Sunday, 20 February 2011

Gaddafi, the British government and the LSE

Muammar Gaddafi has been in power in Libya for longer than fourty years.

The US and the British condemned Gaddafi's regime. However, the oil wells in Libya were too appealing to US and the British firms to miss such an opportunit. The "Oil for us and regime for you" program that was tolerated internationally sounds like a less noble trade than the more popular oil for food UN program. Hard to conclude whether this was the best world possible or additional diplomatic effort may have anticipated the home made "oil for democracy" plan that Libyans are ready to put forward by themselves now.

The recent uprising in Libya follows one that led Mubarak to stand down in Egypt. However, Gaddafi's regime sounds determined to stay in power for longer. Will he succeed? Differently from Mubarak's son Gamal who did not manage to take over from his father, Gaddafi's second son Saif has been actively involved in non-for-profit activities in Libya. He has also recently contributed to tame the protest in a televised message. The message is skillfully pitched by blending popular Arabic norms and values with notions from international relations. No surprise, Saif studied at the London School of Economics (LSE) and also made generous donations to finance research there as his profile suggests.

The admission committee at the LSE must have had a hard time when screening the application by Gaddafi's son beyond his academic credentials. Rejecting the application would not do much as the next top school in the UK or elsewhere woul admit him. By admitting him instead the training that the LSE offered Saif a chance to return home to do one of two things. Either take over the "Gaddafis family business" when his dad retires or, more bravely, make a U-turn and pay back Libyans in the streets by making their dreams about democracy a reality.

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