Le congrès américain doit se pencher "sérieusement" sur les informations faisant état du recrutement par le régime Kadhafi de mercenaires pour faire plier l'insurrection libyenne et prendre les armes contre les forces US et de l'OTAN, a estimé jeudi le congressman US Mario Diaz-Balart.
"Comme vous le savez, le colonel Kadhafi a eu recours à des mercenaires pour combattre les forces de l'OTAN et mater l'opposition libyenne dans le but de se maintenir au pouvoir", a souligné M. Diaz-Balart dans une lettre adressée aux membres du congrès américain, notant que les informations attestant de l'implication du polisario en Libye "méritent une attention toute particulière".
Citant un récent article, publié dans le journal The Hill par l'ancien ambassadeur américain, Edward M. Gabriel, l'auteur de la lettre rappelle que des leaders de l'opposition libyenne avaient informé de hauts responsables de l'OTAN que des membres du POLISARIO avaient été recrutés par le colonel Kadhafi "pour soutenir sa campagne meurtrière contre le peuple libyen".
"Ceux qui prennent les armes contre les Etats Unis et leurs alliés doivent faire face aux conséquences de leurs agissements", a d'autre part insisté le congressman américain.
Des sources crédibles, avait-il poursuivi, "soutiennent en effet que des centaines de mercenaires du POLISARIO sont payés à hauteur de 10.000 dollars chacun pour combattre les forces de l'OTAN et tuer les manifestants et les opposants au régime de Tripoli".
M. Gabriel avait souligné, en outre, que des "leaders de l'opposition libyenne accusent l'Algérie de +fermer l'oeil+ sur les mercenaires qui traversent le territoire algérien pour gagner la Libye", ajoutant qu'un leader du Conseil national de transition "avait assuré que des avions algériens ont été utilisés pour transporter des mercenaires en Libye".
(Dear Colleague Letter from US Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart to members of Congres
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Mercenaries in Libya: Gadhafi’s hired terrorists
The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart Date:
I wanted to bring your attention to an important Op-Ed by Former US Ambassador to Morocco Edward Gabriel (1997-2001). Amb. Gabriel served in Morocco under President Clinton and currently advises the Government of Morocco. In his most recent Op-Ed, Amb. Gabriel summarizes recent news media reports that Libyan opposition leaders have reported to Senior NATO officials that Polisario members are being recruited and participating as mercenaries in Col. Gaddafi's murderous campaign against the Libyan people.
As you know, Col. Gaddafi has been using paid mercenaries to fight both NATO and the Libyan opposition to maintain his tyrannical hold on power. 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. Those who take up arms against the US and its allies must be made to pay the consequences for their choices.
Monday, May 16, 2011
Mercenaries in Libya: Gadhafi’s hired terrorists
By Edward M. Gabriel
Two weeks have passed since U.S. military forces tracked down Osama bin Laden and finally brought him to justice, a decade after 9/11.
But while bin Laden is dead, the hate and violence he preached clearly isn’t. The deadly bombing in Morocco—which killed 17 and has been linked to an al Qaeda loyalist—is the most recent evidence of this.
In Libya, terrorism has a different, yet disturbing face, where hired mercenaries are terrorizing the Libyan opposition. Senior NATO officials have received information that Moammar Gadhafi is spending millions to hire mercenaries from the Polisario Front in Algeria and elsewhere to help fight the U.N.-backed coalition and quash Libyans who oppose his dictatorial regime. Credible sources report that hundreds of Polisario mercenaries are being paid $10,000 each by Gadhafi to cross Algeria into Libya to fight NATO-led forces and kill Libyan protesters and rebels.
In other words, the Polisario Front, which touts itself as a human rights champion and gets millions in humanitarian aid from the U.S. and Europe through the United Nations, is letting its members take up arms against U.S.-allied NATO forces, in defiance of the U.N. Security Council mandate, and join Gadhafi’s military campaign against the people of Libya.
As a former U.S. Ambassador to Morocco and someone who has followed the Middle East and North Africa closely for more than three decades, I find it outrageous that the Polisario Front continues to enjoy a civil reception in the official corridors of the U.S. administration and Congress, even while many of its members are engaged in a deadly shooting war against NATO forces in Libya.
And Algeria, which was one of only two Arab League nations to vote against a U.N. no-fly zone in Libya, is duplicitous in opposing U.N.-sanctioned military action against Libya while providing materiel to support Gadhafi’s forces. After capturing 15 Algerian mercenaries last month, Libyan rebel leaders charged Algeria with backing Gadhafi and "turning a blind eye" to mercenaries crossing into Libya. More recently, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, leader of the Libyan opposition — which met with senior Obama administration officials in the White House Friday — charged that Algerian planes have been used to fly mercenaries to fight Libyan rebels. And the Africa News Agency in London now reports that 500 combat-equipped light trucks have been sent to Libya from Algeria.
If the details about mercenaries received by NATO officials are accurate, both the leadership of the Polisario and Algerian authorities stand complicit in Gadhafi’s efforts to reinforce his mercenary army. It is inconceivable that hundreds of Polisario mercenaries could be hired in the first place, or travel more than 1,000 miles from the isolated, Polisario-run camps in southwestern Algeria, without the tacit, if not explicit, support of Polisario and Algerian leaders.
Recent reports from press and policy experts have linked Polisario members to al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Latin American drug cartels, and other criminal groups operating in the Sahel region in Africa. Terrorist bands in these lawless expanses have kidnapped and killed foreign nationals, and engaged in illegal trafficking of drugs, arms, people and humanitarian relief supplies.
This is unacceptable. These charges of mercenary and criminal activity in Libya must be fully examined and investigated, and the U.S. government must hold the Polisario Front and Algeria accountable for their actions and complicity. Rather than welcome them into the halls of Congress and the U.S. administration, and let them exploit our generous aid dollars, those who dare to take up arms against the U.S. and its NATO allies should face very serious consequences.
Why Morocco matters
Pundits do not, as a rule, make good prophets, but that does not stop them from aligning themselves with various scenarios of what will happen in the Arab world in the wake of the regime change in Tunisia. While Egypt followed Tunisia with its own serious domestic uprisings calling for changing the government, and Yemen may well face the same challenge, a broad brush approach is hardly useful in defining what US policy options are or ought to be.
Morocco is a case in point. It is a strong monarchy with a representative Parliament, and its King enjoys a unique religious and political leadership status with his people. It is a country that has moved away from authoritarian behavior and invested in institutional change that is opening political space for its citizens and responsible opposition to critique government policies, exercise individual freedoms, and seek opportunities from a market-centered economy.
Morocco is not Tunisia or Egypt or Yemen. It has steadily and coherently worked to enlarge opportunities for its people and reduce conditions that undermine stability – whether through programs to reduce poverty and its drag on economic and social development, or to empower women and to encourage youth to take greater ownership of their future. This solid record of accomplishments has been referred to as the “Moroccan exception.”
A great deal of real and tangible progress has been made in Morocco to allow for popular expression through a flourishing civil society and free elections. Current efforts to address the needs of the poor through projects like the National Human Development Initiative and affordable housing programs continue to contribute to raising the standard of living of the most disadvantaged sectors of society. And while much more remains to be accomplished to advance further political reforms, the King's latest effort to undertake a thorough overhaul of the judiciary to ensure its independence is yet another progressive step forward that distinguishes Morocco from other countries in the Middle East and North Africa where regimes have been slow to rebuild a positive relationship between the State and the people.
Some analysts lately have pointed out that the King of Morocco enjoys popular legitimacy and support in the country by virtue of his role as the Kingdom's religious leader and his responsibilities as Commander of the Faithful. While this is true, it is not the whole truth. In fact, the King’s legitimacy in Morocco is, as importantly if not largely, the result of his efforts to redefine the citizen-State relationship through the kind of steady reforms that are lacking elsewhere in this region. Morocco has never held itself out as a model for others and has not undertaken these reforms in order to offer anyone any lessons. Reforms in Morocco are Moroccan inspired and have been the product of a consensus between the monarchy, political parties, civil society, and the people themselves through a process of dialogue and public debate.
While Morocco’s experience and the specifics of its ongoing process of liberalization may not be possible for other societies in the MENA region, there are certainly some lessons to be learned here. The international community, particularly the United States, should note that long term peace, prosperity, and stability in the Middle East and North Africa will require encouraging the kinds of reforms that Morocco has been implementing for more than a decade. Morocco didn’t wait for a crisis to begin its progressive policies. Morocco confronted similar challenges by making choices that promote both stability and democracy. Those who wish to promote peace, freedom, growth, and prosperity in the region would do well to recognize and provide meaningful support to those already on the right road and seek their quiet advice and counsel on how best to help those who are struggling to move forward without destabilizing their countries.
Edward M. Gabriel served as U.S. Ambassador to Morocco from 1997 to 2001, and currently advises the government of Morocco