afrol News, 10 November - The second son of Libya's leader Muhamar Al Ghadafi, Saif al-Islam Ghadafi, is currently in Germany after negotiating the release of eight 'Shelter Now' aid workers held by the Taliban regime of Afghanistan. Libya hopes for enhanced diplomatic and economic contacts with Germany and Europe.
The elegant and charming Ghadafi junior (29) plaid a central role in the release of Western hostages on the Philippines island of Jola last year through his Tripoli based Ghadafi Foundation. The Libyan aid resulted in the visit of German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joschka Fischer, to Libya in September 2000 - the first visit by a Western minister since Libya had been labelled a "terrorist state" by the US government.
Libya and Ghadafi put their trust in Germany and the ongoing campaign against terrorism to return to a normal diplomatic and economic relationship with the Western world. Saif al-Islam Ghadafi, often referred to as the probable heir of his father's political power, is just the man to achieve these goals.
Saif al-Islam Ghadafi in an interview told the Berlin newspaper 'Tagesspiegel' confirmed he and his foundation were actively involved in negotiations with the Taliban regime to free the aid workers, charged with "Christian mission" in Afghanistan. "The Taliban Minister of Foreign Affairs asked our foundation to find a solution to the question of the Shelter Now prisoners already before 11 September," Ghadafi said.
Although the "situation for negotiations" was bad due to the "daily bombing", Ghadafi junior in no way distanced himself or Libya from the American attacks on the Taliban. He joined his father, who had clearly distanced himself from terrorism after 11 September, in saying the Americans "in my opinion have the right" to defend themselves against terrorism "as long as they are hundred percent sure" who was guilty.
Commenting on Libya's situation, which has suffered nine years of trade embargo after well documented suspicions that the country supported or initiated terrorist attacks (Lockerbie, the Berlin discotheque 'La Belle', etc.), Ghadafi junior said. "President Reagan thus interpreted Libya as a danger. He thought it was his right to attack Libya. As Libya found itself forceful enough, it answered. It's like on the free market."
Although Libyan authorities remain the main suspects in the 1986 bomb attack on a Berlin discotheque, which killed several US soldiers, and Germany respects the international trade embargo on Libya, German investments are only second to Italian (the former colonial power) in Libya. And "the Germans could get anything they want" in Libya, the son of the Revolutionary Leader states in 'Tagesspiegel'.
Asked whether he met "reservations" within the German government while in Berlin, Ghadafi junior answered, "The Germans in general are reserved, but that is better than the quick promises from other Europeans, which later are not lived up to."
Reservations were certainly emphasized by the German hosts, unhappy about Mr. Ghadafi's charm offensive in the German press. Government spokesperson Bela Anda, uncomfortable with questions regarding Ghadafi's visit, told the German journal 'Der Spiegel' the visit was part of consolidating "the international coalition against terrorism and the talks therefore are confidential."
Though Ghadafi junior undoubtedly has served to improved German-Libyan relations, as illustrated by Minister Fischer's visit to Libya last year, certain minefields still need to be cleared. A profound improvement in German-Libyan has been put on ice until the verdict of the "La Belle case" (after the bombed Berlin discotheque) is known. The case awaits a verdict in the coming weeks.
The German Public Prosecutor has all the time assumed that the Libyan government had supported the actual assaulters. He has been able to produce strong indications, but hard evidence still is missing.
The Libyan government, on the other hand, for years has negotiated with the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wanting to pay damages to the families of the victims without confessing its guilt. The same was done with the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bomb attack. The Germans, however, have insisted on awaiting the verdict.
Compensation to the victims' families, after any verdict in the "La Belle case", greatly will improve German-Libyan trade relations, analysts of 'Der Spiegel' assume. The German industry certainly is interested, the journal notes. "Lately, we have given great petroleum projects to the Germans," says Saif al-Islam Ghadafi. "And there are more to come."