Colonel Gaddafi warns Europe over “turning black”

But there’s method in his madness.

The Libyan ruler, Colonel Gaddafi, has used a summit in Tripoli to warn that Europe risks "turning black" unless Libya is given £4bn a year by the EU to keep out illegal immigrants from Africa. "We should stop this illegal immigration. If we don't, Europe will become black, it will be overcome by people with different religions, it will change," he said.

He made the threat before in the summer, during a three-day visit to Italy. "We don't know what will happen, what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans," he said. "We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions."

Both of which sit rather oddly with his comments two years ago when, during his election campaign, Barack Obama declared his support for Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel. Then Gaddafi chided him thus:

The statements of our Kenyan brother of American nationality Obama on Jerusalem . . . show that he either ignores international politics and did not study the Middle East conflict or that it is a campaign lie. We fear that Obama will feel that because he is black with an inferiority complex, this will make him behave worse than the whites.

Instead, urged the colonel: "We tell him to be proud of himself as a black and feel that all Africa is behind him."

In the first comment, Gaddafi seems to take a rather dim view of his fellows from the African continent. In the second, Obama is hailed as a "brother" precisely because of their continental connection. So just what does the Libyan leader think?

It all depends, I fear, on who he believes is paying him sufficient attention. He has always longed to be taken seriously as a regional leader, although he hasn't necessarily been choosy about which region in particular. He never achieved the influence and dominance in the Arab world for which he hoped, so has turned his attention in recent years to Africa, which he continues to maintain can become a "country" like the United States of America.

As there is no danger of either crown being offered to him – his proposal that African states share sovereignty has had a lukewarm response – he sometimes hedges his bets by claiming both, as when he stormed out of an Arab summit in Qatar last year, declaring himself "the dean of the Arab rulers, the king of kings of Africa and the imam of all Muslims".

When I profiled Gaddafi in the NS shortly afterwards, I wrote that he was "never the irrational maverick some liked to say he was", and the former Foreign Office minister Mike O'Brien told me the colonel was "an intelligent guy . . . he recognises that the world has changed and he has to change with it".

I stand by what I said. But that doesn't mean that Gaddafi is not prone to strange outbursts (see Samira Shackle's list of his top five), nor that he is averse to playing to the populist gallery, however unlikely his supporters may be. The sad aspect of this case is that those who probably agree with him (even if they would baulk at handing over several billions to Libya) may be on the fringe in this country – but in Europe, as Gaddafi well knows, there are parties across the continent whose fears are exactly those he expressed, and which participate in government in several countries.

Mad Dog? Maybe. But canny dog, in this case, too.

Sholto Byrnes is a Contributing Editor to the New Statesman
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There’s no other explanation for Boris Johnson – he must be a Russian spy

When you look back over Johnson’s journalistic career, it soon becomes apparent that he was in the right place at the right time too often for it all to have been a coincidence.

I had a hunch some time ago, but a source very close to the Federal Security Service strongly implied it during an odd meeting that we recently had at a hotel in Charing Cross, London: Boris Johnson is an agent of deep Russian penetration. Obviously his first name is a bluff – Boris the Bear has been hiding in plain view of millions of us Britons. I have no idea when he was recruited (on this matter, my informant remained obstinately silent), but if we look back over the Foreign Secretary’s career, the evidence is clear.

Take his well-known inability to keep his trousers on. It might be imagined that a bedheaded Don Juan was the last person you’d entrust to enter the “wilderness of mirrors”, as the secret world is often euphemised. But if Boris were a Russian agent, his physical jerkiness would make perfect sense. All intelligence agencies use blackmail to control their assets and honeytraps are the preferred way of doing it.

However, what if you instructed your agent to keep his muzzle more or less permanently in the honey jar? Under such circumstances, it would be altogether impossible for MI5 to compromise him: “Boris shags secretary/colleague/newspaper editor”, say, would hardly be news.

Speaking of news, when you look back over Johnson’s journalistic career, it soon becomes apparent that he was in the right place at the right time too often for it all to have been a coincidence. His stint at the Daily Telegraph’s Brussels bureau, for instance, began in the year that the Berlin Wall fell. Johnson’s articles, in which he sniped consistently at the European Commission, helped to exacerbate the tensions between Tory Eurosceptics and Europhiles – fissures which, as the world has turned, have grown, precipitating the sort of fragmentation that the Kremlin’s spymasters seek to create in the West.

With my novelistic hat on, I can say that Johnson’s literary style has always bothered me. Replete with recondite yet poorly understood terms and half-digested quotations, his prose has the pretentious clunkiness you would expect from someone who isn’t writing in their first language. My suspicions, inchoate for years, have now acquired palpable form: Johnson doesn’t write any of this magoosalum. It’s all typed up by Russian hacks, leaving him free to shin up the greasy pole . . .

And slide along the Emirati-sponsored zip wire, as well. It has always seemed strange, Johnson’s apparently wilful determination to place himself in undignified positions. But again, it makes sense when you know that it is part of an elaborate act, intended to subvert our ancient institutions and the dignity of our high offices of state.

The dribs and drabs of distinctly Russian racism – the “piccaninnies” and “watermelon smiles” that fall from his permanently pink lips – are yet more evidence of the long hours he has spent being debriefed. An agent of deep penetration will live for years under so-called natural cover, a sleeper, waiting to be activated by his masters.

But it’s predictable that while waiting, Johnson’s handlers should have instructed him to throw suspicion off by adopting contrarian positions – his call for demonstrations outside the Russian embassy in London to protest against the bombing of Aleppo is entirely consistent with this – and it has also had the beneficial effect of further emphasising British weakness and impotence.

You might have thought that Vladimir Putin (who apparently refers to Johnson affectionately, in private, as “Little Bear” or “Pooh”) would want one of his most precious assets to shin right to the top of that greasy pole. Not so, and the debacle surrounding the Tories’ post-Brexit night of the long knives, which was revealed in Tim Shipman’s new book, was in reality a complex manoeuvre designed expressly to place Putin’s man (or bear) in the Foreign Office. Johnson’s flip-flopping over whether to come out for Leave or Remain makes no sense if we consider him to be a principled and thoughtful politician, loyal to his constituency – but becomes understandable once we see the strings and realise that he’s nothing but a marionette, twisting and turning at his puppeteers’ prompting.

After all, prime ministers can be rather impotent figures, whereas foreign secretaries bestride the world stage. No, the only way that Putin can be sure to have his way – bombing Aleppo back to the Stone Age, subverting Ukrainian independence – is by having his beloved Pooh bumbling about at summit meetings. Think back to Johnson’s tenure as mayor of London and the vast river of Russian lucre that flowed into the City. The Kremlin has also been able to manipulate errant oligarchs as if they, too,
were marionettes.

And now comes the final proof, as if any were needed: the government’s decision to support a third runway for Heathrow. Will Johnson resign over this matter of deepest principle? Will he truly represent his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituents who labour night and day under a toxic smir to the accompaniment of jet howls? Will he hell. There will be a few of his characteristically garbled statements on the matter and then he will fall silent. You all know that slightly sleepy yet concentrating expression that comes over his face when he thinks that the cameras are pointed elsewhere? That’s when Johnson is receiving his instructions through a concealed earpiece.

Should we worry that our Foreign Secretary is in the control of a sinister and manipulative foreign demagogue? Well, probably not too much. After all, think back to previous incumbents: great statesmen such as Jack Straw, Margaret Beckett and William Hague. Do you really imagine that any of them struck fear deep into the heart of the Russian military-industrial complex? 

Will Self is an author and journalist. His books include Umbrella, Shark, The Book of Dave and The Butt. He writes the Madness of Crowds and Real Meals columns for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage