Post-Gaddafian Africa (II)

Part 1

In the middle of 90s Colonel Gaddafi decided to give up his venturesome-terrorist policy at the African continent and became one of the African Union architects — this Euro-Union-like organization including an entire Africa. On the 9th of September, 1999 African leaders adopted the declaration on creation of African Union (AU) during the OAU summit in the Libyan city of Sirt. Since the very beginning Gaddafi played the leading role in it. Despite his dubious reputation, he had an unchallenged authority within the AU, having voiced out the general urge of African countries for the equal partnership with the USA, the EU, India and China.

His extravagant behavior was compensated by active funding of new interstate union. Along with SAR, Algeria, Nigeria and Egypt, Libya used to donate up to 60% of the AU budget — sometimes it even paid for poorer countries from its pocket. Proceeding from the fact that in 2010 AU budget made up $200 million, we may consider the Libyan contribution into common African cash desk to be about $35–40 million. This money allowed AU to play an important role in the peace-making missions in Darfur and Somali, where military contingents from Uganda and Burundi supported the interim government in its fight against radical Islamists from al-Shabaab and nationalists from Hizbul Islam. Financial problems of the African Union could have significantly weakened the positions of already feeble Somalian government. Ugandan troops are fighting rebels in Mogadishu and cessation of Libyan funding can turn Somali into an extremely dangerous place — and not just for Africa alone. Libyan participation in the Darfur conflict seems to be even more vital. Gaddafi actually maintains the local parties over there and they repay him by acting strictly in accordance with the Libyan national interests. Those parties are essential elements of sophisticated Darfur puzzle that the global community — trying to mediate the bloody conflict — cannot afford to ignore. In March of 2009 five Darfur political alignments signed a treaty on joint efforts of conflict settlement in Tripoli. In the military sense, the United Revolutionary Forces Front (URFF) is the mightiest of them all. In February of 2010 this group from Tripoli has created a political alliance with other participants of Darfur process — it was called Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM). This movement is headed by Dr. Tijani Sese who represents it at the Darfur peace talks in Doha. Without movement’s participation, establishing peace in Darfur is simply impossible.

Chadian government is to a great degree dependent on Libyan aid as well. Numerous attempts of rebels to depose it have mostly failed due to Gaddafi’s support. As long as the Darfur border between Chad and Sudan is quite lengthy, Chadian stability is an immutable condition of Darfur peace. Besides, in the ethnic sense Chad and Darfur are very alike. Chadian President Idriss Deby belongs to Zaghawa ethnic group, which is one of the most numerous Darfur tribes.

Gaddafi never sidestepped the issues of Central African Republic either. In 2001 Libyan paratroopers arrived to help then President Ange-Félix Patassé, whose authority was about to break down under the pressure of rebellion. Sahel — traditional sphere of Libyan interest — is populated by Tuaregs, nomads recognizing no governments at all. Certain regions of Sahel are situated in Algeria, Libya, Mali and Niger. The two latter countries, situated at the south outskirt of the desert, have been a battlefield for Tuaregs and government troops for years. Last Tuareg uprising took place in 2007. Rich nomads protested against discrimination and unfair distribution of national property, having demanded territorial and cultural autonomy. Quite naturally, they also fought to keep the control over the smuggler’s routes that were also going through these areas. Libya has taken an utmost active participation in the peace talks, being a mediator between rebels and governments of Mali and Niger. Colonel Gaddafi’s diplomats persistently invited all the sides of the conflict to sit down the negotiations table and used their extensive connections in Sahel area in order to settle the conflict peacefully. So in September of 2008, for example, leader of Niger Tuaregs Aghala ag Alambo announced an end of the armed fight after his meeting with Gaddafi. Leader of Malian Tuaregs Ibrahim ag Bahanga soon followed his example. In March of 2009 Muammar Gaddafi personally participated in the exchange of Tuareg captives in Nigerian capital. He also granted political asylum to representatives of various Tuareg rebel movements in Libya.

During 2008–2009 leader of Libyan Jamahiriya has repeatedly participated in the peace talks in Mali and Niger. He proved himself to be much more effective than his predecessors from the UN and Canada. Gaddafi’s help allowed to successfully release the Western hostages, who were taken captives by North African branch of Al-Qaeda and local policemen to get ransom, time and again. Episode with Italian tourists Claudio Chiodi and Ivano De Capitani, who were kidnapped in August of 2006 in the eastern Nigerian — not far from the border with Chad — may serve an example of his negotiator’s successes. Kidnappers turned out to be a group that dubbed itself Revolutionary Armed Forces of Sahara. During the first two weeks kidnapped Europeans had no food and almost no water at all. Gaddafi’s interference helped to rescue the hostages in October of 2006. In 2003 participation of Tripoli helped to release 32 Europeans, who were taken hostages by a group of Islamists at the border of Niger and Algeria. In 2008, when Austrian citizens were captured in Mali, Vienna addressed directly Colonel Gaddafi, asking for help. And once again Libya succeeded in its mediatory efforts — hostages have been released.

Libyan government actively invests into the African economies. That’s how Liberia — one of the poorest African countries — got $65 million. This helped to strengthen the positions of current President — Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Gaddafi carried out active immigration policy, inviting the citizens of poorer African countries to Libya. Yet it was exactly the presence of great deal of “seasonal workers” from Ghana, Mali and Sudan that created the social tensions within the country.

Source: Russian Interests

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