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  Home > Academic Exchanges
Libyan conflict casts shadow
2011/09/05

English.news.cn  2011-09-04

Fighters of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) secure a demonstration against the falling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at Al-Shohadaa square in Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 3, 2011. (Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien) (wjd)

Fighters of Libya's National Transitional Council (NTC) secure a demonstration against the falling Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi at Al-Shohadaa square in Tripoli, Libya, Sept. 3, 2011. (Xinhua/Amru Salahuddien)

By He Wenping

BEIJING, Sept. 4 (Xinhuanet) -- The six-month military conflict in Libya is drawing to a close as rebel forces have fought their way into the capital of Tripoli and captured the heavily fortified Bab al-Aziziya compound, a pivotal symbol of Muammar Gadhafi's military regime.

Although rebel forces have failed to find Gadhafi, the 42-year rule of the Libyan strongman is undoubtedly coming to an end and no large-scale counterattacks are expected.

However, Libyans, NATO and the international community should not ignore the negative impacts the conflict has had on neighboring countries as they shift their focus to the post-Gadhafi era.

On Aug 26, a United Nations headquarters in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, suffered a suicide car bomb attack, causing 18 deaths and more injured. Boko Haram, an Islamist military organization in the populous African nation, claimed responsibility for the blast, the first time it has attacked an international body since its establishment in 2004.

The terror attack shattered the tranquility Abuja has enjoyed over the past two decades. The newly built Nigerian capital has a better urban layout, road conditions and power facilities than Lagos, Nigeria's former capital and largest port city. Abuja also had a reputation among major African cities for good security.

The same day, two suicide bombs were detonated outside a military academy in Algeria, also killing 18 people.

Undoubtedly, the explosions in Nigeria and Algeria, which came as Libya's rebel forces were engaged in intense fighting with Gadhafi loyalists, had a connection with the Libyan situation. The war has caused a lot of weapons to spread across the region. This, together with Gadhafi ordering the opening of Libya's arms depot to civilians and the reported circulation of 10 tons of mustard gas and hundreds of scud missiles and their carrier vehicles, will pose a huge risk to the security of neighboring countries.

Considering the increased possibility that Boko Haram will ally with Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb, a branch of the Al-Qaida network in North Africa whose activities have ranged from Algeria to Mali, Mauritania and Nigeria, and its further extension into the Sahara Desert, the organization will pose a severe challenge to Africa's peace, security and stability.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Algerian attack and it is unclear what the explicit motive behind it was, but one thing is certain: someone wanted to create chaos in Algeria to extend the smoke of gunpowder from Libya westward to Algeria.

Since the capture of Tripoli, Western media have not stopped speculating on who the next target of the "Arab Revolution" will be. Algeria, the news outlets have speculated, will become the next target given that it has faced numerous challenges similar to those faced by Gadhafi's regime.

Early this year, the Algerian people went to the street in protest against rising prices and to call for political reforms. However, demonstrators expressed their appeals in a rational manner and the Algerian government made a timely response, which prevented peaceful demonstrations from escalating into large-scale social unrest. The reason for this is that the Algerian people still remember their country's election in the early 1990s, which almost brought Islamist forces to power.

Later, the Algerian military reversed the situation, but this caused more than 150,000 deaths and plunged the country and its people into a decade-long era of horror.

Terrorists always try to utilize to a maximum the unique environment in Africa, including chaotic borders between countries, regional conflicts, loose financial institutions and the abundance of weapons, to develop and expand their networks and bases.

Relevant countries should remain particularly cautious of the possible spreading of terrorism in African countries and prevent the continent's peace and security from falling prey to the Libya war at a time when they are struggling to gain bigger interests for themselves from Libya's post-war reconstruction and its rich oil industry.

The author is a researcher with Institute of West Asian and African Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(Source: China Daily)

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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