Qadhafi’s Death, Chad, and Niger

The death of former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Qadhafi in Sirte this Thursday will not put an end to Libya’s problems, and it will have complex effects throughout the Sahel region.

For example, a new report from International Crisis Group focuses on Chad, which faces a potentially strained relationship with Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC) and the loss of remittances from Chadian workers in Libya. Hundreds of Chadians have been returning to the country in recent months, a stream that has continued to the present. The government will struggle to reintegrate these refugees.

Niger, meanwhile, continues to be a refuge for Qadhafi loyalists.

Niger said Friday the end of the Libyan conflict would allow it to lift restrictions on senior Kadhafi loyalists who sought refuge there, except for deceased leader Moamer Kadhafi’s son Saadi.

[...]

In September 32 people close to the defeated Libyan regime fled to Niger where they were received “for humanitarian reasons.”

Among them were three of Kadhafi’s generals, and all have been kept under the watchful eye of Niger authorities since then, Niamey has said, without saying they were in detention.

There are also reports that say Saif al Islam Qadhafi, who is perhaps the Colonel’s most prominent son and a focal point of future resistance to the TNC, is heading toward Niger.

I think it would be alarmist to conclude that Qadhafi loyalists will immediately begin trying to use Niger as a base for an uprising against the TNC. But the presence of prominent Qadhafi supporters just across the border will remind the TNC that their revolution has left bitter memories in the region. With relations between the TNC and both Niger and Chad on an uncertain footing, the politics of the region could be testy for some time to come.

The incipient Tuareg uprising in Mali is also part of the fallout from Qadhafi’s fall, but it merits a separate post. I’ll try to write something up next week.

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5 thoughts on “Qadhafi’s Death, Chad, and Niger

  1. TNC has a problem with Sub-Saharan Africa – they have a well-earned reputation for xenophobia.

    In a sense, Libya is on its way to being a “normal” North African nation – i.e. with minimal interaction with the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa (like Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt). Gaddafi was an outsized figure who exaggerated the importance of Libya.

    Post-Gaddafi Libya could either choose to build bridges with Sub-Saharan Africa or ignore it. The first option would be a “nice to have”, and they can easily live with the second option – with a gazillion barrels of light sweet crude, they’ll have no shortage of friends across the Mediterranean and they can easily import labour from Bangladesh or China.

    Unemployed Chadians and Nigeriens will (a) cause trouble at home or (b) look for jobs in Kano or Lagos. Whatever happens, they are no longer Libya’s problem.

    • I’m not so sure how normal Libya will be after this. With the lack of police, courts, schools, civil servants and a widespread availability of guns there’s a real chance of chaos. If the Libyan oil industry is heavily damaged (which is entirely possible) we could see the state collapse. I’m not saying that ignoring Qaddafi was a better option and I’m not saying that Libya is definitely going to collapse, but we can’t just sit back and think it’ll be alright.

      • It could well collapse, but Libya is more of Southern Europe’s problem than America’s or mine.

        I don’t fear jihadists from Libya either (we have a way of dealing with such people in Southern Nigeria).

  2. Pingback: Fuenteovejuna en Sirte « El Mundo de Luis Daniel Beltrán

  3. Hey, where’s the mention of Ghaddafi’s billions of dollars? Don’t you think his sons can access at least part of that money to cause instability in the region as a means to try to reclaim power or at least to give everyone headaches? You start throwing out a few thousand dollars here and there (as the Sahelien mercenaries were promised) and you can easily purchase arms and loyalties in the region. Am I the only one who wonders how much Libya’s neighboring officials are getting paid by the Ghaddafi loyalists to let them stay? I live in the region and for a few thousand francs at a checkpoint a large truck full of who-knows-what can continue on its merry way to wherever.

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