Qaddafi welcomes Chávez's offer to mediate in Libya

But Libya's leader Muammar Qaddafi appears to be alone in supporting Hugo Chávez's offer of international mediation, which even Qaddafi's eldest son has rejected.

Sipa Press/Newscom
Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi (L) raises hands with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R) in Margarita Island, Venezuela, Sept. 28, 2009.

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As international concern grows about Libya descending into civil war, Libya's Muammar Qaddafi has accepted a mediation offer from longtime ally Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. But key international players, as well as Libya's opposition and even Mr. Qaddafi's son, have rejected it.

“You don't need an international commission to tell Colonel Gaddafi what he needs to do for the good of his country and the good of his people,” US State Department P.J. Crowley was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera. Mr. Crowley’s sentiments were echoed by France’s foreign minister who said any mediation that would allow Qaddafi to “succeed himself” were “obviously not welcome.”

Saif al-Islam Qaddafi, the embattled leader’s eldest son, also dismissed Mr. Chávez’s proposal as unnecessary, reports The Latin American Herald Tribune.

“The Venezuelans have affirmed that they are our friends and respect and like us, but ... Libya is in the Middle East and in North Africa and Venezuela is in Latin America," said Qaddafi’s son, who then added a word of gratitude. "Thank you, we are grateful to them. They are our friends. It’s a nice gesture but we can resolve our own problems. There is no need for foreign intervention.”

Chávez seems undeterred, however, by the apparent widespread rejection of his proposal, reports CNN.

Chávez and Qaddafi have a longstanding friendship. Chávez has visited Libya six times during his 12 years as president, reports Libya’s Tripoli Post. During Qaddafi’s visit to Venezuela in 2009, the two leaders exchanged gifts, with Qaddafi giving Chávez a Bedouin tent and Chávez gifting his counterpart a replica of Simón Bolívar’s sword.

Chávez seems to see the two leaders as mutual victims and accused the international community of condemning both of them in the past for harboring terrorists without proof and the US of only getting involved because it wants Libya's oil.

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Since Libya’s unrest began, the Venezuelan leader has spoken out several times to accuse the US and other nations of exaggerating events to justify an invasion, reports CNN.

“I consulted with [Qaddafi]. I asked him if he was willing to accept a commission of countries,” said Chávez, recounting his conversation with Qaddafi. “And he told me, ‘Look, Chavez, not only of countries; I hope the whole United Nations come here to see the reality of what’s happening before they start condemning the Libyan government or the Libyan people, before they start thinking as they are now, and preparing to invade Libya.’”

Arab leaders have not written off the Venezuelan mediation option. Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa said that Qaddafi had not officially accepted the proposal, but that the Arab League was reviewing the option with leaders from Latin America, Europe and the Middle East, reports Venezuela Analysis.

In a blog entry on the Huffington Post, Joel Hirst, an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote that the offer is likely more symbolic than practical. Chávez appears to lack the diplomatic graces and other requirements to successfully mediate this situation. “It is increasingly clear that his offer to mediate in the current crisis in Libya is an attempt to help a friend hold onto power, not a good faith effort to stop the bloodshed,” wrote Mr. Hirst.

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