I hope Mark would agree that Libya’s new friendship with Scotland is starting to bear promised fruit. The two nations are so different, yet so similar. Here’s evidence from Martin Fletcher reporting in the Times on the mammoth celebrations in Triploi marking Gadhafi’s 40 years of nuttiness ruling his sandy perch as a desert disco king.
On a vast stage at one end of Green Square hundreds of mainly French performers rehearsed a two-hour history of Libya for tomorrow’s celebrations of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s 40 years in power. Libyan men sat in front of giant screens showing scantily clad Western dancers gyrating amid giant sphinxes.
At the other end of the square, beneath banks of powerful floodlights, bands from Austria and Australia, Wales and South Africa, Senegal and Ethiopia practised for a military-style tattoo — produced by Russians.
You can’t get better than that in Edinburgh. In fact, you used to have to go much further south in Africa to get this sort thing. Jean-Bedel, où êtes-vous? For that matter, where’s that Scottish “justice” minister, Kenny somebody? Surely, he’ll be in Libya, gyrating in his native skirt amid giant sphinxes?
And well he should be there. He can help mark Libya’s membership, inspired by the Scots, in the Axis of Compassion. The side-story to the Libya-Scotland tale is set up with the aridity of Gadhafi’s great sand sea by the Wall Street Journal’s Deborah Ball in a single paragraph:
Earlier in the month, Swiss President Hans-Rudolf Merz traveled to Tripoli to apologize to Col. Moammar Gadhafi for the arrest of the Libyan leader’s son Hannibal in July 2008. Hannibal Gadhafi was arrested at a luxury hotel in Geneva after two servants accused him and his wife of beating them.
May we pause for a moment and ask what kind of world are we living in when a man and his wife can’t even beat their Swiss servants? Anyway, Hannibal was released instantly, but in retaliation, the Libyans kidnapped a couple of Swiss businessmen, including the country manager of Swiss engineering firm ABB — and then severed diplomatic and financial ties with the small, canton-filled, multilingual Alpine movie set. After a long negotiation, Gadhafi promised to release the two men, so Switzerland sent a Swiss Army airplane containing a corkscrew and a tweezer to Tripoli to extract them. The Libyans kept the men, but sent back their baggage.
An ABB spokesman said the arrival of the businessmen’s luggage was “a good development.”
“A good development”? It’s more than that, ignorant Swiss spokesman. In Libya, keeping a man but sending home his socks is a gesture of compassion. In Scotland, it’s the other way around! Vive la différence.