AP: Sarkozy under arrest for suspicion of Qaddafi funding in 2007 campaign

If true, it wasn’t just the US that shivved Moammar Qaddafi in 2011. Police arrested former French president Nicolas Sarkozy in a years-long corruption probe that involves an alleged payoff of €50 million from the Libyan dictator to Sarkozy’s campaign, helping him win the presidency:

In the latest judicial setback for the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy was placed in custody on Tuesday as part of an investigation that he received millions of euros in illegal campaign financing from the regime of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

A judicial source with direct knowledge of the case told The Associated Press that Sarkozy was being held at the Nanterre police station, north-west of Paris. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly. …

Investigators are examining claims that Gadhafi’s regime secretly gave Sarkozy 50 million euros overall for the 2007 campaign. Such a sum would be more than double the legal campaign funding limit at the time of 21 million euros. In addition, the alleged payments would violate French rules against foreign financing and declaring the source of campaign funds.

A former top aide of Sarkozy, former minister Brice Hortefeux, was reportedly questioned on Tuesday but was not detained. Sarkozy can be held up to 48 hours and could be placed under formal investigation after his hearing.

French prosecutors have found an alleged bagman to testify to the payoff a while ago, at least in part:

In November 2016, Ziad Takieddine, a French-Lebanese millionaire, claimed that he had personally overseen the cash transfer of 5 million euros ($6.3 million) from Libya to Sarkozy’s entourage in 2006, when Sarkozy was France’s interior minister. Takieddine said he delivered the money to Claude Guéant, Sarkozy’s chief of staff.

In January, Alexandre Djouhri, a French businessman and former Sarkozy associate, was arrested at London’s Heathrow Airport in connection with the probe but was released on bail.

Sarkozy has another trial pending for other campaign finance violations, accused of “overspending” when he tried running for re-election in 2012. Sarkozy has appealed that ruling, but clearly these charges are an order of magnitude more critical for the former president and for France. If true, it means that a foreign dictator bought the French presidency, or at the very least rented it for a while.

Ironically, if true, Qaddafi essentially paid for his own funeral. Sarkozy joined Barack Obama and David Cameron in launching an undeclared war against Qaddafi in 2011, ostensibly under the auspices of a “responsibility to protect” Benghazi. The three nations bombed the military lines of communication between Benghazi and Tripoli, but then continued to bomb Libya until Qaddafi’s regime fell and he was murdered while trying to escape in the chaos.

Imagine his surprise when his surrender on nuclear weapons to the US and his payoff to Sarkozy got returned by an external coup d’etat. It must have outstripped the surprise in all three countries in their discovery that conducting coups without boots on the ground to control outcomes leads very quickly to failed states, massive expansion of terror networks and warlords, and overwhelming refugee crises. Seven years later, does it look like the “dark shadow of tyranny” has been lifted in Libya, or just metastasized into multiple dominions of terror and oppression?

If Sarkozy took money from Qaddafi for his own political benefit, an allegation that still has yet to be proven, then he deserves whatever French justice may deliver unto him. However, Sarkozy along with Cameron and Obama deserve more consideration for political justice in the shabby and underhanded way in which they toppled Qaddafi while committing next to nothing to shape the post-Qaddafi battlefield. Compared to the monetary and political costs to Europe in particular of the outcome of that mission — the refugees, the political unrest and nationalism it stoked, and the upcoming Brexit which is at least an indirect result of it — the €50 million is a drop in the bucket.