Accord Reached for Peaceful Entry of Bani Walid?

Aljazeera Arabic is reporting a breakthrough in the negotiations between the new government in Tripoli and the elders of the city of Bani Walid, a center of pro-Qaddafi military personnel and sentiments. The city authorities say they will permit the Transitional National Council’s troops to enter the city without opposition around noon on Tuesday, according to the Doha-based channel. These negotiations had postponed plans to invest the city formulated last week. The TNC fighters also said that Saif al-Islam Qaddafi had left, or would momentarily leave the city.

If the TNC really can enter Bani Walid peacefully, it would be a great accomplishment for the new Libya, obviating a siege of a reluctant population, and helping with the process of national reconciliation.

Indeed, a large military convoy of regime loyalists, consisting of some 200 vehicles, departed south Libya for Niger on Monday, raising questions of whether the remaining Qaddafis were in it or planned to join it. Deposed dictator Muammar Qaddafi is said to plan to flee to Burkina Faso in West Africa.

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5 Responses

  1. Is the description of the forces escorting the convoy as “Nigerian” a typo, or are the Nigerians actually involved?

    Personally, I blame spellcheck. Damn thing keeps wanting to change “Nigerien” on my computer, too.

  2. first, a pedantic note: the piece above mentions that negotiations were delaying a plan to “invest” the town, rather than “invade” the town.

    Second: Along with these possibly “regular” Libyan troops fleeing the country, there are going to be a lot of Imazighen (Berber) fighters who acted as mercenaries for the Qaddafi regime, who are now melting back into the populations of the regions. There’s concern that these now unemployed professional fighters will destabilize the region south of the Sahara (the Sahel, stretching from Mauritania on the Atlantic east through northern Mali, southern Algeria, Libya, through Niger on east.) Since the 1960s there has been fighting between Tuaregs against the governments of Mali and Niger, with fighting as recently as 2009. This fighting included Niger’s now-famous uranium mines (the would-be source of the fabricated “Iraqi yellow-cake”).

    Along with these former Qaddafi fighters, there are questions about whether the fall of that regime will effect the activities of the AQIM, a pre-existing Islamist militant group in the region that changed its name to claim the local al Qaeda “franchise”. There are questions about whether all or part of AQIM is a “false-flag” operation by regional militaries and/or security forces. The military junta in Mauritania would love US recognition and funding, and having an al Qaeda affiliate on their eastern border is helpful in that aim. Also, there are accusations that AQIM is to the Algerian security apparatus as the Taliban is to Pakistan’s ISI. (Considering the group has between 100 and 400 members of various sorts, their main real-world effect is taking tourists hostage, thus displacing the Paris-Dakar Rally and suppressing tourism in the region, including to Timbuktu. But they sure are useful to folks in the region who benefit from running around yelling, “OMG! Look! al Qaeda! Give me money!”) Given Qaddafi’s penchant for regional trouble-making, it would be surprising if there wasn’t some sort of Libyan involvement with this group, also.

  3. Why is it that the media can’t simultaneously report from multiple “fronts”. Last week I posted a “complaint” that it was all Sirte and no Bani Walid, this week it’s reversed (would be nice to think they heeded my post). So what’s happening in Sirte –

    If the opposition forces can peacefully take over Bani Walid then one hopes the same can happen in Sirte. The TNC are to be congratulated for their efforts to bring their revolution to a close via negotiation – and doubly so if they’re successful.

  4. According to the Nigerian government, the “massive, heavily armed convoy of 200 vehicles” was actually 20 people.

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