On Wednesday Russia blamed Western countries for creating the current turmoil in Africa by arming Libyan rebels, Timothy Heritage and Gabriela Baczynska of Reuters report. “Those whom the French and Africans are fighting now in Mali are the [same] people who … our Western partners armed so that they would overthrow the Gaddafi regime,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a news conference.
The toppling of Libyan ruler Muammar Qaddafi led to “perhaps the greatest proliferation of weapons of war from any modern conflict,” Emergency Director of Human Rights Watch Peter Bouckaert told The Telegraph.
Those weapons stockpiles were raided by both sides, and both sides had connections with radical militants.
In 2011 Pepe Escobar of the Asia Times noted that the main rebel group, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), had formed a “merger” with al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM) in 2007.
And the well-armed Tuareg rebels who fought on Qaddafi’s side subsequently returned to northern Mali where they, along with jihadist groups including AQIM, declared the Texas-sized area an independent country in April 2012.
Now France has 2,300 troops on the ground in Mali to retake northern Mali, and several Western countries (including the U.S.) are providing logistical and intelligence support for an offensive that looks like it will take a while.
“The situation in Mali feels the consequence of events in Libya,” Lavrov said. “The seizure of hostages in Algeria was a wake-up call.”
Lavrov noted that the unrest across the Middle East could play into the hands of radical militants.
“This will be a time bomb for decades ahead,” he said.
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