Tripoli/New york, Mar 3 (Agencies/pti): Muammar Gaddafi and Hugo Chávez may be old friends and allies, but it is far from clear whether the Venezuelan president has a plan that is likely to resolve the crisis in Libya.
Reports that Chávez has proposed international mediation involving Latin America, Europe and the Middle East are short on detail, except that the initiative has been dubbed the “committee of peace” and is “under consideration” by the Arab League.
“There were no definite ideas,” the league’s assistant secretary general, Hassan Youssef, told the Egyptian paper al-Masry al-Youm. “We need to know the basis for the suggested negotiations and where to start them.”
Chávez has said the time is ripe for such an initiative because, he claims, the US is ready to invade Libya. The US has said only that it would deploy naval forces in the Mediterranean area in response to the crisis. Not only is there is no sign an invasion is being planned, Washington has backed away from imposing a no-fly zone.
Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua have claimed that western powers want to control Libya for its oil wealth. It was, they said, “better to have a political solution instead of sending marines to Libya, and better to send a goodwill mission than for the killing to continue”.
The appeal of the Venezuelan leader’s intervention is that it posits a “south-south” solution in response to the emerging standoff between Gaddafi and eastern rebels. But it raises the key question of whether the anti-Gaddafi forces, based in Benghazi, are ready to negotiate with a regime they say they are determined overthrow.
Mustafa Abdel Jalil, Gaddafi’s former justice minister and chairman of the newly formed National Libyan Council, has insisted he rejects any talks.
Nicolás Maduro, Venezula’s foreign minister, criticised the US and the EU for trying to isolate Gaddafi and raising the possibility of providing military support to the opposition, according to the state-run AVN news agency.
The two leaders know each other well from their common membership of Opec and share anti-imperialist and anti-American rhetoric. Chávez was one of the few world leaders to attend the lavish 40th anniversary celebration of the Libyan revolution in September 2009, while western guests stayed away. He has been to Libya six times since becoming president in 1998.
Gaddafi’s wealth spread across globe: US
Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi has spread his wealth, estimated to run into hundreds of billions of dollars across at least 35 nations on four continents, as Western bankers attempt to unravel his financial tentacles.
His bizarre mix of investments range from luxury real estate and publishing companies in Britain to hotels in the Middle East and a prized stake in Italy’s famed Juventus football franchise, the CNN reported.
These, the channel said, were his well known investments, but the Libyan strongman in recent years has turned away from the West and is believed to have poured hundreds of billions of dollars in unstable African nations, with reports that Gaddafi even holds a major stake in a Zimbabwe’s giant commercial bank.
All these come on top of billions of dollars that Libya has stashed away in the United States’ largest and most influential investment banks.
Libya and its maverick leader are sitting on huge stockpiles of cash dollars and according to Western estimates they are using this money to hire mercenaries from North Africa to keep the dictator in power.
The CNN said when UN lifted its economic sanctions on Libya in 2003, Gaddafi and his financial experts created a sovereign wealth fund, which today ranks among the world’s largest and reported to be worth USD 60 billion.
Compiling details of Gaddafi’s assets, the CNN said that the Libyan leader had about USD 32 billion in liquidity stored in US banks and in nearby Canada, his investments include taking over a oil-rig company Verenex Energy for USD 320 million.
The American channel said the Libyan dictator’s assets in Italy included stake in oil giant Eni, defence company Finmeccanica and UniCredit, Italy’s largest bank.
The Libyans also have 7.5 per cent stake in Juventus.
The American and European bankers and financial experts say that they have only touched the tip of the iceberg as they believe that his major investments are held through proxy names.