Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Kouchner Lashes Back

Responding to yesterday's attacks by François Loncle and François Hollande, Bernard Kouchner declared that the critics in his own Socialist Party were "nasty, gratuitous, and sectarian."

More seriously, Col. Kadhafi's son discussed with Le Monde two quid pro quos for the release of the nurses: 100 million euros worth of antitank missiles, not previously known, and 400 million euros worth of support, ostensibly for a Libyan children's hospital, which was previously known, but the young Kadhafi asserts that France "arranged" for the payment from a mysterious source, perhaps Qatar, into which the Libyans did not inquire so as not to embarrass "our friends."

Why did Kadhafi make these statements? Perhaps to shift attention away from the reported deal involving the sale of nuclear reactors to Libya, allegedly for desalination purposes, and the opening of Libyan uranium supplies to the French firm Areva. The latter deal is much more controversial within Europe than antitank missiles or the payment of a ransom for the nurses.

An interesting footnote to all this: the need for Qatar's intervention arose because of bureaucratic red tape at the EU level. The EU had agreed to pay Libya the large ransom, but it was taking months to get the money released from its coffers. According to Le Canard enchaîné, Sarko called the Bank of Qatar and got the president to fly to Libya on a special plane with the check in hand. Qatar will--eventually--be reimbursed by the EU. (Anyone who has dealt with getting reimbursed by the EU for anything will recognize Libya's frustration.)