Libya: Aisha, last lioness of the Gaddafi clan

Point of hope for father's followers: problem for Algiers

08 June, 18:20

(by Diego Minuti) (ANSAmed) - TUNIS, JUNE 8 - Her head is covered by the kind of veil that leaves the face exposed; her right arm rises and falls, the fist clenched, rhythmically with her chanting in favour of the 'Colonel'.Her voice, without a trace of self-doubt, calls on the crowd before her to rid themselves of the scoundrels who seek to undermine her father's power. Such are the last official images of Aisha Gaddafi, showing her on the balcony of the Al Aziziya compound, her father's favourite outlook from his redoubt, haranguing the crowd: telling them that victory was near, that the Libyan people could crush the heads of the rebels.

This now seems centuries ago, although barely one year has gone by. A year during which Aisha has been forced into flight, seeking refuge in Algeria: but now the 'lioness' appears to have re-sharpened her claws. ''Appears'' is the word of choice because everything currently points to her as the person who has gathered together what is left of the family, spread out as it is across Algeria, Niger and Libya. Her abilities have come to the fore at a time when her brothers appear to have lost - along with their power - also any capacity they may have had for exercising a modicum of leadership, even within the four domestic walls.

Along with Aisha in Algeria are brothers Mohamed and Hannibal, the greying first-born and the 'crazy one': today united in having been ''pensioned from power'', although living in a villa with every luxury. All that's missing is that which their father represented in Libya for over forty years: absolute power over the law, power over life and death. And for the beautiful, sweet Aisha, Aisha the charitable, the house has become too confining and the restlessness she has been showing each day could soon arrive at a point of no return.

Officially, Aisha is bound by silence: she started making political statements as soon as she arrived in Algeria, inciting the Libyan people to turn on the rebels, against the ''traitors of the NTC''. But then the Algerian government made her a 'one-way offer': if you carry on like this, you can choose another venue for your exile.

The 'offer' was accepted, but only at an official level.It would indeed appear that - even through the official silence - it is Aisha's voice that is the one finding an audience: not those of her brothers or even of her mother, Safia, Gaddafi's favourite.

In a prison in the South of Libya, Saif el Islam, is awaiting trial: Saadi, the 'footballer' is also waiting - in his case probable extradition. That leaves Aisha, who is now turning into a problem for Algeria, and the authorities in Algiers are looking forward with some impatience to the day that she finds an alternative arrangement, one that is more to her liking, and leaves.

Some months ago there was talk of Jordan as a likely venue, but then King Abdallah appeared to cool at the idea. This leaves Morocco (but the fact that a religious party is in power makes the country unfriendly to the Gaddafis) or Iraq (but it is too insecure) or South Africa.

For Algiers, the main thing is that Aisha strike her tents as soon as possible. (ANSAmed).

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