Wikileaks on Gadhafi: Very Strange, Very Wily

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The problem, the cable said, was that current estimates put Libya's entire number of ground-force soldiers around 60,000, less than half the number of rifles the country had ordered.

"Attempts to solicit further information... have raised more questions than they answered," the cable said. One British official believed Gadhafi's government intended to turn around and sell the guns to "armed rebel factions... in the Chad/Sudan conflict," according to the cable. At the time, U.N. officials said up to 300,000 people had been killed by warring factions in Sudan alone.

Because of that concern, a later cable reported that the British stopped the deal after a month-long investigation. In the same cable, however, a Libyan businessman told a U.S. official he had signed a deal with a Romanian company to import 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles. The businessman was "open about the contract, but avoided the question as to whether the rifles were to be used in Libya or re-exported to another destination."

Another cable reported that in February 2007, Italian police arrested arms dealers who were allegedly brokering an agreement between Libya and Chinese manufacturers for 500,000 automatic rifles, the first half of a million-rifle deal.

Accused of Blackmail, 'Pervasive' Corruption

In 2008, Gadhafi's government was accused of using outright blackmail and extortion to force visa approval for "well-connected" Libyans from two European countries, another cable said.

In one case, 12 unnamed Libyans were requesting visas from Greece, but not because they wanted to visit there, the cable said, but because "Greece has not yet incorporated biometric requirements into its visa application procedure." When Greece refused, officials from the Libyan government informed their Greek counterparts Libya would not be clearing shipments of diplomatic goods through customs until the visa matter was resolved.

In a similar case, a Swiss official told the U.S. the Libyans had refused to register one of their embassy employees in Libya until the country approved of a tourist visa for a Libyan applicant who had been denied, the cable said.

"The willingness of the [Government of Libya] to extort other diplomatic missions to issue visas to prominent but unqualified Libyans reflects the extent to which politically-connected individuals are able to manipulate public institutions for their own benefit," a U.S. official said in the cable. "In an opaque regime in which lines of authority are deliberately blurred to obscure power structures and mitigate accountability, corruption is pervasive."

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