October Interview: Khaled Kaim
Why do you believe NATO is taking this action against your country?
Most of the Western governments were not happy with the government of Libya for obvious reasons. Two years ago Libya started a huge project, investing $90 billion dollars in Africa. Libya was doing its utmost to help Africa to be one continent and one voice and in 1999 Gaddafi managed to bring all the African leaders to Libya and this led to the establishment of the African Union. France, the United States and the United Kingdom: they still have their own interests in Africa. They did not like the Libyan position regarding the Middle East problem and Palestine and they also didn’t like the conditions for exploiting oil in Libya. All of the Western countries were unhappy with our conditions; they wanted to have the same conditions as they have with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other Gulf states. Days before the crisis started in the country, both the United Kingdom, through BP and the American companies, and the Dutch company, Shell, were trying to force the Libyan government to accept new conditions of exploiting oil and gas in Libya. Qatar was also a part of that pressure, to change the conditions of 1974 when the Libyan government nationalized the oil sector. It is the role Libya plays in Africa and the Middle East, plus our oil and gas; that’s why they forced their own campaign on Libya and are trying to get rid of the regime as soon as possible. They are using everyone and that’s why we are seeing Al Qaeda and Hezbolla fighting hand in hand with NATO. This is strange, it was unexpected, but we are now seeing it as a reality on the ground.
In the 90’s because of the problem in Algeria between the jihadists and the Algerian government, the impact on Libya was huge because a lot of Libyans ended up going to Afghanistan or Sudan or Algeria to join the fighting with the Jihadists and even to Somalia and Yemen. Because of that, when those people came back to Libya in the late 90’s, they started their own campaign against the government here in Libya. Some were killed, some were caught and imprisoned. In 2004, the government decided to start the process of reconciliation. Some of those who were outside of the country were invited to come and join this process; some were even former detainees of Guantanamo or other prisons in different parts of the world. The second part of the process was political reform and economic reform. For the economic reform we had a number of international firms like Michael Porter and other very famous firms drawing up a 25 year plan to advance the economy and make the economy more competitive. The second item on the agenda was to have a new constitution, to allow people to choose their own way of governing and the committee worked on the writing up a new constitution in 2004. A number of international consultants were hired and joined the committee, they finished in May 2010 and the first draft was sent to the General Peoples Congress in November after the Supreme Court reviewed the first draft of the constitution. We were hoping that the General Peoples Congress on 2nd March 2011 approved the constitution which was the implementation of a more moderate system. It was to give more accountability and transparency in the way people choose their own local authorities and so on.
We have seen uprisings in Tunis, Cairo, Bahrain, Yemen and so on. There is a general perception in the West that all of these uprisings have the same motivation. Can you tell me the difference between the so-called Arab Spring and what is happening here in Libya?
I’ll tell you what the difference is. Since day one we challenged the rebels to lay down their arms; they don’t need to fight. We offered an amnesty for those who laid down their arms and that amnesty is still in effect now. We challenged the rebels; if you have supporters, go out into the streets and demonstrate peacefully. We called for international observers to come to the country to observe that the government was allowing peaceful demonstrations. That’s why it’s completely different. I believe what is happening here in Libya has been orchestrated from the West. If you look at the facts you will be able to form an opinion for yourself. The unrest started on the 15th February; 11 days later on the 26th February all of the Western Embassies withdrew their staff and closed their embassies without giving us any notice. On the same day, Resolution 1970 was passed before the United Nations; a week later SAS soldiers and secret service agents are in Benghazi supporting the rebels. It’s quite clear what is happening. It’s sad.