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Cablegate: Qadhafi Interview in Lagos Newspaper

P 171356Z APR 85
FM AMEMBASSY LAGOS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1747
INFO AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA
AMEMBASSY CAIRO
AMEMBASSY COTONOU
AMEMBASSY NDJAMENA
AMEMBASSY NIAMEY
AMEMBASSY PARIS
AMEMBASSY RABAT
AMEMBASSY TUNIS
AMCONSUL KADUNA
USIA WASHDC 7334

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 LAGOS 04304

E.O. 12356: N/A
TAGS: PROP LY NI
SUBJECT: QADHAFI INTERVIEW IN LAGOS NEWSPAPER

1. ALMOST AS LOCAL EVIDENCE OF LIBYAN LEADER COLONEL
QADHAFI'S CURRENT DIPLOMATIC OFFENSIVE SOUTH OF THE
SAHARA, THE INDEPENDENT LAGOS DAILY, THE GUARDIAN,
PUBLISHED ON APRIL 15, 1985, THE FOLLOWING EXCLUSIVE
INTERVIEW WITH HIM, BYLINED BY YEMI OGUNBIYI. IT CLAIMED
THAT THE INTERVIEW WAS QADHAFI'S "FIRST WITH AN AFRICAN
NEWSPAPER HOUSE OUTSIDE THE ARAB WORLD AND, INDEED, HIS
FIRST WITH ANY NEWSPAPER IN SEVERAL YEARS." IT INCLUDED
A PICTURE OF QADHAFI TALKING WITH THE ARTICLE'S AUTHOR
AND GUARDIAN PUBLISHER MR. ALEX IBRU, REPORTEDLY AT
SALAHADDIN MILITARY BARRACKS IN BENGHAZI. QADHAFI SPOKE
IN ARABIC AND USED AN INTERPRETER. THE INTERVIEW TOOK
PLACE "BARELY TEN DAYS BEFORE OUSTED PRESIDENT JAAFAR
JIMEIRY LEFT FOR A VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES IN SEARCH
OF AID." QADHAFI WAS CHARACTERIZED AS LUKEWARM TOWARD
NIGERIA.
-
2. BEGIN TEXT:

- GADDAFI DEFENDS LIBYA'S DYNAMIC FOREIGN POLICY
-
- IN A RARE NEWSPAPER INTERVIEW, THE LEADER OF THE
SOCIALIST PEOPLE'S LIBYAN ARAB JAMAHIRIYA, COLONEL
MUAMMAR AL GADDAFI, HAS DENIED THAT HIS SEEMINGLY MILI-
TANT AND AGGRESSIVE FOREIGN POLICY IN AFRICA IS A
CAMOUFLAGE FOR ANY EXPANSIONIST AMBITION.

- SPEAKING IN AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH THE GUARDIAN
AT THE SALAHADDIN MILITARY BARRACKS IN BENGHAZI, LIBYA,
COL. GADDAFI ANSWERED A WIDE RANGE OF QUESTIONS ABOUT HIS
FORCEFUL STYLE OF POLITICS AND DIPLOMACY.
-
- IN THE PROCESS, HE STOUTLY DEFENDED HIS DIPLOMATIC
ROLE AS A LIBERATING ONE FOR THE CAUSE OF ARAB AND AFRICAN
UNITY AND WAS VERY CRITICAL OF THOSE WHOM HE DESCRIBED AS
"FOREIGN ENEMIES" WHO WERE DETERMINED TO PORTRAY HIS IMAGE
IN VERY BAD LIGHT.
-
- "LET ME STATE FROM THE OUTSET THAT THE ROLE WE SEE
OURSELVES AS PLAYING, NOT ONLY IN AFRICA BUT ALSO IN THE
THIRD WORLD, IS A LIBERATING ONE. BUT OUR ENEMIES DO NOT
SEE THIS ROLE AS A LIBERATING ONE. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN
DELIBERATE MISINTERPRETATION WHICH IS QUITE MISLEADING."

- THE SON OF A BEDUIN ARAB, COL. GADDAFI, 43, CAME TO
POWER ON SEPTEMBER 1, 1969, WHEN HE AND A GROUP OF FREE
OFFICERS OVERTHREW KING IDRIS IN A BLOODLESS COUP. THERE-
AFTER, THEY DEDICATED THEMSELVES TO TRANSFORMING THIS
LARGE COUNTRY OF A THREE MILLION PEOPLE "FROM A BACKWARD
STATE INTO A MODERN NATION."

- EASILY ONE OF THE MOST CONTROVERSIAL LEADERS IN THE
WORLD TODAY, GADDAFI HAS EARNED FOR HIMSELF THE EMINENT,
IF SOMETIMES PROBLEMATIC REPUTATION OF BEING ONE OF THE
MOST ACKNOWLEDGED LEADERS IN THE ARAB WORLD.

- THE GUARDIAN INTERVIEW WAS HIS FIRST WITH AN AFRICAN
NEWSPAPER HOUSE OUTSIDE THE ARAB WORLD AND, INDEED, HIS
FIRST WITH ANY NEWSPAPER IN SEVERAL YEARS.

- OF THE GUARDIAN, HE HAD THIS TO SAY: "I HAVE A GREAT
OPINION OF YOUR PAPER AND IT DESERVES ALL THE SUPPORT AND
PRAISE THAT IT IS RECEIVING. FOR, INDEED, WE NEED REAL
AFRICAN NEWSPAPERS AND MAGAZINES WHICH CAN SPEAK UP FOR
AFRICA. IT IS SAD ENOUGH THAT AFRICANS GET TO READ ABOUT
THEMSELVES ONLY FROM EUROPEAN OR THE AMERICAN MEDIA. I
AM PLEASED THAT I CAN MEET WITH YOU AND THAT WE CAN
EXCHANGE VIEWS."

- SPEAKING VERY QUIETLY IN ARABIC THROUGH AN INTERPRETER,
HIS PLACID FACE BETRAYING AN OUTWARD CALM WHICH JARS
SHARPLY WITH HIS CONTROVERSIAL REPUTATION, COL. GADDAFI
SPOKE AT SOME LENGTH ON THE PROBLEMS OF ARAB UNITY AND
ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR A LARGER AFRICAN UNDERSTANDING
AND ACCORD.

- REPORTEDLY, HE DEFENDED HIS SUPPORT FOR MANY REGIMES
IN AFRICA AND SAW SUCH SUPPORT AS VALID WITHIN THE TOTAL
FRAMEWORK OF AN AFRICAN SOLIDARITY AND UNITY.
-
- "ALL THE EFFORTS TO UNITE WITH EGYPT, SUDAN, SYRIA,
ETHIOPIA AND CHAD WHICH YOU REFERRED TO, WERE ATTEMPTS
TO UNITE THE ARAB WORLD AS ONE NATION. THE ARABS AS A
WHOLE ARE LIKE ONE NATION. THEY SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE,
HAVE THE SAME ORIGINS AND ABOUT 98 PER CENT HAVE AND
PRACTISE ONE FAITH. AND FOR US, THE UNITY OF THE ARAB
WORLD IS ONE STEP TOWARDS THE TOTAL UNITY OF THE AFRICAN
CONTINENT."

- COL. GADDAFI WAS VERY CRITICAL OF MOST ARAB COUNTRIES
WHOM HE DESCRIBED AS REACTIONARY, ESPECIALLY FOR BEING
LY DEPENDENT ON WESTERN COUNTRIES FOR THEIR
SURVIVAL.

- "UNFORTUNATELY, TOO, THERE ARE QUITE A NUMBER OF NON-
ARAB COUNTRIES IN AFRICA WHO ASLO BEHAVE IN SIMILAR MANNER,
WHO ARE FOREVER HOPING AND BELIEVING THAT THE WEST WILL
BAIL THEM OUT OF THEIR OWN BANKRUPT AND CORRUPT POLICIES.
BUT THE REALITY IS THAT THEIR VERY DEPENDENCE ON THE
WEST SHORTENS THEIR LIVES (EXCLAMATION POINT)"

- THE INTERVIEW WAS HELD BARELY 10 DAYS BEFORE OUSTED
PRESIDENT JAAFAR NIMEIRY OF SUDAN LEFT FOR A VISIT TO THE
UNITED STATES IN SEARCH OF AID BEFORE HE WAS SUBSEQUENTLY
OVERTHROWN.

- BUT COL. GADDAFI SAVED HIS SEVEREST ATTACKS FOR THOSE
WHOM HE DESCRIBED AS ZIONISTS AND IMPERIALIST AGGRESSORS
IN THE MIDDLE EAST.

- INSISTING THAT ARABS MUST NOT BE MADE TO BEAR THE
RESPONSIBILITIES OF HITLER'S CRIMES, HE REITERATED HIS
NOW FAMILIAR CALL, PRESUMABLY ON THE STATE OF ISRAEL, TO
RETURN ALL ARAB LANDS.

- ON HIS RELATIONS WITH NIGERIA, HE WAS FAR MORE
LUKEWARM AND GUARDED IN HIS REACTIONS.

- "OUR RELATIONS CAN BE BETTER THAN THEY ARE NOW," HE
SAID.

- HIS TEPID RESPONSE TO THE QUESTION OF RELATIONS WITH
NIGERIA MAY NOT BE UNCONNECTED, POLITICAL OBSERVERS BE-
LIEVE, WITH LIBYA'S ROLE IN CHAD, NIGERIA'S NORTH-EASTERN
NEIGHBOUR.
-
- BUT HE DEFENDED THE INTERVENTION OF LIBYA IN CHAD ALL
THE SAME, ARGUING THAT IT WAS NOT IN THE INTEREST OF
LIBYA TO HAVE AN UNSTABLE CHAD, SINCE IT ALSO SHARES
BORDERS WITH LIBYA.

- PRESSED WHETHER HE KEPT TO THE AGREEMENT ON THE MUTUAL
WITHDRAWAL OF TROOPS FROM CHAD REACHED WITH FRANCE, HE
RETORTED: "OF COURSE, WE HONOURED THE AGREEMENT. WE
WITHDREW OUR TROOPS. THERE WERE RUMOURS, POSSIBLY BEING
PUT OUT BY AMERICANS, TO THE EFFECT THAT WE HAD NOT WITH-
DRAWN OUR TROOPS. OBVIOUSLY, FRANCE IS LOOKING FOR AN
EXCUSE TO COME BACK TO CHAD."
-
END TEXT.
-
SMITH

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