Issue 1, May 2008
|Libya (al Ghadafi)|
Libya’s long-time leader Moammar Al Ghadafi is an important figure in the Sudanese conflict. His campaign to create an Islamist Arab homeland in the Sahel region of Africa comprising Chad and Sudan in the 1980s introduced and inflamed racist rhetoric in Sudan. This was particularly true among the tribes of Darfur where he set up militia training camps in advance of his invasion of Chad. Guns and racism are his legacy, which has outlasted his abandonment of his Arabist campaign. Al Ghadafi’s alliance with the USSR during the Cold War also impacted Sudan by forcing the West to align with Khartoum in an effort to counteract Soviet strength in the region.
After the terrorist bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, al Ghadafi’s Libya became an international pariah. When Tripoli took responsibility for the attack in 2003 and renounced terrorism as well as their nuclear and biological weapons programs, sanctions were lifted. Libya resumed diplomatic relations with the rest of the world in 2006, and al Ghadafi was a notable figure present at the recent AU/EU Summit in Lisbon. This embrace of al Ghadafi continues even in the wake of evidence uncovered by Newsweek Magazine that certain regions of Libya have become pipelines for jihadists seeking to foment chaos in Iraq.
The UN and AU convened a doomed round of peace negotiations on Darfur in late October 2007, in Libya; the negotiations were boycotted by many rebel factions, in part, because of the locale. Of the debacle, Eric Reeves wrote for the Sudan Tribune on November 13, 2007:
“…the choice of venue was disastrous. Libya’s Muamar Gadaffi, who has for decades fomented violence on both sides of the Darfur/Chad border, poisoned the atmosphere early on, and gained instant notoriety for suggesting that the Darfur genocide was ‘a quarrel over a camel. ’ His further suggestion that the catastrophe in Darfur was merely a tribal issue, and his consequent resistance to international protection efforts, played directly into Khartoum’s negotiating hand. There can be little doubt of how foolish UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was in accepting Khartoum’s proposal of Libya as venue for the talks, the more so since Ban was warned by well-informed policy, human rights, and humanitarian groups before traveling to Sudan in early September that the regime would likely propose Libya, and that accepting this proposal would be a grave mistake.”
In early 2008, Libya and Khartoum signed a deal that would jointly promote and finance construction of infrastructure between the two countries: roads, railways, and ports to maximize global exports from the region.