Gaddafi 'shocked' by former European friends

'I am so shocked, I feel betrayed, I don't even know what to say to Berlusconi,' Libyan leader says
BITTER BETRAYAL: Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said he felt betrayed by former European allies like Italys Silvio Berlusconi who have turned against him (Getty Images)
By Reuters
Tue 15 Mar 2011 01:29 PM

Libyan
leader Muammar Gaddafi said he felt betrayed by former European allies like
Italy's Silvio Berlusconi who have turned against him and said business links
with Europe risked lasting damage.

Gaddafi
dismissed demands by world powers for a no-fly zone over Libya or the
possibility of airstrikes, telling Tuesday's edition of the Italian daily Il
Giornale that: "We will fight and win. A situation of that type will only
serve to unite the Libyan people."

The
Libyan leader said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has officially
recognised the rebel Libyan National Council and called for targeted
airstrikes, had a "mental disorder".

In
the interview, Gaddafi said the criticism of his rule from Europe, culminating
in a demand by EU leaders that he leave power, had threatened ties.

"I
was really shocked by the attitude of my European friends," he told the
newspaper. "They have damaged and endangered a series of major accords on
security that were in their interests and the economic cooperation that we
had."

Asked
about his relations with Berlusconi, previously his closest friend in Europe,
he said: "I am so shocked, I feel betrayed, I don't even know what to say
to Berlusconi."

EU
leaders have slapped economic sanctions on Tripoli following the outbreak of
fighting between rebel forces in the east of the country and troops loyal to
Gaddafi and at a summit meeting last week demanded that he step down.

Until
the unrest, economic ties had been blossoming. Italy, in particular had
developed close links with its former colony, with which it also had agreements
to block the flow of clandestine immigration from Africa. However Gaddafi said
these were now under threat.

"I
think and hope that the Libyan people will reconsider economic and financial
ties and also those in the field of security with the west," he said.

Eni,
Italy's biggest oil and gas company, has extensive operations in Libya,
including long-term contracts and says it plans to invest some $25bn there.

Other
Italian companies with significant interests or ties include defence and
aerospace group Finmeccanica and Italy's biggest bank Unicredit.

"When
your government is replaced by the opposition and the same thing happens in the
rest of Europe, the Libyan people will perhaps take new relations with the West
into consideration," Gaddafi said.

He
also repeated that his government had represented a bulwark against Islamic
extremism, which could now be unleashed, triggering more serious unrest in the
region.

"If
instead of a stable government which guarantees security, these bands linked to
bin Laden take control, the Africans will move in a mass towards Europe and the
Mediterranean will become a sea of chaos," he said.

If
western forces attacked Libya, he would join forces with the radical Islamists.
"We will ally ourselves with al Qaeda and declare holy war," he said.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Subscribe to Arabian Business' newsletter to receive the latest breaking news and business stories in Dubai,the UAE and the GCC straight to your inbox.