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Africa's silence on Libya

Andrew Harding | 11:25 UK time, Friday, 25 February 2011

For years the rest of Africa has treated Colonel Muammar Gaddafi like an embarrassing uncle - the sort who arrives for Christmas lunch five hours late and insists on rambling through a long-winded speech, but then makes up for it all by tucking a £50 note into your top pocket, or paying off your mortgage.

It's that combination of embarrassment and generosity - with a heavy emphasis on the latter - which must surely explain the continent's abject silence regarding events in Libya and the fate of its "king of kings". Plus, in some of the more opulent state houses, a "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I" reticence.

The African Union - chaired until recently by Col Gaddafi himself - waited on the sidelines for days before daintily suggesting "dialogue and consultation", while South Africa's government left it to the governing African National Congress (ANC) to deplore "the unprecedented deaths". Only gallant little Botswana has come out swinging.

The details of much of Libya's south-bound generosity are shrouded in secrecy. "Lots of dollars, MIGs, aircraft servicing, cheap oil and training," was how a well-connected source in Harare described the nature of the colonel's long-standing support for President Robert Mugabe.
How many other sub-Saharan states can claim the same relationship? In return, it seems, some African countries may have allowed - or perhaps even deployed - mercenaries to help out in Tripoli.
I'm always a little wary of the "foreign sniper" rumours that crop up in almost every conflict - in Chechnya there was endless talk about Baltic death squads.
But this time the reports seem more credible.
So - where are these mercenaries from? Kenya? Sudan? Niger? Zimbabwe? Chad? And if Col Gaddafi runs out of options, how many African soldiers will ever make it home?

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  • 1. At 3:51pm on 25 Feb 2011, sagat4 wrote:

    The voilence won't spill over to other African countries as North African is more or less the Middle East. Sure in countries with dictators i.e. Zimbabwe, Equitorial Guniea etc the regimes are watching very closey. We know they have rigged elections (Uganda) and have arrested students who were discussing the situation in the Middle East(Zimbabwe). One African guy (on the BBC boards somewhere)said something like this "our kids are too precious for them to massacared by the regimes". This is very true as they say "children are the future". If Mugabe could massacare the Ndebele people what would he do to anyone wanting to bring his regime down? It is difficult but change can only come from within regimes as they should be willing to accept change through peaceful dialogue.

    Anonymous African guy

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  • 2. At 4:42pm on 25 Feb 2011, wwhiteface wrote:

    "Worshiping a dictator is such a pain in the ass." (From Achebe´s Anthills of the Savannah) I feel the need for painkiller, not just in this case, is thousands time acute in the West than among Africans, leaders or commoners not mattering so much,...don't you think so?

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  • 3. At 5:24pm on 25 Feb 2011, Molecular wrote:

    I have yet to understand the core reason or reasons why respectable African leaders - and there are a handful of them - allowed the now-embattled Libyan leader (whose name I will not attempt to spell for fear of doing so wrongly)so much stage time on the African continent.
    I understand Libya is part of the AU, and I understand that like most North Africans, they are "African" or "Arabs" depending on which identity best suits their particular situation.
    But, for Pete's sake, the guy's incoherent and mad rantings is no secret on the continent. He funded Charles Taylor's brutal offensive against civilians in Siera Leone, among other places, and in a recent official trip to Italy, boasted about how he prevented Italy from being "overrun by black people", refering to African migrants trying to get to Italy looking for better life in Europe. This fellow also envisioned himself as President of a "United States of Africa". His solution to the Palestinian-Israeli question is to create a new state he called "Isratine", he openly tears apart a copy of the UN Charter, while on stage at an annual UN Heads of State gathering. And people just tolerated him? What part of "dangerous" do these leaders not comprehend?

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  • 4. At 6:16pm on 25 Feb 2011, Mze-djimba wrote:

    I wish this is not going to be deleted here. This is a must read article if you want know the fact on the topic Andrew Harding like most. http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23311

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  • 5. At 7:28pm on 25 Feb 2011, Molecular wrote:

    Mze-djimba,

    I have read your postings and sincerely applaud your arguments. But honestly, posting this link - which I followed - on this forum does not do you justice. The link you posted discusses Zimbabwe's land crises and, the last time I checked, the subject you and I and other interested parties are invited to comment on in this forum is about the colorfully mad man in Libya.
    You seem very intelligent and persuasive. But try not to push your case too hard lest your intents be misunderstood.
    Let's invite Andrew and others to open this matter separately and I guarantee you, I will be reading your posts.

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  • 6. At 8:46pm on 25 Feb 2011, Chimaoge Okezue wrote:

    Mr Harding, please be careful what you say. There are over a million black African economic migrants in Libya. All this careless and unfounded speculation about "mercenaries deployed by other African nations" is just recipe for disaster. Already innocent economic migrants who happen to have dark skin are being beaten and killed by Libyans who have strong racist tendencies against black Africans. It should be noted that some of these so-called "African mercenaries" are Libyan citizens of sub-Saharan descent who live predominantly in the Southern part of the desert nation. While not doubting eye witness reports of "black mercenaries", I think it is highly unlikely that they would be from Southern African nations such as Zimbabwe.

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  • 7. At 9:39pm on 25 Feb 2011, AKPAN wrote:

    Many African commentators often remind the world of Ghadaffi's support for the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa, and Nelson Mandela remains eternally grateful for it, which is quite understandable. But make no mistake: this was no act of principled objection to racism by Ghadaffi. It was merely one of those irrational, bizarre decisions (which, thank goodness, happened to be in aid of a most just cause - just like his support for a bizarre Christian sect in the Philippines). For if anyone doubts this man's visceral racism, they need look no further than his well-publicized views, e.g., that European civilization is at risk of being undermined by African migrants, or his atrocious treatment of desperate African migrants in his own fiefdom. You might even cite the small matter of his support for the atrocious warlords in Sierra Leone - and the limbless young adults whose fate was sealed at birth by the savage brutes Ghaddafi had trained and equipped remain a living testament to his irredeemable odiousness.

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  • 8. At 10:29pm on 25 Feb 2011, villamagome wrote:

    LAST YEAR I MADE A FANTASTIC OFFER TO MY DAD: How about reviving the royal throne of our family -- so that we can extract some petro-dollars from Muammar Gaddaffi -- so that we can build a proper palace in our dusty home village. How about Dad joining the ever-growing delegation of bogus kings and queens (flamboyantly dressed in parrot feathers) flocking to Tripoli (Libya). We needed to move fast before our fellow Kenyans caught a whiff of the free shilingis.
    DAD LAUGHED QUITE HARD AND THEN SAID NO THANK YOU: Even though his royal feathers are worth several thousand years (compared to some jokers photographed smiling around Gaddaffi's bank). Even so my heart was broken just thinking of all that “good” money oozing past my “dream” palace.
    TURNS OUT THAT MY FRUGAL DAD IS A TRUE PROPHET: The jokers who fell for Gaddaffi have been selling their "royal" feathers at incredibly cheap prices -- including plane rides that do not even cross the Mediterranean Sea. Talk about greedy Africans thinking (and acting) once more like the old slave-traders.
    And now the skins of innocent and endangered leopards (so carelessly presented to Gaddaffi) are demanding swift justice -- may the spirit of the mighty Ngari (leopards) haunt these retro-slave-traders forever !!!!!!! Amen.

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  • 9. At 11:19pm on 25 Feb 2011, Ghost rider wrote:

    Another dictator to go. Libyan revolution http://mycontinent.co/revolution-Libya.php

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  • 10. At 11:34pm on 25 Feb 2011, Stephen Gule wrote:

    The West mostly do not want anything that is good and beneficial to Africa anyway, it has to be through Western corporations in order to make it meaningful and desirable. Gadhafi was not that all an embarrasment to Africa, it's listening to BBC that makes him such an embarrassment, when you listen to BBC and CNN, Gadaffi was supposed to have fallen out of power yesterday. He should have been killed by a Western reporter with a camera anytime, are you people really normal or there is a technical malfunction in Western gene and media that can not sustain itself without a spin?. This hocus pocus makes oil companies rich.
    This war is still far from being determined, win or loose Gadhafi is still a hero to many Africans than any other African leader you can think of.

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  • 11. At 04:08am on 26 Feb 2011, Stephen Gule wrote:

    The Western media miscalculated Libya's response to this so called face book or face off revolution, they whole thing is the most significant and largest hoax in world history, the Western media also is no more than utter nonsense, just like the UN, they are hubris. These reporters sit on behind their desk's brain storming, gathering ideas and cooking stories. There's no single proven Africanmercenary on Libyan soil, indeed if Africa was to side with Gadfy and help Libya, this war would become totally unquestionable, and a clear victory for Gadafy.
    How powerful are these armed protesters, how far are they willing to go fight and die?. Then how much longer can they maintain this so called hyped resistance funded by Western oil corporations and interest groups, it will not only weaken western currencies, but also collapse their economies leading nobody to trust them in their dealings.
    There are no African mercenaries in Libyan armed forces yet, if Libya ever asked for supplement of man power. It will not only shook the powers that be, promoting this hoax and foxy noxy behavior, Africa will emerge as a continent that is capable of rescue and will move towards glory.
    There's no stopping point and telling what Gadafy can do, he has genuine supporters worldwide that will fight side by side to defend the Alfateh revolution, what the Western world is itching about is basically a fantasy leading them to unchartered territory, winning a war out of Libya would cost twice that of Iraq. Cause the Libyan special forces wage tactical warfare of hit and run, which not will isolate the occupying and encroaching corpoarte like people's mind set, it will total weaken their resource base and isloate their strength. This just start and far from being over, many invading people's corpses will be littered in that desert. The Libyan mind is very patient, very peaceful and well suited to wage an endless war without limit with manageable and limited resources.
    Many African nations will respond positively and indirect if Libya needs miliatry help, not just that so many friends of Libya will smuggle in long range missiles and the outcome of this war will become very clear and established. What do the West need?. Just oil. Libyans know that, so it will be easy to fight the West and their group Libyan looklike invaders and mercenaries, we know a fake Libyan from an imported out of Libya Libyan who has over stayed in UK, EUROPE or USA, being institutionalized and indoctrinated, unless they are giove NATO class support, but NATO is too bogged down to attempt fooling with Libya. The supersonic country will unleash a barrage of missiles and bullets that will overwhelm those hallucinating young folks, they don't have a single damn idea about war. They are just thrilled and carried away, when pants, underwear and shoes start stinking on those people's part, they will isolate faster than Gadafy, the Libyan special forces are revolutionary and mobile, try it and cross the line we see!!.
    Right now is just a joke, few deaths. What about when people start mourning by the thousands?.

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  • 12. At 04:15am on 26 Feb 2011, Franciscus Baars wrote:

    Here's what I believe all this tip-toe politicking is about, in a blatant humanitarian situation that all decent human beings are so eager to condemn and only the hardiest of Gaddafi supporters can defend, those that still have the stomach not to have defected.

    These courageous Libyan civilians, irrespective of religion, gender or so-called tribe, spurred on by successful and youthful calls for democracy in Tunisia and Egypt, and ongoing struggles elsewhere in broader North Africa, Arabia and Persia, by so suddenly taking on the powerful, monolithic and divisive Gaddafi regime, have also caught most of the world's governments and large portions of the world's business and investment community completely off-guard.

    It is no secret that Gaddafi's government has a been a willing partner for all takers: USA, UK, Italy, Brazil, South Africa, China, Egypt, Venezuela and more than half the countries and their business communities around the globe. The Gaddafi clan has purportedly become very wealthy in the process and heaven knows what the audits on their accounts will one day come up with. A very willing chap indeed, you might surmise, with a great support crew. He has also invested fat sums of money in poor African neighbours, and South and Central American countries and governments. Very nice of the Gaddafi's, especially Mr. Gaddafi himself, of course.

    The thing is that the Gaddafi clan don't like opposition at home. They ethnically cleanse it by execution (remember him quoting from his Green Book the other day on the public punishment for one's sins). He also drops foreign civilian aircraft out of the sky, killing people in air and on land. Hey, what the heck, he and the bombers got away with it by paying a fine! Big-time negotiations those were, while the bereaved families stood by in disbelief as mass wealthy murderers got slaps on their wrists and did not so much as make an apology or show a hint of atonement. Political prisoners disappear for more than 20 years without recourse to law, charge, defense or lawyers. But Mr. Gaddafi must be right about that one too: they must ALL be al-Qaeda operatives (playing the wonderful boogy man American fear card that makes no sense from 20 years ago?). Being an African myself, you've got give it to Mr. Gaddafi on his wardrobe, man. Isn't that just far out? Miriam Makeba, Empress of Africa, eat your heart out! The guy uses classic divide and rule tactics and has persisted with the Libyan tribal system because it suits him. He plays the maverick on purpose to fool his opponents, but there's nothing unpredictable about him. He's got all his wits about him. The buffoon is just part of the show and you're the buffoon to believe it's anything more than a well-polished show. When he says he's going to hang onto power until his dying day, believe me, that's precisely (and unfortunately) what he's going to do. If it means he has to uses foreign operatives to defend him and kill the protestors or not. Ruthless, is the easy word. Wealthiest buffoon on Earth!

    So the dubious deals of the rich and poor governments that are ALL members of the hallowed United Nations with a dubious government ruled by a much less than dubious despot have all suddenly, in the last eleven days been, been placed on very public check, much more embarrassingly than was the case for Egypt and certainly for tiny Tunisia. Hence the silence (Brazil, South Africa), the political inertia (US, UN, UK), the exacerbated fears about foreign citizens trapped in the country (convenient little excuse that one is), the foot-dragging, the muted reprimands, the watered-down speeches and (most likely) ineffectual sanctions (predictably too little, too late).

    Fear not!! This is the motto of the youth of Libya today. For besides all these obstacles, your courage and wit will carry the young and old of your great country to your new democratic goal. And for those that still fear democracy, you too should not fear, like those of the regime that defect, for there is a brighter and better future for you and your families than that which is provided for by the true forces of Evil that reign today. Freedom for Libya now!

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  • 13. At 07:53am on 26 Feb 2011, Mze-djimba wrote:

    @6Chimaoge Okezue: Thank you so much, you had raised very impotent view and objection. In the last few days we had raised that same objection to all Arab media particular Al jazeera http://konwomyn.blogspot.com/2011/02/about-those-african-mercenaries-al.html?spref=tw. However, don’t ever once think western minded particularly journalists from the UK did or doing things like this by mistakes. One of my comments which were suppressed by BBC here in this blog in the last few days it was talking on this, so sorry I can’t go further.

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  • 14. At 09:23am on 26 Feb 2011, thatmcgrath wrote:

    Amazingly the only two pieces of English I understood were the blog itself by Andrew Harding and # 12 by Mr Baars.

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  • 15. At 09:38am on 26 Feb 2011, wwhiteface wrote:

    Just to remind you, living aside the issue of leadership-deficit in the still short post independence era, African political terrain has kept on changing and still is changing. Imagine the road connecting Luthuli to Mandela or Cabral to Sankara and further down to Machel. Even Mengistu changed an old feudal society by catapulting it into a modern age; in the mean time western-capitalist power and influence on the continent has been waning. There is no reason why one can't see events in Libya and the role of Kaddafi himself from a similar perspective; in other words as living evidence of the falling apart of a bygone empire with all its archaic attitudes etc. Kaddafi, despite all his theatrical postures and vainglory (after all who of current world leaders is not - Obama, Sarkozy, Berlusconi, even Mme Merrrkel and Camerrron with their "philosophy" of new-multiculturalism...-) is a hero, if for nothing else he remains and will remain one of the few African leaders who have "dared" to challenge such attitudes!
    As always the West viewing itself as the centre of the Planet, if not the universe, is, as in many other occasions in the past, misreading events of the last few weeks, it is explaining them on its own terms - the window panes are in Washington or Brussels; an example could be Mugabe and his land reform which even BBC now airs as success as it provided poor farmers food and source of income! Imagine the list of Libyan ambassadors exiting their office, curiously most of them from western posts, being paraded on BBC and condemning the person on whose payrolls they led lavish living the day before; it is just incredible to believe! On the other side the unending tide of peoples flooding Tahriri square in Cairo, the uprisings in Iraq, the Tunisians demanding the exit of post-revolution leadership, etc speaks of something more than few cosmetic changes. And we have to remind ourselves these are not people glued to PC or BBC al jazeera screens! Who knows we might be witnessing the unraveling of something big, real big,...if Libya falls into chaos will NATO take over that country, like US Iraq? In any case we are witnessing a Drama whose unfolding can only benefit the masses,...it will indeed be another push on an already cracking wall of empire, western empire,...blocking us all from true freedom!

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  • 16. At 11:57am on 26 Feb 2011, Andrew Harding BBC wrote:

    Fair point Chimaoge

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  • 17. At 1:53pm on 26 Feb 2011, Andrew Harding BBC wrote:

    Speaking of which... http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5g6YRYpd9NBR69h9dB9WiwISFEEZg?docId=f53c354409194ed58e05c79f2bb7bf17

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  • 18. At 7:30pm on 26 Feb 2011, Franciscus Baars wrote:

    The picture that one gets from Libya is that hundreds of thousands if not millions of people from all genders, religions, walks of life, nationalities, ah yes, and tribes (whoopie!! had to mention the divisive tribes), are calling for and some are risking their precious lives (and that has to be amazingly difficult in the face of live ammunition) to bring well-deserved democracy to a nation ruled by a tyrant in the same league as Mussolini, Baby Doc, Marcos, Pol Pot, Stalin, Robert Mugabe, Mobuto Sesiseko, Idi Amin, Augusto Pinochet, Henry VIII, Kim Jong-Il, Leopoldo Galtieri, Franco, Nicolae Ceausescu, Saddam Hussein, Idriss Deby, Hosni Mubarak, Charles Taylor, Kagame, Adolf Hitler, PW Botha, Slobodan Milosevic, Ian Smith, Médici, Ne Win, Saw Maung any many more in an illustrious crowd of population-killers. Now there's a nice party to have over for dinner, hey.

    For the peace-loving and democratic among us (and this is clearly no tea party for imperialists posing as democrats), our optimism tells us that we are witnessing the sands of time shift in North Africa, Arabia and even Persia. We truly hope that this is true and that the now dominantly literate youth of these nations have broken the fear barrier and have the stamina, the wit and the will to see it through all the way to the installation of democratic government and institutions. Some writers, such as on the Pan-African Pambazuka News, go so far as to say this may spread to Sub-Saharan nations in need of a democratic overhaul. We'll see, for there is a lot of water still to flow under the bridge.

    For now, it must be eyes on the prize in Libya, focus on the job of ousting the despot and his cronies, in order to bring them to account for their life of crime.

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  • 19. At 9:18pm on 26 Feb 2011, sagat4 wrote:

    Gaddaffi was not always a western friend. He was still hated by the west until recently when he 'denounced' WMD's and terrorism. Everyone was quick to welcome him into the fold by turning a blind eye to his human rights record and know we see the results of such hypocrisy

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  • 20. At 04:03am on 27 Feb 2011, Franciscus Baars wrote:

    @sagat4
    --- Yeah, yeah, yeah, we've all heard the smoke-screen rhetoric before. When Qaddhafi funded the bombimg of the Berlin nightclub, Reagan's government bombed his compound on the justification of that he was funding the spread of Muslim radicalism and its domination in the Middle East.

    Qaddhafi had one sole purpose at the head of his so-called Libyan Revolution for the last 42 years, and was GETTING RICH. He did that with great dexterity and fooled and killed many people along the way. But he also needed foreign business ties in order to do so, and those have fundamentally never faltered for his purposes. He has taken great personal advantage of Libya's natural resources and shared that with all takers. And this was well before any renunciation of WMDs and terrorist links, as far as my records show me.

    So the West and the East's links with Mr. Qaddhafi, his clan and the cronies has, at best, been ambiguous. Behind all the smoke screens and rhetoric, important business deals were guaranteed that saw to it that the tiny nation with a huge land surface is currently Africa's third largest fossil fuel producer, including Italy's gas lifeline. Sounds friendly to me!

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  • 21. At 04:41am on 27 Feb 2011, Franciscus Baars wrote:

    This UN asset-freeze sanction on the Qaddhafi family, coupled with that of the Swiss banks is really going to hurt them. This is very good. These measures should never be lifted.

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  • 22. At 09:54am on 27 Feb 2011, wwhiteface wrote:

    This may be of interest too:
    http://www.au.int/en/sites/default/files/PSC%20Communique%20on%20the%20situation%20in%20Libya.pdf

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  • 23. At 10:33am on 27 Feb 2011, Back 2 Blighty wrote:

    Col Gaddafi and his sons (Saif al-Islam especially seems to make a lot of sense) will undoubtedly prevail and I already see signs of that and then will probably implement some needed reforms.

    This is not a revolution, it's a violent, armed, murderous uprising for control of Libya's unique oil and gas riches, with all sorts of tribal, racist, etc. undercurrents at play also.

    It must be put down good and in an exemplary fashion an a general principle and the few perpetrators punished but the duped people forgiven, that's how I see it.

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  • 24. At 4:35pm on 27 Feb 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    The Obama administration
    - announced unilateral sanctions against Libya,
    - including suspension of US military cooperation and cancellation of military component sales
    - closed the US embassy in Tripoli and
    - asked international financial institutions to monitor any money transfers made by senior Libyan officials.
    These measures anticipated the imposition of multilateral sanctions through the United Nations.
    A draft UN Security Council resolution prepared by Britain and France states that the Gaddafi regime’s atrocities “may amount to crimes against humanity,” warranting referral to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
    This is a joke!
    The day the World Court deals with George W. Bush and Tony Blair (for a start) will be the day that I respect such a declaration. Gaddafi may have killed his hundreds, but the Americans/UK have killed their millions. I guess the so-called victor(s) is never punished, just the losers.
    The major imperialist powers are accelerating their contingency plans for military intervention in Libya. The Obama administration continues to stress that “all options are on the table.” Speaking from Bahrain, Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US joint Chiefs of Staff, said that the Americans are looking at all their capabilities and a range of contingencies.
    The European powers have also mobilised their forces. Italian Defence Minister Ignazio La Russia said that his government was planning a “military operation” to rescue Italian nationals stranded in southeast Libya. Et tu, Britain?
    Elite SAS forces are now in Malta, 360K off the coast of Tripoli, while two naval frigates have been deployed to the Mediterranean. British media reports have referred to a “range of other assets”, including Chinook helicopters, Hercules and C17 aircraft.
    An emergency NATO meeting was held in Brussels. A subsequent statement said NATO would continue to consult in order to be prepared for any eventuality. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen previously stressed that the organisation had “assets that can be used in a situation like this.”
    Israeli military intelligence claims that hundreds of US, British and French military advisers, including intelligence officers, were dropped from warships and missile boats at the coastal towns of Benghazi and Tobruk as far back as February 24th.
    Military intervention would be directed toward securing the crucial Libyan oilfields. American, British, Italian, French and German oil conglomerates all have a stake in Libya’s oil reserves.
    The operation reeks of colonialism - an extension of Washington’s efforts to use military force to maintain control over energy resources.
    The situation in Libya is threatening world oil price & a likely downturn in several western economies.
    Obama emphasized this point when he addressed corporate executives at the “President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.” Speaking of oil prices, he declared, “We actually think that we’ll be able to ride out the Libya situation and it will stabilise.” Whatever this is supposed to mean...
    Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sought to allay concerns by stressing the excess oil producing capacity of other OPEC member states. He may have had a temporary brain lapse re the troubles in Saudi Arabia and Oman.
    A US military operation in Libya would have NOTHING to do with defending the population against Gaddafi or establishing “democracy”.
    Remember: When Gaddafi first unleashed a wave of brutality against opposition forces, Obama’s initial response was silence, apparently waiting to see if Gaddafi’s forces could smoothly retake control. Gaddafi has enjoyed warm, even cuddly relations with the US & European, having cooperated in removing barriers against the operations of foreign oil companies in Libya.
    Western Governments look with alarm at the spread into Libya of the North African uprisings. Obama was not alone in stalling when reports massacres first emerged. The British Government dilly-dallied in evacuating citizens, as though commerce came first. David Cameron said that he hesitated because he was concerned about the Libyan response to a hurried evacuate UK citizens from a country with which the UK is still keen on doing lucrative oil business.
    Only now when things have turned against Gaddafi, have the US & European governments expressed their shock and humanitarian concerns.
    There is ongoing discussion of a “no-fly” zone. This, of course, would be tantamount to military action. Reminds me of the systematic US bombardment of Iraq in the 1990s, which clearly demonstrated the intent of “no fly” zones.
    The US and international media have thrown their weight behind the US & European Governments’, posturing concerns for humanity, making the same pretenses that were made as cover for US-led interventions in the Balkans in the 1990s.
    As for the African silence on Libya, where are these mercenaries from? Kenya, Sudan, Niger, Zimbabwe, Chad...? It's my suspicion several African countries harbour a great respect for Gaddafi, and the manner in which he has tied the western Governments into pretzels over the past years...but can these African Nations speak out against the west? Would they dare speak out against the west?

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  • 25. At 5:55pm on 27 Feb 2011, Mze-djimba wrote:

    @blueberry: I take my hat off for you . Its excellence piece and I wish Andrew Harding the person who have so much resource and able to do something serious, can start learning on been a journalist and stop been politician.

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  • 26. At 03:32am on 28 Feb 2011, BornGreat wrote:

    The African support for Gaddafi derives from more than his generosity to them, but rather the ideology behind it.

    Gaddafi is probably the last staunch and open Pan-Africanist leader left on the continent. He still promotes the United States of Africa ideal first championed by the Lumumba and Nkrumah generation. As much as Africa may be embarrassed at times by Gaddafi, he is the last connection ideologically to the generation of Africa's glory years and the only one who conducts himself in foreign and domestic policy as Proudly African. Secretly, most African leaders admire this and recognise the quality it brings to the AU to set it aside from other Regional Organisations.

    In Africa, it is important to remember not everything is economic, drawing from its cultural roots, a lot is to do with ideology.

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  • 27. At 08:42am on 28 Feb 2011, Anna Sempe wrote:

    Andrew, I doubt any of the African governments would openly deploy mercenaries to Libya to support Gaddafi - they are as opportunistic and as hypocritical as the West and now that it's almost certainly unlikely their embarrassing uncle is ever going to slip another 50 quid into their top pockets, why would they bother? If they think that he might regain control then that's a different story. Still the drivers of social revolution in Libya are firmly in place and I for one cannot see the citizens of that country ever falling under Gaddafi's full control again.

    @Borngreat (#26) - you're right about that. Gaddafi was recognised as a champion of the AU (although not sure which glory years of Africa you're referring to!)

    You're also right to suggest that the links between many African leaders and political parties are based on ideology or at least sympathy to some prior political cause. A case in point is the "interesting" relationship between the South African ANC and Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe. You'd be hard-pressed to find a senior ANC leader that would utter a negative word about Zanu PF and human rights issues in Zimbabwe - and that despite the obvious influx of desperate immigrants from that country. One can only wonder what each of these leaders have on each other in terms of leverage - somehow I find it hard to believe that it is all simply predicated on loyalty. For a lovely satirical take on the relationship between these African leaders check out the latest post about the North African revolutions on this political cartoon blog.. comically relevant and fitting given the warm link even Andrew draws in his post between the good Colonel and Robert Mugabe!

    More recently in South Africa, the defence minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has been taking some serious flak for supplying military weapons as late as Dec 2010 to Gaddafi's regime in Libya. Until African leaders draw the line between supporting an individual/ regime and supporting the will of the people, crises and scandals like these are bound to arise.

    Anna - Social issues blogger

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  • 28. At 09:21am on 28 Feb 2011, wwhiteface wrote:

    Current events at the UN and UNHCR speak less about who really Gadaffi is and what he wants, and more of the abysmal hollowness of the most common conception of human rights in western liberal society; essentially a modus operandi of a particularistic imperialist aggression and a mask for economic and political inequality and exploitation. No surprise it is presided by liars (check for example this http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7313885.stm) who are ready to do anything including destroy faraway lands and societies including the murder of hundreds of thousands of peoples, including children, the elderly, women just to satisfy their monstrous greed and ambition.
    The West has always enjoyed mocking others; the end of Gadaffi rule in Libya will not change that at all. Indeed the historical proof is so dauntingly huge today that anyone with clear head must comprehend why western liberal democracy has long became exemplary synecdoche applicable for all forms of totalitarianism including fascism.
    For the masses in revolt, not just in the middle east, the message should be..."There is only one thing I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings." (Dostoevski)

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  • 29. At 10:04pm on 28 Feb 2011, Kigali wrote:

    @ Franciscus Baars: What exactly do yo know about Kagame of Rwanda? Let me educate you.. . We Rwandans love our president. Just come and see all he has accomplished since the end of the 1994 genocide. In Kigali, the capital city, skyscrapers are rising, and the streets are swept clean every morning. There is a national health system, 19 out of 20 children are now in school, and rural Rwanda, while still in poverty, has better internet service than rural Britain.
    So, we tell all the haters to leave us alone..we are doing GOOD!

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  • 30. At 1:50pm on 01 Mar 2011, Franciscus Baars wrote:

    @ Kigali: I am far from me to be a hater. I humbly know very little about standing President Paul Kagame of your fine country Rwanda, which has apparently and hopefully recovered so well from the suffering and atrocities there in 1959 and 1994, as well as from disrespectful colonial rule. I also fully respect the democratic will of 93% of the Rwandan people in electing him to his office.

    Through my limited reading, I am also aware of allegations and indictments made against Pres. Kagame regarding murders, disappearances and genocide. I have no reason, however, personally to believe that these allegations are true or otherwise, since I am essentially ignorant on the facts, not having been present or not being a lawyer in any of the cases. I furthermore truly hope that, in fact, the allegations are all false and that Pres. Paul Kagame is really the honest, good, God-fearing leader that he says he is and that Rwanda's kind citizens believe he is. I mean that sincerely.

    I also believe that the hundreds of thousands of individuals, Tutsi and Hutu, that have perished in bloody revolt in Rwanda, each, together with their bereaved families, have the basic right to the truth about those who committed the crimes against them and the reasons for it. Not for revenge or vindication, but for atonement and peace-of-mind. It would be terrible if one or another commanding or acting individual were a scapegoat, but there must be truth, for only the truth can be liberating. And there must be patience to achieve the truth, for the truth may be obscured and hidden. I repeat the quote by @wwhiteface, above: "There is only one thing I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings." (Dostoevski) This will be true if there is no truth.

    So, @Kigali, I respectfully say that I mean not to offend in my haste to include Paul Kagame's name on a guest list of genocidal tyrants and, in my ignorance of the facts, while the jury is still out, I even apologise for the possibly unwarranted reference. But I do draw your attention to the even broader questions of despots and imperialists, and the price of power and wealth, whether under the guise of autocracy or democracy.

    I wish you, my African brother or sister, and your fine country true peace and prosperity. And, yes, I would love to come and see your capital, countryside and schools.

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