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« on: March 03, 2011, 06:04:19 PM »

To the Shores of Tripoli?

NATO's Inevitable War

By Fidel Castro
March 03, 2011

In contrast with what is happening in Egypt and Tunisia, Libya occupies the first spot on the Human Development Index for Africa and it has the highest life expectancy on the continent.  Education and health receive special attention from the State.  The cultural level of its population is without a doubt the highest.  Its problems are of a different sort.  The population wasn’t lacking food and essential social services.  The country needed an abundant foreign labour force to carry out ambitious plans for production and social development.

For that reason, it provided jobs for hundreds of thousands of workers from Egypt, Tunisia, China and other countries.  It had enormous incomes and reserves in convertible currencies deposited in the banks of the wealthy countries from which they acquired consumer goods and even sophisticated weapons that were supplied exactly by the same countries that today want to invade it in the name of human rights.

The colossal campaign of lies, unleashed by the mass media, resulted in great confusion in world public opinion.  Some time will go by before we can reconstruct what has really happened in Libya, and we can separate the true facts from the false ones that have been spread.  

Serious and prestigious broadcasting companies such as Telesur, saw themselves with the obligation to send reporters and cameramen to the activities of one group and those on the opposing side, so that they could inform about what was really happening.

Communications were blocked, honest diplomatic officials were risking their lives going through neighbourhoods and observing activities, day and night, in order to inform about what was going on.  The empire and its main allies used the most sophisticated media to divulge information about the events, among which one had to deduce the shreds of the truth.

Without any doubt, the faces of the young people who were protesting in Benghazi, men, and women wearing the veil or without the veil, were expressing genuine indignation.

One is able to see the influence that the tribal component still exercises on that Arab country, despite the Muslim faith that 95% of its population sincerely shares.

Imperialism and NATO – seriously concerned by the revolutionary wave unleashed in the Arab world, where a large part of the oil is generated that sustains the consumer economy of the developed and rich countries – could not help but take advantage of the internal conflict arising in Libya so that they could promote military intervention.  The statements made by the United States administration right from the first instant were categorical in that sense.

The circumstances could not be more propitious.  In the November elections, the Republican right-wing struck a resounding blow on President Obama, an expert in rhetoric.

The fascist “mission accomplished” group, now backed ideologically by the extremists of the Tea Party, reduced the possibilities of the current president to a merely decorative role in which even his health program and the dubious economic recovery were in danger as a result of the budget deficit and the uncontrollable growth of the public debt which were breaking all historical records.

In spite of the flood of lies and the confusion that was created, the US could not drag China and the Russian Federation to the approval by the Security Council for a military intervention in Libya, even though it managed to obtain  however, in the Human Rights Council, approval of the objectives it was seeking at that moment.  In regards to a military intervention, the Secretary of State stated in words that admit not the slightest doubt: “no option is being ruled out”.

The real fact is that Libya is now wrapped up in a civil war, as we had foreseen, and the United Nations could do nothing to avoid it, other than its own Secretary General sprinkling the fire with a goodly dose of fuel.

The problem that perhaps the actors were not imagining is that the very leaders of the rebellion were bursting into the complicated matter declaring that they were rejecting all foreign military intervention.

Various news agencies informed that Abdelhafiz Ghoga, spokesperson for the Committee of the Revolution stated on Monday the 28th that “‘The rest of Libya shall be liberated by the Libyan people’”.

“We are counting on the army to liberate Tripoli’ assured Ghoga during the announcement of the formation of a ‘National Council’ to represent the cities of the country in the hands of the insurrection.”

“‘What we want is intelligence information, but in no case that our sovereignty is affected in the air, on land or on the seas’, he added during an encounter with journalists in this city located 1000 kilometres to the east of Tripoli.”

“The intransigence of the people responsible for the opposition on national sovereignty was reflecting the opinion being spontaneously manifested by many Libyan citizens to the international press in Benghazi”, informed a dispatch of the AFP agency this past Monday.

That same day, a political sciences professor at the University of Benghazi, Abeir Imneina, stated:

“There is very strong national feeling in Libya.”

“‘Furthermore, the example of Iraq strikes fear in the Arab world as a whole’, she underlined, in reference to the American invasion of 2003 that was supposed to bring democracy to that country and then, by contagion, to the region as a whole, a hypothesis totally belied by the facts.”

The professor goes on:

“‘We know what happened in Iraq, it’s that it is fully unstable and we really don’t want to follow the same path.  We don’t want the Americans to come to have to go crying to Gaddafi’, this expert continued.”

“But according to Abeir Imneina, ‘there also exists the feeling that this is our revolution, and that it is we who have to make it’.”

A few hours after this dispatch was printed, two of the main press bodies of the United States, The New York Times and The Washington Post, hastened to offer new versions on the subject; the DPA agency informs on this on the following day, March the first:

    “The Libyan opposition could request that the West bomb from the air strategic positions of the forces loyal to President Muamar al Gaddafi, the US press informed today.”

    “The subject is being discussed inside the Libyan Revolutionary Council, ‘The New York Times’ and ‘The Washington Post’ specified in their online versions.”

    “‘The New York Times’ notes that these discussions reveal the growing frustration of the rebel leaders in the face of the possibility that Gaddafi should retake power”.

    “In the event that air actions are carried out within the United Nations framework, these would not imply international intervention, explained the council’s spokesperson, quoted by The New York Times”.

     “The council is made up of lawyers, academics, judges and prominent members of Libyan society.”

The dispatch states:

    “‘The Washington Post’ quoted rebels acknowledging that, without Western backing, combat with the forces loyal to Gaddafi could last a long time and cost many human lives.”  

It is noteworthy that in that regard, not one single worker, peasant or builder is mentioned, not anyone related to material production or any young student or combatant among those who take part in the demonstrations.  Why the effort to present the rebels as prominent members of society demanding bombing by the US and NATO in order to kill Libyans?

Some day we shall know the truth, through persons such as the political sciences professor from the University of Benghazi who, with such eloquence, tells of the terrible experience that killed, destroyed homes, left millions of persons in Iraq without jobs or forced them to emigrate.

On Wednesday, the second of March, the EFE Agency presents the well-known rebel spokesperson making statements that, in my opinion, affirm and at the same time contradict those made on Monday: “Benghazi (Libya), March 2.  The rebel Libyan leadership today asked the UN Security Council to launch an air attack ‘against the mercenaries’ of the Muamar el Gaddafi regime.”

    “‘Our Army cannot launch attacks against the mercenaries, due to their defensive role’, stated the spokesperson for the rebels, Abdelhafiz Ghoga, at a press conference in Benghazi.”

“‘A strategic air attack is different from a foreign intervention which we reject’, emphasized the spokesperson for the opposition forces which at all times have shown themselves to be against a foreign military intervention in the Libyan conflict”.  

Which one of the many imperialist wars would this look like?

The one in Spain in 1936? Mussolini’s against Ethiopia in 1935? George W. Bush’s against Iraq in the year 2003 or any other of the dozens of wars promoted by the United States against the peoples of the Americas, from the invasion of Mexico in 1846 to the invasion of the Falkland Islands in 1982?

Without excluding, of course, the mercenary invasion of the Bay of Pigs, the dirty war and the blockade of our Homeland throughout 50 years, that will have another anniversary next April 16th.

In all those wars, like that of Vietnam which cost millions of lives, the most cynical justifications and measures prevailed.

For anyone harbouring any doubts, about the inevitable military intervention that shall occur in Libya, the AP news agency, which I consider to be well-informed, headlined a cable printed today which stated: “The NATO countries are drawing up a contingency plan taking as its model the flight exclusion zones established over the Balkans in the 1990s, in the event that the international community decides to impose an air embargo over Libya, diplomats said”.

Further on it concludes: “Officials, who were not able to give their names due to the delicate nature of the matter, indicated that the opinions being observed start with the flight exclusion zone that the western military alliance imposed over Bosnia in 1993 that had the mandate of the Security Council, and with the NATO bombing in Kosovo in 1999, THAT DID NOT HAVE IT”.

To be continued.
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« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2011, 01:28:53 AM »

Libya is Not Helped by This Prism of Propaganda

Media talk of tank battles and swooping bombers is inflating an already serious situation – with dangerous consequences

By Peter Beaumont
March 3, 2011 - guardian.co.uk

Sitting in Tripoli is to be disconnected from reality. There is the propaganda effort from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's regime that sometimes would verge on the ridiculous if the situation were not so tragic. This is a phenomenon that has been well documented by the media camped here at the regime's invitation.

But there is another disconnect. What you read of events often close to the city, filtered through opposition voices, is frequently equally as misleading, creating an impression that has crept its way inexorably into the international media. Pitched battles are described breathlessly as if they were major confrontations – tanks on tanks, brigade on brigade, with the buzz of aircraft always in the air, swooping in to bomb.

In the town of Zawiyah last week – "the key town of Zawiyah", as it has become – a few hours of skirmishes that left a handful of dead was transformed via this prism into a confrontation between two sides armed with tanks. I have read of helicopter attacks on civilians in neighbourhoods of the capital; the bombing of outlying towns. Yet – for now at least – I have not found evidence of it. What I have found is serious enough. Opposition supporters in a government-controlled town who say they are fearful of their lives if they speak out, and the graves of those killed fighting in Zawiyah.

It is true too there have been more serious clashes in the east of the country, and air raids witnessed by my colleague Martin Chulov. But still there is much about this narrative that does not feel real.

I read, for instance, that Gaddafi is dug into his last stronghold of Tripoli with the rebels advancing on every front. Yet when I drive out into the towns around Tripoli, I find a different picture. Towns are changing hands, it is true. But this is not a war of movement if, indeed, it is really yet a war at all, despite the impression being given. Traffic is moving on the roads. Even in the parts of Zawiyah not held by the opposition there are shops open and people walking on the streets.

The much-vaunted notion of imminent civil war appeared to be challenged on Sunday when government minders, searching for journalists who had gone to meet the rebels, wandered among their opponents unmolested wearing their government press jackets.

There is another disconnect in all this. I read about advances and possible outcomes as if this were a war between two states, or a civil war already well advanced. Instead it feels – at least from where I am viewing it, and that is an important caveat – like a civil insurrection with moments of sometimes serious armed violence.

So here is the reality. Gaddafi can no more quickly attack Benghazi with his armour than the rebels can advance on Tripoli in sufficient numbers to force the issue decisively. For either side to move the hundreds of kilometres to come into contact would require a huge logistical operation using tank and armour carriers which could not drive the long distances and still be ready to fight.

Why this matters is simple. Foreign policy – including the increasing threat of military intervention – is being driven by what the media is reporting from Libya, and that is being driven largely by reports from the opposition, some of which are true, some of them dubious. The Libyan government says that. But for once, in the midst of all the regime's evasions, lies and fantastical notions, it may just have a point.

We are being drawn into a crisis where credible information about so much of what is happening is not simply at a premium, it is often impossible to mine from among all the exaggerations and misinformation. If proof of this were necessary, it was provided by the foreign secretary, William Hague, when he announced he had information that suggested Gaddafi had flown to Venezuela.

The reality is that we are rushing to make policy on Libya without knowing precisely what is happening here. That is not to say we do not know some of the broad details. Yes, people are being killed for demonstrating against the regime. People, too, are being taken from their homes amid a widespread policy of intimidation. Human rights abuses are unquestionably being committed. But it is a question of scale. And there is a requirement for a response that fits the reality of what is happening and does not exacerbate the country's problems, or the region's.

We should admit our ignorance and own it as we try to determine what is happening in Libya. When we have determined the reality of what we are dealing with then perhaps, and only then, can we talk seriously about appropriate measures to respond to it.

© 2011 Guardian Media

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« Reply #2 on: March 05, 2011, 05:57:22 AM »

Obama orders Gaddafi to step down, reasons with air force
Newshound - Obama orders Gaddafi to step down, reasons with air force
As the situation in Libya deteriorates, the speculations about foreign intervention in the country are growing.  It is speculated that the US and UK, who have already advocated for military a solution in Libya, might come in force under the guise of humanitarian assistance.
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« Reply #3 on: March 06, 2011, 10:33:21 AM »

I can't vouch for how accurate this information is, but my Libyan bredren has heard that either earlier today or yesterday British SAS troops came to Benghazi to "offer assistance" that the people of Benghazi never asked for, and are now being held under arrest by the Benghazi people's council. Like I said, I don't know if this is 100% true or not but I hope so as that is the right reaction to the belated and breathtakingly hypocritical offers of supposed "assistance" by the UK and the US, whose only interest (needless to say) is ensuring that a regime friendly to the west and israel emerges from the current so-called "power vacuum."
There are also rumours that Gaddafi's son is receiving direct assistance from Israel, but again I have no idea if that is true or not.
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« Reply #4 on: March 06, 2011, 11:13:45 AM »

Re Israeli involvement:
Israel provides henchmen for Gaddafi
Wed Mar 2, 2011 11:13AM

Israeli arms distribution company Global CST has reportedly, under the authorization of Tel Aviv, provided Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi with African mercenaries to clamp down on anti-government protesters.

Egyptian sources have revealed that the Israeli company has so far provided Gaddafi's regime with 50,000 African mercenaries to attack the civilian anti-government protesters in Libya.

The arms company was previously convicted in an African country over illegal deals, News-Israel website reported.

Sources say Global CST had obtained the permission for providing the mercenaries to Gaddafi from the Israeli officials in advance.

Earlier, Global CST general manager had met with the head of the Israeli Intelligence Agencies (Aman) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak and obtained the permission for the measure.

The company representatives also met with Abdullah Sanusi, the head of Libyan Internal Intelligence, in Chad to discuss the details for a final agreement, the report says.

The mercenaries who attack the civilians in Tripoli have mostly come from Chad.

Gaddafi regime pays $2000 per day for each mercenary. The mercenaries receive $100 per day and the remaining goes to Global CST, the report says.

Meanwhile, the United States has demanded the UN Security Council (UNSC) to remove the provisions of charging mercenaries with war crimes in the killing of Libyan civilians.

The request is for the UNSC to word the resolution in a way that no one from an outside country that is not a member of the International Criminal Court could be prosecuted by the Court for their actions in Libya.

The Libyan revolution, inspired by the recent revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia, sparked nearly two weeks ago.

Brutal crackdown by the Libyan regime on anti-government protesters has left thousands of people dead so far.

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« Reply #5 on: March 06, 2011, 02:44:56 PM »

SAS Members "captured near Benghazi":


6 March
Libya unrest: SAS members 'captured near Benghazi'

Details of a UK operation to rebel-held Benghazi in Libya in which eight men - six reportedly SAS - were detained, have been disclosed to the BBC.

The BBC's Jon Leyne said witnesses saw six men in black overalls land in a helicopter near the city on Friday.

They were later seized when it was discovered they were carrying weapons.

State TV has played a tape where a man said to be the UK ambassador tells a rebel spokesman the team went to liaise with rebels on the National Council.

He carries on to say the group wanted to keep an eye on the humanitarian situation in Benghazi.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox said a small diplomatic team was in Benghazi and "they were in touch with them".

The BBC's security correspondent Gordon Corera says the SAS was believed to have been in Libya protecting diplomats rather than on a military mission.

The Sunday Times reported earlier that the unit was trying to put UK diplomats in touch with rebels trying to topple the Gaddafi regime.

In a statement, the MoD said: "We neither confirm nor deny the story and we do not comment on the special forces."

Jon Leyne, who is in Benghazi, said the men went to the compound of an agricultural company where they were challenged by Libyan guards and asked if they had weapons.

"Witnesses said that when the men's bags were checked they were found to contain arms, ammunition, explosives, maps and passports from at least four different nationalities.

"The witnesses said at that point all eight men were arrested and taken to an army base in Benghazi where they are being held by the opposition forces who control this area."

Continue reading the main story
At the scene
Jon Leyne
BBC News, Benghazi
I spoke to one person and he said it's ok, they're fine. We're in contact with London, just give us a few days and it'll all be ok.

I think basically that the opposition here, the people in control, have an understanding of the situation: these are not hostile people.

The problem was arriving on a helicopter, in the middle of the night, carrying weapons.

You can understand the sort of fears that provoked here and so there were misunderstandings, they have been arrested.

The big question here is why on earth, if this was some kind of diplomatic or even military liaison, they chose to do it like this?

The HMS York was docked in Benghazi harbour on Wednesday.

So if Britain wanted to send anybody in to the court house where the proto-government is based here, they could have jumped in a taxi, or even walked there, from the harbour.
Meanwhile, the British evacuation of EU nationals continues, with the Royal Navy frigate HMS Cumberland setting sail from Benghazi.

In other developments, eyewitnesses and rebels say four towns which Libyan forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi claim to have retaken actually remain under rebel control.

BBC staff report that Tobruk and Ras Lanuf remain in rebel hands.

Anti-Gaddafi forces still control Misrata and Zawiya, residents and rebels said. But Misrata was reported to be under renewed attack on Sunday.

Routine deployment

Officials in Tripoli said pre-dawn gunfire there was celebrating pro-Gaddafi "gains" of the towns.

Separately, a group of Dutch special forces was apparently captured by Col Gaddafi's forces in western Libya while trying to assist Dutch nationals evacuate.

Earlier, the MoD confirmed Scottish troops were on standby to assist with humanitarian and evacuation operations in Libya.

Defence Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC the UK had no plans to use British land forces in Libya.

The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, is on a routine deployment notice of 24 hours at an RAF base in Wiltshire.

Former foreign secretary, David Miliband, told the BBC's Andrew Marr show that Libya was going to have to be a "big squeeze rather than a big bump on Gaddafi".

He said they would need to squeeze his oil money, squeeze him politically and also "make sure people know that they have our support".

Questioned about Col Gaddafi's son Saif giving the Ralph Miliband memorial lecture at the LSE last year, he said it was "horrific".

Set up to honour his academic father's memory, he said it had been "horrific to the whole family, obviously".
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« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2011, 05:16:02 PM »

I should mention that the article about possible Israeli involvement is from the Iranian media, who might have their own reasons for asserting that (although I do not think western media outlets or al jazeera are necessarily any more reliable).
I'm reproducing a comment I made on another message board re intervention in Libya. What do ones think?


My Libyan bredren, like at least some of his compatriots at home, has changed his position from being totally against any western intervention to supporting the no fly zone.
I’ll be going to the protest here in Swansea tomorrow (1 Pm Castle Square) in solidarity with him and with all the Libyan people, but I have to say I still cannot support the no fly zone. (Although I’m certainly not going to join the handful of paid Gaddafi supporters protesting against it). I can’t see it ending in anything else than all out war involving the western powers. When you make a deal with the devil, the devil will always want his due.
My friend and I’m sure most of the rebels feel that they can just take whatever aid is given and refuse to abide by any strings attached – but I’m not sure if that is the case. I think people may be projecting our own hopes and aspirations on to the revolutionary council in Benghazi. For all the similarities their methods of organisation may have, it’s not like any of them (to my knowledge) are actually anarchist-communists. It’s a council of 30-odd people, not a mass assembly of the masses of Benghazi akin to those created in Oaxaca, Mexico during the uprisings there. I don’t know what the composition of it is, but if it includes anyone in a position of privilege the chances are that they are going to be interested in preserving that privilege. For example – and I take anything I read in mainstream media with a pinch of salt, so I’m not saying this is necessarily true – when the SAS team was arrested and sent back home [did the Benghazi people keep their weapons? I would have], a member of the council (a defector from the regime I beleive) was quoted as saying that he would have liked the SAS to stay to train the fighters, but that he knew they [the fighters] would not accept that, especially as Gaddafi’s forces were trained and equipped by the same British government. But the fact that he was willing to consider that possibility makes me suspicious of at least some elements in the revolutionary council (not saying that more military training and a more formalized command structure for the fighters might not be desirable – I think war is one of the few situations where a form of hierarchy and authority *is* justified, as long as it’s established with the agreement of all involved – in warfare you have to make snap decisions and can’t sit around discussing things to reach consensus – Durruti column etc. did have a command structure, it was a mutually-agreed-upon one but not a free-for-all – but if I was in Benghazi I would never contemplate using the British military for such training.)
Also what has been largely forgotten in this crisis is the plight of Black African migrant workers and people en route to try to get to Europe who may be falsely accused of being mercenaries. I don’t know to what extent this has happened but it would be pretty naive to think it hasn’t happened at all, and as an African I cannot ignore that aspect of the conflict.
And speaking of that, let’s not forget what is going on in Cote d’Ivoire and elsewhere in Africa. Gbabgo’s forces have been at least as brutal as, if not more so than, Gaddafi’s, but there isn’t any talk of intervention there. Of course, all you anarchos and lefties already know that intervention by western powers has absolutely nothing to do with any actual concern about human rights, etc.
Bob Marley was widely rumoured to have donated large sums to the freedom fighters in South Africa and the then-Rhodesia to use for arms – maybe there are individuals out there who can fulfill that role for Libyans. It’s plain they need aid, but no government is going to give aid without strings attached, strings that could have very serious repercussions later.
My Libyan friend thinks the U.S. etc. may be waiting for Gaddafi to fall before moving in on the new government, accusing them of being Islamists or whatever. Who knows.
At the end of the day, it’s a dilemma… like Ian, I don’t have any answers… all I can say is, Victory to the freedom fighters in Libya and everywhere on Earth… but making any kind of deal with the devil will always backfire.
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« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2011, 05:21:24 PM »

Also to consider:
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« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2011, 01:59:51 PM »

I went to the rally for Libya today with mixed feelings. It was mostly Libyans from the local community. There were no pro-Ghaddaffi ones. It was an understandably emotional rally and the general mood was in favour of the no-fly zone (although the argument against it got a hearing on the megaphone as well, and while it didn't get not much if any support from the Libyans in attendance, none of them objected to that viewpoint being aired - that was left to one of the local british politicians, who made noises about it being "inappropriate" to debate that on the occasion - funnily enough, during the little speech that this politician made condemning Ghaddafi, he didn't find it appropriate to mention that the weapons he is using come from Britain, or that his troops and police were trained by the british army and the metropolitan police, or that the same British gov't now making noises about a no-fly zone is still happily arming dictators throughout the region.)
Not being Libyan, or a politician, I didn't think it appropriate to try to grab the megaphone myself, although in retrospect I should have said something to bring up the issue of Black African migrant workers being scapegoated and lynched, which is not being given the attention it deserves (see http://blackagendareport.com/content/race-and-arab-nationalism-libya). BTW the rally consisted of mostly arab or berber looking Libyans but some black ones as well.
Since opinion was divided on the no fly zone and intervention most of the chants were things we could all agree on "ghaddafi must go" "1 2 3 4 we don't want this bloody war, 5 6 7 8. stop the killing stop the hate", which is so vague anyone could agree to it.
There was mention made of the west's hypocrisy in arming Ghaddafi and other dictators and then "turning against them" and a message of support for the struggles in Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi etc. but overall the older Libyan speakers seemed to be placing a rather naive trust in support from the west and from the couple of local Labour MPs who spoke (who as i said failed to mention the close relationship between their former bosses Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Ghaddaffi - I refrained from heckling out of respect for the Libyan families present who were obviously very concerned about their people on the ground and who organised the rally and invited the speakers). Some Libyans, especially younger ones like my friend, were more critical of western involvement but the general mood seemed to be that the Benghazi people are calling for a no fly zone so they would support that as people are getting pulverized now, and then deal with the consequences later - i.e. get Ghaddafi out first and then fight the western powers if necessary.
I disagree for the same reasons as the angry arab blogger does in the post above.
Probably the most mixed-feeling rally or protest I have ever attended.
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« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2011, 08:57:26 AM »

Looks like it's on... I can understand why desperate people backed up into a corner would look for help from anyone... but once the US, UK etc. get involved ya dun know things are going to go downhill. Needless to say, continued support for Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc not to even mention Israel puts the lie to any "humanitatian" motives. Ghadaffi is a "creature" for sure, but so is Hilary Clinton and all the rest of them, even worse creatures with even bigger claws. I only hope against hope that at the end of the day, Ghaddafi will be gone *and* the people will succesfully resist a US, UK etc takeover of the oil fields, but it ain't looking likely... time will tell
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2011, 01:13:58 PM »

Robert Fisk: First it was Saddam. Then Gaddafi. Now there's a vacancy for the West's favourite crackpot tyrant

Saturday, 19 March 2011

So we are going to take "all necessary measures" to protect the civilians of Libya, are we? Pity we didn't think of that 42 years ago. Or 41 years ago. Or... well, you know the rest. And let's not be fooled by what the UN resolution really means. Yet again, it's going to be regime-change. And just as in Iraq – to use one of Tom Friedman's only memorable phrases of the time – when the latest dictator goes, who knows what kind of bats will come flying out of the box?

And after Tunisia, after Egypt, it's got to be Libya, hasn't it? The Arabs of North Africa are demanding freedom, democracy, liberation from oppression. Yes, that's what they have in common. But what these nations also have in common is that it was us, the West, that nurtured their dictatorships decade after decade after decade. The French cuddled up to Ben Ali, the Americans stroked Mubarak, while the Italians groomed Gaddafi until our own glorious leader went to resurrect him from the political dead.

Could this be, I wonder, why we have not heard from Lord Blair of Isfahan recently? Surely he should be up there, clapping his hands with glee at another humanitarian intervention. Perhaps he is just resting between parts. Or maybe, like the dragons in Spenser's Faerie Queen, he is quietly vomiting forth Catholic tracts with all the enthusiasm of a Gaddafi in full flow.

Let's twitch the curtain just a bit and look at the darkness behind it. Yes, Gaddafi is completely bonkers, flaky, a crackpot on the level of Ahmadinejad of Iran and Lieberman of Israel – who once, by the way, drivelled on about how Mubarak could "go to hell" yet quaked with fear when Mubarak was indeed hurtled in that direction. And there is a racist element in all this.

The Middle East seems to produce these ravers – as opposed to Europe, which in the past 100 years has only produced Berlusconi, Mussolini, Stalin and the little chap who used to be a corporal in the 16th List Bavarian reserve infantry, but who went really crackers when he got elected in 1933 – but now we are cleaning up the Middle East again and can forget our own colonial past in this sandpit. And why not, when Gaddafi tells the people of Benghazi that "we will come, 'zenga, zenga' (alley by alley), house by house, room by room." Surely this is a humanitarian intervention that really, really, really is a good idea. After all, there will be no "boots on the ground".

Of course, if this revolution was being violently suppressed in, say, Mauritania, I don't think we would be demanding no-fly zones. Nor in Ivory Coast, come to think of it. Nor anywhere else in Africa that didn't have oil, gas or mineral deposits or wasn't of importance in our protection of Israel, the latter being the real reason we care so much about Egypt.

So here are a few things that could go wrong, a sidelong glance at those bats still nestling in the glistening, dank interior of their box. Suppose Gaddafi clings on in Tripoli and the British and French and Americans shoot down all his aircraft, blow up all his airfields, assault his armour and missile batteries and he simply doesn't fade away. I noticed on Thursday how, just before the UN vote, the Pentagon started briefing journalists on the dangers of the whole affair; that it could take "days" just to set up a no-fly zone.

Then there is the trickery and knavery of Gaddafi himself. We saw it yesterday when his Foreign Minister announced a ceasefire and an end to "military operations" knowing full well, of course, that a Nato force committed to regime-change would not accept it, thus allowing Gaddafi to present himself as a peace-loving Arab leader who is the victim of Western aggression: Omar Mukhtar Lives Again.

And what if we are simply not in time, if Gaddafi's tanks keep on rolling? Do we then send in our mercenaries to help the "rebels". Do we set up temporary shop in Benghazi, with advisers and NGOs and the usual diplomatic flummery? Note how, at this most critical moment, we are no longer talking about the tribes of Libya, those hardy warrior people whom we invoked with such enthusiasm a couple of weeks ago. We talk now about the need to protect "the Libyan people", no longer registering the Senoussi, the most powerful group of tribal families in Benghazi, whose men have been doing much of the fighting. King Idris, overthrown by Gaddafi in 1969, was a Senoussi. The red, black and green "rebel" flag – the old flag of pre-revolutionary Libya – is in fact the Idris flag, a Senoussi flag. Now let's suppose they get to Tripoli (the point of the whole exercise, is it not?), are they going to be welcomed there? Yes, there were protests in the capital. But many of those brave demonstrators themselves originally came from Benghazi. What will Gaddafi's supporters do? "Melt away"? Suddenly find that they hated Gaddafi after all and join the revolution? Or continue the civil war?

And what if the "rebels" enter Tripoli and decide Gaddafi and his crazed son Saif al-Islam should meet their just rewards, along with their henchmen? Are we going to close our eyes to revenge killings, public hangings, the kind of treatment Gaddafi's criminals have meted out for many a long year? I wonder. Libya is not Egypt. Again, Gaddafi is a fruitcake and, given his weird performance with his Green Book on the balcony of his bombed-out house, he probably does occasionally chew carpets as well.

Then there's the danger of things "going wrong" on our side, the bombs that hit civilians, the Nato aircraft which might be shot down or crash in Gaddafi territory, the sudden suspicion among the "rebels"/"Libyan people"/democracy protesters that the West, after all, has ulterior purposes in its aid. And there's one boring, universal rule about all this: the second you employ your weapons against another government, however righteously, the thing begins to unspool. After all, the same "rebels" who were expressing their fury at French indifference on Thursday morning were waving French flags in Benghazi on Thursday night. Long live America. Until...

I know the old arguments, of course. However bad our behaviour in the past, what should we do now? It's a bit late to be asking that. We loved Gaddafi when he took over in 1969 and then, after he showed he was a chicken-head, we hated him and then we loved him again – I am referring to Lord Blair's laying on of hands – and now we hate him again. Didn't Arafat have a back-to-front but similar track record for the Israelis and Americans? First he was a super-terrorist longing to destroy Israel, then he was a super-statesman shaking hands with Yitzhak Rabin, then he became a super-terrorist again when he realised he'd been tricked over the future of "Palestine".

One thing we can do is spot the future Gaddafis and Saddams whom we are breeding right now, the future crackpot, torture-chamber sadists who are cultivating their young bats with our economic help. In Uzbekistan, for example. And in Turkmenistan. And in Tajikistan and Chechenya and other "stans". But no. These are men we have to deal with, men who will sell us oil, buy our arms and keep Muslim "terrorists" at bay.

It is all wearingly familiar. And now we are back at it again, banging our desks in spiritual unity. We don't have many options, do we, unless we want to see another Srebrenica? But hold on. Didn't that happen long after we had imposed our "no-fly" zone over Bosnia?
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