Sarkozy 'still a hero' in Libya

Nicolas Sarkozy lors de sa dernière visite en Libye, en 2011. Photo prise par notre Observateur Mahamd Zarroug.
 
 
Two years after France’s military intervention in Libya, former French president Nicolas Sarkozy is on a visit to Tripoli to meet with the Libyan prime minister. Our Observers on the ground explain how the Libyan population perceives Sarkozy and France today, in a country still scarred by the revolution.
 
The former French president, who spearheaded the NATO intervention in 2011 that helped the Libyan rebels topple dictator Muammar Gaddafi, was invited the Libyan government to visit the capital. During his 24-hour visit, Sarkozy will meet Prime Minister Ali Zeidan, as well as the mayor of Tripoli.
 
But his trip is overshadowed by a news report published on French news site Rue 89. It reports Bernard Henri-Levy has not been invited to Tripoli because his Jewish faith might pose a security threat, according to sources from Tripoli’s mayor office. The French philosopher who had fervently defended the Libyan rebels’ cause had accompanied Sarkozy on a visit to Libya back in 2011.
 
Libya’s religious minorities have suffered from the poor security situation in Libya following the revolution: last week, Islamist militias burned a Coptic church in Benghazi to the ground.

"The people here regret that France has not been more involved in Libya after the revolution"

Karim Nabatan is a tour guide in Tripoli.
 
Here, Nicolas Sarkozy remains a hero. The Libyans greatly appreciate him and are convinced that the revolution was a success thanks to the timing of his intervention.
 
But still, the people have noticed that France has not followed up and we are sorry to see they haven’t been more involved to help finish the job. France has failed to help our new government, and hasn’t used its security expertise to help us cope with the anarchy that followed the fall of the former regime.
 
If I had the chance to speak to Sarkozy today, I would tell him that security remains our biggest problem. We would really like French companies to invest here and stimulate our economy, but it’s impossible for the moment given the security situation.
 

“Getting rid of guns is one of our biggest challenges”

Omar Regi is a businessman living in Tripoli.
 
A year ago, on the first anniversary of the intervention, people waved French flags and held up photos of Sarkozy. I think his visit reminds people here of those good old days, just one year ago, when we were full of hope.
 
The security situation here has slightly improved since then, but there’s still so much work to be done. In the wake of the revolution, guns were everywhere – and they still are. There is absolutely no gun control. Getting rid of guns is one of our biggest challenges.
 
Then there’s also the problem of the police, which still don’t have any power. Militias still take care of security. Some of them make mistakes, but at the end of the day, it’s much better than having no security at all. I hope Sarkozy sees all this during his visit.
 
It’s sad that Bernard Henri Levy isn’t visiting, especially if it’s because of fears for his security because he is Jewish. I think most people here would have no problem with that fact, but, as we saw with the killing of the US ambassador, there are those few who do not know how to treat our guests.
 

“Sarkozy deserves a hero's welcome”

Ennas Saddoh is a blogger and medical student in Tripoli.
 
Sarkozy deserves a hero’s welcome. He is as a friend to Libya. He is especially beloved in Benghazi [the bastion of the revolution]. Without Sarkozy, the revolution never would have succeeded.
 
But friendship isn’t good enough. Since the revolution, he has not done enough to help Libya. Our country needs to continue to build strong ties with France; we need help and resources in building democracy.
 
Bernard Henri-Levy being Jewish should not be an issue, but there are other reasons not to invite him. I never trusted Bernard Henri-Levy when he visited during the revolution, and I don’t trust him now - mainly because of his support for the Israeli government. I don’t understand why he wants to help Libyans, but not the Palestinian people.
 

Post written with FRANCE 24 journalists Tara Kelly and Gaelle Faure. 

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