Lockerbie Bomber; damage or no damage

(Courtesy of Atlantic Council) The release

by Luke Rajczuk

The release of the Lockerbie Bomber Ali al-Megrahi from the 20th of August sparked a debate between experts and Edinburgh locals on whether the act damages relationship between the US and Scotland. Megrahi was released from the Scottish prison on compassionate grounds by the Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Recent appearances of the new American Ambassador Louis Susman show that the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds had strained US relations with Scotland, but likened it to a “little fight” between a married couple.

“We never anticipated his release,” he said. “I think if we ever thought we had a release, we probably would have asked for extradition early on.”

The US were trying to extradite the Bomber before the release without a positive result and that has made Edinburgh leading professors express their opinions on the matter.

Professor John Peterson from The Edinburgh University, Politics and International Affairs Department said: “I think that it was a very difficult decision for the Scottish government to make and for Kenny Macaskill to make. You will know that he was pressured by a group of senators. One of the last things Ted Kenndy did before he died was to sign a letter protesting against his imminent release. It’s worth remembering that more Americans died on that plane than British people.

I don’t think there will be any real long-term effect on relations between the United States and Scotland. I don’t even think it will have any effect on tourist traffic from the United States because when you think about it, it’s kind a fortunate timing. It happened at a time before anyone is thinking about where they’re going next summer or has made plans to come to Scotland next summer. I think all this talk about ‘this is going to have a permanent damage on Scottish American relations is way overblown.”

Although both sides the Americans and the Scots seem to have different opinions on the release the overall result is that there is no permanent damage to the relationship between the US and Scotland.  It is as Luis Susman said: “there might be fights in marriages but it doesn’t mean there’s going to be a divorce“.