Thursday, 24 February 2011

Tribal defections/splits in Libya

Al Jazeera reports that Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam, Gaddafi's point man for relations with Egypt and usually identified as Gaddafi's cousin, has resigned and is seeking political asylum in Egypt. By the old tribal adage 'My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the stranger', that should be the death knell for Gaddafi. Since Gaddafi is in fact still alive and fighting, at least early today, tribal affiliation clearly is not the only factor at work in the Libyan conflict. Television stations on Wednesday night also reported the defection of a senior security official in the east of the country who was a member of the Gadhadhfa, the colonel's tribe (hence his name).
    But the Egyptian newspaper al Masry al Yom carried an interesting story today about a more conventional split in the Awlad Ali, a large tribe which straddles the Libyan-Egyptian border. It quotes Mansour Awad of the Egyptian branch as saying: "Our cousins (i.e. close agnates) have been living in Libya a long time and have become naturalized. The tribe has kinship ties with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. We all used to love him and esteem him. But we are not pleased with the current situation, because he is bringing mercenaries  to attack our brothers. Because of that we have taken a decision: 'My brother and I against my cousin.' We have organized a demonstration and we're waiting for the army to open the way for us to reach them there."
    The report goes on to say that members of the Awlad Ali were indeed chanting anti-Gaddafi slogans at the Salloum border post and holding placards calling for him to be tried. It says that Ahmed Gaddaf al-Dam visited the border post on Tuesday and was unhappy to find people protesting against the Libyan leader. Gaddaf al-Dam then went to Siwa, it says, and found similar protests there.       
    Al Arabiya's English-language website has a similar report but adds that the purpose of Gaddaf al-Dam's trip to Salloum was to recruit Awlad Ali to fight on Gaddafi's side in the conflict. "(Gaddaf al-Dam) is reportedly contacting several airline companies in an attempt to obtain huge planes to transfer mercenaries from different African countries to Libya to crush the revolution. The mercenaries are said to be specifically heading for Camp 27, headed by the Libyan leader’s son Khamis Gaddafi," Al Arabiya added, without citing any source.

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