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LIBYA: Kadafi's son denounces German plans to upgrade Israel's naval warships

January 27, 2010 | 10:32 am

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The Times has obtained a lengthy letter by the son of Libyan strongman Moammar Kadafi to the president of Germany, complaining about the European nation's support for Israel. 

Saif Islam Kadafi, the 38-year old son of Libya's long-ruling leader and the president of the Libyan charity Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, said in the letter that he was troubled by alleged plans by the German government to provide Israel with more high-tech naval warships -- a deal he claimed would be paid for by German taxpayers.

In the letter (PDF 1 MB), he rebuked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for providing Israel  with more offensive military capacity.

"We have read with great surprise about the news reports indicating that the German government will support the state of Israel by offering gifts in the form of a sophisticated submarine and two missile boats," said the letter, published on the stationery of the foundation he heads. "I do not think that the German taxpayers seek the enhancement of the offensive capacity of the world's greatest human-violating state in the world."

Recent media reports say Israel is currently "discussing" a potential purchase of a sixth Dolphin submarine from Germany. Israel is reported to have three of these already, all of which are equipped with high-tech military technology and capable of launching nuclear-armed cruise missiles. Two additional Dolphins are currently being built for the Jewish state in Kiel and are scheduled to arrive in Israel in two years.

If the new deal goes ahead, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is expected to ask Germany to underwrite several hundreds of millions of dollars of the new submarine costs. Just a few months ago, Israel reportedly asked Germany for two stealth corvettes with sophisticated anti-ship missiles for  free.

Picture 15Saif Islam Kadafi is being groomed to take the reins in Libya after his father's demise. Criticizing European dealings with Israel could help him bolster his Arab nationalist credentials.

The London-educated Saif Islam has faced the accusation that he's too soft and Westernized to lead Libya. 

In his letter to Chancellor Merkel, the younger Kadafi praised the state of human rights in his country, claiming Libya had the best human-rights conditions of all countries in the Middle East "after having achieved a great deal of reform."

Human-rights groups, however, provide a grimmer picture. In its new annual report, rights watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) said Libya had seen a "year of serious abuses" in 2009 and called on the Libyan authorities to release unjustly detained prisoners, provide information on the fate of disappeared dissidents and reform legislation that criminalized free speech.

Kadafi concluded his letter by offering Chancellor Merkel a bit of personal advice in her dealings with the Middle East -- as well as a warning.

"Peace and co-existence in the Middle East can neither be achieved through supplying of missile submarines nor through the stealth destroyers but rather through prevailing justice, equity, and fairness," he wrote.

"Today you are thoughtful towards Israel for the mistakes of the past," he wrote in an apparent referral to the Holocaust carried out by Germany's Nazis, "but I assure you that one day you will be thoughtful towards us to atone for today's mistake."

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photos: Top photo, Saif Islam Kadafi, son of Libya's long-ruling leader, Moammar Kadafi. Credit: AFP / Getty Images.  Second image, a logo for Saif Islam Kadafi's Gaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation.

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