Libya’s tyrant Muammar Gaddafi is dead and buried but his pimps around the world don’t seem to have got the message yet. Perhaps, like some of Elvis Prestly’s fans, they believe that he’s immortal and is lurking among us, maybe in a disused sewer somewhere.
Be that as it may, it’s worth looking at some of the lies being peddled by these pimps, if only for a laugh – and to have some pity on these individuals. It’s bad enough being a pimp, but a pimp with limited intellect, chronic cognitive dissonance and perhaps also some literacy problems is a creature truly worthy of our pity.
Here’s a selection of the Gaddafi lies still working their way around the internet, with my replies beneath each lie. In contrast to Gaddafi's pimps, I have lived and worked in Libya for over 40 years, so I know what I am talking about .
Lie #1. There is no electricity bill in Libya; electricity is free for all its citizens.
This is a complete fabrication ‑ Libyans have always had to pay for utilities, including electricity.
Lie #2. There is no interest on loans, banks in Libya are state-owned and loans given to all its citizens at 0 per cent interest by law.
This is another fiction – Libyans have always paid interest on all loans. This includes students sent to study abroad – their “grants” are deducted from their salaries after they return home. In addition, under Gaddafi many Libyan have had to borrow money from banks, relatives and friends in order to seek medical treatment abroad, typically in Tunisia, Jordan or Egypt. And this in an oil-rich country with a small population of just six million (including at least two million foreign workers).
Lie #3. Home considered a human right in Libya – Gaddafi vowed that his parents would not get a house until everyone in Libya had a home. Gaddafi’s father has died while he , his wife and his mother are still living in a tent.
This is complete nonsense. It’s true that after Gaddafi’s coup in 1969 most of the corrugated iron shacks that dotted suburban areas in Libya disappeared, but that’s hardly a great achievement in a country whose population in 1969 was just 1.5 million and whose oil revenue grew at least tenfold during Gaddafi’s reign. In fact, it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that this would have happened anyway, Gaddafi or no Gaddafi, given the phenomenal growth of income from oil. And that's not to mention the palaces Gaddafi built for himself in every city – all paid for with the Libyan people's money.
Lie #4. All newlyweds in Libya receive 60,000 Libyan dinar (50,000 US dollars) from the government to buy their first apartment and help start up a family.
This is a complete fabrication. It never happened either before or during Gaddafi’s reign. In fact, a huge number of people in Libya are unable to marry because they cannot afford to rent, buy or build a home.
Lie #5. Education and medical treatments are free in Libya. Before Gaddafi only 25 per cent of Libyans were literate. Today the figure is 83 per cent .
Education and medical treatment have always been free, under the monarchy and during Gaddafi’s reign. However, under Gaddafi, and especially from the late 1970s onwards, if you were unlucky enough to go to a state hospital you would have had to (a) bring your own bedding if you wanted to sleep in clean bedding; (b) get your family or friends to bring in food for you; and (c) put up with appalling standards of hygiene, including reused syringes. If you didn’t want any of this, then would have had to find the money to go to a private hospital.
Lie #6. Should Libyans want to take up farming career, they would receive farming land, a farming house, equipments, seeds and livestock to kick ‑ start their farms – all for free.
This is a blatant lie. It never happened at any time in Libya.
Lie #7. If Libyans cannot find the education or medical facilities they need in Libya, the government funds them to go abroad for it – not only free but they get US 2, 300 US dollars per month accommodation and car allowance.
Utter nonsense. See my answer to Lie # 2 above - under Gaddafi many Libyan have had to borrow money from banks, relatives and friends in order to seek medical treatment abroad, typically in Tunisia, Jordan or Egypt. This is in a oil-rich country with a small population of just six million (including at least two million foreign workers).
Lie #8. In Libya, if a Libyan buys a car, the government subsidizes 50 per cent of the price.
Complete nonsense. In fact, you’d be lucky to find a car to buy. Gaddafi seized all car dealerships in the late 1970s and, from then onwards, only the state very occasionally imported motor cars and sold them to the public at exorbitant prices. And that’s not all. To get to buy a car at all, you also had to pay a large bribe to one of the officials in charge of selling the state-imported vehicles. And, if you wanted to import a car privately – whatever its make and whether brand new or used – you had to pay 100-per-cent import duties (plus a bribe to get the port authorities to release the car even after you paid the import duties).
Lie #9. The price of petrol in Libya is 0. 14 US dollars per litre.
As with all oil producing countries, the price of petrol was lower than in Europe or Japan. But it certainly was not 0.14 US dollars per litre. It was equivalent to the price of petrol in the USA.
Lie #10. Libya has no external debt and its reserves amount to 150 billion US dollars – now frozen globally.
That’s true, but why should a country of vast oil revenues, six million people and almost no public expenditure have a foreign debt? In Gaddafi’s 42-year tyranny hardly any new infrastructure was built and existing infrastructure, such as roads, hospitals and schools, hardly received any investment at all. It’s also worth noting that, despite several contracts with Russian, Ukrainian and Chinese railway companies costing approximately 40 billion dollars, Libya has no railway at all. As for the reserves of 150 billion US dollars, that too is hardly surprising given the vast oil wealth and almost zero public investments. Almost all of these reserves were managed by Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, who spent the money in corrupt private dealings. The defunct dictator’s other son, Mutasim, also dipped into the country’s reserves, spending by his own admission two million dollars per month on gifts and parties for his girlfriends.
Lie #11. If a Libyan is unable to get employment after graduation the state would pay the average salary of the profession as if he or she is employed until employment is found.
This is a complete lie. It is estimated that at least one-third of Libyan graduates are unemployed – none received anything from the state. And Libya has no social security, so these people, like all other unemployed citizens, had to rely on family and friends for support.
Lie #12. A portion of Libyan oil sale is credited directly to the bank accounts of all Libyan citizens.
Rubbish! It’s simply not true.
Lie #13. A mother who gave birth to a child receive 5,000 US dollars.
Another figment of the imagination of Gaddafi’s pimps. It never happened. Ever!
Lie #14. Forty loaves of bread in Libya costs 0.15 dollars.
Bread has always been cheap – even in impoverished countries like Egypt. But the price of one (repeat, one, not 40) loaf of bread in Libya in December 2010 (i.e. before the people’s revolution) was about 0.20 US dollars.
Lie #15. Twenty five per cent of Libyans have a university degree.
More or less true – and 30 per cent of them are unemployed!
Lie #16. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project, known as the Great Man-Made River project, to make water readily available throughout the desert country.
That’s true. This is a prestige project that cost three times as much as originally estimated. It would have been much cheaper to develop desalinated water plants. And what happened when the “Great Man-Made River” was completed? They connected it to the country’s ageing water pipes which blew up all at the same time because of the huge increase in pressure, leaving millions in Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere without freshwater for months. And why weren’t the pipes renewed before connecting them to the “Great Man-Made River”? Well, money had been allocated to do this but the job was never done ‑ not one pipe was renewed! And why was that? Because Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his brother Mutasim pocketed the money. All of it. Ten billion us dollars, in fact!
Lie #17. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Libya ranked first in Africa (53 globally) on the Human Development Index ‑ ahead of Saudi Arabia at 55, Iran at 70, South Africa at 73, Jordan at 82, Egypt at 101, Indonesia at 108, India at 119, Afghanistan at 155.
Go and tell that to the families of the hundreds buried alive in underground prisons in Libya, or to the loved ones of those locked up and left to die in shipping containers in ambient temperatures of 45 degrees Celsius. Or to the relatives of the 1,200 political murdered in three hours in Abu Salim prison in 1996. As for ranking 53 globally on the UN's Human Development Index, big deal! Only 53, in a country of immense wealth and only six million people? Why not ranking first globally? This is an indictment of Gaddafi, his thieving family and his murderous regime. And ranking first in Africa – is that a great achievement, considering that the overwhelming majority of African countries are either super poor or ultra-corrupt?
Lie #18. According to the US Energy Information Administration, “Libya has the largest proven oil reserves in Africa”.
It is a measure of the intellectual calibre of Gaddafi’s pimps that they cite Libya’s oil reserves as an achievement of the defunct tyrant. Well, let me surprise them: the size of a country’s oil reserves is determined by natural phenomena spanning billions of years, not by human intervention.
Lie #19. On 21 February 2011, five days after the Arab Spring broke out in Libya, Gaddafi launched a new programme to privatize all Libyan oil to every citizen of Libya, initially providing 21,000 US dollars to every Libyan from a total of 32 billion dollars in the Year 2011, so that the health, education, transport and some other ministries could be abolished and individual Libyans could use the profits of their own investments, including from oil ownership, to obtain the relevant services. This, Gaddafi said, is the best way to eliminate corruption, including the theft of Libyan oil by foreign oil companies, and to decentralize governmental power.
I’ve heard this story from Gaddafi’s own mouth before ‑ in fact, once every three years or so, the last time being in early March this year, shortly after the people’s revolution began. It’s a cheap attempt to tempt people, but never materialized at any time following promises along the same lines from 1979 onwards. Besides, after 42 years of Gaddafi rule Libya is still 97 per cent reliant on oil revenue. So much for development! So, even if Gaddafi were serious, what will Libyans do with all that money. The answer is simple: with zero domestic output, it would mean a several-hundred-per-cent increase in imports. Libya already imports everything. As for the theft of Libyan oil by foreign oil companies, well, who gave these companies control of Libyan oil in the first place, and who pampered them and gave them and their staff preferential treatment over Libyan citizens? Every Libyan knows the answer to that question but let me spell it out for Gaddafi’s intellectually-challenged pimps: the answer is Gaddafi and his corrupt sons.
Lie #20. The Great Man-Made River Project, begun in 1984 by Gaddafi, has been called the Eighth Wonder of the World. It supplies fresh water to the cities of Tripoli, Benghazi, Sirte and elsewhere. The US threatened to nuke this “chemical weapons factory”. Foreign companies covet the fresh water.
See my answer to Lie #16 above: This is a prestige project that cost three times as much as originally estimated. It would have been much cheaper to develop desalinated water plants. And what happened when the “Great Man-Made River” was completed? They connected it to the country’s ageing water pipes which blew up all at the same time because of the huge increase in pressure, leaving millions in Benghazi, Tripoli and elsewhere without freshwater for months. And why weren’t the pipes renewed before connecting them to the “Great Man-Made River”? Well, money had been allocated to do this but the job was never done ‑ not one pipe was renewed! And why was that? Because Saif al-Islam Gaddafi and his brother Mutasim pocketed the money. All of it. Ten billion us dollars, in fact! As for foreign companies coveting the “Great Man-Made River’s” freshwater, what exactly would foreign companies do with this water?
Lie #21. Muammar Gaddafi seized power in 1969 in a bloodless coup by overthrowing King Idris of Libya ‑ Idris achieved power with British backing in 1949.
If we're supposed to conclude from this that Gaddafi is a peace-loving man who only does things bloodlessly, then the defunct tyrant's pimps are stupid beyond our wildest imagination. Gaddafi's dismal, murderous human rights record in Libya is a matter of public record and is beyond doubt. Likewise, his murderous actions abroad are almost unparalleled. Just think of his sponsorship of drug-crazed limb amputators in Sierra Leone and Code d'Ivoire, his arming and funding of Charles Taylor's gangsters in Liberia and his decades-long bloody meddling in Chad and Sudan, to mention but a few. Also, staging a bloodless coup in Libya in 1969 can’t have been a very hard job. Gaddafi’s colleagues arrested the crown prince and three army officers and seized the radio and TV station – one building. That was it! And there’s a sting in the tail here too. One of Gaddafi’s coup colleagues – Muhammad al-Mogaryaf, who was murdered by Gaddafi in 1972 ‑ related that at the crucial hour when some of his colleagues went to arrest the army chief, Gaddafi panicked and hid for a full four hours. Mogaryaf paid for this revelation with his life. By the way, Libya’s population at that time of the coup was 1.5 million, in a country six times the size of the UK. It must have been really hard to stage a bloodless coup in such a tiny country with a super weak regime!