Five months after NATO launched its first air raid on Gaddafi forces on its way to recapture Benghazi, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent Gaddafi an offer of safe passage to the Fezzan with two hundred of his supporters, in return for leaving Tripoli.Gaddafi countered by demanding that he instead be joined by 2000 and surprisingly Sarkozy, after consultation with NATO allies, agreed to.
The agreement was drafted and everyone, including Gaddafi’s closest confidants - expecting him to sign - began working on the logistics. Following this Gaddafi surprised everyone by tearing up the agreement and travelling to the south coast of the Gulf of Sidra city of Sirte to make his last stand.
However, he was captured while in a convoy heading towards the desert. Was this because Gaddafi was led to believe that the offer for a southwards safe passage might still be available?
Leaked documents suggest that it was the Algerians who provided NATO with Gaddafi’s location coordinates by monitoring his calls to daughter Aisha.
The Algerians privy to the Sarkozy offer, were probably alarmed at the prospect of Gaddafi’s presence near their south eastern borders and his alliance to the Touareg separatist movement- otherwise known as the “Lords of the desert”.
The situation in the Sahel region and that of southern Libya would have been far more complex and the threat to Libya's neighbours as well of course to Libya itself would have been far more perilous had Gaddafi accepted the Sarkozy offer and lodged himself in northern Niger,for example, where he has always enjoyed sympathy and support.
This could not have escaped France's policy makers attention and perhaps Gaddafi's calculation that the Sarkozy offer was in effect a trap might not have been far off the mark.
Nicolas Sarkozy 'received £40m from Muammar Gaddafi'
Mr Sarkozy’s 2007 presidential campaign was “abundantly” funded by Gaddafi from Dec 2006 and that the flow of money continued after he became president.