Did US officials secretly aid Qaddafi?

AlJazeera‘s Jamal Elshayyal, reporting from Tripoli Aug. 31, claims to have uncovered documents at the ransacked offices of Abdullah Alsinnousi (also rendered al-Senussi)—Qaddafi’s intelligence chief (and in-law), now wanted for war crimes—implicating elements of the United States government in supporting the strongman, in violation of official policy. Damaged in a NATO air-strike before being overrun by rebel troops, the office is now in chaos. Elshayyal claims that among the thousands of once-secret documents now littering the floor, he found some that name US political figures as quietly backing the Qaddafi regime—including Rep. Dennis Kucinich. Writes Elshayyal:

I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials —Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail—and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.

Welch now works for Bechtel, a multinational American company with billion-dollar construction deals across the Middle East. The documents record that, on August 2, 2011, David Welch met with Gaddafi’s officials at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, just a few blocks from the US embassy.

During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi’s team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several “confidence-building measures”, according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.

Minutes of this meeting record his advice on how to undermine Libya’s rebel movement, with the potential assistance of foreign intelligence agencies, including Israel.

The documents read: “Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It’s better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries…”

OK, shaking down Qaddafi for intelligence on al-Qaeda can be interpreted as mere pragmatism, and a move that could help the US manage the après-Qaddafi. But it seems to go beyond that:

The papers also document Welch advising the Gaddafi’s regime to take advantage of the current unrest in Syria. The documents held this passage: “The importance of taking advantage of the Syrian situation particularly regarding the double-standard policy adopted by Washington… the Syrians were never your friends and you would loose nothing from exploiting the situation there in order to embarrass the West.”

This can hardly be interpreted as anything other than honest advice to the dictator on how to ride out the storm. So what was Welch’s aim for Libya?

The documents allege that Welch went on to propose the following solution to the crisis which he said many would support in the US administration: “[Gaddafi] should step aside” but “not necessarily relinquish all his powers”.

This advice is a clear contradiction of public demands from the White House that Gaddafi must be removed.

According to the document, as the meeting closed, Welch promised: “To convey everything to the American administration, the congress and other influential figures.”

Now read this and weep, liberals:

It appears Welch was not the only prominent American giving help to Gaddafi as NATO and the rebel army were locked in battle with his regime.

On the floor of the intelligence chief’s office lay an envelope addressed to Gaddafi’s son Saif Al-Islam. Inside, I found what appears to be a summary of a conversation between US congressman Denis Kucinich, who publicly opposed US policy on Libya, and an intermediary for the Libyan leader’s son.

It details a request by the congressman for information he needed to lobby US lawmakers to suspend their support for the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and to put an end to NATO airstrikes.

According to the document, Kucinich wanted evidence of corruption within the NTC and, like Welch, any possible links within rebel ranks to al-Qaeda.

The document also lists specific information needed to defend Saif Al-Islam, who is currently on the International Criminal Court’s most-wanted list…

A spokesperson for the US state department said that David Welch is “a private citizen” who was on a “private trip” and that he did not carry “any messages from the US government”. Welch has not responded to Al Jazeera’s requests for comment.

Dennis Kucinich issued a statement to the Atlantic Wire stating: “Al Jazeera found a document written by a Libyan bureaucrat to other Libyan bureaucrats. All it proves is that the Libyans were reading the Washington Post… I can’t help what the Libyans put in their files… Any implication I was doing anything other than trying to bring an end to an unauthorised war is fiction.”

We have earlier noted Kucinich’s seeming softness on Syrian strongman Bashar Assad. Ironically, in the Bush administration, Welch seems to have been on the Syria “regime change” desk—maybe, like many Republicans, he has had a change of heart about “regime change.” As for the role of Israel, we have noted before claims that it was secretly backing Qaddafi, with Israeli firms even recruiting mercenaries for him.

If these new charges from AlJazeera are true, this appears to be further evidence of the split within the ruling elites between “neocons” and “pragmatists”—or, those bent on “regime change” and those who favor stable dictatorships. But it also reveals a convergence between the paleocon “pragmatists” and elements of the supposed “left.” This is a phenomenon we have seen before, not only in Libya, in Egypt and in Iran—but also in the coalition that came together behind Obama in ’08.

We once again warn against this alliance between “progressives” and paleocons, and the dictators they support. When the “left” supports dictators, we say it has betrayed progressive values and become the idiot left.

See our last post on Libya.

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