There is no dearth of news regarding Libya, the rebels, the National Transitional Council, Qaddafi’s whereabouts, his recent desire to negotiate, the rumors about him and his family having crossed into Algeria, NATO’s overstepping the boundaries of its initial mandate, and the final push of rebel forces to capture Syrte, Qaddafi’s hometown.
On the other side of the Atlantic, they are calling Libya Sarkozy’s war. Surprised? Post World War II, Libya came under French and British control as a UN Trusteeship, with Italy relinquishing its decades old reign. Sarkozy was so intent on getting it ‘right’ in Libya that he became a dedicated student of the country: after all, he was the one to initiate the armed intervention. He learned the names of all the cities that were key for capture, – memorized the map showing the routes leading to the capital of Tripoli. He learned the importance of Brega and Misrata as front lines in the offensive.
That’s not all; Sarkozy used his good relationship with Qatar to ship arms to the rebels, the last of the shipments anchoring recently in Tripoli to deliver weapons to rebel commandos. As Le Monde indicated, just as Kosovo was dubbed ‘Madeleine’s war’, referring to then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Libya belongs to Sarkozy. With it, his hope is to effect a strategic redeployment of France in the Arab World (is Algeria next?) all in the name of defending democratic values.
Philosopher and writer Bernard Henri Lévy served as Sarkozy’s personal ambassador and ‘chief agitator’, being one of the first to arrive in Benghazi as far back as November 2010. While in public, Sarkozy declared that France would find itself fighting on the sides of the oppressed, in private he swore to bring Libya to its knees.
France was very involved and noticeable in the last day’s of Gbabo’s rule in the Ivory Coast civil war. And with Libya, Sarkozy felt that he would find himself and France as part of the historical record. He involved himself personally with leaders of the opposition, a task usually reserved to presidential advisers.
There was great resentment held by Sarkozy at claims made by Qaddafi that Libya had financed his presidential campaign in 2007, and alluding to France’s insatiable appetite for Libyan oil. Sarkozy took it very personally.
And yet, there had been a rapprochement between the two countries during the Bulgarian nurses imprisonment, when Sarkozy’s ex-wife made a personal visit to Qaddafi to secure their release. But things began to unravel when Qaddafi visited France and called on French youth in the suburbs (minority ethnic groups) to rise up, and pointed to France’s oppression of women.
Thus, Sarkozy is now described by officers close to him as a president to take risks and has no inhibitions to use the military option to support his convictions.