British universities' Libyan connections

Submitted by Matthew on 6 April, 2011 - 1:05

According to the Guardian, Mutassim Qaddafi (son of Muammar), who has been described as a “war criminal” by Libyan anti-government protesters, was given private lessons at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the summer of 2006.

This is one of many sordid revelations that have come to light about British universities and their relationship with Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s dictatorship.

Many universities not only profited from ties with the Libyan regime, but actively trained people earmarked for roles in Gaddafi’s feared security network.

Sir Howard Davies, director of the London School of Economics, resigned several weeks ago after it was found he had accepted a £1.5 million donation from the “Qaddafi Foundation”, the charity run by Colonel Qaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Qaddafi.

The cuts in funding British universities currently face make wealthy patrons like the Qaddafi family highly attractive propositions. Raheem Kassam, director of the group Student Rights, said: “LSE has the most market-driven fund-raising model there is in the UK. Has that model reduced them into a simple gun for hire?”

The relationship between Libya and British universities could be said to mirror the amicable ties that developed in recent years between the Libyan regime and the British establishment. Not only did Tony Blair famously hug the Colonel, but British arms flowed freely to the country and British companies were up to their necks in Libyan oil money — while the Libyan people continued to languish under terror and dictatorship.

Sue Yates, then SOAS’s director of business development, described Mutassim Qaddafi as a “young man [who] was just there for four weeks maximum...This is not unusual at all for members of prominent families. It was special tuition for someone from a high profile background.”

There is of course a long and deplorable history of dictators sending their children abroad to get the privileged education denied to the people of their own countries. Those allowed by the Libyan government to study in Britain were themselves carefully hand-picked by the regime.

After 41 years in charge of a regime that brought down an American passenger plane, pitilessly exterminated many political opponents, expelled tens of thousands of Palestinians from the country for being insufficiently willing to immolate themselves for the cause, as well as plundered the Libyan economy for the benefit of Western corporations, to define the Gaddafi regime as “suitable patrons” for British universities is to leave many in the British establishment up to their necks in shame.

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