Senior NATO Officials Report Qaddafi Recruits Mercenaries from Algeria-backed Polisario Front to Fight Rebels and Protesters in Libya
Morocco in talks to seek “political solution” to Libyan conflict within framework of UN resolution
Washington DC (April 26)—The London-based Telegraph newspaper is reporting that senior NATO officials have details of Moammar Qaddafi’s deal to recruit 450 mercenaries—most of them from the Algeria-backed Polisario Front—to fight anti-government rebels and civilian protesters seeking to overthrow the Libyan dictator.
“Qaddafi is using all his contacts in the region to bring more mercenaries into Libya to defend his regime,” a senior NATO officer told The Telegraph. NATO officials obtained the information from a defector, a former Qaddafi loyalist involved in negotiating the mercenary deal last month.
The Telegraph story, covered yesterday in the Washington Post, said Qaddafi has also hired mercenaries from Niger and Mali, and possibly from Chad, Congo, Sudan, and even Asia, and Eastern Europe. However, the story said that “a majority” of the 450 mercenaries, who have been hired for two months at $10,000 each, are “members of the Polisario Front,” which is based in southwest Algeria and for more than three decades has been in conflict with Morocco over the Western Sahara.
“The Polisario and Algeria continue to deny any ties with these mercenaries, but these are very serious charges, coming from ever more credible sources,” said Robert M. Holley, Executive Director of the Moroccan American Center for Policy. “NATO is responsible for carrying out the UN Security Council’s order to protect Libya’s civilians. It wouldn’t make such accusations lightly. Clearly, hundreds of Polisario fighters can’t go to Libya without the tacit, if not explicit support of the Polisario leadership, not to mention Algeria, through which the mercenaries must travel to help Qaddafi. If Algeria, the Polisario Front, and others are giving aid to Qaddafi’s acts of terrorism against his own people, in direct contravention of a UN Security Council mandate, it calls into question whether the US should have dealings with them.”
Algeria was one of only two countries (along with Syria) out of 22 to vote “no” last month when the Arab League approved an internationally sanctioned no-fly zone over Libya to protect the rebels and protesters.
Morocco was a key supporter of the Arab League vote and is providing humanitarian support to the Libyan people. Late last week Morocco began talking to representatives on both sides of the Libyan conflict to reach a “political solution” within the framework of the UN resolution.
* For a copy of The Telegraph article go to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8464254/Libya-Col-Gaddafi-has- spent-2.1m-on-mercenaries.html
* For a copy of The Washington Post coverage, go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/right-turn/post/will-obama-allow-gaddafis-mercenaries-to-act-with- impunity/2011/03/29/AFqTjAjE_blog.html#pagebreak
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