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Col Mu'amar al-Qadhafi


Update No: 018 - (03/05/05)

From weapons of mass destruction to a potential US - Libyan Military Alliance 
Libya's fast road to diplomatic normalization with the West, and the United States in particular, since December 2003 started with its announcement that it would give up all future and existing plans to develop or acquire weapons of mass destruction. In the early months that followed the announcement, it was unclear what if any weapons programs Libya might have been pursuing, but there were allegations that Libya was to obtain nuclear weapons material through a Pakistani network run by the nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan. The nuclear weapons-making equipment that was believed to be smuggled to Libya never arrived and is believed to have been diverted to the government of another country. While, Libya's interest or capacity to develop a full-scale 'weapons of mass destruction' programme was always questionable, the fact that investigations in several countries have yet to locate the missing material confirms this view. Nevertheless, not to be outdone and the investigators concluded that there is a strong likelihood that the sophisticated material was sold to an unidentified customer by members of Abdul Qadeer Khan's network, which admits to have passed on bomb-making technology to other countries as well as Libya. There is some irony, then, to the fact that the United States and Libya have been discussing an extension of their diplomatic détente to military collaboration. There was already some talk of including Libya in a wider North African military initiative almost one year ago in the context of fighting terrorism, but it now seems as more a question of 'when' rather than 'if' such collaboration will occur. 
It is worth remembering that prior to the accession of Col. al-Qadhafi to power in September 1969, the American army had three military bases in Libya, one of which was near Tripoli, in which Washington in the 1950s deployed long-range missiles. The Americans called this base Wheelus, while the Libyans still call it Matiga and it has been used as a military airport and a civilian airport for domestic flights in the 1992-1999 period, when Libya was under UN embargo. Wheelus, once served as the headquarters of the 17th American forces positioned in Europe, as well a spy center for the American intelligence agency to monitor the activities of the Soviet armed forces. There is no talk yet of resuming an American command centre of this magnitude and scope, and rumors suggest that the extent of military cooperation between the Libya and the US would include direct talks between senior military officials and the possibility of conducting joint exercises between the American and Libyan forces or the possibility of the American access to the Libyan military installations. 
Deputy Commander of the European leadership in the American army Gen. Richard Wald announced in Washington that American forces want to establish official relations with the Libyan armed forces, on the precondition that Tripoli will convince the administration of the US President George W. Bush that it had given up terrorism. Indeed, while the Bush administration has initiated contacts at every level with Libya, Libya has not been able to shake off its 'terrorist' past, and image that emerged again last summer when the Saudi royal family accused Col. Qadhafi of being behind a plot to murder crown prince Abdullah. On 22 December 2004, Saudi Arabia expelled the Libyan ambassador from Riyadh and withdrew its own diplomatic envoy from Tripoli. The expulsion followed Saudi accusations of a Libyan plot to assassinate Crown Prince Abdallah bin Abd al-Aziz Saud and other prominent members of the Saudi Government. Meanwhile, Gen. Wald explained that the military collaboration issue is under study by the US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld. He said "I think this matter will be taking place," adding that Libya and almost every country from North Africa is concerned with establishing close relations with the USA, because of the region's common concern of the dissemination of Islamic extremism. Gen. Wald also noted added that if Libya "abides by its obligations to quit mass destruction weapons and give up terrorism, then the USA should establish military relations with it." 
The question remains, how would the Libyan leader be able to justify the potential presence of American bases on Libyan soil. Much of his leadership has rested on his unabashed antagonism to superpower politics and commitment to the ideals of the Bandung Conference of 1955 and the resulting association of Non-Aligned States, whose founders include Col. Qadhafi's personal hero the Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Not that his leadership is in any way dependent on popular support for his policies, though the government system he set up is designed precisely to offer this illusion, but a US - American military relationship might develop as part of a multilateral design, rather than a bilateral one. The multilateral approach would occur in the context of the African Union, and an African defense initiative. The Popular Committee for External Relations and International Cooperation (PCERIC), the equivalent of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has already indicated as much, reacting to the pronouncements from Washington. Officials from PCERIC have reaffirmed Libya's commitment to upholding the conventions, protocols and accords of the African Union (AU) in articulating foreign policy objectives with other nations of the global community. Therefore, Libya's bilateral ties, such as those concerning military cooperation, would be conducted within the framework of the AU and its institutions. Officials noted, as the US also did, that Libya and America have common military objectives "such as the fight against terrorism and all forms of extremism whatever their origin."
In view of the emphasis on terrorism, the basis of US-Libyan military cooperation might be founded on the U.S. program known as the Trans-Sahara Counter-Terrorism Initiative (TSCTI). It is intended to provide Chad, Algeria, Mali, Morocco, Tunisia and other countries with military training to prevent terrorists from infiltrating the Saharan countries along ancient trade routes between Africa and the Middle East. Many such routes are still in use by modern day Touareg tribes, and Sub-Saharan migrants are known to use them to reach Libya from where they head to Europe illegally in boats run by specialized smugglers. General Wald said that TSCTI would receive additional funds thus year and even more funds beyond 2006 suggesting that the budget has room for Libya to participate. 
There is also a potential breakthrough concerning the ongoing saga of the detention Bulgarian nurses facing trial in Libya. In May 2004, Libya found the five Bulgarian health workers and a Palestinian doctor guilty of having caused the death of 40 children and of infecting almost 400 others with HIV at a Benghazi hospital in 1997. Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov has extended an invitation for a tête-à-tête meeting with Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi in the hope to "sort out important issues of bilateral concern". Few issues could be of greater concern to Bulgaria than the fate of their nationals facing potential death by firing squad. Parvanov, invited the Libyan Leader to Sofia in advance of his forthcoming visit to Libya. Georgi Dimitrov, Bulgarian presidential advisor on foreign affairs, and Boris Velchev, chairman of the Judicial Council, have also conferred with representatives of the Qaddafi foundation, which has been monitoring the trial, and lawyers of the Bulgarian medics. While frequently postponed, Libya has hinted at a potential softening on the case, as a Tripoli court is to hear the case against ten Libyans accused of torturing Bulgarian nurses on death row into making confessions. An assistant of the medics' Libyan lawyer Osman Bizanti filed the nurses' civil suit before the Tripoli Court of Appeal. During the trial, two of the nurses claimed they were beaten and raped to confess they were guilty of deliberate spread of the deadly virus. The nurses' confessions are the only evidence proving their guilt in the HIV trial.

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Libya, Czech discuss cooperation 

Libya and Czech have held talks in Tripoli aimed at boosting cooperation between the General People's Congress and the Czech Parliament, reported. 
The Secretary of the General People's Congress said the deliberations aimed at discussing ways of developing friendly relations and cooperation between the two countries. 
"The talks will give a new momentum to these relations and will pave the way for a continuing dialogue between the two sides in different issues of common interest." He said. 
The Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the Czech Parliament, Vladimir Lastuvka, said he is hopeful that the talks will bolster cooperation between the two countries. 
The two sides discussed during the meeting ways to set up a Libyan-Czech friendship society to realize the common interest of the two friendly countries.


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