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Thread: Keeping Up with the Qaddafis

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    aamirbati is offline
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    Keeping Up with the Qaddafis

    Keeping Up with the Qaddafi's
    The family that fights together, stays together. But was Libya's ruling clan always this crazy?

    As the world watches the first days of military intervention in Libya, Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi now has few allies on the international stage. But sometimes, it's family that counts -- and Qaddafi's close-knit family has stood him in good stead during these days of civil war and aerial assault. In fact, in a bizarre twist on normal family dynamics, the Qaddafi clan's hard times over the last month seem to have only pulled them closer around their erratic patriarch. Qaddafi has eight biological children, seven of them sons, many of them embracing, in one way or another, the Western values that their father hated (and has railed against). But with his regime under fire, the Qaddafi children have been among their father's most ardent supporters, in many ways rejecting their past inclinations toward reform and partnership with the West. Here, Qaddafi poses with his second wife, Safia, and some of his children in November 1986 near the Bab Aziza palace in Libya, destroyed in a U.S. air raid. According to Muammar, another raid that year killed his adopted daughter.

    Muammar al-Qaddafi was born in the Libyan desert near the city of Sirte in 1942. He graduated with honors from the University of Libya before, like many of his children after him, pursuing a European education and doing some army training in Britain, where he first began plotting to overthrow the Libyan government. In 1969, he organized a coup that removed King Idris I. After taking power, Qaddafi launched a cultural upheaval and eventually a "people's revolution," creating a unique government system known as the "Jamahiriya"-state of the masses. Though he wields absolute power over the Libyan government, Qaddafi technically holds no formal office. He defended the system in New York on March 2006, saying, "There is no state with a democracy except Libya on the whole planet."

    Here, Qaddafi makes one of his infamously long and rambling speeches to the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Sept. 23, 2009.

    Here, Qaddafi poses with some of his sons in November 1986. Earlier this month, Khamis al-Qaddafi, 27, was expelled from Madrid's IE business school,where he was enrolled in a $81,320-per-year international MBA program. According to a spokesperson for the school, Khamis was expelled due to "his links to the attacks against the Libyan population." Khamis was supposed to have been in the United States doing an internship when the Libyan uprising began in February, but returned home to command his own elite special forces unit. The unit, aptly named the Khamis Brigade, was rumored to have been in charge of suppressing protests in Benghazi, was spotted fighting in Zawiya near the capital of Tripoli, and may have counted teenage mercenary fighters from Chad among its numbers.

    Saif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, the second-born Qaddafi, has long been the West's favorite, but even before that, he was his father's chosen son, rumored to be next in line for Libyan leadership. Here, he salutes from a Russian-made tank on Sept. 7, 1999, during a military parade in Tripoli marking the 30th anniversary of the revolution that brought his father to power.

    A lot of the adjectives used for Saif -- cosmopolitan, charismatic, Western-friendly, moderate -- correspond directly with the reputation he developed at the London School of Economics, from which he received a (now-disputed, thanks to charges of thesis plagiarism) Ph.D. in 2008. As Doug Flahut, one of his erstwhile classmates, reflected recently, Saif as an LSE student was reserved and thoughtful:

    Although Saif's English was good, he spoke slowly, as if summoning all his mental powers to come up with the correct word. When I'd first met him I'd thought he might not be all that smart. His deliberate, measured speech combined with his obstinately practical interests struck me as pedestrian. Looking back, however, I see Saif differently. He spoke slowly because he wasn't confident in English, and he was practical because he was next in line to rule a country of six million people. You could say we had different interests.

    Saif also built up his Davos-man credibility through his philanthropic endeavors: His Qaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation sent hundreds of tons of aid to Haiti after its devastating January 2010 earthquake. Saif has also spoken boldly about constitutional reform, climate change, and economic liberalization. He was lauded for convincing his father to publically renounce weapons of mass destruction in 2003.

    Then, there's Saif's other side. In 2009 he reportedly paid Mariah Carey $1 million to sing four songs at a party on St. Barts. While Saif denied the report and worked to quell his partyboy lifestyle, recently released WikiLeaks cables show a growing rift among him and his brothers over succession. Apparently, he fumed about his father's increasingly close relationship with his brother Muatassim, who serves as Qaddafi pre's security advisor. According to onecable, "Saif reportedly bridled at the fact that Muatassim accompanied Muammar al-Qadhafi on the latter's visit to Moscow, Minsk and Kiev last year ... and played a key role in negotiating potential weapons contracts."

    Saadi Qaddafi, believed to be the third-oldest son, is a former soccer player who once had a brief career with Italy's Perugia club. He now runs the Libyan Football Federation and dabbled in Hollywood, serving as the main investor of a film production company. Saadi gave $100 million to the production company Natural Selection, which has recently released a number of films including The Experiment, starring Forrest Whitaker and Adrian Brody. Natural Selection has since apologized for taking Qaddafi money.

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    Senior Member Array aamirbati's Avatar
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    Last year, he was sued by an Italian hotel for failing to pay an expensive hotel bill dating back to 2007. An Italian court has ordered him to cough up about $494,000.

    Yet sports and movies are on hold as the battle for Libya rages on. Last month, Saadi joined Saif to talk to ABC's Christiane Amanpour about the state of his country. He warned of "civil war" if his father were to relinquish power. "That is my personal opinion, and the chaos will be everywhere," he said. "They think it's about freedom. I love freedom, you love freedom. But it's powerful, this earthquake. No one can control it."

    Here, Saadi poses with reported fourth son Muatassim next to a sculpture as they arrive for a party at the 2005 Venice Film Festival. The Qaddafi children were always big spenders on entertainment, paying huge sums for concerts not only by Mariah Carey, but also by Nelly Furtado, Beyonce, Usher, Timbaland, and 50 Cent. According to a 2006 cable released by WikiLeaks, "All of the Qaddafi children and favorites are supposed to have income streams from the National Oil Company and oil service subsidiaries." A more recent cable noted that a series of scandals had sent the family into a "tailspin" and "provided local observers with enough dirt for a Libyan soap opera." A "local political observer" told U.S. diplomats that Muatassim's "carousing and extravagance angered some locals, who viewed his activities as impious and embarrassing to the nation."

    Of course, the most famously bad of the Qaddafi boys is Hannibal, who was arrested in July 2008 in Geneva after two of his servants accused him of assault. Here is he on page four of the Swiss newspaper Tribune de Genve dated Sept. 4, 2009. While he was later freed on bail, the incident caused a diplomatic standoff between Libya and Switzerland, with the Libyan government boycotting Swiss goods, shutting down Libyan subsidiaries of Swiss companies Nestl and ABB, removing its diplomats from Switzerland, and canceling most commercial flights between the two countries. Muammar himself was so enraged by his son's arrest that he withdrew about $5 billion from his Swiss bank account. Hannibal described Switzerland as a "world mafia" while his fatherproposed that the United Nations abolish Switzerland, dividing it along linguistic lines and giving those parts to Germany, France, and Italy.

    Of course, this was not Hannibal's only run-in with European police. In 2004, he was pulled over in Paris after a high-speed police chase during which he drove his black Porsche 90 miles per hour the wrong way down the Champs lyses. He was drunk and his bodyguards subsequently attacked the police officers. He is also a notorious domestic abuser: Police were called to his Paris hotel in 2004 when he started beating his girlfriend, and last Christmas, he reportedly beat his wife in a London hotel.

    Like her brothers, Qaddafi's only daughter Aisha has been a global player. A lawyer, she joined Saddam Hussein's defense team in 2004. When asked by the Telegraph in an interview last October about Hussein's role in killing 300,000 Iraqis and the delight some Iraqis felt in his death, she said, "It is only normal that some people are against you and some are with you. You are bound to meet people who may be against your policies."

    According to one WikiLeaks cable, she was designated "the task of monitoring the activities of ne'er-do-wells" in the family, including Saadi and Hannibal. But when it came to Hannibal's stint in Swiss detention, she may have exacerbated the problem, playing "a strong role in urging a hardline Libyan position with respect to the Swiss-Libyan contretemps.... Aisha's less than accurate rendering to her father of the events surrounding Hannibal's arrest and treatment by Swiss authorities helped stoke Muammar al-Qadhafi's anger."

    Aisha was appointed as a goodwill ambassador to the United Nations in July 2009, focusing on the issues of HIV/AIDS and violence against women in Libya. She was fired from that position on Feb. 23, following the beginning of the violent crackdown on anti-government protestors.

    With the Qaddafi clan fully shamed and renounced by the Western outlets they once wholeheartedly embraced, the family has chosen to stand by their father. Even the once reform-minded Saif has been spotted in Libya rallying pro-government mobs in chants like: "Only God, Muammar, and Libya ... we need no other than our leader Qaddafi."

    During the recent crackdown on the rebel stronghold, Saif told a French TV station, "Military operations are over. Within 48 hours everything will be finished. Our forces are almost in Benghazi. Whatever the decision, it will be too late."

    It's sometimes hard to understand exactly what keeps this family together, especially given the instability of its central figure. From Muammar's Feb. 24state TV interview:

    "No one above the age of 20 would actually take part in these events, which are run by al Qaeda.... Their ages are 17. They give them pills at night, they put hallucinatory pills in their drinks, their milk, their coffee, their Nescafe.... From a national, moral, ethical standpoint.... they should stop. I have no authority stemming from laws or decisions or anything else, I just have moral authority. I only have moral authority."

    But with his sons now leading the charge against the rebels -- and facing U.N. airstrikes -- it's an almost touching testament to the old adage that blood is thicker than water.

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    Senior Member Array aamirbati's Avatar
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    Last edited by aamirbati; 03-27-2011 at 08:46 PM.

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