Sun. Sep 19th, 2021
Qaddafi’s Son Is Alive. And He Wants to Take Libya Back.


Kaber’s electrical power has stemmed from the bank’s manage more than Libya’s oil income. He also oversees the payment of the country’s militias, which regardless of their fratricidal wars and disrespect for the law have been on the state’s payroll because 2011. Libya now has the highest proportion of state workers in the globe, Kaber advised me. The challenge commenced beneath Qaddafi, who destroyed the personal sector and then purchased social peace by doling out countless government jobs, numerous of them no-demonstrates. The state now spends so heavily on subsidies that gasoline is less expensive than water, which has manufactured big-scale smuggling unstoppable. At instances, the central bank’s eastern branch, in Benghazi, was applying ersatz Libyan dinars printed in Russia. “We manufactured a determination not to accept these dinars, but then they have been accepted at business banking institutions,” Kaber advised me. His place, he mentioned wearily, is “absolutely one of a kind.”

A single of the good mysteries close to Kaber is how he has stored his occupation. No other big political figure has survived the decade because 2011. He has manufactured loads of enemies, but another person has normally intervened to guard him. Libyans will inform you this is no mystery: Kaber has played his cards masterfully, handing out favors and selectively closing his eyes. He has the electrical power to raise or lessen the gap concerning Libya’s official and black-industry exchange costs, which has at instances been quite big. By granting specific people today accessibility to the official price, he can, in impact, make Libya’s nouveaux riches even richer. The financial institution has most probably presided more than fake import schemes with fabricated letters of credit score, in accordance to Worldwide Witness, a nongovernmental organization based mostly in London. On some events, Kaber acknowledged, big outlets of income have simply just disappeared. Even the head of Libya’s Nationwide Oil Corporation final yr accused Kaber of squandering billions of bucks of oil income and allocating credits to “fat cats.”

Kaber moved his relatives to Britain many years in the past. He later on moved them to Turkey, probably a much better refuge now that some are calling for him to encounter a reckoning. There is no doubt that he is a shrewd guy.

When I asked about accusations of embezzlement, Kaber advised me that he had finished nothing at all improper and that the financial institution had taken measures to fight income laundering and fraud. Yes, billions of bucks had gone missing. But when it came to the false paperwork that enabled these crimes, “the occupation of the financial institution director is with paperwork,” Kaber advised me. “The people today at the border have the authority to confirm them.” A single guy could not be held accountable for the country’s failures. The interview came to an finish quickly soon after. He smiled politely in advance of strolling me back down his prolonged workplace to say goodbye.

All through our talks, Seif returned once again and once again to the concept that Libya has not had a state because 2011. The numerous governments that have claimed electrical power because then, he mentioned, have actually just been gunmen in fits. “It’s not in their curiosity to have a sturdy government,” he mentioned. “That’s why they are afraid of the elections.” He went on: “They are towards the concept of a president. They are towards the concept of a state, a government that has legitimacy derived from the people today.” The corollary could not have been clearer: Seif looks to feel that only he can signify the state for all Libyans.

This dynastic presumption is rather brazen, not least mainly because Muammar el-Qaddafi prided himself on owning transcended the concept of a state. He vaunted his Libya as a jamahiriya, a portmanteau of the Arabic phrases for “masses” and “republic.” Qaddafi’s most lasting crime may possibly have been his destruction of the country’s civic institutions. His erratic decrees left Libyans in a continuous state of worry for their lives and house. His revolutionary committees have been bands of zealots who intimidated ordinary Libyans and could organize to have them jailed at will. In 2011, there was a continuous confusion close to the word “revolutionary,” mainly because the rebels and the loyalists the two recognized themselves that way. Typically, their techniques have been the identical. In a sense, what took place in Libya soon after 2011 was not so significantly a revolution towards Qaddafi as a replication of his solutions on a community degree. “Libya did not divide,” Ghassan Salamé, a Lebanese diplomat and former United Nations envoy to Libya, advised me. “It imploded.”

In excess of the previous yr, Libyans have been riveted by an atrocity that appeared to recapitulate all the worst facets of the Qaddafi era. It took spot in Tarhuna, a farming town about an hour’s drive southeast of the capital. Following the ruling militia — run by the notorious Kani brothers — was forced out in June final yr, residents started acquiring human stays close to an olive grove at the edge of town. Excavating teams uncovered the bodies of 120 people today, but other mass graves have been quickly found and a lot more than 350 households have reported missing family members. The victims integrated females and small children, some of them shot as numerous as sixteen instances. As their stories emerged, a window opened onto a bizarre reign of terror that lasted for nearly eight many years. No 1 did anything at all to end the Kanis, mainly because they manufactured themselves so helpful to all people in Libya’s political class, allying to start with with Tripoli’s political bosses and then with Hifter. Their reign turned Tarhuna into a police state with echoes of the Qaddafis’ personal: 6 brothers place their stamp on every thing and terrorized their people today, all in the identify of revolution.

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