by Michael Orfanos
Try placing yourselves into Qaddafi’s shoes for a moment. You have been the absolute ruler of Libya for almost 40 years now, with unlimited powers, however things don’t go as planned lately, and rebels are marching towards your capital -in order to overthrow you- aided by NATO forces that place your demoralized troops under severe bombardment causing them heavy casualties. Your regime is on the verge of collapse, while you’re losing fast political allies and public support. You now realize that you have a limited time window for action, in order to save your regime, what do you do? Well, Qaddafi decided it was time to go lobbying…
Case 1: "State Department’s Golden Boy to the rescue!"
Al Jazeera news producer Jamal Elshayyal visited the deserted central offices of the Libyan Intelligence Agency, initially looking for files entitled "Lockerby" or "IRA", however, he found out something astonishing: he found out secret files containing minutes of meeting of a secret meeting between former State Department member Charles David Welch and 3 high-profiled Qaddafi deputes, on August 2, 2011 in Cairo.
"Who the hell is David Welch and why he did that?" you may ask. Well, former State Department official (under the Bush administration) David Welch, was a US career diplomat (www.naro.gr), having as his personal career highlight the US-Libya Comprehensive Settlement Agreement Act (August 14, 2008). The latter settled the amount of compensation for both families of American victims (Lockerbie bombing was one of them) and Libyan (bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi-1986). As a result of this agreement, US restored Libyan government’s immunity from lawsuits accusing the Qaddafi regime for terrorist acts. For David Welch this agreement meant that he could now resign from his position and pursuit work in the private sector- he joined "Bechtel" the same year (www.naro.gr/blog), a multi-billion corporation that was interested in getting Libya’s oil and natural gas business. What a coincidence eh?
The Minutes of Meeting found regarding the meeting between David Welch and officials of the Qaddafi regime, in Cairo 2, 2011, are quite revealing: Welch advised them to take "confidence building measures". This meant the recruiting of high profile US political and public opinion personalities, in order to influence US (mainly) and world public opinion in favor of the Qaddafi regime. Also, Welch proposed to his newly clients a way to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, by "surfacing" of forged papers demonstrating a close cooperation between Libyan rebels and Al Qaeda (!). Welch added that: "…it’s better to receive this information as if it originated from these countries (Israel, Egypt, Morocco or Jordan)". In addition, the former State Department official said he would be gladly to "…convey everything to the American administration, Congress and other influential figures", while he also proposed that "Qaddafi step aside, but not necessarily relinquish all his powers". Both Bechtel and David Welch when asked by reporters today for a comment, declined to do so.
Case 2: "The American Lobbyist’s fiasco"
Secret documents seen by Guardian’s Luke Harding also reveal another desperate attempt of the Qaddafi regime to influence US public opinion in favor of his regime. It seems that Libya’s former Prime Minister Al-Baghdabi Ali al –Mahmoudi, employed Sufyan Omeish, a US lobbyist. The latter in a letter to Baghdani (dated June 28, 2011) states: "It is clear that the NATO forces have no intention of ending their military campaign over Libya anytime soon" and goes one step further, informing him of "evidence of covert logistical military planning for a future ground invasion in either late September or October this year". Clearly such actions could constitute a state prosecution against Omeish, since he was providing strategic information to the "enemy" (since at that time NATO was on war against the Qaddafi regime in Libya).
However, in his following messages, Omeish turns out to be playing Baghdabi for a fool, reassuring the Libyan Prime Minster that "…we also obtained a new confirmation from a high profile Princeton professor and former UN fact finding commissioner, to join our delegation" and also about his talks with "award-winning / Oscar-nominated filmmakers to help document the truth about Libya" (!!!) and ensure global exposure. Mr. Omeish declined making any comment.
Case 3: "You got mail Mr. President!"
Former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdabi, sensing the end is near, with the rebels surrounding the capital Tripoli, decided to rise to the challenge: If you’re thinking this meant that the former Prime Minister joined the Qaddafi forces fighting the rebels and earning a glorious death, this simply wasn’t the case. He just wrote a letter personally to President Obama, complaining about the US’s "unprecedented decision" to freeze Libya’s assets, and for siding with the "evil rebels", and quickly fled to Tunisia (where other members of the Qaddafi family are also located). This was as close to heroic as he could get…
Case 4: "The Oscar for best drama performance goes to..."
Finally, we mustn’t forget that Gaddafi himself send an appeal to both US Congress & Senate prior to the encirclement of Tripoli by the rebel forces. The letter, as it was announced by the Libyan government to the local media, would be a "slap in the face" for America. Libyan media celebrated this imminent action from their leader, as an act of defiance and bravery: Qaddafi would also include in the letter his determination to fight to death in his capital. However, the letter that was actually sent to the US Congress and Senate wasn’t quite like this. Using a humble tone, Qaddafi expressed his unhappiness about the US military assistance-through NATO- to the Libyan rebels and stated that there is actually no reason for a war, since he has no power – in fact, Qaddafi claimed to have left power in 1977 (!!). He also added that all these years since the 90’s he was working hard in order to: "establish a special relationship with the US", claiming to be the innocent victim of France’s expansionary policies that call for indirect control of Libya under its sphere of influence.
As an epilogue, we can conclude that Qaddafi’s lobbying efforts were feeble, incoherent and widely unsuccessful. All these initiatives made by the onetime "wanna-be-President of Africa" could not turn the tide of events that led to his eventual downfall. However, what makes the Qaddafi case so unique, is that while it is an undisputed fact, that Social Media played a significant role in the "Arab Spring", thus the monarchs of the countries participating in the Arab Spring, tried unsuccessfully to suppress them or block free internet access in their countries, the Qaddafi regime, was the only one that tried to engage itself in lobbying-which is a distinctive characteristic of the American political system. This means that Qaddafi knew the dynamics of lobbying in the American political system, and tried to exploit it in order to save his regime, which can be seen as a quite unique phenomenon, in global politics.
Michael Orfanos is Marketing Manager and SEO Expert for naro.gr