Saif Al Islam Al Gaddafi is [was] the president and founder of the Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations. He is [was] also a reservist in the Libyan army
It would be pointless in an article such as this to go into detail regarding the long list of African problems. Think of a problem that affects the human condition and you will find it in Africa. Wars of aggression, civil wars, famine, disease, natural disasters, ethnic cleansing, political instability, corruption and much more – we have it all. Africa is the world’s most warridden continent, with thousands of casualties each year through tribal or factional conflicts and arms proliferation adding to the continent’s woes. Last year, it was possible to count eleven major conflicts taking place on the continent with dozens of smaller conflagrations: more than on any other continent. Together these conflicts have produced over eight million refugees. We have a lot of help from the more affluent nations in trying to remedy many of these problems and for much of that we are grateful.
Assistance from governments and NGOs is extremely valuable and without it who knows how many more would have died. However, this assistance is generally given as a reaction to events and does not provide the long-term fix that Africa really needs. That long-term fix we Africans require is peace and security across the whole of our continent and for all of our people. We have to ensure that peace in Africa becomes the norm and that war and related instability become the unusual. Without peace and security our people will never
The solutions have to be African, possibly with a bit of assistance when we ask for it and hopefully less as time goes by. Who knows? If we can establish real security in Africa, the idea may well catch on in other continents. While attending the Burundi summit held in Pretoria, South Africa, in October 2001, I noticed during the discussion on forming a peace force in Burundi that a number of problems concerning the airlift of troops had to be confronted. This gave me the idea of forming a peacekeeping army in Africa. After returning home to Libya, I took this idea to the Leader, pointing out that it was time to form a unified African army which should be one of the goals of the African Union. This article is a draft – someone had to fill in the blank sheet of paper
In 1598, the English sea captain Sir Francis Drake said: ‘there has to be a beginning to every great undertaking’. Let us hope that this is the beginning of a very great undertaking. The Political Background Following the September 1999 extraordinary summit convened at Syrte in Libya, an ‘African Union’, a new political entity on the lines of the United States of America (or at least the EU) was proposed, to replace the Organisation of African Unity (OAU). The theme of the summit was that Africa ‘is not 50 states; it’s one nation, one people, one culture and one economy’. Following the Durban African Summit in July 2002 the OAU was replaced by the African Union and it was agreed that the African Union would have a ‘Peace and Security
The Peace and Security Council (PSC) will plan and direct these interventions. It will have the power to deploy forces for peacekeeping and similar security operations in Africa. The African Union Assembly will in addition have the authority to instruct it to conduct peace-enforcement operations or even offensive operations by a pan-African force to counter aggression against a member state. The forces for such operations are to be drawn from the AU member states.
The PSC will have fifteen members. Five will be nominated by one country from each of five regions (West, North, East, Central and Southern Africa) for an extended term of about three years. Those countries will be required to have democratically elected governments, adequate economic resources, the political capacity to respond quickly to a crisis, and the military power to respond effectively. The other ten members will be delegates of two other countries from each region, serving a two-year term. The intention is for the PSC to be
The African Union faces many challenges, but the most immediate has to be the establishment of peace and security on the ground. Without peace and security nothing else can be achieved, so we have to look at the process over the long term – possibly twenty years but probably much longer. Maybe the right way to approach the problem is to look at the task in two, major, initial phases:
● Phase 1 - Peace, Security and Stability: The involvement of African Union nations in peace support operations both peacekeeping and, if necessary, peacemaking. To achieve the stability that we would need would certainly take the best part of ten years and there will always be a requirement for such operations. This is the really difficult task, and history tells us that there are no easy answers. During Phase 1 we have to target regional wars, civil wars, genocide, ethnic cleansing and natural catastrophes.
● Phase 2 - African Institutions and Longer Term Development: If we can get some measure of success from Phase 1, we will be able to concentrate on Phase 2. This phase
2001, it was possible to count eleven major conflicts taking place on the continent (Africa) with dozens of smaller conflagrations: more than on any other continent. Together these conflicts have produced over eight million refugees
The groundwork for Phase 2 would need to start at the very early stages of Phase 1. Let us also recognize at the very beginning of this process that trying to maintain peace and security in the continent will be a task that our grandchildren and, almost certainly, their grandchildren will probably continue to be involved with. This leads us on to the really difficult part of this equation. How do we achieve some form of peace and stability in the African continent? How do we do it? The reality is that stability will almost certainly consist of peacekeeping and peacemaking operations, the execution of which are extremely complex and militarily demanding at all levels. In many cases, peacekeepers or peacemakers will not be welcomed in the areas where they have to operate, and any intervention will require political legitimacy. During
The Charter provides the legitimacy we require and provides a signal to everyone that we Africans are responsible for what goes on in our ‘backyard’. We are already beginning to get the firm foundations in place that we require to go about our task, especially at the political level. All this obviously means that, for the successful implementation of Phase 1 and the establishment of peace and security, we need an African Union Rapid Reaction Force (ARRF).
This force will have to be highly mobile, well trained to common standards and well equipped with interoperability of some essential items such as radios and small arms. The ARRF, which would consist of land, sea and air elements, would be directly responsible to the African Union. The authority for the deployment of the ARRF would be vested in the President of the African Union and the African Union Military Committee. One of the things that we have to avoid is a situation such as the recent one in Sierra Leone
Once again we have to put our own house in order to reduce the requirement for intervention from outside the African community. Who Would Participate? All African nations would be invited to participate, but in the first instance the nations with the largest and most capable forces would provide the bulk of the personnel and equipment. Initially, the ‘lead’ nations would be drawn from South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Libya and Algeria – but everyone would be offered a role of some sort, however small their military forces. This would have to be a ‘coalition of the willing’.
The whole point of this force is its ability to deploy quickly and attempt to defuse a situation before it becomes a major security problem. Air assets and especially troop lift aircraft will have to be almost immediately available. The key to the deployment of the ARRF would be its capability to quickly move troops and equipment to crisis areas. The tactical heavy lift squadrons would be one of the key elements of the entire force. The whole of the Land Element would have to be at ten-days notice to move but inside the Land Element other units would have to be at much higher readiness states. Possibly one infantry company group at six-hours notice to move, a complete battalion group at twenty-four hours, and the lead brigade (with its complete headquarters) at seventy-two hours.
The ARRF would have to be trained to the highest standards (imposed by the HQ of the ARRF) and this would set the standard for the rest of Africa. Before a unit, squadron or ship could be accepted for service in the force, it would have to be inspected and evaluated by an HQ ARRF inspection team and then each unit would have to undergo an annual inspection to confirm its operational readiness. Training of formations will be vital. In the beginning, at least, the brigades will have to exercise together; in the longer term, the whole force will need to come together in a large-scale exercise designed to test all of their procedures
Junior officers and noncommissioned officers would require a comprehensive course during which they would qualify as instructors. They would need to be taught and understand International Law, the African Union Charter, the UN Charter of Human Rights, the Geneva Convention, standardized military tactics, a common administrative system, African history, social cultures, geography, first aid, and a little psychology. And there will have to be a common language. Officers will require a working knowledge of both French and English and a hard decision will have to be taken as to which of these two languages will become the command language of the force.
Where possible we should use African military equipment and, in the longer term, it would be advisable to standardize as much of this equipment as possible. South Africa is obviously the leader in the area because it has the largest defence manufacturing capability in Africa. However, there are many other African countries with a defence manufacturing capability such as Egypt, Libya, Algeria and Kenya, and they will be able to make a valuable contribution.
The real problem is going to be money and our initial costings suggest that funding just the HQ of the ARRF will require at least $250 million1 per year on an ongoing basis. The hard part of this whole concept will be getting nations to donate money to the African Union to fund the force. It would almost certainly have to be done on a basis of each nation contributing a percentage of its GDP or allocating a small slice of its defence budget. The current defence budget situation in Africa is as follows: ● North of the Sahara The six African countries to the ‘North of the Sahara’ currently spend approximately $7.1 billion on defence.
The biggest spender amongst this group is Egypt ($2.1 billion) and the lowest Mauritania ($25 million). The mean average expenditure amongst the top five nations in this group is $1.43 billion. ● South of the Sahara The forty-four African countries ‘South of the Sahara’ spend approximately $6.9 billion on defence. Of these, the most powerful nation is South Africa with an annual expenditure of $2 billion (almost 30 per cent of the total figure). Another six countries spend $2.53 billion on defence (Sudan: $580 million; Angola: $500 million; Democratic Republic of the Congo: $400 million; Ethiopia: $400 million; Nigeria: $340 million; and Kenya: $340 million). Between them, these six countries account for a further 37 per cent of the total expenditure, leaving 33 per cent of the ‘South Saharan’ total of around $2.36 billion to be shared around thirty-seven countries.
Expenditure in these countries varies widely from a low figure of $9 million for Cape Verde to $221 million for Botswana. The average annual defence budget for these thirty-seven countries is $64 million. Financial support for the ARRF will therefore fall on the more affluent nations in the African defence architecture, those with defence budgets of over US$1 billion: South Africa, Egypt, Libya, Morocco and, possibly, Algeria (currently preoccupied with its own internal security problems). In the initial stages it is these nations that will have to provide the majority of the financial support required. How much money might be available? Overall, Africa spends about $14 billion on defence. If each country were to donate 2 per cent of its defence budget to the ARRF and be prepared to pay for contingents that it earmarks for the force, the finances are available. Would Libya provide $24 million for the ARRF? The answer is yes – and more if necessary. I am absolutely convinced that everyone will play their part – even small states such as Cape Verde, which might be asked for $180,000. It is such a small price to pay when the longer-term benefits are so great.
Libya would contribute as many troops, aircraft and ships as our resources would allow, especially in the early stages of an operation when rapid deployment is most necessary. We could provide staff officers for the ARRF headquarters, at least three infantry battalions, an engineer battalion, and medical support. For the air element we could produce fighter ground attack aircraft, heavy lift transports and helicopters. For the sea element we might offer a frigate, an amphibious landing vessel and fleet support vessels. Other African countries would be delighted to make contributions and I have no doubt that the African Union would be able to achieve its force goals very quickly.
Long-term stability in Africa depends on Africans. We cannot expect the rich countries of the world to continue to police Africa indefinitely, and we do not want a future where our regional stability is at the mercy of the foreign policy aspirations of nations from outside of the region. The recent intervention by both the French and the Americans in the Cote d’Ivoire underlines the magnitude of our problem. At the very beginning of this crisis it should have been a properly mandated African Union force that stepped in between the warring parties. Only then could an effective solution to the problem have been quickly identified. What we have now is a long wait as a regional force is assembled and dispatched to the country. In the meantime, France and the United States are doing their best to ensure a certain amount of stability. But the understandable priority of both of these countries is protect their nationals, guard their assets and leave as soon as is decently possible. Only an African Union force with a proper mandate, a sound chain of command and properly trained forces will have the motivation to stay for the long term, and achieve the lasting solution that will ensure real peace and security. Given the legitimacy that the African Union can provide, it is absolutely vital that we Africans share the future peacekeeping burdens in our region. This would inevitably enable peace to emerge from the darkness of the African jungle, which is something that the long-suffering people of Africa deserve. ■