Capturing the Qaddafis
Capturing the Qaddafis: The new Libya has a chance to wipe the slate clean — or descend into regional bickering. My argument in FP about how both Abdullah Senussi and Saif, in their own ways, promoted the crony westernization which brought down the Gaddafi regime.
Saif was known for his seemingly genuine admiration of Western constitutionalism and technological progress. Senussi understood that Libya couldn’t survive isolated from the West, but also grasped that introducing Western technology and the discourse of human rights would complicate his continued efforts to repress the Libyan people.
Both men were profoundly aware of the challenges the 21st century presented to the continued rule of the Qaddafi clan and urged a controlled opening to the West to save the “family business” — an effort that eventually backfired. Most outside observers assume that Senussi, as a security thug from the desert, was a reactionary figure who fought against Saif’s progressive détente with the West after 2003 and his economic privatization inside Libya. I came to meet Senussi while working in Libya in 2008 and discovered, to my great surprise, that, although he bordered on being illiterate — even in Arabic – he grasped the urgency of attracting foreign direct investment as much as any of the so-called Libyan reformers with doctoral degrees.