The congratulatory visit to Libya by France and Britain’s leaders is a demonstration of reconfirmed friendship with the Libyans.
Nicolas Sarkozy visited Tripoli two years ago. Today he is equally happy to court the new authorities.
Future exchanges beckon.
Welcoming world leaders to Paris a fortnight ago was celebrated Sarkozy’s decision to support the opponents of Muammar Gaddafi — who he had been happy to host in the ‘Capital of Light’ in 2007.
France was first off the starting blocks in recognising Libya’s National Transitional Council, just as it had been among the first in the coalition to attack and destroy forces of the discredited regime. Friends at the Elysee Palace promised full support for transition, under the management of the Libyan people.
Sarkozy sent his foreign minister Alain Juppé to the UN to support the crucial Resolution 1973, on protecting civilians by all means necessary, as French public intellectual Bernard Henri Levy had encouraged Sarkozy, in the interest of human rights.
Juppé said: “We cannot let the warmongers get away with it. We cannot leave the civilian population in the lurch, suffering brutal repression. We cannot let legality and international morals be ignored.”
The French air force was catapulted into action over Libya. France called its contribution to the mission against Gaddafi ‘Operation Harmattan’, after a hot wind that blows over the Sahara. Spending rose to 320 million euros on this, till the end of this month, according to defence sources.
This made the French flag pretty popular among thankful Libyans. Having got off to such a slow start approving changes in Tunisia, Paris wanted to make up for it. Two thirds of the French public supported getting mixed up in Libya.
Flush with his foreign policy success defending Libyans’ liberty, President Sarkozy will hope to follow suit with oil contracts, all of which is not likely to do his re-election ambitions in France next year any harm.