Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, the terrorist financier, continues his extreme image makeover. The longtime international pariah just cut a multi-billion dollar reparations deal with Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. According to Time magazine:
Italy has formally apologized for its past injustices during its 30-year reign in Libya early last century, and agreed to pay $5 billion in reparations to Tripoli. Gaddafi promptly declared Aug 30 – the day the deal was inked in – Libyan-Italian Friendship Day.
The Time article, which came weeks after the U.S. and Libya settled outstanding terrorism-related lawsuits, seems to imply that commerce is what brought Italy and Libya to the table:
Berlusconi insists that Libya has inched back into the international community, and that the hefty dollar figure includes a large portion in investment projects that will benefit Italian companies, including a long planned major highway to link Algeria to Tunisia and Egypt. Gaddafi also announced that Italy will get preferential deals on his country’s oil and gas reserves, and threw in the return of an ancient Venus statue taken to Rome during colonial times as a sign of goodwill. [emphasis added]
It’s easy to forget that Gaddafi, who now uses philanthropy to improve his international standing, has ruled Libya with an iron hand since overthrowing the monarchy in 1969. Officially known as the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, the Islamic socialist state has sent assassination squads abroad to murder disaffected expatriates and for decades has imprisoned and killed dissenters at home.