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GADDAFI AND ALGERIA March 4, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in North Africa.
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The situation for Muammar Gaddafi holed up in Tripoli is not as hopeless as it might seem, and consequently his fall not so inexorable. He has it seems the support of the Algerian Regime (together with the mediating efforts of Hugo Chavez).

Rob Prince writes in Counter Punch:

Qaddafi has the support of at least one important regional ally, the Algerian government, which has both militarily and diplomatically thrown its full (and substantial) weight behind his effort to retain power. In so doing, it would appear that Algeria, which has long cooperated with the US and NATO on its North and Sub-Saharan Africa anti-terrorism policies, is breaking ranks to protect its regime’s very survival.

Since its independence, Algeria has been controlled by its military which lives high off the country’s oil profits at the expense of its own people. Algeria’s leaders fear that if Qaddafi falls, their hold on power will be that much more fragile. Their support of Qaddafi is very much designed to save their own skins.

If Mubarak saw the writing on the wall as Ben Ali’s little castle in Tunisia crumbled, so the Algerian military leadership understands that if Qaddafi falls, it very likely is next in line, or if not, not very far down the list. Desperate to cling to power, the Algerian government is – while offering a few political and economic concessions – essentially reorganizing the state’s substantial repressive apparatus to weather the protest storm. But in addition, it is pulling out all stops to support Qaddafi’s increasingly feeble hold on power.

Maybe it is the support of its North African oil producing ally Algeria, that has given Qaddafi that confident appearance that he can indeed – with a little help from his friends – hold out longer. An alliance of two of Africa’s most important oil producing countries is nothing to sneeze at, and could have all kinds of consequences. Should the alliance between the two tighten, and they engage in a common front oil embargo, which some news outlets speculate could happen, oil prices could jump to as high as $220 a barrel.

The longer Qaddafi holds out, using his air force to bomb civilian targets, the more likely that a third party intervention becomes. Juan Cole suggests the Libyan Air Force does not amount to much, but support from Algeria may prove significant in this and other aspects of the military – as distinct from nonviolent – resolution of the crisis.

One suspects that Qaddafi will not threatened at this stage by the interest of the prosecutors of the ICC, and American support was as usual conditional.

POSTSCRIPT:

Democracy Now explains the nature and implication of the clause inserted by the Obama Administration:

Libya was expelled from the U.N. Human Rights Council earlier this week in response to its attacks on the uprising. The Obama administration has come under criticism for a little-noticed provision inserted into the measure expelling Libya. The measure calls on the International Criminal Court to look into filing charges against the Gaddafi regime for crimes against humanity. Although the measure marked the first time the United States has supported the ICC at the United Nations, the Obama administration managed to insert a clause that would exempt foreign nationals from international prosecution for any actions committed in Libya under a Security Council mandate. That means that in the event U.S. forces take part in an international force invading Libya, any potential war crimes committed would be tried in a U.S. court, not at The Hague.

Given the circumstances pertaining at Guantanamo Bay and the treatment of Bradley Manning, US citizens might believe that they justice might be better served by an international court, which would be free of executive prerogatives and represent greater accountability. On this reasoning, the interest that is been protected is not any potential litigant but that of the US Administration.

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