At the end of my 1999 novel Shaikh-Down I envisaged Muammar Gaddafi being castrated by his female bodyguards during a wave of revolutions that followed the coup on the (imaginary?) island of Belaj in the Persian Gulf. As we all now know, a different fate awaited Libya's loony leader:a pipe shoved up his behind and then shot by the rebels who found him hiding in a drainage culvert. Rough - and poetic - justice.
A new book by a French journalist about the women abused by Gaddafi suggests that his female guards might well have chopped his balls off if they'd been given the chance. Hundreds of girls, many in their early teens, were 'selected' by the dictator after visits to schools and public events. Abducted by his henchmen (and/or Mabrouka Sherif, his chief procuress), these girls would be raped - sometimes for a day, sometimes for years - by Gaddafi. Amid a long catalogue of horrific stories the book recounts the fate of Soraya, taken from school at 15. She says that Gaddafi subjected her to repeated frenzied sex attacks, beat her, bit her and even urinated on her. Seven years later she still feels a victim and surely always will.
Arabia, like China, is a region where tyranny has long prevailed and human rights count for almost nothing. But then Guantanamo may not be the only place where the Western flags of democracy are showing some wear and tear. Perhaps, as I predicted in 1999 (sorry to keep plugging Shaikh-Down!), the Middle East is on a fast track to Armageddon.