Saif al-Islam: where is Gaddafi’s son?

The fate of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi remains uncertain.

Saif al-Islam had been held by militia in the town of Zintan since his father was driven from power by rebels:

Col Gaddafi’s second son […] was long seen as a reformist force in his father’s administration, responsible for helping rebuild relations with the West after 2000. With a fluent grasp of English and an urbane air, the London School of Economics graduate was known for his charitable work and often served as the public face of the Libyan regime.

So far, we are aware of rumours that Saif al-Islam has been set free from the militia of Abu Bakr as-Siddiq, who had captured Saif in the city of Zintan, though this news remains unconfirmed. Diplomats and Libyan sources claimed that Saif al-Islam had not left Zintan, a city that holds some political influence. A member of the military council, Mokhtar al-Akhdar, claimed that Saif al-Islam is still a prisoner, pointing out that he is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) preventing him from international travel.

Other sources close to Arab Millennial also believe that Saif al-Islam remains in Zintan as a prisoner. On March 19th 2018, it was revealed that Ayman Boras announced that Saif al-Islam would run for upcoming Libyan presidential elections. During a press conference in Tunisia, the spokesman supported Saif al-Islam’s vision of restoring the Libyan state for everybody. Mixed reactions have been voiced towards the announcement. Mohamed al-Darrat, a member of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives (HoR), claimed that Saif al-Islam’s intention to run does not deserve any acknowledgment, asserting that Gaddafi’s regime is “gone for good”. “If Saif al-Islam wants to return to power, what was the point of the revolution?” said al-Darrat.

Kamel al-Merash, a political analyst, believes that not all Libyans can be put in one basket, arguing that, while some oppose Saif al-Islam’s plan to run, others support it.

Many Libyans still believe that Saif al-Islam is the only figure who can unite Libya and claim that he would probably win the presidency if he ran in forthcoming elections. This sentiment is particularly true in “Green” areas like Bani Walid.

Twists and turns of this nature certainly evoke political engagement and participation. Boras told al-Araby al-Jadeed that Saif is “under the protection of Libyans”, and asserted that Saif would announce details about his election campaign in due time.

While revered by many as a symbol of the old order, others believe that Saif al-Islam is a progressive liberal, and not a “military man”. He might retain some support, but these rumours almost definitely add yet more uncertainty to the country’s political turmoil. The question remains: in whose interests does such rumours, uncertainty and instability in Libya serve?

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