Jewish World Review April 15, 2004 / 25 Nissan, 5764
Dealing with the Libyans: Is Khaddafi about to cash out?
The Department of State is facing a deadline and a dilemma. The deadline is April 22, because the following
day, according to the three-way deal our diplomats negotiated with the oppressive tyranny of Muammar Khaddafi,
the Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland will transfer $1.35 billion to Libya unless the United States has
lifted sanctions. That sum is being held by the Swiss Bank on behalf of the families of the victims of the Lockerbie
terrorist bombing, to which the Libyan government has admitted guilt.
In other words, either we lift sanctions within the next eight days or the Lockerbie widows and orphans lose
and Libya gains $1.35 billion.
Actually, it's even worse than that. We are clearly going to lift the sanctions some time in the fairly near future, as a
demonstration of our pleasure with Khaddafi's decision to shut down his WMD programs and to give us
information about the covert programs of the terror masters. When that happens, he will collect slightly more than
one billion dollars in assets that are now frozen by the U.S. Treasury.
So the accounting looks like this: Khaddafi's paid half of his obligation to the families ($1.35 billion). If Foggy
Bottom doesn't move in the next few days, he'll recover the other half. And then, when we normalize with Libya,
he recovers another billion. Quite a deal for a guy who's confessed to mass murder.
It would be terrible for the United States to let this happen, and it can be avoided in two ways: We can lift the
sanctions right away, thereby obliging the Swiss to deliver the second tranche to the families. Or we can tell
Khaddafi to extend the deadline, so that as seems proper and logical to me the balance will be paid
whenever the sanctions are lifted. If he balks, somebody at State could whisper to him that if he doesn't agree to
the extension, the sanctions will remain.
I'm told that some clear-thinking senators are planning to send a letter to President Bush, along these lines. Good
on them, but it shouldn't be necessary. Our diplomats should have acted on this long since, in order to avoid the
kind of last-minute pressure that is now upon them.
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JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of, most recently, ""The War Against the Terror Masters," Comment by clicking here.
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© 2001, Michael Ledeen