Saif Ghadafi: a man of empty words

Moammar’s son used to be known as a democrat. Now he’s been threatening that ‘rivers of blood’ will flow.

A man of empty words


It’s true that many left-leaning university students make the ideological shift to the right after graduation. But few go as far as Saif al-Islam Gadhafi, the second-eldest son of the embattled Libyan leader.

The 38-year-old, who has been known to openly criticize the regime, earned his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics and Political Science in 2009, where he wrote a dissertation on how to create more just and democratic global governing institutions. As recently as May 2010, he gave a public lecture at the LSE, entitled “Libya: Past, Present, and Future.” He was introduced by an esteemed professor, David Held, who was also his academic adviser, as “someone who looks to democracy, civil society, and deep liberal values for the core of his inspiration.” Saif said in his talk, “No doubt, there will be some who will react with skepticism, that I am presenting a view of participatory democracy in a region of the world that has been resistant to democracy.”

Far from it. The shaven-headed, Italian-suit-wearing Gadhafi Jr. has been hailed a reformer, credited with opening Tripoli to the West by helping to disarm Libya. Last year, he told Time magazine that he felt strongly about arriving at total political freedom in his oil-rich homeland—as soon as possible. But in the last several weeks, there has been an apparent about-face. As his father’s regime attempted to crush the pro-democracy movement sweeping Libya, Saif appeared on state TV in a 40-minute speech, warning that “rivers of blood” would flow if the “drugged-out” dissenters didn’t go home. Contrary to his university writings and the apparent wishes of his people, he said, “Gadhafi will remain, and things will go back to the way they were.” He also stated that life was normal in most of Libya, and like his father, blamed others for the crisis. This, despite the UN’s estimates that at least 1,000 people have died so far in the revolt.

Many who know Saif have tried to distance themselves from him, and the LSE is investigating allegations that he plagiarized his thesis and hired a ghost writer. Others say his past words were empty. Vanessa Tucker, Middle East analyst at Freedom House, says, “Saif’s rhetoric did not change the fact that political parties continue to be completely illegal, Libyan law continues to criminalize very basic demonstrations of freedom of speech and association, and there are no mechanisms of accountability for members of the security services, who are routinely implicated in cases of arbitrary arrest, incommunicado detention, enforced disappearances, and other violations.”


Saif Ghadafi: a man of empty words

  1. I was always wondering, what democratic government would do here if group of thugs starts demonstrating in a town or city , ransacks the Police Station, Arms Depot and Government Offices and takes over heavy artillery guns and come to street, challenging the Government.

    • Funny how "thugs" seldom seem to feel the need to come out and ransack in democratic countries.

    • Have you seen Egypt? Lybia? Anywhere else?…
      Did you see the G20 meeting last year in Toronto?
      Let me tell you:
      Were ANYBODY, thugs or not, stand up against our dearly beloved overlords, they would not hesitate to have "those who stood up"… shot down in the street like dogs. USA? Same thing, bigger bullets. England? Ditto. France? The same.
      There is your answer.

  2. And many in the media, Universities professors, students, elites were all taken and being had. I wonder how many of our universities have been receiving funding from Gadaffi, his ilk, and from the Middle Eastern countries – this should be investigated. These same groups were so easily taken and had by Tarek Ramadhan (as soft spoken and a philosopher) and Muslim brotherhood as reformed. Why is it so easy to dupe these crowds with mere words? Had these groups had the chance to meet Bin laden, they would sing his praises too. Pathetic!

  3. Remember when Trudeau sent soldiers into the streets against the FLQ? Or how about the number of police in the streets during the recent G20 in Toronto? There is no way in hell that a Canadian government would sit back while thugs raged out of control on the streets of Canada. As far as the media, universities, etc., being taken in by Tarek Ramadhan and his ilk, you ain't seen nothing yet. Today's university students are not the same as those of 20-30 years ago. Today, they are basically unable to read or write properly, cannot reason logically and are, therefore, unwilling and/or unable to think for themselves. Just try to tell them something they don't want to know and see what happens. Thankfully, I don't have much longer to go on this earth because within the next 20-30 years the way things are going now, this world will not be fit for those of us who know the difference between right and wrong, good and bad.

  4. Quote from the article: "The shaven-headed, Italian-suit-wearing Gadhafi Jr. has been hailed a reformer, credited with opening Tripoli to the West by helping to disarm Libya." If John Gotti was the "dapper Don" with street creds and populist appeal, then I suppose we could label (Armani?) Gadhafi Jr the dapper Democrat. We've seen this movie before. During the early 1980s, the new Soviet premier, one Yuri Andropv, was touted as someone who enjoyed old Scotch whiskey and Western jazz and likely to be open to reasonable accommodation with the West. It was all smoke and mirrors. Ditto with Gadhafi Jr.

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