Angry Arab

A quote from the press agency AKI, 10 October 2008

Libya has threatened to withdraw seven billion dollars worth of assets held in Swiss banks, cut economic ties and stop supplying the country with oil. […] The remarks were made three months after the arrest of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's son, Motassim Bilal, also known as 'Hannibal'. 'Hannibal' and his wife, Aline Skaf, a former model who at the time was nine months pregnant, are alleged to have beaten two servants at a five-star hotel in Geneva. They were jailed on 15 July for two days and later freed after posting 300,000 euros in bail. 'Hannibal' denied the charges.

According to the Swiss state news agency Swissinfo, Switzerland imports about 20 percent of its oil consumption from Libya, while the North African nation owns one of the country's two oil refineries and 320 filling stations.

A quote from Swiss Info, 11 October 2008

Libya has stepped up its pressure on Switzerland by reducing the flights of its state airline, a spokesman for Geneva airport confirmed on Saturday.

A quote from Swiss Info, 10 October 2008

[Swiss] President Pascal Couchepin told public television on Friday […] "We always regret it when a country takes measures against Switzerland, but in this case we can accept it with ease," […]

[Kurt R.] Spillman, the former director of the Center for Security Studies and Conflict Research at the Zurich Federal Institute of Technology, said that Libya's move was "another round in a prestige fight between Gaddafi and Switzerland". […] Although the charges against [Hannibal Gaddafi and his wife] were dropped after the servants withdrew their complaint, Libya has demanded that Switzerland apologise over the incident.

"Official deliberations are still underway and are in no way concluded. Maybe Gaddafi got dissatisfied with the state of affairs that Switzerland would not move in a direction of an apology," explained Spillmann.

Spillmann believes that a clash of culture lies behind the tensions and that Switzerland will have to take into account the Islamic and Arab context of personal and family honour.