I wanted to give this the single post it deserved, continuing Qaddafi Watch 2010. This morning Salon reprinted an article from Der Spiegel, which was an interview with Mouamar al-Qaddafi on, you know, paranoia and Switzerland and things of that nature. If you are as misguidedly fascinated with the leader of Libya as I am, give it a read, but here’s a couple winner pull quotes.
Whatever you may now say about Switzerland, previously it didn’t bother you in the least. You did business with the country — your company Tamoil Suisse has dozens of filling stations in Switzerland.
Money is laundered on a grand scale in Switzerland. Anyone who robs a bank later invests the money in Switzerland. Anyone who evades taxes goes to Switzerland. Anyone who wants to deposit money in secret accounts goes to Switzerland. And a large number of owners of such secret accounts have died under mysterious circumstances.
Yes, Switzerland is behind it all.
Don’t Libyans also have secret accounts in Switzerland?
Yes, there are also Libyans who have such accounts, and many of them have also died in unexplained ways. All around the world, the families of these people are going to sue Switzerland. And one more thing: Switzerland is the only country that allows euthanasia. Why does only Switzerland do that?
Medical euthanasia is also legal in the Netherlands. And, it cannot go unmentioned that Libya has previously had citizens killed abroad who were said to be disloyal.
But we are talking now about Switzerland. It is possible that among the Libyans who you are asking about — and who died abroad — there were also some who died because they had secret accounts in Switzerland.
And you are seriously maintaining that Switzerland as a state ordered the killing of these people?
The investigations will show this. And this brings me back once again to the phenomenon of assisted suicide. A large number of people have been deliberately eliminated under this pretext. Switzerland maintains that these individuals expressed the desire to take their lives. But in reality it was done to get at their money. More than 7,000 people have died like this. I am thus calling for Switzerland to be dissolved as a state. The French part should go to France, the Italian part to Italy and the German part to Germany.
Amazing. The next bit is about his son Hannibal, who was previously arrested in Switzerland on the accusation of beating two of his employees; an accusation which al-Qaddafi claims he had never heard. Which, wow. But let me leave you on this thrilling response:
Where do you get your facts? Do you watch television? Do you read books?
I get most of them from the Internet. I constantly sit at my computer. I read in Arabic, but now it is of course also possible to immediately get translations from English.
The internet! I love it.
Qaddafi Watch 2010: I couldn’t make it up if I tried. ETA: See also Starbuck, if only to ogle his slanket.
Fear not, O Reader. Even during health-downturn-the-extended-remix I still kept vigilant on Qadaffi Watch 2010. By which I mean to say, March was a very special month for the Man from Libya. (April is looking pretty good too.)
In February of this year, Qadaffi called for jihad against Switzerland after its rather ridiculous and alarmingly bigoted minaret ban. This was some icing on the safra for Qadaffi, because it offered the perfect opportunity to publicly retaliate for the arrest of his son (on charges of beating his servants) in Geneva in 2008. Though Libya claimed its next action was not caused from a response to this, the country promptly detained two Swiss businessmen for over a year.
Switzerland responded by banning 188 Libyan citizens from entering Europe via its borders. Libya, in turn, said f*** that and promptly blacklisted the 25 countries (plus bonus trade embargo!) in the Schengen Area from entering its nation.
This kind of ticked the EU off. At Switzerland. (Probably at Qadaffi, too, but publicly at Switzerland.) So Switzerland dropped its ban like a hot potato, and finally, at the end of last month, Libya dropped its as well, thus more-or-less ending the 19-month bickering over whether Switzerland stepped over the line by making an alien resident of its country adhere to its laws regarding employee abuse.
The Economist has a pretty cogent rundown of events, with some additional notes about how the scuffle affects the country’s economy:
Libyans susceptible to populist slogans may have chuckled over the visa fight, but its biggest effect was to reinforce the impression that Libya is a risky place for tourists or businesspeople alike.
Such self-inflicted damage is neither occasional nor restricted to higher policy. Consider the case of an Egyptian grocer who spent years building a thriving business in Libya, then made the mistake of going home on holiday. Abrupt changes to visa rules mean he can no longer return. Earlier this year, the new manager of a hotel in Tripoli, an expatriate, fired some staff and switched suppliers. This prompted someone to make a telephone call. A sudden snap health inspection of the hotel larder revealed a few tins past their sell-by date. The manager is now in prison.
Qadaffi is the world’s longest-serving non-hereditary ruler at 41 years and counting, but if he can be so capricious in the last three months (or the last three years, for that matter) as to upset the balance of his economic and diplomatic ties to the rest of the world–after only really opening them up in the last decade–one wonders whether he veering closer to actual senility or merely overconfidence in his rule.