NATO’s 2011 war on Libya was unanimously sold across the West as a necessary humanitarian operation against the proverbial evil dictator (Hillary Clinton: “We came, we saw, he died.”). Russia and China were firmly against it.
Now, in a stunning historical reversal, the ghost of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi seems to have come back to haunt former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the self-described superstar of that R2P (“responsibility to protect”) spectacular.
The “Colonel Sarko bombshell” exploded on Wednesday evening: he had been placed under formal investigation for passive corruption, illegal campaign financing, and misappropriation of Libyan state funds.
Sarkozy spent the whole of Tuesday, from 8am until midnight, answering questions in police custody from crack investigators specialized in corruption, tax evasion and money laundering. He was allowed to sleep at home but had to be back the next morning, up until the early evening. He was finally released on bail.
“Formal investigation,” under French law, means there is “serious and/or consistent evidence” hinting at involvement in a crime. The next step could be a trial, but the whole investigation could also reach a dead end.
Sarkozy has been the target of no fewer than 10 different investigations so far – seven of them still ongoing.
The French establishment, predictably, is livid. An array of mostly center-right politicians swanned on to political talk shows to support the former president and emphasize “presumption of innocence.” Quite the opposite of the Salisbury spy gambit, where the Kremlin and President Putin have been swiftly condemned, evidence-free.
Sarkozy, widely derided by progressives as “King Sarko” during his tenure, is suspected of having financed his 2007 presidential campaign with Gaddafi funds.
In November 2016, Takiedinne admitted he brought in person to the French Interior Ministry several suitcases full of cash prepared by Tripoli, totaling 5 million euros
And the evidence, in this case, does exist. Among other explosive pieces, an official Libyan document, obtained through an investigation conducted by the French website Mediapart, proves Gaddafi handed over no less than 50 million euros to Sarkozy’s campaign.
That was almost double the legal French campaign funding of 21 million euros at the time. The alleged funds would also have infringed regulations against foreign electoral campaign interference and the sources of campaign contributions.
The key go-between in the whole operation was Franco-Algerian weapons dealer Ziad Takiedinne, who in 2005 and 2007 organized visits by Sarko and his cohorts to Libya. A Libyan bank and a German bank account were also part of the scheme.
Former Libyan PM Baghdadi al-Mahmoudi confirmed the document and the financing are all true.
Way before that, there had been confirmation by Abdullah Senoussi, Gaddafi’s former director of military intelligence, as well as in notebooks belonging to Libya’s former oil minister, Choukri Ghanem, who mysteriously drowned in Vienna in April 2012.
In November 2016, Takiedinne himself – the man who introduced Sarko to Gaddafi – admitted he brought in person to the French Interior Ministry several suitcases full of cash prepared by Tripoli, totaling 5 million euros. He said he was given the money by Sanoussi.
Investigators, who have been in possession of new evidence for several weeks now, are also convinced they have managed to clarify the role of another go-between, Alexandre Djouhri, who lived in Switzerland and connected with the former secretary-general of the Elysee Palace, Claude Gueant. Gueant is also being formally investigated for fiscal fraud.
Everyone in France still remembers King Sarko posing as the Liberator of Libya – and fiercely disputing the title with the shameless, self-promoting, fake “philosopher” Bernard-Henri Levy, a.k.a. BHL.
In September 2011, I outlined for Asia Times – see, for instance, here and here – the myriad reasons why Gaddafi had to go, most of them related to precise French geoeconomic interests and King Sarko’s dreams of cross-Mediterranean glory (“We have aligned with the Arab people in their aspiration for freedom”).
Turns out it’s the Colonel that may have actually made the (faux) King.