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Post-Gaddafian Africa (I)

By Gregory TINSKY (Russia)

Post-Gaddafian Africa (I)

Libya has been carrying out utmost active policy in Sahel (part of African continent, lying to the south from Sahara desert) long since. Libyan presence in the region is perceivable in the military, economic, cultural and propagandistic spheres. Numerous countries of this area are closely bound to Libya, while Colonel Gaddafi himself has vast connections at this territory. All the more probable step-down of Libyan Jamahiriya leader would transform the political landscape of Black Continent beyond recognition.

The world got quite convincing proofs of the latter thesis during the recent weeks: Gaddafi used the help of African hired guns from Chad, Niger and other states to suppress the Libyan rebellion. For a long time Black Continent was lavished by Colonel’s generosity. If Gaddafi is deposed — which looks quite probable in the current circumstances — truly dark day for many Africans will come. Despite the fact that during his continuous rule over Libya Colonel switched his foreign-policy priorities few times, Sahel has always remained the top-priority of his. This region allowed Gaddafi to satisfy his vanity, often wounded by disdainful attitude towards him in Arabian world.

In the beginning of 70s Libya entered the OAU [Organization of African Unity] in order to weaken the Israeli influence in Africa and support the anti-colonial movement. As a result of Libyan efforts within the OAU framework, 27 African states have broken off diplomatic relations with the Jewish state in no time. Classic example of this changing-attitude mechanism in action was Uganda that once used to have a decent diplomatic and economic relationship with Jerusalem. In 1972 Idi Amin visited the USSR and Libya and radically changed his attitude towards Israel afterwards. In 1978, during the armed conflict with Tanzania, Libyan troops gave what we call a covering fire to Amin. Gaddafi turned out to be a friend indeed — deposed from governing, fled Ugandan President has found asylum in Libya.

Jean-Bédel Bokassa — notorious man-eating emperor of the Central African Republic — also had his share of Gaddafi’s support. In the 70s Libya was financing anti-colonial movements in Angola, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe. During the Cold War Gaddafi counter-balanced efforts of Allies in Africa. Pro-American Egyptian-Sudanese bloc was opposed by the bloc of Libya-Ethiopia-South Yemen. Muammar Gaddafi treated Chad — southern neighbor of Libya — as a traditional Libyan sphere of influence, as long as two countries were bound together with tribal and ethnic ties. Libya at that has always supported the most attractive part of its political establishment, picking out dutiful presidents like Goukouni Oueddei. In 1979 he even offered to unite their countries into a single state. Idriss Deby Itno — incumbent President of Chad, who depends from Gaddafi just like his predecessors did — would be willing to help out his main sponsor, if the need arises.

Gaddafi’s policy towards Sudan was every bit as vivid, too. Depending from political background, he supported either Khartoum government, or opposition. In 1972 President Gaafar al-Nimeiry even accused Colonel of arranging three attempts against him in a row. In the 80s Gaddafi continued to support various revolutionary movements. Former Liberian President Charles Taylor was among his “customers” — in 1989 he came from Libyan immigration back to his motherland and headed an armed rebellion. In 1997 Taylor won and became the 22nd President of Liberia. Today an entire world knows who he is and his last name became synonymous to the English expression “bloody diamonds” — not only Liberian, but Sierra Leonean ones as well.

To be continued…

Source: Russian Interests

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