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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid