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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

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

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora