wishes Former professional footballer (a single season with Perugia in Italy's Serie A league, he owns a significant share of al-Ahli, one of the two biggest soccer teams in Libya, and has run Libya's football federation). An engineer by training, Sa'adi was briefly an officer in a special forces unit.

Used troops under his control to affect the outcome of business deals. Owns a film production company. Reported to have been involved in crushing the protests in Benghazi.

Fourth-eldest son. Father's national security adviser and until recently a rising star. In 2008 he asked for $1.2bn (£739m) to establish a military or security unit akin to that of his younger brother, Khamis. Lost control of many of his personal business interests between 2001 and 2005 when his brothers took advantage of his absence to put in place their own partnerships. Described as "not very bright" by Serbian ambassador. Gets on badly with Saif al-Islam.

Chequered history of unseemly behavior and public scuffles with authorities in Europe and elsewhere. Arrest in Geneva over alleged beating his servants led to bilateral spat with Switzerland, in which Swiss were forced to back down under threat of withdrawal of Libyan investments.

In December 2009, police were called to Claridge's hotel in London after staff heard a scream from Hannibal's room. Aline Skaf, now his wife, was found to have suffered facial injuries but charges were not brought after she maintained she had sustained the injuries in a fall. Fifth eldest son.

Gaddafi's sixth son and the "well-respected" commander of a special forces unit – 32nd battalion or Khamis brigade that effectively serves as a regime protection unit and was reportedly involved in suppressing unrest in Benghazi. Trained in Russia.

Daughter who mediates in family disputes ands runs NGO. Reported to have financial interests in a private clinic in Tripoli, one of two trustworthy facilities that supplement the unreliable healthcare available through public facilities. Lionel Richie was flown to Libya several years ago to sing at her birthday celebration. A younger adopted daughter, Hanna, was killed in the US bombing of Tripoli in 1986.

The eldest son, but by Gaddafi's first wife. Heads the Libyan Olympic committee that now owns 40% of the Libyan Beverage Company, currently the Libyan joint venture Coca-Cola franchisee. Also runs general post and telecommunications committee.

Saif al-Arab
Least publicly known of the eight children. Reportedly lives in Munich, where it is claimed he pursues ill-defined business interests and spends much time partying.

Like all the Gaddafi children and favourites is supposed to have income streams from the national oil company and oil services subsidiaries. A seventh son, Milad Abuztaia, is an adopted nephew.

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