Passport? Check. Suitcase? Check. Enemies list? Ticked. Billion-dollar frivolous lawsuit for defamation of character? Check.
Muammar Qaddafi, officially Brotherly Leader and Guide of the Revolution--whose career trajectory has now passed the orbits of army Colonel, revolutionary hero, dictator, scion of pan-Arab nationalism, patron saint of international terrorism (or, depending on your outlook, freedom fighting), and leader of all Africa--will complete his dream for global dominion when Libya assumes the presidency of the United Nations General Assembly later this summer.
(Look out, Mr. Universe.)
Any doubt that Qaddafi is adapting to his burgeoning status as global alphadog with anything but grace was euthanized by his filing of a one-billion-dollar lawsuit against a Ugandan tabloid--The Red Pepper--which recently suggested that the Colonel has had a steamy affair with that country's Queen Mother.
(Qaddafi also has outstanding lawsuits pending against unflattering newspapers and journalists in Niger, Algeria and Morocco. Next up may be Zimbabwe, whose press has lampooned the Libyan leader for throwing a tantrum when, upon arriving for an official state visit in South Africa, Qaddafi was greeted by South Africa's minister of culture instead of incoming president Jacob Zuma.)
“We stand by the story,” said Red Pepper editor Ben Byaraba, “and we are waiting for Qaddafi to stand in court to accuse us of writing that he is engaged in the sex scandal.”
Should worse come to worse, of course, the newspaper--nay, the country--would not be able to pay off Qaddafi. Uganda's per-capita GDP is about $1100, which means Qaddafi may have to accept 909,090 average Ugandan citizens in lieu of a cash settlement.
DOING AMERICA'S LAUNDRY
All kidding aside, the recent mysterious death of a Libyan opposition leader suggests Qaddafi is getting cozier with America ahead of what is sure to be a spectacle of his addressing the United Nations General Assembly later this year.
The death in a Libyan prison of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi just weeks after he was visited by reps of Human Rights Watch has raised the alarm that Qaddafi is doing America favours ahead of Libya's formal welcoming back into the society of Western-friendly nations.
Al-Libi, a member of an Islamic opposition movement to Qaddafi's rule, was renditioned and tortured in Egypt under the auspices of the CIA where he produced forced confessions linking Saddam Hussein to al-Qaeda of the sort that the Bush administration needed to justify its 2003 invasion.
He was then repatriated to Libya, where Qaddafi--no friend to Islamists anyway--locked him up at the request of the American government. Then came the Human Rights Watch visit, worries that the Obama administration is having trouble putting the Bush administration's record to rest, and (presto!) al-Libi's sudden, apparent suicide.
Cavorting with HRW is just the kind of thing that would embarrass the US and jeopardize its plans to use Qaddafi as a proxy for a new, softer kind of imperialism. A redeemed Libya heading the UNGA looks tolerable on America's ledger. A Libyan who can't keep his mouth shut about torture does not, and Qaddafi won't abide such defamation of his character.
Would Qaddafi kill to take over the world?
More Tuque Souq coverage of the Lightness of Being Qaddafi