Cong. Diaz-Balart: ‘Those who take up arms against US, allies must pay consequences’
Washington DC (May 27)—As international concern grows over the mounting toll of fighting in Libya, Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) is urging his colleagues in Congress to give “serious attention” to increasing evidence that members of the Algeria-backed Polisario Front are among those “being recruited and participating as mercenaries in Col. Gadhafi’s murderous campaign against the Libyan people.” Earlier this month, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Libyan leaders, calling their mercenary recruiting a “crime against humanity.”
In a letter to fellow members, Diaz-Balart wrote, “I believe these charges, received from Libyan opposition leaders and reported to both NATO and the press against the Polisario, merit our serious attention in Congress.” Diaz-Balart, who serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Agencies, added that, “Those who take up arms against the US and its allies must be made to pay the consequences for their choices.”
Diaz-Balart cited a recent column in The Hill, “Mercenaries in Libya: Gadhafi’s Hired Terrorists,” by former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel, who wrote that “in Libya, terrorism has a different, yet disturbing face, where hired mercenaries are terrorizing the Libyan opposition.” Citing reliable reports in the London Telegraph and elsewhere, Gabriel said “senior NATO officials have received information that Moammar Gadhafi is spending millions to hire mercenaries from the Polisario Front in Algeria,” and “hundreds of Polisario mercenaries are being paid $10,000 each” to join Gadhafi’s military campaign against his own people.
Gabriel’s column also noted that Algeria, which was one of only two Arab League nations to oppose a UN no-fly zone in Libya, has been charged by Libyan rebel leaders with “turning a blind eye” to mercenaries crossing into Libya, even allowing Algerian planes to fly mercenaries into Libya. Most recently, 500 combat-equipped light trucks have reportedly been sent to Libya from Algeria.
Despite repeated denials, the evidence and international concern continue to mount about complicity by Polisario and Algerian leaders in Gadhafi’s efforts to reinforce his mercenary army. Earlier this week, the Council on Foreign Relations, “Libya: NATO’s Report Card” (5/25), cited “consistent reports” on the “use of prohibited mercenaries” including from Mali and the Polisario. It said this was a factor in NATO’s difficulty in enforcing an effective arms embargo in the Libyan conflict, the death toll of which is now estimated to top 15,000.
“The continued complicity by Polisario and Algerian leaders in these criminal actions is simply unacceptable,” said Robert M. Holley, Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy. “They continue to deny any involvement in Gadhafi’s murderous mercenary campaign, but show no willingness to stop it. I am heartened to see interest in the US Congress in holding the Polisario and Algeria accountable for their tacit, if not explicit, assent in this outrageous behavior. Indeed, there must be consequences for taking up arms against the US and its allies, in direct contravention of a UN Security Council mandate.”
* For a copy of Cong. Diaz-Balart’s letter, go to: http://www.moroccanamericanpolicy.com/upload/media/LETTER_DearColleague%20from%20Cong.%20Mario%20Diaz- Balart%205-26-11.pdf
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