Bulwark Intelligence

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi


Can Saif Ghaddafi fix Libya?

How would Libyans react? Answer: Most Libyans who lived during the era of Ghaddafi and now in the divided country are fed up with the continuous instability and they are positive that Saif Islam has the experience to unite Libya again. But one must not ignore an existing dissention in roughly about 20-30 of tribes and mostly militias and organised crime groups that depend on the chaos to survive and continue their illegal activities. In some cases, there is obvious scepticism as to whether their support for Saif Islam, a controversial figure, will become a reality or backfire if he does not win. The most opposition comes from Al-Qaeda and ISIL elements in addition to foreign backed elements benefitting from the external funding from Turkey, Qatar, EU states but it is the support of Libyans in Libya that matters most.  What are the main narratives of Saif Al Islam Ghaddafi’s platform?  Answer:  Like all prospective candidates who would be putting themselves to run as Presidential candidates for the first general elections in the history of Libya after Muammar Ghaddafi, the main narratives will be underscored by the issue of the security and stability of Libya, the crumbling economy, post conflict infrastructural reconstruction, social welfare, domestic and foreign policies. This will be the key narratives of most candidates, but Saif Islam is not like any other Presidential candidate. Saif Islam is the bloodline of his late father and he was the most active and outspoken of the Ghaddafi lineage during the NATO led revolution in 2011. In comparison to other possible contenders, Saif Islam has more experience, exposure, knowledge and trust of the ordinary Libyan who now look back in reminiscent of what Libyans enjoyed in the days of his father in comparison to what Libya is today for only a few individuals. Saif Islam has gone through a political ‘grounding mill’ and he understands what will take Libya out of its current chaotic state. A modern governance by the people and for the people without foreign interference in the internal affairs of Libya. While in jail, and after spending all his life in Libya politics in a very strategic and operational role both at home and abroad; Saif Islam has taken time to think and reflect on what went wrong and now he has the only opportunity to perhaps have another go if the people of Libya choose to elect him as their next President in a free and fair election. It is clear to Saif Islam that after almost 7 years of chaos that followed the Arab Spring neither the Libya National Army (LNA) of General Khalifa Haftar nor the Government of National Accord (GNA) nor AQ or ISIL factions have the capacity to bring Libya even close to where it was when his father was in power for 42 years. Ordinary Libyans who make up majority of the voting population and who do not benefit directly or indirectly from the chaos are tired of the instability and Saif Islam is putting himself forward as the man who can save Libya from total obliteration. He is comparatively young, energetic and patriotic. Even before the 2011 revolution, Saif Islam was very instrumental and demonstrated excellent international relations with external countries. Unlike Saif Islam, the LNA of Haftar is regarded by many Libyans as too authoritarian and a direct product of the CIA. The UNSMIL/GNC is equally regarded as too democratic and a UN and EU puppet. Saif Islam comes across as one of the surviving sons of Ghaddafi who has the genetic credentials and passion to change the complex dynamics of Libya, a country that is very strategic to regional, European and Sahelian peace and security. Let us not forget, Saif Islam may have a very ugly past and has been involved in some bad political decisions in the past but in balancing the precarious and downward circumstances in Libya today he, and he alone stands the best chance to unify Libya again should he be given the opportunity. What are the main challenges he is likely to face? Answer:  There are 5 key challenges that immediately comes one’s mind. His biological and political background His controversial relationship with the external world especially the EU, UN, UK & US. The ICC indictment that hangs over his neck How he can fix Libya with several conflicting tribal factions How fair will the elections of 2018 be? 1st challenge:  Saif Islam’s first challenge may seem to be his ‘Achilles heels’ but it is also his most powerful strength (It’s like the famous saying that goes; the strength of the chain is in the weakest link.). This is a man with the Ghaddafi controversial image and blood inside and outside his body like bad rash, but again, that is exactly what makes him a genuine contender for the position. Without his biological background, we won’t be so focused on Saif Islam today. He faces the challenge of internal acceptance by Libyans as some Libyans who suffered under his father’s regime will not want to see another Ghaddafi in power creating an impression of a family dynasty. Saif Islam will have to assure ordinary Libyans that he brings forth a slightly different approach from his father and he is ready to leave power when his mandate expires as the Libyan constitution will spell out terms of office. It cannot be business as usual for Saif Islam and he sees his political intervention as the last opportunity to resuscitate Libya. 2nd Challenge: Beyond Libya, Saif Islam is considered, especially by the west (UK, EU, NATO, US) as a spitting image of his father’s hard-line political views despite his western educational background during his days at the London School of Economics (LSE). Saif Islam is going to have to battle hard to change his spots but of course I do not see Saif Islam winning the hearts of the West now because the bitterness is still fresh, he must focus on winning the hearts and minds of

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