Thread: Mercenaries
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Old 01-09-2011, 01:27 PM   #7
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Default Gaddafi, Libya and African mercenaries

The West did not anticipate Gaddafi’s war against the Libyan people. Neither, it seems, did the Arab states. Gaddafi hid below the radar of Western and Arab leaders for nearly a quarter of a century, engaging in a pseudo-isolationism that allowed his political activities to go mostly unchecked. After he lost his battle for dominance in the Arab world, you see, Gaddafi reinvented himself.

No longer the Arab incarnation of Che, Gaddafi retired his military garb and replaced it with royal dress inspired by Libya’s former King Idriss. Abandoning his doomed political maneuvers in the Middle East, Gaddafi now saw himself as a pan-African prophet, destined to take up the project of Ghana’s Kwame Nkrumah and imbue the African citizens to the south with a new sense of anti-colonial zeal. An African liberator who would raise the collective consciousness of the sub-Saharan population, taking Fanon’s postcolonial message to the masses.

As a result, millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa were not at all surprised by Gaddafi’s fierce repression. After all, Gaddafi had been pillaging their resources, cozying up to their dictators and exploiting their conflicts for decades before his crimes against the Libyan people caught the world’s attention.

Johannesburg journalist Mondli Makanya minces few words in his account of Gaddafi’s wide influence:

Short answer: he paid a lot of people good money. He had many presidents, prime ministers and kings on his payroll. He also filled the coffers of some nations and financed the election campaigns of many parties.

Given this history, can anyone be surprised at Gaddafi’s connections to criminal syndicates from sub-Saharan Africa? Mercenary armies flourished in the region during the twentieth century—particularly in the aftermath of the South African apartheid regime, when ex-Nationalist Party members disbursed to maximize profits and destabilize the region as mercenary fighters. It would not be too much of a stretch to point out that mercenaries have been involved in approximately every violent conflict south of the Sahara throughout at least the past twenty years.

It’s hard to say exactly who the mercenaries are, as most of the major news outlets, including Al Jazeera, are affording little attention to the question. Some of the fighters may not be mercenaries at all, but members of the Libyan army, some of whom happen to have sub-Saharan African heritage. We also know that some are not fighters, but day laborers who were caught up in the conflict and captured. But we also know that the Libyan government has trained many mercenaries throughout sub-Saharan Africa for a very long time.

Libyan human rights advocate, Ali Zeidan, claims that Chadian fighters lead the group of fighters from Chad, Niger, Mali, Liberia and Zimbabwe—and that they are being paid between US$300 and US$2,000 per day. Fighters from Ethiopia are also reported. Analyst Na’eem Jeenah says that “it is safe to say that they number at least in the hundreds.” Gaddafi maintained an active military presence in all but Zimbabwe for the past few decades. In the case of Zimbabwe, he is a long-time supporter of embattled autocrat, Robert Mugabe. Some of the fighters may not be sub-Saharan at all, as anti-government Libyan diplomats claim that fighters from Algeria and Tunisia are also working for Gaddafi. The Serbian news site, Alo! suggests that Serbian fighters are also involved.


Last edited by lightgiver; 01-09-2011 at 04:04 PM.
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