Sunday, 20 March 2011

Gaddafi flashback: How different everything was less than two years ago


(Note that in the second video a mock hanging - representing the fate of the "colonialists"-  is part of the "entertainment")

How different the world looked from Gaddafi´s point of view in September 2009, when "the King of Kings" celebrated his 40 years on the "throne". The party on the video was intended for a wider audience. The A-list VIP guests were of course treated royally, as the Independent reported at that time from Tripoli:

In Libya, power and prestige accrues to one man. Guests at the celebrations had just watched as the whole of African history was rewritten to place the son of modest Bedouins at the centre of it.
For once, the famously long-winded leader didn't speak. He simply stood to receive the congratulations of those around him.
For companies operating in this context, sycophancy is encouraged and expected. A glossy-coloured pullout in this week's Tripoli Post to commemorate the anniversary of the great "al-Fatah revolution", as Col Gaddafi's 1969 power grab is called, demonstrated this.
Page after page is dedicated to a large corporate advertisement, each rivalling the next in expressions of admiration and gratitude to the Libyan leader. The corporations doing the bowing and scraping read like a roll call of the energy and arms manufacturers hoping to buy or sell a piece of the increasingly rich country: French military aviation company Dassault; Russian energy giant Gazprom; and Spain's oil and gas major Repsol.
The ads are a shrewd investment. Unlike the comparatively camera-shy Saudi royals or the conservative elites in the Gulf states, the 67-year-old Gaddafi enjoys being the centre of attention. And despite his Bedouin tents and protestations of modesty, he enjoys being gauche. The A-list who dined in Tripoli's Green Square enjoyed a meal prepared by the acclaimed Parisian restaurant Le Nôtre. They were handed limited edition gold Chopard watches with an outline of Africa on the face and a single diamond marking Libya.

Those who followed Col Gaddafi's entourage as it swept away from the party yesterday would have seen that it left three unused and unusual golf carts in its wake. These days the self-styled Lion of the Desert travels between tees in a trio of Hummer 3 carts that had been delivered the day before by a British courier from Humberside airport. The post mark had been left on the passenger's seat.

The Telegraph added:

A comic opera chorus of military officials in gold braid and peaked caps looked on as an ageing Col Gaddafi greeted dozens of second and third world leaders. Venezuela's Hugo Chavez took top billing by default on a guest list that included Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's president, and Omar al-Bashir, Sudan's president. Detachments of soldiers from across Africa were provided a modicum of glamour by a French Foreign Legion band. Italy's version of the Red Devils flew overhead but only after a spat about the colour of their exhaust trail was resolved.
Europe’s most recognisable attendees were the heads of assorted fashion houses and luxury goods shops.

A couple of days before the celebrations the Tripoli Post announced the arrival of these guests:

Rome confirmed last week that the Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is to travel to Tripoli on Sunday to take part in celebration of the 40th anniversary and also to mark the first anniversary of a friendship treaty signed in 31 August 2008.

The Spanish royal couple will also take part in the celebrations

(However, some advisers must have intervened in the last minute, since Berlusconi and the royal couple are not to be seen among the guests in the video. As a matter of fact, Berlusconi met with Gaddafi in Libya for the anniversary of the friendship treaty on 31 August, but did not stay for the actual celebrations - probably because his advisers had seen the list of other attending "dignitaries")

Those "limited edition Chopard watches" are most certainly going to be collectors´ item in the future. So, if you´ve got one, keep it in a safe Swiss bank vault as an investment.

Here is a little background info on the nice watches, which Gaddafi bought for the modest sum of about 8 million Swiss Francs (about 9 million USD):

The order was for 250 limited edition watches valued at around 8 million Swiss Francs. They should each have the likeness of Mr. Gaddafi on them in some form and were ordered to celebrate his 40th anniversary of being in office there. Gaddafi, if evidenced by his love of "intense" sunglasses, will likely enjoy the blingy reminders of his "victories" over the competition for that long.

It is a tricky move for Chopard to accept an order from someone with such a spotty record on human rights and so forth. The company is known to be majorly hurting due to the weak economy, especially as it is pointed to the luxury industry. The move was likely due to the large amount of the order. You know what they say, desperate times call for despot orders.
(Old Swiss saying?)

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