Saturday, August 9, 2014

Libya's Ambiguous Role in the Rwandan Drama--Chpt 7 of Charles Onana's "La France dans la Terreur Rwandaise" (adapted by CM/P)


{Hoping to clarify just why some public intellectuals with understandable loyalties to the Libyan Revolution might be playing fast and loose with details of the recent history of Rwanda (e.g., the exact origin or President Habyarimana's ill-fated final flight [i.e., Dar es Salaam rather than Arusha]; the clear responsibility for the assassination of two duly-elected African heads-of-State, which has been definitively determined by the investigations of French anti-terrorist magistrate Jean-Louis Bruguiere and Spanish Judge Fernando Andreu Merelles to belong to Paul Kagame and his cohort): we're reposting this piece by Luc Marchal, the Belgian Colonel in charge of UN forces in Kigali during the troubles.  Details matter--even in non-military situations.}



[Being a staunch defender of the Rwandan and Libyan Revolutions, the MRND and the Jamahiriya govts., it has always been very difficult to maintain our annoying 'know-most-all-of-it-but-can-guess-the-rest' attitude when it came to uderstanding Libya's support of Paul Kagame's RPF, a backing that dated back to even before the October 1990 invasison by the bunk-ass Rwandan Tutsi refugees* from Uganda.  One is supposed to lose one's refugee status when one takes a commission in another country's military or government.

In his latest and greatest book so far on the dramas of Central Africa (this one's so great, in a panic, I actually sleep-ordered a second copy), Charles Onana has quickly and concisely straightened out this particular piece of cable and, by including the work of our other Africa-hand préféré, Pierre Péan, has brought us a good way toward understanding how the events in Rwanda were of similar origins and nature to the goings-on in all the other independent democratic countries plagued by the Global Counter-Revolution of late-stage Privatized Waste Capital.

Ironically (or not), in the end, the Libyan Guide and the Rwandan president suffered the same grotesque fate at the hands of Western-salaried barbarians. --mc

*Once you have served in the Administration or the Military of your 'host' country (Rwigema was M7's Defense Minister and Kagame was an official in Ugandan Military Intelligence), you effectively lose your 'refugee' status in the country from which you fled 25 years before.]





Libya’s Ambiguous Role in the Rwandan Drama
(from Chapter 7 of Charles Onana’s “La France dans la terreur rwandaise”[1])

From the first attack by the ‘Tutsi rebels’ in October 1990, their support from Uganda has been acknowledged and remained plainly visible on the ground until the end of the war.  But another source of support, less overt and more difficult to measure, appeared over the course of the conflict:  that of Libya.

In his 16 October 1990 note to French president François Mitterrand, his son and representative in Central Africa, Jean-Christophe, indicated that members of the Libyan secret services had been seen with the Tutsi rebels and were “taking part in a very organized and tough corps.”  This information was also confirmed by the French secret services, particularly the DGSE.  But what was the connection between the Tutsi rebels, supported by Washington, and Col. Khaddafi’s Libya, and what were Libyan Special Forces doing on the rebels’ side while Khaddafi seemed to be carrying on friendly relations with Rwandan President Habyarimana?

Gradually, as the destabilization of Rwanda took shape, things became more and more complex, especially in the realm of the geopolitical.  The connection between Libya and the Tutsi rebels was first seen as a function of another cordial relationship, that between Ugandan president Museveni and Col. Khaddafi, but even more the result of problems that the Libyan Guide had with France, which had been backing the side of the Rwandan head-of-State, Juvénal Habyarimana.

To better understand the origins of this disagreement, it’s necessary to go back a few years.  In 1983, several units of the Libyan army crossed over their northern border into Chad to support the Chadian rebels in their plan to overthrown then-president Hissèn Habré. Neither the US nor France approved of this initiative, and President Mitterrand even sent French troops into Chad under the banner of “Operation Manta” (1983-84) to stop this attempted regime change.  Within two months, France and the US ordered military aid (arms and ammunition) be sent to President Habré to help him deal with the Libyan threat.  The Chadian government was stabilized and the Libya did not achieve its objective.

Libya gave it another try in 1986 when it crossed the 16th parallel, which had been established as the boundary of a non-aggression zone (with Libya in the North and Chad in the South).  Once again France came to the rescue of the Chadian regime and sent in its troops: this time it was christened “Operation Epervier”.  In August 1987, Hissèn Habré’s troops, along with some elements of the Chadian intelligence services, supported by the French from the DGSE, the Americans from the CIA and the Israelis from the Mossad, seized the Libyan airbase at Ouadi Doum, occupied by 5,000 troops of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.

In September 1987, Hissène Habré took back some of his territory while delivering a crushing defeat to the Libyan forces, this time without Western help.  Nearly 1,000 Libyan troops were killed and some 300 captured by the Chadians.  For Col. Khaddafi this was an unforgivable affront!  He could not bear this defeat or the humiliation inflicted on his troops, but the ferocity with which the Chadians defended their territory forced him finally to accept a ceasefire in March 1988.  This episode, which profoundly shocked Col. Khaddafi, gave birth to his deep desire for revenge against France.  And it was in the Tutsi rebellion that he saw a way and the means to make France pay for its support of Chad.

Early on the nature of the support given to the Tutsi rebels by Libya remained pretty vague.  But as the rebel attacks inside Rwanda began to multiply, verifiable information that Libyan arms or arms destined for Libya were being used by Paul Kagame’s troops began to accumulate.

It was first President Habyarimana, in his 16 October 1990 conversation with the French ambassador, who made it known that, according to information from is own intelligence services, three Libyan aircraft were spotted at the airport in Kampala and that they were carrying arms for the Tutsi rebellion in his country.  As the suppositions about Libyan involvement were beginning to be fleshed out, Col. Khaddafi was welcomed on 23 October in Kampala by President Museveni.  This troubled President Habyarimana, and he brought up the subject again with French ambassador Georges Martres in their meeting of 25 October.  He noted that The Guide had arrived with several cargo planes that were still parked at the airport in Entebbe.  “What do you make of Col. Khaddafi’s visit and all these Libyan planes in Kampala?” Habyarimana asked the French ambassador.  Martres replied that France was paying very close attention to all this, and if it seemed that Libya was trying to get more involved in the Rwandan conflict, France would have to reevaluate its commitment with regard to these new parameters.

In Tripoli, Col. Khaddafi avoided saying anything about the crisis in Rwanda, but Libyan media regularly reported on the prevailing situation on the ground.  Officially, Libya did not want to appear as Rwanda’s adversary because President Habyarimana had never expressed any hostility toward the Libyan leader.  Moreover, the Rwandan president had been welcomed in Tripoli for the official inauguration of the Great Man-Made River on the completion of this project initiated by Col. Khaddafi.

And then there was the time The Guide had asked President Habyarimana to intervene on his behalf with Zairian president Mobutu and Kenyan president Moi to speed negotiations on the release of Libyan prisoners held by Chad since the 1978-1988 war described above.  Col. Khaddafi had also asked the Rwandan president to go to bat for him with French authorities in the matter of the 17 March 1989 downing over Ténéré (Niger) of a DC10, UTA flight 772, en route from Brazzaville (Rep. of Congo) to Paris. At the time, Khaddafi was accused of this terrorist act even though, in reality, he was not at all responsible for it.[2]  So Habyarimana had good personal relations with the Libyan leader, and the Rwandan Chief of Presidential Security, Col. Elie Sagatwa, was a regular visitor to Tripoli.

But on the great political and diplomatic Chess Board, it looked like the Libyan Guide was running a double or even a triple cross by maintaining normal, cordial relations with the Rwandan government, while at the same time carrying out secret actions against this same government by furnishing guns and ammunition to those Tutsi rebels working from Uganda to overthrow Habyarimana.

Apparently, Libya started very early to support the Tutsi rebellion out of Uganda, even before the 1990 invasion.  It was the Belgian ambassador to Ottawa (Canada) who revealed this to the authorities in Brussels in a highly detailed report from 16 July 1987, three years before the RPF/RPA’s attack against the Habyarimana regime.

“Without prejudice and for your information,” the Belgian diplomat stated, “I’m sending you here below intelligence recently received by my colleague and which I have shared with our military attaché in Washington.  An Anglophone Canadian visitor, with a troubling appearance, claiming to be called Capt. Sheldon Zack, came of his own accord to tell us that he had been personally hired by the Ugandan president to recruit 300 experience Canadian and American mercenaries to train groups of Tutsis with a view toward an invasion of Rwanda.  This person claimed he had to return to Uganda in about three months to present his first report on the recruiting.  Zack said his reason for bringing this information to the Belgian embassy in Ottawa was that after having accepted the mission, he came to find out that the intention of the “Muslim Tutsi invaders” was to kill not only the Christian Hutus but also the Belgian nationals in Rwanda because the Tutsi consider that the Belgian government helped the Hutu overthrow of them [ca. 1959].  They expressed a determined will to massacre our fellow citizens.”

According to Sheldon Zack, as the Belgian ambassador related it, Col. Khaddafi and the Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni, will be the sponsors of this operation with an eye toward creating a vast Islamic State uniting Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.  A plane, a C-130 or an Antonov, was to leave Tripoli in February or March of 1986, flying at very low altitude over Libya and Sudan, finally landing in Uganda where it would off-load the arms.  Zack took part in unloading munitions from the planes.  There were specifically:  10 huge cases of materiel, five of which bore writing in Arabic.  These cases supposedly contained AK47s, RPGs, grenades, Kalishnikovs [sic], etc.  All these weapons were to be stored underground in Kampala awaiting the date of the invasion.

The Belgian ambassador said:  “This information seems to me to be worth passing along because of the atmosphere of radical anti-clericalism being fomented by Libya in Burundi these days, but it raises serious reservations for the following reason:  the inexact dates of the arms deliveries.”

The only real reason for Libya’s standing with the Americans in support of the Tutsi rebellion was its fierce opposition to France and its intention to take part in weakening the French geopolitical position in Central Africa. Yet, especially shocked by the 6 April 1994 attack that claimed the life of President Habyarimana, Col. Khaddafi put an end to his support of the Tutsis at that moment.



[1] Published as yet in French only, this is our unauthorized translation of Charles Onana’s “La France dans la terreur Rwandaise”, Editions Duboiris, Paris, 2014, pp 167-172.

[2] Our friend Pierre Péan has a great book on this incident (sadly, still only in French) that clears the Libyan government of this terrorist act, a job of work that forced PP to come down pretty hard on French anti-terrorist judge Jean-Louis Bruguière who was determined to hang it on Khaddafi.  So, when years later the same magistrate produced a report totally damning Paul Kagame and the RPF for the terrorist murders of the three-man French crew of President Habyarimana’s executive jet, which was shot down on 6 April 1994, killing all aboard, including two African heads-of-State, Habyarimana and Burundi’s Cyprien Ntaryamira, as well their entourages and the Rwandan Army Chief of Staff Déogratias Nsabimana, the (left) defenders of Libya--and secondarily of the RPF (like Thierry Meyssan and his Reseau Voltaire)--did all they could to invalidate the Bruguière Report.  Here’s Péan’s book:
“Manipulations africaines: Qui sont les vrais coupables de l’attenat du vol UTA 772?”  Paris, Plon, 2001.