Calls are growing for former British prime minister Tony Blair to disclose what his close relationship with Libya's Muammar Gaddafi is really about after it was revealed that he had six private meetings with the dictator in the three years after he left Downing Street. The Sunday Telegraph reports that Blair flew to Tripoli at least twice on a private jet paid for by the Libyan regime.
Blair was named the official envoy of the Quartet of the Middle East, an international body dedicated to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, on the day he left the prime minister’s office in 2007.
On one of the alleged visits, in 2009, Blair is said to have flown to Libya just when JPMorgan was trying to negotiate a multibillion-dollar deal between the Libyan Investment Authority and a Russian oligarch. The investment bank pays Blair $3 million a year as a senior adviser. Also raising eyebrows: five of the six visits were reportedly made in the 14-month period before the release of the Lockerbie bomber, the Libyan national who was released from a Scottish prison on humanitarian grounds.
In a statement, Blair’s spokesman denied any wrongdoing: "Tony Blair has never had any role, either formal or informal, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the Government of Libya and he has not and has never had any commercial, business or advisory relationship with any Libyan company or entity." The Lockerbie bomber’s release, the spokesman said, “was a matter for the Scottish government.”
Another report by The Telegraph appears to link a 2009 meeting between Blair and the emir of Kuwait—ostensibly part of his envoy portfolio with the Quartet—with the subsequent signing of a lucrative contract between the emir and Tony Blair Associates, Blair’s consulting firm.
An upcoming documentary, The Wonderful World of Tony Blair, investigates the apparent conflicts of interest that have allowed Blair, now a Middle East peace convoy, to earn millions since leaving office in 2007. See the trailer below.
In Newsweek in March, Christopher Dickey reported on how before Libyans rose up against him, Muammar Gaddafi used money, and well-timed diplomatic overtures, to worm his way into the West’s good graces. How Bush, Blair, and Berlusconi gave the brutal dictator a makeover.