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Money and corpses in Sarkozy's wake 

Avec les compliments you guide. Sarkozy-Gadhafi, the history secret
Forfatter: Fabrice Arfi & Karl Laske
Forlag: Fayard (Frankrike)
French journalists Arfi and Laske dig into the real causes of the bombing in Libya in 2011. 


While Jan Petersen and his small team are investigating Norway's bombing in Libya, journalists Fabrice Arfi and Karl Laske have shown with great patience and detailed source investigation that "protection of civilians" was just an excuse to get rid of the erratic Gaddafi in 2011. Preventing Gaddafi's financial contribution to Sarkozy's election campaign was one of the main reasons. Arfi and Laske argue that Al Jazeera's massacre reports were used to influence the people's opinion in the West to demand concrete action from their elected officials. There was concrete action when the UN Security Council adopted "Responsibility to Protect" and adopted Resolution 1973 on the protection of civilians in Libya. In hindsight, we all know how unwise this was.

Crimea from reality. The book is structured as a suspense novel on nearly 400 pages. Had the text not been packed with footnotes, I would have thought the journalists exaggerated greatly. But the reality the writers describe, most James Bond films surpass. One chapter is devoted to the arrest of then-President Sarkozy's confidential ambassador Boris Boillon, called "Sarko-boy" in French media. He was stopped by French customs officials at Gare du Nord in Paris with 350 000 euros and 40 000 dollars in cash and later convicted of corruption and money laundering. Another is dedicated to Gaddafi's former oil minister Choukri Ghanem, who was found drowned in the Danube 29. April 2012. The day before, the site published Mediapart, where the authors work, a document showing that Sarkozy received Gaddafi's € 50 million to fund his presidential campaign in 2007. The chapter shows that Ghanem's death was probably a murder rather than a random cardiac arrest. Ghanem is said to have transferred 30 million from the Libyan oil company to Sarkozy's campaign. In parentheses, I am tempted to mention that Ghanem also signed the agreement between Norwegian fertilizer giant Yara and Libya on a joint company based in Tripoli for exactly two years before the Norwegian fighter bombers bombed Tripoli in March 2011. In 2014, when Yara was convicted of corruption in Libya, the evidence included payments of five million dollars to Ghanem's son in Switzerland.

Gaddafi threatened France's influence in Africa both by investing in neighboring countries and by providing them with round-the-clock financial assistance.

Excitement novel, yes. But this is also excavation journalism of the highest class. I concentrate the review on the quarter of the book that deals with the war in Libya in 2011. We remember well that Jens Stoltenberg decided on Friday evening March 18 that Norway should help implement the UN Security Council Resolution in 1973. Less than 48 hours after the decision was made in New York, Stoltenberg traveled to Paris, at the invitation of Sarkozy, to discuss how the resolution should be implemented. All the big ones were there: US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UK Prime Minister David Cameron, but also the head of the Arab League Amr Moussa and, not least, Teodoro Obiang Nguema, the head of the African Union (AU). Gaddafi himself had resigned as head of the AU just over a year earlier, on January 31, 2010. At the Paris meeting, Stoltenberg promised to make six Norwegian F-16 aircraft available to protect civilians in Libya. But he also said: “Gaddafi met peaceful protesters with brutality. A leader waging war on his own people has lost his legitimacy. We therefore demand that Colonel Gaddafi step down immediately. ” Isn't this an indication that Norway also wanted something more than to protect the civilian population? Norway's six F-16 aircraft dropped 567 bombs over Libya between March 24 and August 1, 2011. It was Norwegian aircraft that bombed Gaddafi's residence in Tripoli on April 25. But Gaddafi was not home; the bombs killed one of his sons and some of his grandchildren. Nevertheless, Norway is not mentioned in this book.

A threat. The book is mainly about Sarkozy – his collaboration with Gaddafi before 2011, and his eagerness to get rid of him in 2011. The authors provide good documentation – from various published sources in three languages, but also secretly stamped reports from the intelligence service and own interviews with key decision makers – that France started bombing Libya to rid Gaddafi. Gaddafi threatened France's influence in Africa both by investing in neighboring countries and by providing them with round-the-clock financial assistance. Gaddafi threatened France's monetary hegemony by planning to replace the French CFA franc with a common African dinar à la euro. But Gaddafi also threatened President Sarkozy personally – there was more and more evidence that the regime in Libya had sponsored the French presidential election campaign in 2007-08. In addition, the French Air Force needed practical training. Recently Stoltenberg also admitted that was one of the reasons for Norway's participation, we can read in Daniel Suhonen's book The party leader who stepped into the cold from 2014.

"Bloodbath". It was France who pushed in the Security Council for the "world community" to do something about the "carnage" that took place in Libya. It was France that authored Resolution 1973 together with the United States and the United Kingdom. None of the 15 countries in the Security Council voted against, but veto-landing China and Russia abstained. So did Germany, Brazil and India. The resolution obliged the UN member states to protect civilians in Libya, to create a no-fly zone across the country and to introduce arms embargo. But, as this book shows, there was no carnage in Libya. Gaddafi threatened the rebels with "going from house to house", yes, but that didn't mean he was going to kill civilians. He was going to take the rebels. The media made it look like a bloodbath was going on. But the media in Libya in February and March 2011 was essentially tantamount to Qatar-owned TV channel Al Jazeera. And Qatar wanted Gaddafi away; he was too tolerant of different directions in Islam, and he was too interested in sub-Saharan Africa at the expense of the Arab world. Qatar wanted a leadership in Libya that was more clearly Wahhabist / Salafist oriented. The "carnage" we were so afraid of after two days of rebellion against Gaddafi on February 16 and 17 turned out to have been 24 civilians killed. Defining the armed rebels as "civilian", the "carnage" of those days came to 257 killed. The authors show that this is an important distinction, since the UN resolution should protect "civilians"; should NATO countries protect the armed rebels in Libya? That's what we did. "A robust resolution interpretation", it is called in the Armed Forces. In doing so, we bombed Gaddafi to death and Libya to chaos.

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Ketil Fred Hansen
Hansen is a professor of social sciences at UiS and a regular reviewer at Ny Tid.

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