Colonel Muammar Gaddafi symbolizes many things to many different people around the world. Love or hate the Libyan leader, under his rule Libya transformed from one of the poorest countries on the face of the planet into the country with the highest living standards in Africa. In the words of Professor Henri Habibi:
When Libya was granted its independence by the United Nations on December 24, 1951, it was described as one of the poorest and most backward nations of the world. The population at the time was not more than 1.5 million, was over 90% illiterate, and had no political experience or knowhow. There were no universities, and only a limited number of high schools which had been established seven years before independence.1
Gaddafi had many grand plans. Many of them were of a pan-African nature. This included the formation of a United States of Africa.
Gaddafi’s Pan-African Projects
Colonel Gaddafi started the Great Man-Made River. The Great Man-Made River is a massive project to transform the Sahara Desert and reverse the desertification of Africa. The Great Man-Made River with its irrigation plans was also intended to help the agricultural sector in other parts of Africa. This project was one of the victims of NATO’s attacks on Libya.
Gaddafi also envisioned independent pan-African financial institutions. The Libyan Investment Authority and the Libyan Foreign Bank were important players in setting up these institutions. Gaddafi, through the Libyan Foreign Bank and the Libyan Investment Authority, was instrumental in setting up Africa’s first satellite network, the Regional African Satellite Communication Organization (RASCOM), to reduce African dependence on external powers.2
It is believed that his crowning achievement would have been the creation of the United States of Africa. The supranational entity would have been created through the African Investment Bank, the African Monetary Fund, and finally the African Central Bank. These institutions were all viewed with animosity by the European Union, United States, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and World Bank.
Gaddafi’s Wealth Redistribution Project
Gaddafi had a wealth redistribution project inside Libya. U.S. Congressional sources in a report to the U.S. Congress even acknowledge this. On February 18, 2011 the report stated:
In March 2008, [Colonel Gaddafi] announced his intention to dissolve most government administrative bodies and institute a Wealth Distribution Program whereby state oil revenues would be distributed to citizens on a monthly basis for them to administer personally, in cooperation, and via local committees. Citing popular criticism of government performance in a long, wide ranging speech, [he] repeatedly stated that the traditional state would soon be “dead” in Libya and that direct rule by citizens would be accomplished through the distribution of oil revenues. [The military], foreign affairs, security, and oil production arrangements reportedly would remain national government responsibilities, while other bodies would be phased out. In early 2009, Libya’s Basic People’s Congresses considered variations of the proposals, and the General People’s Congress voted to delay implementation.3
The Wealth Redistribution Project, along with the establishment of an anarchist political system, was viewed as a very serious threat by the U.S., the E.U., and a group of corrupt Libyan officials. If successful it could have created political unrest amongst many domestic populations around the world. Internally, many Libyan officials were working to delay the project.
Why Mahmoud Jibril Joined the Transitional Council
Amongst the Libyan officials who was opposed to this project and viewed it with horror was Mahmoud Jibril. Jibril was put into place by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi. Because of strong influence and advice from the U.S. and the E.U., Saif Al-Islam selected Jibril to transform the Libyan economy and impose neo-liberal economic reforms.
Jibril would become the head of two bodies in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the National Planning Council of Libya and National Economic Development Board of Libya. While the National Economic Development Board was a regular ministry, the National Planning Council would actually put Jibril in a government position above that of the equivalent of the prime minister–the Office of the General-Secretary of the People’s Committee of Libya. Jibril actually was one of the forces that opened the doors for privatization and poverty in Libya.
About six months before the conflict erupted in Libya, Mahmoud Jibiril actually met with Bernard-Henri Lévy in Australia to discuss forming the Transitional Council and deposing Gaddafi.4 He described Gaddafi’s Wealth Redistribution Project as “crazy” in minutes and documents from the National Economic Development Board of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.5 Jibril believed that the masses were not fit to govern themselves and that an elite should control the fate and wealth of any nation. What Jibril wanted to do is downsize the government and layoff a large segment of the public sector, but in exchange increase government regulations in Libya. He would also always cite Singapore as the perfect example of a neo-liberal state. While in Singapore, which he regularly visited, it is likely that he meet with Bernard-Henri Lévy.
When the problems erupted in Benghazi, Mahmoud Jibril immediately went to Cairo, Egypt. He told his colleagues that he would be back in Tripoli soon, but he had no intention of returning. In reality, he went to Cairo to meet the leaders of the Syrian National Council and Lévy. They were all waiting for him to coordinate the events in Libya and Syria. This is one of the reasons that the Transitional Council has recognized the Syrian National Council as the legitimate government of Syria.
Mahmoud Jibril is now the prime minister of the Transitional Council of Libya. The opposition of Jibril to Gaddafi’s Wealth Redistribution Project and his elitist attitude are amongst the reasons he conspired against Gaddafi and helped form the Transitional Council. Is this ex-regime official, who has always been an open supporter of the Arab dictators in the Persian Gulf, really a representative of the people?
- Henri Pierre Habib, Politics and Government of Revolutionary Libya (Montmagny, Québec: Le Cercle de Livre de France Ltée, 1975), p.1. [↩]
- Regional African Satellite Communication Organization, “Launch of the Pan African Satellite,” July 26, 2010. [↩]
- Christopher M. Blanchard and James Zanotti, “Libya Christopher M. Blanchard and James Zanotti, “Libya: Background and U.S. Relations,” Congressional Research Service, February 18, 2011,” Congressional Research Service, February 18, 2011, p.22. [↩]
- Private discussions with Mahmoud Jiribil’s co-workers inside and outside of Libya. [↩]
- Internal private documents from the National Economic Development Board [↩]