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Document Creation Date: 
December 22, 2016
Document Release Date: 
May 3, 2012
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Publication Date: 
March 19, 1987
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PDF icon CIA-RDP90-00965R000605360001-4.pdf100.79 KB
Sl Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 201.2/05/03_ :CIA-RDP9O-009658000605360001-4 {~' ARTfU~t Arru~nw 19 March 1987 ON PA6E.1~- Gadhafi, Troubled by Series ~f Setbacks, :lets t~ f~epair the Damage ~By Jonathan C. Randa~t --~ 1i Waeliin?trni Pait IroreiKiTScrv,cc - CAIRO, March 18-Libyan lead- er Col. Pituammar Gadhafi, stung by a military defeat in Chad and dip- lomatic setbacks throughout the Arab world, is seeking to improve relations with former enemies in a bid to end Libya's growing isolation. Analysts and diplomats familiar with the 44-year-old leader's mer- curial temperament are convinced his moves are motivated primarily by concern about deepening domes- tic problems. This winter Gadhafi reshuffled his government and allowed the execution of several fundamentalist opponents on state television, an rtct apparently intended to warn Libya's 3.5 million citizens about the risks of political dissent. Moreover, major fence-mending this month with Libya's moderate pro-western neighbor Tunisu~ and with Yasser Arafat, the long-es- tranged chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, reflect Gadhafi's perceived fear of threats from those quarters, according to informed sources. Libya's reconciliation with the PLO-and active sponsorship of efforts to end Arafat's differences with Syrian-supported Palestinian dissidents-appare~itly caused fur- ther strains in Gadhafi's rapidly cooling alliance with Damascus. Major reverses in his unpopular desert war in Chad were underlined by an embarrassing defection to Egypt of Air Force officers aboard a C 130 aircraft earlier this month arcs by Libya's persisr.ently delayed counteroffensive to retake the northern oasis of Eada, captured Jan. 2 by Chad government troops. tior are relations with his Moscow superpower ally considered close, despite his trumpeting of Kremlin support in the event of fresh U.S. military attacks. Gadhafi was so ir- ritated by the poor performance of Soviet-supplied air defense systems during the U.S. air raid o1i two Lib- yan cities 11 months ago that he pointedly refused to receive Mos- cow's new ambassador for six months, according to diplomats. On paper, neither the badly di- vided PLO nor Tunisia, a small state weakened_by the vagaries of aging President Eiabib E3ourguiba,. constitutes an obvious danger. L3ut highly placed Palestiniap sources insist that Gadhafi's deci- sion to improve relations with the PLO is largely motivated by his mistaken conviction that Arafat is in league with largely ineffective Lib- yan opposition groups in exile. Similarly Gadhafi is said to fear that Tunisia's intelligence ser- vice-considered amone the most reliable on Libvan affairs by many professionals-could initiate trou- ble for him. The transfer to Chad of many Lib- v~n troops previously statiolle_d_on the Tunisian border diminished his ability to intimidate his neighbor and facilitated Tunisian intelligence oo- erations against Libva. Last week, for the first time since Tunisia broke off diplomatic relations in August 1985, Gadhafi sent a senior official, Khouildi Ha- math, to Tunis to make amends to Bourguiba. As a gesture of good faith, Libya reimbursed $6.5 million of its $9 million debt to the national airline, Tunis Air, and promised redress for summarily deporting 32,000 Tuni- Sian workers from Libya in 1985. Their unpaid wages represent the bulk of the $150 million debt owed Tunisia. The ostensible cause of tension with Syrian President Hafez Assad is Gadhafi's support for arch enemy Arafat in the long siege of Palestin- ian refugee camps in Lebanon being conducted by Syria's surrogates, the Shiite Amal militia. At the same time Gadhafi has sought to improve his credibility with Syria and other Arabs by crit- icizing both Iran and its Lebanese allies, the Shiite extremist militia Hezbollah. Gadhafi took Iran to task for ac- quiring arms from Israel and the United States. Surprisingly-in light of charges that Libya-has supplied Tehran with Soviet-built Scud B mis- siles used against Baghdad since 1985-Gadhafi said that attacking urban civilians with these and other weapons was "not a revolutionary act," although he still sided with Iran's revolution and did "not defend" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. And despite Arafat's tactical alli- ance with Hezbollah-and that mi- litia's rivalry with the pro-Syrian Amat-Gadhafi recently told visiting Lebanese journalists, "We support Hezbollah if it calls for martyrdom on Palestinian soil, but if Lebanon is the target, then this is terrorism." But Gadhafi's efforts to appear more moderate experienced a hitch when the Libyan media attacked Saudi Arabia's King Fahd, judging him remiss for decorating Adm. William J. Crowe Jr., chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and for visiting Morocco. Morocco and its king, Hassan II, were criticized for having received then-prime minister Simon Peres of Israel last July. That visit effectively ended the two-year treaty of union between radical Libya and conser- vative Morocco, an alliance which in its time helped end an earlier era of Libyan diplomatic isolation. Declassified in Part -Sanitized Copy Approved for Release 2012/05/03 :CIA-RDP9O-009658000605360001-4