Daily Israel Report

South Africa Persists in Hostility to Qaddafi Overthrow

South Africa continues to condemn Qaddafi's overthrow for bypassing Africa, accuses West of presaging a new colonialist drive.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 8/28/2011, 1:15 AM

It was only with difficulty that the Western countries managed to extract permission from South Africa to release some Libyan frozen assets for relief efforts.

South Africa balked at the idea of delivering the money specifically to the Libyan insurgents and preferred the ambiguous term relevant parties. For the United States Britain and others the main thing was getting the money released and they were prepared to accept the South African demand.

South Africa is miffed because during the entire fighting it felt rebuffed by the coalition when it attempted to mediate on behalf of the African Union. Libya was a member of the African Union and therefore the rest of the world displayed a lack of respect towards the continent by not involving the body in its decisions.

The government of Jacob Zuma is under fire from the youth wing of the African National Congress for supporting the UN Security Council resolution 1973 that the coalition used to justify its intervention.

Sympathy for Qaddafi goes back a long time because he supported the African National Congress when it was fighting against the apartheid regime in South Africa. Even Nelson Mandela has staunchly defended South Africa's friendship towards Qaddafi on those grounds.

British Defense Secretary  Dr. Liam Fox has chided South Africa precisely because of the apartheid parallel. It was basically world opinion that toppled the white regime in South Africa and now it is South Africa's turn to back the Libyan people's obvious desire.

The ANC position was accentuated by deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe, who was asked in parliament if NATO should be investigated for war crimes. Mr. Motlanthe said the matter was for the International Criminal Court to decide, not the South African government.

However, Molanthe was sympathetic to the thrust of the question. He told the South African Parliament that NATO tried to create the impression that the rebels were acting on their own. NATO was effectively pulling the strings and this was a matter for the International Criminal Court

"The question is whether the (court) will have the wherewithal to unearth that information and bring those who are responsible to book, including the NATO commanders on the ground."

South Africa maintains its position that Libya needs a unity government that will include elements of the deposed Qaddafi regime. Zuma's predecessor as president,Thabo Mbeki, signed a petition with 140 other prominent Africans condemning NATO policy in Libya and the overthrow of Qaddafi. The letter reaffirmed the right of Libyans to decide their own fate without outside interference, condemned the "marginalization" of the African Union and warned that the entire affair pose the threat of the " re-colonization of Africa, especially its resource rich countries."

Nigeria, that like South Africa, views itself as entitled to a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, quickly broke ranks with South Africa and recognized the insurgent regime. The Nigerians do not have fond memories of Qaddafi as the deposed leader attempted to interfere in their politics. Last year Qaddafi proposed breaking up Nigeria to solve the interreligious conflict in Nigeria. In protest, Nigeria withdrew its ambassador from Libya. Nigeria is currently working together with Ethiopia to get the African Union to recognize the insurgent National Transition Council.