The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

From revenge to friendship

Qadhafi is canceling Libya's "day of revenge," when the country
celebrates its independence from the its former colonial master, Italy,
and replacing it with a "day of friendship." And he's also agreed to
allow former Italian pieds-noir who were exiled to href="">come back:

Giovanna Ortu, born in Libya in 1939 and head of the
association of exiles, said: "For six years we've been told it would be
possible, since the Italy-Libya agreement of 1998. In April 1999 Libya
opened up to tourists, but we were specifically barred. I was very much
against Mr Berlusconi's latest visit to Gaddafi. Successive governments
of left and right have made oil more of a priority than our problems,
and in the process we lost honour."
The group, the Italian Association for Repatriation to
Libya, still wants Libya to pay €250m (£170m)for expropriated property,
but that is not the principal issue. "None of us wants to go back to
live," Ms Ortu said. "We no longer cherish hatred and we are ready to
forget. But we want the right to return for holidays. It's a matter of

The $6.6 billion natural gas pipeline that will be going to Italy and
bringing $20 billion over the next 20 years will also help bury those
bad old memories, I'm sure.
Still, I have a weird feeling that you can never quite know what's going
to happen next with Qadhafi. After all, he still looks crazy.

While on the subject of the mad bedouin, Abu Aardvark writes of accusations that Libya is supporting remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq and reminds us that

Most experts on Libya, both academic and governmental, argued something quite different: Libya took the opportunity to cash in its non-existent nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of sanctions and restoration of diplomatic relations, which Qadaffi had been trying to get through negotiations for many years. Qadaffi got what he wanted - the sanctions lifted and normal diplomatic status - and gave up very little.

One day someone will write a history of Qadhafi's Libya, and I think it will be a most entertaining book.