- Conflicts - Governance
Libya: Gaddafi turns to son’s special forces and foreign mercenaries
Col Muammar Gaddafi has turned to a special military unit controlled by his son and mercenaries allegedly from Zimbabwe to aid his battle against protesters seeking his resignation. Units of Gaddafi’s military have deserted the disillusioned leader who has blamed Osama Bin Laden for the unrest in Libya.
Libya’s 32nd Brigade, led by Gaddafi’s son Khamees Gaddafi, a relatively well-equipped Special Forces outfit that contains about 10,000 men are the only armed forces directly loyal to Gaddafi, U.S. and European national security and intelligence officials revealed via cables obtained by WikiLeaks.
"The situation is way too fluid to know whether the regime will survive or not, but they’re certainly trying to hold things together with duct tape and Krazy Glue," a U.S. official who is familiar with official government reporting from the region was quoted by Reuters, who also quoted a witness who said: "On Thursday the unit had attacked anti-government militias controlling the town of Misrata, killing several people."
There have been speculations that members of the Zimbabwe National Army are in Libya to help prop up Gaddafi’s reign after units of Gaddafi’s military deserted the disillusioned leader.
Reports claim that the mercenaries from Zimbabwe, Chad and other African countries are putting up a stand on behalf of Gaddafi are reportedly gunning down unarmed civilians at random and Arab TV channel Al Jazeera revealed.
Gaddafi’s control of Libya has dwindled in the east of Libya and some towns near the capital of Tripoli. Observers say there were police and soldiers vanishing and armed anti-Gaddafi militias patrolling the streets in towns within an hour’s drive from the capital.
The deployment of the 32nd Brigade however heightens the propensity of civil. With reports that Libya’s second city of Benghazi claimed independence from Gaddafi’s central control, also sets the stage for a civil war if Gaddafi is not ousted first.
"We know that Benghazi ... has basically declared independence from Tripoli. If Benghazi can expand down into the Gulf of Sirte ... they’ve got a very good shot at independence at the least — or maybe even overturning him at the most — but if they can’t do that, Gaddafi in time will be able to pressure them," Peter Zeihan, analyst with the U.S.-based Stratfor think tank told reporters.
In response to the deployment of 32nd Brigade and mercenaries from Zimbabwe, U.S President Barack Obama consulted the leaders of Britain, France and Italy on immediate steps to end the Libyan crisis. Washington continues to weigh all options, including sanctions and military action, to curtail the bloodshed and propensity of civil war.