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Tuesday, 24 February 2009

World Agenda: time to pump money back into Gaddafi's Libya?

It was a pariah state, but as the national rehabilitation of Mad Dog's country continues, Britain's biggest oil companies are lining up to do business

Few world leaders have survived to savour a rehabilitation as profound as that of Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader. His Socialist-Islamic Revolution, which marks its 40th anniversary this year, and his support for militant groups around the world cast his country into the role of pariah state, severed from the international community by sanctions.

But today, trade delegations from Britain and other countries are lining up to do business there. Britain’s biggest oil companies have already signed multi-billion-dollar exploration deals. British universities are teaching 3,000, fee-paying Libyan postgraduate students. And health service managers are waiting to snap up training contracts if the mooted privatisation of Libyan hospitals comes to light.

It will stick in the throats of relatives of the 270 people killed when a Libyan spy blew up PanAm flight 103 over Lockerbie, and of the families whose sons and daughters were killed by IRA explosives supplied by Gaddafi’s agents, but the Brother Leader is now a trusted friend in the fight against terrorism.

As one observer put it, if there is one thing that keeps Gaddafi up at night it is Islamic fundamentalism, not a return to Imperialist domination. More