tripoli - He graduated from the London School of Economics and is considered the smart, Western-oriented variant of his father. Saif Gaddafi, the son of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, wants to fight the anarchy in his country that has persisted since the disastrous NATO invasion of 2011.
It is 2008. Saif Gaddafi is the right hand of his father, but has now had it all. He would have clashed with conservative family members, and would like to say goodbye to politics. The power in a country is 'no farm', Saif explains, and he would not want to inherit the legacy of his father.
Saif is seen as a smart, somewhat more moderate politician in terms of family values. The New York Times would rename him 'the Western-minded face of Libya' and 'symbol of hope for reform and openness.'
When the United States invaded his country in 2011 together with France and England, Saif initially seemed desperately needed. Former congressman Curt Weldon even dared to, while traveling to Tripoli to convince Muammar to step up, ask Saif if he wanted to play a 'constructive role' in forming a new government. The king is dead, long live the prince.
It did not come that far. Gaddafi was beheaded, and Libya fell into unbelievable chaos, where trafficking in human beings and slave trade are rampant. 'We came, we saw, he died,' Hillary Clinton jubilated.
It is now clear that the Libya raid has resulted in a catastrophe. After the fall of the Gaddafi, there was no alternative. Barack Obama calls it 'his biggest mistake ever'. He was suspicious about the Libya project anyway, but he was persuaded by Clinton, according to a reconstruction of the New York Times.
That NATO wanted to save civilians if Gaddafi Benghazi would invade- the official lecture on the invasion- is now being disputed by many experts. According to David Swanson, other interests were playing in the background: Gaddafi wanted to replace the petrodollar with an African currency, and had large oil reserves, he writes in The Guardian. We will never know what exactly happened, he writes. Yet one thing is certain, writes Micah Zenko of the Council on Foreign Relations in Politico: the real goal has always been 'regime change'. The terrible Gaddafi had to give way.
Yet the alternative turned out to be even more disastrous, and Saif now wants to change that. He himself fled into the desert when the end of his father approached. Later he was caught by a militia. He would be tried in Libya, while the International Criminal Court (ICC) wanted to prosecute him for crimes against humanity. Eventually he was sentenced to death in 2015, to be released a year later thanks to an amnesty scheme.
Since then he is less mild. Meanwhile, he would have gathered troops in the port city of Sabratha, where he fought against IS and illegal smugglers, and eventually returned to Tripoli fighting. Now he also has a political grip on power. 'Saif will keep his word after he promised to either defend his territory in Libya or die as a martyr,' that is how it sounds.
Fighting the chaos with a hard hand: he seems more and more like his father.