News / Africa

Experts Disagree on African Mercenaries in Libya

A suspected mercenary from Chad keeps his hands on his head after being detained by  Libyan militia member from the forces against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi  at a roadblock near Marj in eastern Libya, February 27, 2011
A suspected mercenary from Chad keeps his hands on his head after being detained by Libyan militia member from the forces against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi at a roadblock near Marj in eastern Libya, February 27, 2011
TEXT SIZE - +
Delia Robertson

Within the first few days of the uprising against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi there were reports he had deployed sub-Saharan African mercenaries against the protesters. There is now a growing backlash of violence against sub-Saharan Africans by the opposition. However, it is likely that the number of mercenaries fighting for the besieged Libyan leader is quite small.

It is unclear how many mercenaries Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has deployed against Libyan protesters, but African analysts such as Na'eem Jeenah, executive director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg, suggest the number is relatively low.

"It is difficult to say exactly how many mercenaries are operating in Libya and how widespread it is, but I think it is safe to say that they number at least in the hundreds," said Jeenah.

Jeenah and other analysts says Gadhafi has a long history of using mercenaries from Chad, Nigeria, Niger and perhaps even the Central African Republic in other conflicts outside of Libya. Jeenah said some mercenaries were flown into Tripoli in the first few days of the uprising. He says there is an established relationship between Gadhafi and these individuals that would enable such a quick response.

"So in a sense, as much as one can use such a term, there is a kind of relationship that pre-exists," added Jeenah.  "And so yes, they can be called up at short notice therefore, called up at short notice, transported in to the country as [some have] been, etc."

But other experts are more skeptical.  Issaka Souare, senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, says such a rapid reaction by Mr. Gadhafi is questionable.

"The reason why I doubt the thesis is that we started hearing these claims just the third day of the revolt, and I would imagine it would take some time before you really can go and have recourse to these mercenaries, unless you are foreseeing that your own army is not going to be loyal to you," said Souare.

Souare suggests there may be another explanation for the incidents where sub-Saharan Africans are thought to be involved in attacks on protesters.

"So I don't exclude the possibility through migration that some sub-Saharans have integrated, having taken the Libyan nationality, have integrated the Libyan army, or that Gadhafi at some point created a militia formed mainly of these people, and that these are deployed, and then protesters see these, conclude that no they are mercenaries," noted Souare.

Souare added that of the 6.5 million people in Libya, one million are foreign nationals, many of them sub-Saharan Africans. Most are there legally, employed in a range of occupations. Others are undocumented, asylum seekers, or in transit, hoping to travel onwards to countries in Europe.

Afro-Middle East Centre director Jeenah says that if Africans are being recruited by Gadhafi in their home countries, the governments of those countries could be ignoring it.

"A number of African governments as you know received different kinds of funding, or have received, from Gaddafi and so overlooking something like this which for them doesn't pose a big threat to [them], is not something that is farfetched," said Jeenah.

In addition to sub-Saharan Africans willingly fighting for Mr. Gadhafi, experts say reports from Libya suggest that many are unwilling, who have been forced or coerced into bearing arms against the Libyan people.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid