Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Libya Tied to Vanishing of Dissident Former Official Qaddafi Calls for Brutal Campaign against Opposition

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Libya Tied to Vanishing of Dissident Former Official Qaddafi Calls for Brutal Campaign against Opposition

Article excerpt

THE night former Libyan Foreign Minister Monsour Kikhia disappeared from his Cairo hotel room, he told a relative that he was meeting with an agent of the Libyan regime. The next day, a car with Libyan diplomatic plates was spotted crossing into Libya. The timing was consistent with Mr. Kikhia's last sighting in Cairo, but there was no positive identification - diplomatic vehicles are not required to stop at the border crossing.

The Egyptian investigation of what happened to Kikhia nearly a month ago continues, but few observers believe that he will be found alive.

"Kikhia appears to have been the prime target of Col. {Muammar} Qaddafi's new campaign against his political opponents, and the effect of his disappearance has been to terrify every Libyan oppositionist, and that was probably the purpose," explains a Cairo-based diplomat.

Colonel Qaddafi is under unprecedented internal and international political pressures.

American and British determination to win the extradition of two Libyans, allegedly responsible for blowing up the Pan Am airliner five years ago over Lockerbie, Scotland, led in December to a tightening of United Nations sanctions against the Libyan government. But informed sources believe that these will take another 18 months "to bite."

In the current climate of increasing doubts whether the Libyan regime was the sole instigator of the Pan Am disaster, it is highly unlikely that the UN sanctions can be stepped up in future. This may have led Qaddafi to conclude that the US government was moving to support domestic opposition to his regime, diplomatic sources in Cairo say.

Challenges on the home front in recent months that appear to have rattled the colonel and may be at the heart of his apparent resort to the terror tactics, from which he has publicly distanced himself since 1987. In particular an Army rebellion in October, though aborted, struck at the heart of Qaddafi's powerbase.

Then in November, Libyan dissidents from a wide range of organizations, including leading independent figures such as Mansour Kikhia, met in Washington for a conference titled "Libya After Qaddafi."

Qaddafi responded by urging Libyans on a state broadcast to destroy opposition figures. …

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