>– Mugabe’s Defense Minister Refuses to Comment on Reports of Zimbabwean Soldiers in the Employ of Qaddafi
– London-Based Libyan Oppositionist: Qaddafi Will Probably Flee Country before United Nations Imposes “No-Fly Zone”
– Qaddafi Sees “Writing on the Wall” as Tunisians and Egyptians Oust Dictators, Begins Shipping in 4,000 Mercenaries Two Days before Riots Erupt in Benghazi
Pictured above: Members of Libya’s Internal Security Forces wave the old national flag as they parade through the eastern, rebel-held city of Tobruk on February 24, 2011.
The Zimbabwe Daily reports that soldiers of that country are among Muammar al-Qaddafi’s mercenary units, which are ruthlessly gunning down civilians in Tripoli. On Wednesday, Innocent Gonese, chief whip of the Zimbabwean parliament and member of Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai, asked Defense Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to respond to reports, broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, that Zimbabwean troops are in Libya to help prop up Qaddafi’s tottering regime. In his reply, Mnangagwa only went so far as to acknowledge that: “There are mercenaries who are African and [who] are in Libya . . . [but] I have no mandate in my duty as Minister of Defense to investigate activities happening in another African country.”
The Zimbabwe news source then points out that this is not the first time the army has been deployed abroad. In 1999 President Robert Mugabe sent 11,000 troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to support fellow Marxist Laurent Kabila against rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda.
We previously blogged that the Libyan strongman, who has never enjoyed widespread support within the military, has shipped in ex-special forces from the “former” Soviet Union, especially Ukraine, as well as hired killers from Chad and Sudan. Ukrainian nationals not only hold high ranks in the Libyan armed forces, but also pilot the fighter jets that have bombed civilian targets since last week. Patriotic Libyan soldiers refused to carry out this beastly task and, instead, mutinied, rallying around Qaddafi’s opposition.
On February 24, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation conducted a lengthy interview with London-based Libyan oppositionist Guma El-Gamaty, who commented on the extent to which rebel forces now control the North African country:
I think practically Gaddafi’s regime is finished, it’s over, he’s down. It’s just a matter of time. This time could be hours, could be days
The whole of the eastern region is now totally free of Gaddafi’s control. In the western region, big towns and cities have also fallen. We have confirmation this morning that the third biggest city in Libya, which is Misurata, some 200 kilometers east of Tripoli, is totally free of Gaddafi and they have managed to tackle the last security battalion in the city and taken it over.
In fact, the local radio station in Misurata is now broadcasting free material against Gaddafi and celebrating with the population.
Also other towns like Zaria, 40 kilometers west of Tripoli is—we had reports today directly from there—that it is free. Zwara, near the Tunisian border, Gharyan, south of Tripoli about 80 kilometers.
Gaddafi is now more or less isolated within Tripoli and within Tripoli itself is just isolated inside his headquarter barrack, which is called Bab al-Azizia barrack, surrounded by his [seven] sons and a few of his security battalions.
With respect to the role of the hired foreign gunmen in Qaddafi’s employ, El-Gamaty explains:
[Qaddafi] . . . has thousands of African mercenaries. Some of them have been caught in the eastern region and interrogated. They are Africans who speak French or English. They are totally alien to the Libyan society and they said they have been promised large amounts of dollars to fight for Gaddafi, basically. And these thousands of Africans are within the Bab al-Azizia barrack.
It’s a huge complex and they unleash them out of the barracks in to the streets of Tripoli to terrorize the population and to prevent them from coming out and demonstrating. These mercenaries have orders to shoot any people who they see on the streets. So, that is what’s holding the huge population of Tripoli, which is about two million people, not to come out en masse. Basically, they are held hostages in their houses.
However, the grip is loosening very fast and even within Bab al-Azizia barrack we hear of the factions, we hear of the Libyan elements within Bab al-Azizia, some of them are refusing to go out and shoot their own citizens and as a result they have been executed and we hear of in-fighting.
According to El-Gamaty, the Libyan leader plans to flee to Zimbabwe, where he enjoys a comradely relationship with communist dictator Robert Mugabe:
The most serious thing we’ve heard this morning from quite reliable sources from Tripoli is that somebody, a Libyan called from within Bab al-Azizia, called his cousin and said: “Look, Gaddafi is preparing his private plane to flee and fly out to Zimbabwe.”
The report says that Gaddafi’s own private plane is loaded with gold bullion and lots of hard currency, mainly dollars, and is preparing to flee to Zimbabwe with his friend Robert to stay there in the safety of his friend Robert Mugabe.
We think this could happen very shortly because the Security Council is threatening to impose a no-fly zone and we think that Gaddafi will try to escape before this no-fly zone is imposed, possibly by tomorrow [February 25].
Waiting for the “Lunatic of Libya” in Zimbabwe–should this scenario unfold–will be another deposed dictator, red tyrant Mengistu Haile Mariam, who has enjoyed a sedate retirement in a Harare suburb since fleeing Ethiopia 20 years ago.
There is no question that Qaddafi has been closely monitoring events in Tunisia and Egypt, where popular revolutions have ousted two presidents since mid-January. Through his son and heir apparent Saif, Qaddafi began shipping 4,000 mercenaries into the country two days before anti-regime protests erupted in the eastern city Benghazi. This is the testimony of Libyan Air Force Major Rajib Faytouni, who said he personally witnessed up to 4,000 mercenaries arrive on Libyan transport planes over a period of three days starting from Monday, February 14. Faytouni explained: “That’s why we turned against the government. That and the fact there was an order to use planes to attack the people.”
We suspect communist dictator Hugo Chavez, who has made no public comment about the uprising that dethroned his bud in Libya, has also been monitoring the revolutions in North Africa with obvious concern over his own fortunes in Venezuela. In any event, Qaddafi’s “duck” is finally cooked. It remains to be seen which Arab dictatorship will go down next.