Libya: Exiled 'Blood of Gaddafi' Could Return as Prime Minister

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Libya: Exiled 'Blood of Gaddafi' Could Return as Prime Minister
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Libya: Exiled 'Blood of Gaddafi' Could Return as Prime Minister

In 2011 Mohamed Gaddafeddam bin Nail‎ became one of the most high profile Libyans to speak out against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi.

He called on the people of Libya to rally around the revolutionary forces as they attempted to topple the Gaddafi regime.

A member of one of Libya's most important and renowned families and the same tribe as Gaddafi, he had a $25m (£14.9m, €18.3m) price tag placed on his head by the dictator. Gaddafi's son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi even took to Al Jazeera to call on their shared tribe to turn against Gaddafeddam.

His own family – including his father, a close ally of Gaddafi – disowned him on Libyan television.

Gaddafeddam then disappeared from the public eye, disheartened by the way in which the revolution unfolded.

Now, in an exclusive interview with IBTimes UK, he reveals that, with Libya in danger of falling apart, he is ready to return to the political sphere.

Political Ambitions

Gaddafeddam says that his primary ambition is to serve the people in whichever way he can, to expunge the radicals and to return the country to the pre-1969 constitution, which served the country through what he describes as the "golden age".

He says he is willing to accept whatever role he could best represent the Libyan people – including prime minister.

Gaddafeddam claims to have the support among people in Libya to make this happen. He claims not to be a politician, but primarily a businessman.

A country is like a business, he says, it can't operate without a structure.

"The question is 'what is the structure?'. If I had to be the prime minister, I would be ready to do that. But the question is about the system, a proper system. There are three prime ministers now, I don't know what they're fighting for. There's a chair, a steering wheel but whoever wants to sit in that chair driving must be able to manoeuvre the whole country," Gaddafeddam says.

In the aftermath of 2011, he quickly faded into the background.

This was in response to the immediate failure to return to the pre-Gaddafi constitution. Before 1969, he says, Libyans enjoyed the best period in their history, with education, healthcare and prosperity for all.

He is, he says, not short of offers or support in the political arena.

He claims to have rejected pleas from three political parties to join them in the National Transitional Council, saying that he wished to steer clear of official political channels which are full of former regime members and radical Islamists.

He's spent the intervening three years outside Libya, fearful of those in in his home country who may still wish him harm. Gaddafeddam says he has been working as a consultant, assisting companies getting their products into new markets around the world but not, he says, into Libya. 

Now, he wants to use his influence to bring tribes and factions together, but is ambiguous about how best this would be achieved.

Equally, when quizzed on his immediate aims, he is elusive. His ambitions seem high-minded, but nebulous.

He says he would be willing to be the Libyan leader and is assured of his own place in Libya's political future but without any real conviction where that may be.

Gaddafeddam says that while General Khalifa Haftar, the military rogue that has been leading the fight against Islamist group Ansar al-Sharia, is "in his heart and prayers", he will not align himself with him until he has an idea of the direction in which he wishes to lead the country.

The last thing Libya needs, he says, is another military junta, à la Gaddafi or General Sisi in neighbouring Egypt.

However, he acknowledges that force will be necessary to remove what he considers to be the opposition to Libyan liberty.

"There is no other way," he says.

Family History

Gaddafeddam is from a family that is entrenched in Libya's history. Described by Arabic media as "blood of Gaddafi", he comes from a tribe which, he says, Gaddafi's ancestors joined up with in recent generations.

His grandfather – also Mohamed Gaddafeddam – was one of the founder members of the Libyan army which led the country to monarchic independence under King Idris in 1951.

The country had been occupied by the Allies after World War II, having been an Italian colony since 1911. Before this, it was ruled by the Ottoman Empire since the 16th century.

In 1969, however, a coup d'état led by Colonel Gaddafi toppled the monarchy. Gaddafeddam's father – Sayed Mohamed Gaddafeddam – was one of Gaddafi's closest allies.

Gaddafeddam, however, claims that he was never a supporter of the regime. He studied and worked overseas – primarily in Geneva and Italy. His only role in connection with the government, he says, was as the head of a Libyan foreign investment company, a state-owned vehicle, between 2010 and 2012.

"I was never a big fan of the old system," he explains. "I took the advice of my grandfather who didn't want any member of the family to be part of the system. As I left Libya very early, I was lucky."

The reaction to his opposition to Gaddafi was furious. Video footage shows his family washing their hands of him.

"They were attacking me on Libyan TV. They brought my family to the TV to disown me. Saif Gaddafi came to the TV saying: 'this guy is crazy'. But for me, even if I died I knew this guy [Gaddafi] had gone too far."

He is adamant that his aims are not financial. "I could have made hundreds of millions of dollars in the revolution," he says, referencing the government figures who have siphoned off portions of Libya's oil wealth.

Western Support

It's Gaddafeddam's view that Nato was misled in 2011, when it helped topple the Gaddafi regime and installed the interim NTC.

Their intentions were good, he claims, but they weren't aware that the ranks of the nascent government were filled with Islamist hardliners and hangovers from the previous regime.

"I personally think that Libya's future needs to be with the international community," he says. "We need to be with countries that are advanced – we need very strong tools internationally. We have the resources, we have the money and we want to have a lot of partners that can help us change our country in a short time."

He says that after the events of 2011, the West shares some responsibility and should help Libya return to stability, although he stops short of calling for military intervention.

Gaddafeddam has taken the decision to speak to the western media because he feels that in whatever capacity he returns to Libya, he will need the backing of the international community.

His views are clear: Libya has become a training camp for Al Qaeda. Many of the weapons being used in Syria and Nigeria are coming from forces in Libya.

Something, says Gaddafeddam, has to give.


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