Where could #Gaddafi go if he were exiled? Somewhere where he can get a facelift?

The leader de facto of Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi.Image via WikipediaMuammar Gaddafi has been deaf to criticisms from the international community over the last 4 decades, why would he start listening now? I’ve always thought that if you want an immediate effect on Libya short of military force, you go after his money. If he can’t pay his mercenaries, is he going to write IUOs? If there’s a chance you might die tomorrow, would you accept an IOU? If the Libyan regime is still talking, I don’t think it’s because it has any genuine desire to make any concession, it’s only buying time.   

President Obama has now signed an Executive Order on the Libya Sanctions. He also  sent a letter to Congress. Part of the EO says: 

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America,
find that Colonel Muammar Qadhafi, his government, and close
associates have taken extreme measures against the people of
Libya, including by using weapons of war, mercenaries, and
wanton violence against unarmed civilians. I further find
that there is a serious risk that Libyan state assets will be
misappropriated by Qadhafi, members of his government, members
of his family, or his close associates if those assets are not
protected. The foregoing circumstances, the prolonged attacks,
and the increased numbers of Libyans seeking refuge in other
countries from the attacks, have caused a deterioration in the
security of Libya and pose a serious risk to its stability,
thereby constituting an unusual and extraordinary threat to the
national security and foreign policy of the United States, and
I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

The executive order went into effect at 8:00 p.m. EST on February 25, 2011. Specifically mentioned in the sanctions are:

1. Ayesha QADHAFI [Lieutenant General in the Libyan Army, born circa 1976 or 1977]
2. Khamis QADHAFI [born 1980]
3. Muammar QADHAFI [Head of State of Libya, born 1942]
4. Mutassim QADHAFI [National Security Advisor and Lieutenant Colonel in the Libyan Army, born circa 1975]
5. Saif Al-Islam QADHAFI [born June 5, 1972]

I do think Gaddafi is in this for the long haul, even if this leads to a running bloodbath.  He’s been in power so long, he thinks of Libya the same way Robert Mugabe thinks of Zimbabwe. He suffers from the “this country is mine” syndrome.  At his age, it’s not like he can mount a coup again, or reinvent himself after 41 years of tyranny. But every revolutionary grows old like you and me and everyone else. Except — it looks like this one will leave a trail of blood and death to his grave.

On February 21, the Guardian considered the possible asylum destinations for the Madman of Tripoli, if and when he finally gets pushed out. The Guardian points out the Gaddafi could follow Tunisia’s Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia – or seek asylum in Venezuela or a host of African countries.

Idi Amin finished up in Saudi Arabia. Mobutu Sese Seko went to Togo then settled in Morocco. Mengistu Haile Mariam, author of Ethiopia’s Red Terror, is living out his days in Zimbabwe. And so, if the once unthinkable should happen and the dictator falls in Libya, whither Muammar Gaddafi?

Burkina Faso, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Venezuela and Zimbabwe are among the contenders floated by analysts if the self-declared “doyen of Arab leaders, king of kings of Africa and imam of all Muslims” was forced to seek asylum. Saudi hospitality has previously been extended to ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif and overthrown Tunisia’s Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali. But its relations with Libya have been strained for years; in 2009 Gaddafi told King Abdullah: “You are propelled by fibs towards the grave and you were made by Britain and protected by the US.”

Venezuela is a stronger candidate having had close ties with Libya of late. Gaddafi was seen shopping on a Venezuelan island during a summit 18 month ago. President Hugo Chavez has visited Libya several times and a football stadium there was named in his honour.
One unlikely friend is Nelson Mandela, who never forgot Gaddafi’s support for the African National Congress in the struggle against apartheid. Mandela, now 92 and retired, was once quoted as saying: “Those who feel irritated by our friendship with President Gaddafi can go jump in the pool.”

Read more here.

Toronto’s Globe and Mail, by the way, has an interesting graphic here spotlighting the Gaddafi effect on Africa. Libya’s dictator who has quickly moved from being simply eccentric to being certifiably insane not only bought political influence across the continent, he also paid for peacekeeping missions, infrastructure and humanitarian aid in Mali, Liberia, Niger, Chad, Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia.  In fact, apparently there are African countries who have already offered him asylum. According to this: Unnamed diplomats said Friday that African countries were offering refuge to Moamer Gaddafi and his family, but indicated that for the time being the invitations were being declined.

One could argue that any of the African countries above would be possible destinations for him.  But I don’t think he would opt for any of these places, even when an invitation is offered for one very good reason.

He can’t get a decent facelift there.

Robert Fisk writes “Only a few days ago, as Colonel Muammar Gaddafi faced the wrath of his own people, he met with an old Arab acquaintance and spent 20 minutes out of four hours asking him if he knew of a good surgeon to lift his face. This is – need I say it about this man? – a true story.”

I don’t doubt it and he needs it.

So I started looking.  Certainly there is South Africa. According to this, “South Africa boasts some of the world’s leading plastic surgeons. The quality and care you’ll receive is world-class – you’re getting the best for a whole lot less!”

It’s not like he’ll be pressed for money. But I do not think South Africa is a good fit for him. Mandela is 92 and retired, not possible to know how things might change in a couple of years…

There is one place that might be the very best fit for him.  Gaddafi was reportedly shopping for an island there?  Anyway, his revolutionary brother and BFF is also there.  Hugo Chavez (who by the way can deliver speeches as long as Muammar) can also spew rants against the United States with a drop of a hat, and without a teleprompter!  I just don’t know if Venezuela is large enough to hold both of them …

Chavez has prevailed in doing away with term limits, so he could just continue on to his 4th, 5th term and on and on.  Which makes for a more “secure” future for a newly deposed dictator, if it comes to that.  Gaddafi may also want to be sure that the country that hosts him, won’t cower and hand him over to the UN, ICJ, or whoever wants to try him for crimes against humanity.  Hugo Chavez and cower, of course, are not often used in the same sentence.  So that’s a plus point, I think for Venezuela.

But the main reason, Gaddafi might pick Venezeula is that it occupies the 3rd place in the Top 10 Medical and Surgical Vacations in Latin America.  Except for earthquakes, Latin America is a mighty nice place. Anyway, # 3Venezuela:

Venezuela is your destination if it’s just buttocks or breasts you are after. Plastic Surgery Centres here specialize in implants and augmentation for the two areas and there are additionals such as tummy tucks, nose jobs, liposuction, face-lifts and so on.

If he’s not satisfied with Venezuela, it is a short jump to #7  which is Colombia where: Body alteration vacations are the thing in Colombia. You can fly to Bogota for liposuction, a nose job and boob job for a fraction of the cost in the USA. Diego Maradona might have started the phenomena of tourists coming here for plastic surgery when he had his stomach stapled in Cartagena.”

Stapled? That sounds so painful. But a tyrant who has caused the murder of hundreds of his people, would not flinch on something as wimpy as a “staple….” 
Anyway, if Colombia does not work, there is always #8 Cuba: “once aimed its services at well-off patients from Central and South America but now attracts patients from Canada, Germany and Italy. Dental implants, veneers, crowns and general dentistry are popular packages.”

Well, dental work, too. And why not? 

Please don’t write me emails complaining that this is a weird post.  I know that already. But that mad dog of Tripoli ranting about drugs in coffee as his thugs are killing innocent people deserves an equally bizarre write-up.

CSM reported that Gaddafi’s Plan B is “to live and die in Libya.” I watched one of his sons say the same thing on television – the Plan Alphabet is to “live and die in Libya.”  Which would certainly be a catastrophe of extreme proportion for the Libyan people. 

Both President Obama and Secretary Clinton were quoted in press reports calling for Gaddafi to leave Libya “now.” I don’t know what are the chances of Gaddafi actually ditching Libya for an asylum destination.  But no matter how slim, I think there should be one chute open for him and his family.  A mad man can do unspeakable things as we have already seen. A trapped madman can do even worse.