Dictators all over Africa have aligned themselves with Libyan Leader Muammar Gaddafi, supporting his crackdown on his civilian opposition. Many African governments have sent troops to help Gaddafi stay in power, and thousands of other African mercenaries have been recruited by the Libyan regime.
In an interview with Pan-African weekly, Jeune Afrique, Chad's President Idriss Deby warned against plans by the international coalition; he argued that military action would have heavy consequences in Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean. "The attempt to destabilize Libya's military action against Libya is a hasty decision that may have serious consequences on regional stability and the spread of terrorism," Deby.said.
Many opinion makers considered Deby's statement a neutral opinion on the Libyan crisis. The Chadian President's remarks, however, are far from neutral. Deby, himself a dictator, is actually one of Gaddafi's best allies. Deby came to power 1990 thanks to Gaddafi's support, and he was saved two years ago by Gaddafi when the rebels almost entered his palace. Now Deby is accused of sending soldiers to Libya to save his good friend, Gaddafi.
Deby's warning, more than a neutral opinion, can also be considered as personal threat to West. It is not a coincidence that his warning echoes Gaddafi's vowing a long war "with no limits" in the Mediterranean -- with the complicity of African dictators and mercenaries.
Historically, Gaddafi has long been using mercenaries as advisers and soldiers. In the 1970s, he recruited thousands of Africans into the al-Failaka al-Islamiya, the so-called Islamic Legion, an experimental Muslim army that he used to further his territorial ambitions in countries like Chad and Niger.
This line of conduct not only affected the outcome of conflicts across the region but also inspired Gaddafi with the idea of creating within the Libyan security forces special units composed of foreign fighters, who eventually were encouraged to become Libyan nationals. These fighters came mostly from Chad, Mali and Niger.
Luis Martinez, director of the French Research Institute on Africa and the Mediterranean (CERAM), in his book, The Libyan Paradox, describes the Islamic Legion, now disbanded, of having consisted of some 2.500 men, and of having been set up for the purpose of foreign intervention. Its fighters were "of Arab and African origin, recruited among the migrant workers, who if they refused the offer, were maybe threatened with the death penalty. In 1988, 20 Africans were hanged for refusing to enlist."
These days, we are assisting in a sort of rebirth of such a legion. African mercenaries have been subjected to many unchecked rumors. Concerning their remuneration, some sources suggest that Gaddafi is paying them US$ 1,000 for every protester shot, whereas others increase this figure to something between US$ 10,000 and US$ 12,000. Others, however, who claim to have witnessed enlistments in Mali, say the hired assassins received a more modest US$ 1,000 per week.
Khamis Gaddafi, one of the children of the Libyan leader, is accused of being the one recruiting Sub-Saharan mercenaries to shoot on Libyan protesters. The Saudi-owned satellite channel, Al-Arabiya, reports that some of the captured mercenaries confessed that Khamis hired them. Khamis is the commander of the 32nd brigade, considered to include the most highly trained soldiers in Libya. International news items reported that Khamis was killed by a suicidal Libyan jet pilot, who allegedly flew his plane into the Gaddafi family compound, but in a video from the Libyan TV, Khamis, or his double, was seen parading through his father's compound in Tripoli.
Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1981, attacked the Western countries that intervened militarily in Libya, calling them "vampires" with the goal only of controlling the country's oil.
In Zimbabwe, during a parliamentary session, Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa was asked for clarifications on allegations that Zimbabwe National Army members were part of the mercenaries hired by Gaddafi. The hearing came after reports that a group of specially trained Zimbabwean soldiers were shooting down Libyan civilians.
In response, Mnangagwa said "That there are mercenaries who are African and are in Libya – I have no mandate in my duty as Minister of Defense to investigate activities happening in another African country.".
However, news items seem to confirm that Mugabe has sent troops to Libya to defend Gaddafi, "his long-standing ally and financier." According to reports, several hundred serving and retired Zimbabwean soldiers and a handful of air force pilots flew from Harare to Libya on a chartered flight to join Gaddafi's fight. There are also reports that Zimbabwean state intelligence sources have said that some of the troops were from the commando regiment, whereas others were from the Fifth Brigade, once trained by North Korea. Media reports say that a Zimbabwean force was sent in a secret arrangement made between Gaddafi, Mugabe and General Constantine Chiwenga, the chief of the armed forces and a staunch Mugabe loyalist.
The online newspaper, Zimbabwe Mail, reports rumors of a chartered Russian aircraft that flew into the Zimbabwe's capital, Harare, and left for Libya carrying troops from the Zimbabwe's crack Commando Unit.
Gaddafi apparently had a dream of a United Africa States under his rule as King of Africa, with the Zimbabwean President Mugabe as his prime minister
Gaddafi, one of Robert Mugabe's most vocal political allies, contributed millions of dollars to finance Mugabe's re-election campaigns. In 2001, there were reports that Gaddafi had sent troops to Zimbabwe to help Mugabe crack down on his political opponents and on the white farmers, people originally from Europe who had settled in Zimbabwe before it gained independence from Britain in 1980. Media outlets also report that, during a official visit to Zimbabwe, Gaddafi urged Zimbabwe's Asian Muslims to wage a jihad against Zimbabwe's small white population.
Gaddafi and Mugabe have signed dozens of bilateral agreements for Libya to contribute millions of dollars worth of oil supplies for Zimbabwe. Gaddafi has also invested in property in Zimbabwe: The Zimbabwe Mail reports there are fears that Gaddafi's properties in Zimbabwe "could become bases for Gaddafi's rogue terrorist agents seeking retribution once he is deposed from power". Gaddafi's son, Saadi, was also granted a concession by Zimbabwe to mine for diamonds in the Marange diamond field, one of the richest in the world.
South Africa is one of the African countries that, along with Nigeria and Gabon, has voted for the UN Security Council's resolution on a no-fly zone in Libya. South African President, Jacob Zuma, declared, however, that his country did not support "the regime change doctrine" in Libya, adding that countries enforcing the "no-fly zone" over Libya should exercise restraint.
BBC Monitoring, the media monitoring service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), reported that Libyan TV highlighted what it said were remarks made by Zuma to Gaddafi in a telephone conversation.
Libyan TV quoted Zuma as calling on the African Union (AU) to "take decisive action and uncover the conspiracy that Libya is facing." The Libyan TV report also quoted Zuma as "stressing the need not to depend on tendentious reports circulated by foreign media outlets and the need to listen to the Libyan media in this regard." Zuma's office refused to confirm or deny BBC reports crediting Libyan television on what he said to the Libyan leader. Zuma justified himself, saying he told Gaddafi that he condemned the crack down on the Libyan people.
Zuma is considered an ally of Gaddafi. In 2005, after Zuma had been charged with rape, he undertook a five-day trip to Tripoli where he met Gaddafi; media sources report that the South African President flew to Libya at Gaddafi's invitation. According to news items, Gaddafi allegedly gave around US $2 million to help Zuma, whose defense in his rape and further corruption trials was prohibitively expensive.
During a press conference, Zuma was asked for his position on Libya in light of rumors that Gaddafi financed his political party, the ANC, during his criminal defense. Zuma did not confirm the allegation, but said that irrespective of Gaddafi's previous support, South Africa would stand by its position, deploring violent acts by the Libyan state forces. South Africa froze all Gaddafi's assets in accordance with UN Security Council resolution.
Gaddafi's connection with South Africa, however, goes beyond Zuma. There are reports that Gaddafi has been financing the South African militant-Islamist group, Pagad. In 1998, Pagad began targeting restaurants and public places as part of its Islamist objectives. Pagad is also accused of anti-Semitism, including a petrol bomb attack on a Jewish bookshop owner. According to news items dated 2001, South African intelligence services have tried to ascertain if Gaddafi also bore the expense for 400 Pagad volunteers who travelled to the Middle East to participate in the Palestinian intifada. Pagad emerged, from inside the South African Islamist movement, Qibla, created under the slogan "One Solution, Islamic Revolution" in the early 1980s to promote the Iranian revolution in South Africa, In 2001, Qibla threatened to take action against the US following attacks on Afghanistan. Qibla also received support from Gaddafi.
There's no clear information on mercenaries from South Africa in Libya
According to several web sites in Portuguese, the Angolan government allegedly sent soldiers to Libya to help Gaddafi. Angola is reported to have sent pilots to serve the Libyan Air force, which was destroyed by the international coalition. However, there are no further reports on this topic.
Angola, which is also facing internal protests, is a member of OPEC, the cartel of oil producing countries. Recently, Saudi officials said "Libya production shut down by unrest could be replaced by West African light crude." However, Angola and Nigeria, also member of the OPEC, said that they cannot immediately make up for the missing shipments of Libyan oil.
No information on mercenaries from Botswana in Libya.
Botswana decided to cut diplomatic relations with Libya soon after the Libyan uprising. Botswana Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Tshenolo Modise said that the government took the decision to end diplomatic relations out of the realization "that the leader of Libya [Muammar Gaddafi] was not remorseful and made defiant pronouncements despite the violence visited on people.".
No information on mercenaries from Lesotho in Libya
There is no information on mercenaries from Malawi in Libya
The Portuguese paper, "I", says that Gaddafi is using mercenaries from Mozambique. However, there are no further reports on this topic.
Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba strongly condemned foreign military strikes in Libya: he said they were an "interference in internal affairs of Africa." The Youth League of the Namibian ruling party, Swapo, said that in Libya, the West is "not necessarily interested in democracy, but its own interest, which is primarily oil".
Libya supported Namibia during its struggle for independence from South Africa and many Namibian fighters and nurses trained in Libya before it won its independence in 1990.
Libya's second-highest ranking diplomat in Namibia, Saad H.M. Bakar, defected to join the anti-Gaddafi and pro-democracy movement. Bakar is reported to have approached the Namibian Human Rights organization, NamRights, after he unsuccessfully sought assistance from several Namibian-based foreign missions. NamRights is said to have assured Bakar a safe journey from Namibia to an unnamed Mediterranean country. Bakar's life had been in danger from Gaddafi's security outfits based in Namibia and in South Africa.
There is no clear information on mercenaries from Namibia in Libya.
Relations between Gaddafi and Swaziland king Mswati III, sub-Saharan Africa's last absolute monarch, were considered to be warm. In 2009, Gaddafi sent the king six camels as a token of friendship. Prince Sicalo, the first-born son of Mswati, was in Libya for three years undergoing military training. When the riots started in Libya, the prince came back to Swaziland.
There is no clear information on mercenaries from Swaziland in Libya.
There is no information on mercenaries from Zambia in Libya
Zambia took the decision to freeze assets belonging to the Libyan government and its leaders, in compliance with a United Nations resolution.