AFRICANGLOBE – In our series highlighting extracts from Ghassan Charbel’s new book, Under Gaddafi’s Tent, three of the former Libyan strongman’s close associates (Abdessalam Jalloud, Abdelmonem el-Huni, Abderrahmane Chalgham) talk about how he doled monthly stipends to Egyptian and Tunisian presidents and how Gaddafi’s Lebanese daughter-in-law ridiculed much needed institutional reforms.
Abdessalam Jalloud, was Member of the Council of the Revolutionary Command CCR, Prime Minister and founder of the Revolutionary Committees.
“I met him [Gaddafi] for the first time in Sabha in 1959. We were imprisoned for participating in student protests. We were put in the same cell and we shared the only blanket. Later, he enrolled me into the military academy. He was already thinking about the revolution.”
Abdelmonem el-Huni was member of the Council of the Revolutionary Command (CCR), Minister of the Interior and Foreign Affairs and representative to the Arab League.
“Gaddafi was marked by his origins. He grew up in the desert of Sirte in need. ”His father was a very poor herdsman. He had to walk 10 kilometers everyday day to go to school. ”Sometimes, when there was no available transportation, he would sleep in a mosque. […] ”He gave Mubarak and Ben Ali a monthly salary. He bought a plane for the Egyptian president, and was grateful to Ben Ali for his closing of the western border to the Libyan opposition.”
Abderrahmane Chalgham was Foreign Minister and Permanent Representative to the UN.
“Gaddafi was condescending with young Arab leaders. He called Mohammed VI “my son.” It was the same with Bashar al-Assad and King Abdullah II of Jordan. […] The Egyptians tried to mediate between Gaddafi and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. [But] He railed against Egypt’s Foreign Minister Ahmed Abu Gheit and intelligence director Omar Suleiman: “You are the agents the Saudis who are paying you. I also have money! “[…] ”Former Prime Minister Shukri Ghanem attempted to reform the institutions, but it is difficult to make reforms when the Lebanese wife of Hannibal [one of Gaddafi’s sons] can send an Airbus from Tripoli to Beirut to fetch a dog.”
The author, Ghassan Charbe is a Lebanese journalist and writer. He began his career in the reputed Lebanese daily, Annahar before joining Agence France-Presse and the Saudi-owned pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat. He has been managing editor of Al-Hayat, another major pan-Arab daily, since 2004. He has published several books of interviews with Arab personalities, including Hariri, Walid Jumblat, Michel Aoun, Nabih Berri, Samir Geagea. Charbel also interviewed Khaled Meshaal, George Habash and Carlos.