News / Africa

Libyan Convoy in Niger Where Gadhafi Has Tuareg Ties

Soldiers from the rebel Niger Movement for Justice ride on armed vehicles in the desert in northern Niger in this January 14, 2008 file photo. The Niger Movement for Justice, mainly Tuareg-led, has fought the Niamey government.
Soldiers from the rebel Niger Movement for Justice ride on armed vehicles in the desert in northern Niger in this January 14, 2008 file photo. The Niger Movement for Justice, mainly Tuareg-led, has fought the Niamey government.

A convoy of up to 200 vehicles carrying forces loyal to Libya's Moammar Gadhafi has crossed into Niger.  Later Tuesday, senior officials in Niger denied that it was a large convoy, saying only a few Libyan vehicles entered the nation.

The ousted Libyan leader has close ties to Tuareg nomads based in northern Niger who Colonel Gadhafi has supported in the past and who may support him now.

The head of Colonel Gadhafi's security brigade, Mansour Dhao, crossed into Niger hours ahead of a larger convoy which quickly moved on toward the capital Niamey.

Officials in Niger said Colonel Gadhafi is not with the convoy, and it was not clear whether any Gadhafi family members or senior political allies were with it either.

Niger's capital in the far southwest of the country is close to the border with Burkina Faso, where officials offered Colonel Gadhafi asylum about two weeks ago.

It is believed the convoy may have first crossed into Algeria before entering Niger through an area that is home to Tuareg nomads with longstanding ties to the former Gadhafi government.

Gadhafi's longstanding ties to Niger's Tuareg

Moammar Gadhafi has longstanding ties to Tuareg nomads in Niger, the country entered by a convoy of pro-Gadhafi forces late Monday.

Colonel Gadhafi once supported a Tuareg rebellion in northern Niger, and hundreds of former Tuareg rebels have fought for him against Libyan insurgents.

The Tuareg are based in the eastern Sahara, mainly in Niger and Mali. Tuareg fighters have staged uprisings in both countries over the years in a bid for greater autonomy.

In the past decade, Colonel Gadhafi pushed Libya toward closer ties with other African countries, and used his oil money to forge tighter relationships with the continent's leaders.

Some African countries continue to recognize Colonel Gadhafi as Libya's leader. Niger's government, however, has recognized the anti-Gadhafi National Transitional Council as the country's legitimate authority.

Niger's Tuareg rebels

Colonel Gadhafi backed several Tuareg rebellions in northern Niger, and hundreds of former Tuareg rebels have fought for him against Libyan insurgents.

"Gadhafi himself is a Bedouin. And the Tuaregs, of course, are the Bedouins of the Sahara. That's why they have always had this close relationship,” says Jibrin Ibrahim, who directs the Center for Democracy and Development, a non-profit research and advocacy group in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.

The Tuareg are based in the eastern Sahara, mainly in Niger and Mali, where they have staged uprisings in both countries as part of a fight for greater autonomy.

Ibrahim says the arrival of heavily-armed Tuareg in the Libyan convoy can not be something Niger's new civilian government welcomes.

"Niger has had significant difficulties with its own Tuareg population that have been engaged in armed insurrection against the state at certain times in recent history," he says. "And I think they will be very concerned, not only that Gadhafi and some of his people might be there, but also the fact that there may be large groups of Tuaregs and other Bedouin groups moving into Niger with significant arms.”

Niger's northern Agadez region is also an area where terrorists from a group known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb have carried out kidnappings and ambushes.

Combined with Tuareg separatists, Ibrahim says it is an especially difficult area to control.

"The uprising that they have had in the Agadez region has not been completely quelled, so it is a question of great concern to Niger as a country,” he says.

Support for Libya's NTC

Niger's civilian government has recognized the anti-Gadhafi National Transitional Council as Libya's legitimate authority. So Ibrahim says some of those in the convoy may ultimately be handed over to Tripoli's new leaders.

"I don't think the statement being made by Niger is that they are supporting Gadhafi," he says. "Quite on the contrary, they are opposed to him.  I think what the TNC needs to do is to engage in a diplomatic discussion with Niger to find out how they can have access to those people who have fled from Libya to Niger.”

The exact whereabouts of Colonel Gadhafi are unknown, as insurgents opposed to his rule work to defeat the last strongholds of his fighters in Libya.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid