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Libya Table of Contents


Relations with Sub-Saharan Africa

Libya's very active interest in sub-Saharan Africa has been directed toward isolating Israel diplomatically, liberating African countries under colonial or apartheid regimes, providing economic aid to developing African countries, and propagating Islam. During 1972 and 1973, through bilateral relations and membership in the OAU, Libya and other Arab states successfully reversed Israel's formerly strong diplomatic position in Africa. Qadhafi drew a parallel between Israeli occupation of Arab territory and colonialism in Africa and frequently offered significant economic assistance to countries that would sever ties with Israel. By November 1973, twenty-seven African governments had broken relations with Israel, many declaring their support for the PLO in the process.

Libya also has supported numerous black African independence movements, although the extent and nature of the support have not always been clear. Libyan support apparently was significant for Angola (where aid was first extended to Holden Roberto's National Front for the Liberation of Angola, and only later to Agostinho Neto's Movement for the Liberation of Angola, which defeated Roberto's group in a civil war), Guinea-Bissau, and Mozambique in their struggles against Portuguese colonialism. Libya continued to contribute funds to liberation efforts throughout 1978. Some sources report that nationalist guerrillas of both Zimbabwe and Namibia have received direct Libyan aid.

For some time, Libya has had a special, if not always smooth, relationship with Uganda. Libya supported the government of Idi Amin in exchange for Uganda's severance of relations with Israel. (A particularly close bilateral relationship had existed between Israel and the Ugandan regime Amin overthrew in 1971.) Libya came to Uganda's assistance in 1972, and again in 1978, when it airlifted troops and supplies, thus demonstrating a certain degree of logistical capability. The aid proved militarily futile, however, as Libyan troops were routed quickly. For a brief period, the deposed Idi Amin found asylum in Tripoli.

Data as of 1987