Fall of clown emperor heralds a bright future
Libya's vast oil reserves and tourism potential could fuel a peaceful transition to democracy, writes Ivor Roberts
November 1987. I was working in the Foreign Office on defence questions at the time and can still remember the horror which replaced elation when a ship from Libya loaded with weapons from Colonel Gaddafi to the IRA had been intercepted by the French authorities off the Bay of Biscay.
There was 150 tonnes of weaponry on board. But the captain revealed that a similar amount of arms had already reached the Provisionals in a series of earlier shipments. Enough to keep the war in the North going for another 25 years. The mad dog in Gaddafi's make-up has never gone away as those murdered in the Lockerbie bombing, a young woman police officer Yvonne Fletcher gunned down by a bullet from the Libyan embassy in London and of course the victims of IRA terrorism, would all testify if they could.
So it should be something of a red-letter day to think that the Gaddafi regime had gone for good. Even so, serious problems remain. It would be complacent beyond belief to conclude that this latest example of the Arab Spring will move smoothly through a transitional phase to a fully functioning inclusive democracy.