By Shane McGinley
Some neighbours “tried to negotiate economic terms in exchange for humanitarian support”
Some Gulf countries tried to negotiate commercial deals in advance of offering humanitarian aid to Libya, one of the North African country’s leading human rights activists told Arabian Business.
"Many countries were involved in supporting the Libyan people at the beginning and came to our aid without question... But others tried to negotiate economic terms in exchange for humanitarian support,” Basit Igtet, president of the Independent Libya Foundation (ILF) said in an exclusive interview.
"When we were bleeding at this time and we were at a moment without choice as Libya and its people were suffering. Other countries watched, felt emotion but did not react or support Libya,” he added.
While the UAE - which was one of the first countries to formally support Libya’s Transitional National Council – last month sent a 100-strong delegation to Libya to assess the requirements of the new government, Igtet said the UAE government was clear that its motives did not come with strings attached.
“The Emirates at the beginning were very clear with us, they said we are not interested in your business, we are interested in a supporting the people of Libya - support to those in need,” he said.
While he declined to name any specific Gulf countries which looked for conditions to offering aid, he said Libya’s new government must be careful who it decides to partner with in its bid to regenerate the country’s battered economy after decades of neglect under Colonel Muammer Gaddafi.
"I cannot say something today but time will let us know… We always have to be, from our perspective, careful who we partner with,” he said. “All counties operate with their own agenda, Emirates, Saudi or Qatar… No country is perfect, as we are all human... But what kind of vision do they have for Libya and its people, is it short-term or long-term? Does it add value to our national vision and identity?”
A non-profit making organisation developed by supporters of the Libyan people and dedicated to the creation of an independent, unified and democratic country, the ILF is already aligning itself with some big western allies.
Its base is in Brussels, where it can it can develop stronger links with the European Union and in February it will host the board of the US-Libya Chamber of Commerce, who will tour the country on the invitation of the Transitional National Council and will be the first official US-led business delegation into Libya since the installment of the Libyan Cabinet on August 19, 2011.