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Libyan opposition says Algerian planes transported mercenaries | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Libyan Transitional National Council sent a memorandum to Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa on Saturday asking the league to contact the Algerian government and assign a committee to investigate some suspect violations that were made by the Algerian Air Force and Algerian Airways by transporting military equipment, weapons, and mercenaries to the regime of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

Asharq Al-Awsat received the text of the three-page memorandum, which is supported by figures and documents confirming that weapons, ammunition, and fighters were transported from Algeria to Tripoli.

The memorandum said in part that the Human Rights Solidarity Society obtained official documents showing that the Algerian Air Force and Algerian Airways conducted charter flights in the interest of the Gaddafi regime in the war that Gaddafi has been waging on the Libyan people since the middle of February. These flights, the memorandum added, are considered an outright violation of the air transport rules as stipulated in international charters, represented by the International Civil Aviation Organization and the International Air Transport Association.

The memorandum contained information on 15 flights that landed at the airports of Tripoli, Al-Matiqah, and Al-Abraq. It has been noticed that the Algerian Air Force’s flights had no call signs. This indicates that these flights were conducted in secret, an action considered a legal violation.

The memorandum also included information on the Algerian Air Force flights confirming that foreign mercenaries where brought in and civilian planes were chartered from private firms for the same purpose, as Gaddafi’s battalions launched a war against unarmed civilians.

The memorandum said that the file of the Gaddafi regime’s actions against his people has been referred to the International Court of Justice for examination. It added that every party that helped Gaddafi will bear all the legal consequences.

The memorandum noted that Paragraph Two of Clause Seven of the first additional protocol of the August 1949 Geneva Convention explains that a mercenary is any person recruited locally or abroad to fight in an armed conflict.

The memorandum relied on a report published in the Algerian El Khabar Newspaper a few weeks ago indicating that planes loaded with weapons and mercenaries landed at the Aqbah Airport in Libya and that the revolutionaries captured mercenaries holding Algerian citizenship. The memorandum added that the transitional council will have the right to interrogate the mercenaries and show the true situation to the world in coordination with the relevant international parties and organizations.

In a statement to Asharq Al-Awsat, however, Ambassador Adel-Munim al-Huni, representative of the Libyan Transitional Council in Egypt, said: “This memorandum that was presented to the Arab League secretary general is not a complaint against sister Algeria. Rather, it is an inquiry and Admonition in the framework of brotherhood, love, and neighborly ties between the Algerian and Libyan peoples.” He added: “We are anxious to have a good relationship with Algeria and surprised by [Algerian Minister of State] brother Abdelaziz Belkhadem’s statement against the transitional council.”

For his part, Abdelkader Hajjar, Algeria’s ambassador in Cairo and its delegate to the Arab League, refused to comment.

In other news, there are fears that the complexity of the political and military scene may result in Libya being driven to partition, whereby it would be divided into two separate states. This has prompted voices here and there to warn against the division of Libya, emphasizing the need to maintain its unity. Mohamed Bin Galboun, the leader of the anti-Gaddafi Libyan Constitutional Union, said “this partition has already taken place on the ground, but the horrific scenes, revolutionary enthusiasm, and the powerful emotions are all drawing a veil over such realities for everyone.”

Although Bin Galboun indicated that eastern Libya (Barqa) has been liberated from what he called “Gaddafi’s fire”, and that it will never accept a return to his rule, Gaddafi still controls the majority of areas in western Libya (Tripoli province), in addition to the entire south (Fazzan).

He added that “Tripoli province, along with Fazzan, constitute more than half of the entire area of Libya, and Gaddafi will not relinquish his rule or step down unless he is forced to do so, and there is nothing on the horizon that suggests that.” He added that Misrata (in the west), a city paying an exorbitant price in return for freedom and dignity, has received no relief from neighboring tribes or towns, although some of these towns are only dozens of kilometers away. Bin Galboun indicated that Gaddafi’s troops are besieging Misrata and its suburbs; Raflah, Terhouna, al-Maqareha, al-Farjan, al-Hasoun and elsewhere. He added that there are neighboring tribes with large numbers, famed for their chivalry, courage, and their glorious history of struggle against the Italian occupation, and prior to this, the Ottoman Empire [yet they have not come to Misrata’s aid].

Bin Galboun went on to say that if all or part of these tribes had come to the support of Misrata, al-Zantan and Zawiya, Gaddafi would have not retained control of the west for more than a week. However, these tribes seem to be complying with loyalty obligations that they signed in blood with Gaddafi in the mid 1980s, as part of the Libyan leader’s “al-Taqhis” campaign. Bin Galboun revealed that at the time, he though this was a mere fad which Gaddafi was dictating to these tribes, yet it soon turned out to be far more extensive, whereby these tribes would compete to satisfy Gaddafi, in return for numerous privileges.

Bin Galboun said that “we are now shocked to see these tribes supporting Gaddafi and showing loyalty to him, even after the NATO air strikes undermined his forces and military potential, thus breaking his military spell and making him vulnerable.” He wondered “does anyone actually expect Gaddafi to step down whilst the entire south Libya, and more than half of the west, is submitting to him?”

Bin Galboun said he “fears that further partitions will take place”, indicating that NATO is giving Gaddafi the time he needs to crush Misrata, and regain control of the city, in the same manner that he lost Zawiya but went on to regain it.”

He warned that if Gaddafi was successful in doing so, his Jamahiriya would remain, albeit far weaker as he would control only half of Libya. Yet he would be able to export some of oil and gas through Zawiya seaport, so as to acquire the finance necessary for limited spending.

On the other hand, Bin Galboun emphasized that “the liberated region of Barqa” would export part of Libya’s oil and gas through al-Hariqa seaport near Tabraq, and would serve as a new state with limited income, under the auspices of Qatar and the protection of NATO.

Bin Galboun expected the policy of attack and retreat, with regards to Ras Lanouf and al-Buraiqa, along with the oil fields surrounding them, to continue until Western forces interfere under the pretext of protecting oil resources and facilities, which are globally important. The bulk of Libya’s oil and gas is found in this area, and if Libya were to divide, this region would effectively be a “third part” under international protection. The international forces would either keep the oil as a reserve, or allow international oil companies to export it with the same conditions stipulated by agreements signed with Libyan authorities. Libya’s finances would be kept in frozen bank accounts until the country was reunified.

Bin Galboun emphasized that if Gaddafi remained unable to hold control of Misrata, the city would become an international protectorate with the French army intervening to lift the siege on the city, secure its borders, and ensure an outlet to the world through its seaport. With such a step, Bin Galboun believes that France would draw further humanitarian acclaim, after its decisive role in lifting the siege on Benghazi. On the other hand, he believes that western Libya would be guaranteed for the Gaddafi Jamahiriya, and the Libyan leader would take his time to suppress rebellions in al-Zanatant, Nalout and al-Rujban. Bin Galoun warned that such a terrifying nightmare is highly probable, and only a miracle can prevent it. He added that “I’m not resigned to this as inevitable, yet we cannot turn away and ignore it. Rather we should admit that it is possible to deal with this, and we should rectify our discourse in this regard, so that it meets the level of responsibility.”

Bin Ghalboun did not miss the opportunity to argue that neither the US nor any other power has the right to promise Gaddafi’s men that their bank accounts will be unfrozen if they secede from the regime. He indicated that these frozen sums combined are equal to a state’s budget, and have been accumulated illegally. Thus those responsible are not entitled to these funds, nor can a foreign party hand them over to others, or use them as a bargaining tool.