Corruption Case Against Sarkozy Sheds New Light on Ousting of Gaddafi
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is welcomed by Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi at his Bab al-Azizia compound during an official visit to Tripoli, Libya, on July 25, 2007.
- Last month, French police detained and questioned Sarkozy about illicit payments Gaddafi is said to have made to Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential election campaign. Sarkozy, it now appears, was eager to shift the narrative to put himself at the forefront of a pro-democracy, anti-Gaddafi intervention.
- The lack of political authority in Tripoli has also opened the door for the migrant crisis in Europe, with Libya serving as a gateway for migrants to escape Africa via the Mediterranean Sea.
Although far fewer people have died in the Libyan conflict than in Iraq or Syria, the problems Libya faces seven years after NATO’s fateful intervention are no less complex, and often have more direct impact on Europe than what’s happening in Syria and Iraq.
A History of Corruption
After the sanctions were gone, Gaddafi looked to foster a cleaner, more legitimate image in Western circles. He found particularly eager suitors in British oil and gas companies, as well as Tony Blair, then the British prime minister, who saw lucrative business possibilities in the country. In 2006, Gaddafi bought a surveillance system from a French company, i2e, which boasted about its close ties with Sarkozy, who at the time was France’s interior minister. In 2007, after he was elected president, Sarkozy received Gaddafi for a five-day state visit, Gaddafi’s first trip to France in over 30 years.
President Nicolas Sarkozy, left, meets with Moammar Gaddafi on Dec. Military sales “lock in relations between two countries for 20 years,” noted Michel Cabirol, an editor at the French weekly La Tribune, who has written extensively on arms sales.
- “For Sarkozy, it was important to sell the Rafales because no one had sold them to a foreign country. Gaddafi first asserted that he paid Sarkozy’s campaign in an interview two days before the first NATO bombs were dropped.
In 2012, the French investigative news website Mediapart published a Libyan document signed by Moammar Gaddafi’s spy chief, Moussa Koussa, arranging for 50 million euros to support Sarkozy’s campaign, which French authorities later found to be authentic.
- Businessman Ziad Takiéddine arrives at the anti-corruption police office in Nanterre, France, on November 17, 2016, for a hearing after admitting he delivered three cash-stuffed suitcases from Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi to former French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Sarkozy’s aide at the time, Claude Guéant , had opened a large vault at BNP in Paris for seven months during the campaign.
- The former Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi has asserted in media interviews that payments were made.
One of the Libyans who is said to have organized the payments, the head of the Libyan investment portfolio at the time, Bashir Saleh, was smuggled out of Libya and into Tunisia by French special forces, according to Mediapart.