The invisible ruling class

A brief portrait in John Lee Anderson’s account of the Qaddafi regime and its fall in the New Yorker:

Earlier this month, I spoke to a wealthy Western businessman who was close to the Qaddafis. When I arrived at his palatial home in England, he was taking a call from an Arab friend. “Kareem, how are you?” he exclaimed. He told the caller that he had a visitor and would have to talk later, but he wanted him to understand that he was now “firmly with my friends in the N.T.C.” [ed. – the new government]  He told me that he hoped the new order would allow him room to operate. But in his experience, he explained, Qaddafi’s Libya hadn’t been all that bad. “The worst thing Qaddafi really did was that Abu Salim thing,” he said, referring to the 1996 massacre. “I mean, killing a bunch of prisoners in the basement of a prison, that’s not nice, but, you know, these things can happen. All it takes is for someone to misinterpret an order—you know what I mean? Yes, the students were hanged in the seventies, and there was Abu Salim, but there was not much else. The secret police was around, but it wasn’t too obtrusive. If you got thrown in prison, they allowed your family to visit and bring you couscous.”

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