[Marxism] The Qaddafi-Berlusconi bromance

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Aug 28 08:03:21 MDT 2011


Gaddafi's Italian Connection

For years Gaddafi and his clan lived it up in Italy with Berlusconi, 
bought soccer teams, and invested millions, but now la dolce vita is 
over as the dictator’s falls and his Italian friends disavow him. By 
Barbie Latza Nadeau.

by Barbie Latza Nadeau | August 27, 2011 10:39 AM EDT

It is no secret that Muammar Gaddafi and Italian Prime Minister Silvio 
Berlusconi were soulmates until last March when Italy starting allowing 
NATO to use its airbases to bomb the country. The two shared a penchant 
for opulence and sex, made more obvious by the porn stash found in 
Gaddafi’s compound last week. Gaddafi was a valuable trade partner but 
his greatest gift to the Italian billionaire may have been teaching him 
the nubile sex ritual known as “bunga-bunga”. But Berlusconi shared an 
intimate relationship with Gaddafi that went far beyond their love of 
hair dye and erotica, he considered Gaddafi a “close friend and 
partner.” The friendship was mutual. Berlusconi’s photo shaking hands 
with Gaddafi is on all Libyan passports issued since 2008 when the two 
leaders signed a bilateral “Treaty of Friendship, Partnership and 
Cooperation” in Libya. When Italy got involved with NATO bombardments, 
Gaddafi expressed his disappointment in Berlusconi. "I am so shocked, I 
feel betrayed, I don't even know what to say to Berlusconi." In secret 
messages that will be released by Italy’s foreign ministry next week, 
Gaddafi blatantly threatens to turn the tiny island of Lampedusa into an 
“inferno by infiltrating the refugees with armed fighters.” Italy’s 
foreign minister Franco Frattini says, “Gaddafi also planned to 
masquerade military cadavers in civilian clothing and blame NATO.”

But Gaddafi and his family also shared close personal and business ties 
with other Italians who have now deserted the despot. Gaddafi’s most 
important friend outside the government was Paolo Scaroni, head of ENI 
oil company, who forged a lucrative relationship with the Gaddafi for 
the sake of keeping a firm hold on Libyan oil. ENI was one of the first 
to develop production when oil was discovered in 1959. Once Gaddafi even 
halted a commercial flight on the tarmac leaving Tripoli to get Scaroni 
off, just so the two could share dinner. Last March, after NATO bombing 
began, Scaroni pleaded with European partners to stop sanctions and 
military action against Libya and try to rebuild ties. Now he says that 
NATO was right and that ENI will have an even better relationship with 
the new government.  He told Newsweek that he did not see any direct 
correlation between his or Berlusconi’s friendship with Gaddafi and 
ENI’s future in Libya. “The truth is that the new government in Libya 
will need Italy and ENI even more than Gaddafi did,” he told The Daily 
Beast. “We have a 40-year history in the country’s oil production and 
they need that oil to survive and rebuild their country.”

Giancarlo Lehner, who was part of the Libya task force in Italian 
parliament that helped oversee the trade partnerships between the two 
countries, is still insisting that Italy owes Gaddafi or at least his 
family some sort of asylum. He told The Daily Beast, “We have to work 
with the rebels now to honor our business dealings, but that doesn’t 
mean we need to turn our backs on Gaddafi who was instrumental in 
getting those agreements in the first place. Libya remains one of our 
most important trade partners, thanks to our friendship with Gaddafi.”

Many Libyan defectors once close to Gaddafi have come to Italy. In May 
eight army officers defected from Gaddafi’s military service and are 
still living with their families in Italy. Last week, his former second 
in command Abd el Salam Jalloud defected as well. He met with the 
foreign press corps in Rome on Thursday and distanced himself from 
Gaddafi, insisting that the two had fallen out in the 1990s. “He ran 
Libya like he owned it,” Jalloud said. “And all the citizens were just 
part of his dysfunctional family.” Jalloud is living the king’s life in 
Rome now, holed up in a luxury hotel near the Villa Borghese and meeting 
with Italian elite—many of whom he knows.

But long before Gaddafi started his bromance with Berlusconi, the 
Gaddafi clan and the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company were already 
intimately involved in Italy. The Libyan leader had a long-standing 
business relationship with Turin-based FIAT motors, of which he once had 
a 15 percent stake when the company was nearly bankrupt. A custom-made 
green and yellow electric FIAT 500 was found in Gaddafi’s compound when 
it was raided last week. The LAFIC still has a stake in Finmeccanica, 
Italy's largest defense company that supplied the Libyan army with 
weapons and tanks. It also holds a stake in Unicredit, Italy's largest 
bank. Gaddafi acquired 7 percent of the wildly successful, FIAT-owned 
Juventus soccer team in 2002. Many speculated at the time that it was to 
ensure that Gaddafi’s third son al-Saadi,an aspiring footballer, would 
get to play. “My dream is to wear the black and white shirt,” al-Saadi 
said when his father announced his purchase of shares in Juventus. 
Problem was, the young Gaddafi was an atrocious soccer player and the 
team was far too successful and its management far too astute to cave to 
signing the son of an investor, even if it was Gaddafi.

In 2003, with a little nudging from Silvio Berlusconi, who didn’t want 
to sign a bad player to his own Milan team’s roster, Perugia’s 
billionaire owner Luciano Gaucci made a deal with al-Saadi, then 27, and 
signed him on. (The Perugia team went bankrupt a year later and Gaucci 
was charged with corruption and fled to the Dominican Republic.) 
al-Saadi sat on the bench for nearly two seasons before failing a drug 
test for steroids. During that time his father rented out one whole 
floor of the luxury Brufani Hotel overlooking the Umbrian countryside. 
Almost everyone in Perugia has a story of al-Saadi, from how he bought 
several of his teammates (the ones who played well) SMART cars to how he 
often took his closest friends and teammates by private jet to Milan and 
Sardinia to go dancing. He meandered through the Umbrian hinterland in 
his bright yellow Lambroghini Diablo (a painting of which was found in 
the family compound garage in Tripoli).

After Perugia went bankrupt, he transferred to nearby Udine to play for 
the Udinese, where lived at Là di Moret, the city’s most luxurious 
hotel. Ivano Molinaro was a doorman at the time and went on to write a 
book about the secret lives of hotel guests, including al-Saadi. He told 
The Daily Beast that the younger Gaddafi was “as crazy as his father” 
and the hotel bills, which were paid directly from his father’s account 
in Tripoli, were astronomical. Molinaro says al-Saadi kept a room for 
Dina his Doberman and the dog’s instructor. Molinaro said Dina got the 
bed and the instructor slept on a simple mat on the floor. Al-Saadi 
travelled with an entourage of 13, including his wife’s personal 
assistant who once ordered a whole milk bath for her, angering the hotel 
owner who thought someone had broken into the kitchen and stolen all the 
milk, “The morning after there wasn’t even enough milk to make a 
cappuccino,” Molinaro says.

Italy is first in line now to help rebuild a new Libya, hoping the 
rebels forget how close Berlusconi and the country was to the man who 
they nearly destroyed their country to oust from power. But even though 
the Gaddafi’s won’t be gallivanting about Italy anytime soon, there is 
no question they left their mark.

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