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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid