Showing posts with label libya. Show all posts
Showing posts with label libya. Show all posts

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Move over Taliban bogeymen, it's the turn of the Sahel's 'Afrighanistan'

FAR FROM STATE terrorism in the South Pacific, but the Sahel, a new Global war on Terror battleground now that the "Coalition of the Willing" has virtually lost the plot in Aghanistan, deserves reflection. Pontecorvo's 1966 The Battle of Algiers remains the classic counter-terrorism documentary and provides pointers to the contemporary Western mindset, such as displayed in Zero Dark Thirty about the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Another excerpt from a "Roving Eye" column by Brazilian journalist and author Pepe Escobar in the Asian Times provides some insights. Café Pacific finds it extraordinary that Escobar's columns don't get a run anywhere in the Australian, NZ or Pacific media.

Zero Dark Mali [Excerpt]

By Pepe Escobar

Goooooooood morning, Vietnam! No, sorry, that was another quagmire.

The soundtrack then was Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Motown and Stax. Now it's Goooooooooood morning, Mali! Yet the soundtrack can't be something as transcendental as Rokia Traore's Dounia, or as delightfully psychedelic as Amadou and Mariam's Dimanche a Bamako. It's way more menacing. Something like - he's inescapable - Hendrix in Machine Gun.

Timing - as in the expansion of the Global War on Terror (GWOT) - is everything. Carefully choreographed Libyan blowback in the Sahel could not be a better replacement for NATO raising a monster white flag in Afghanistan. There's no Goooooood morning, Kabul! anymore; there's just the sorry countdown to see the last NATO helicopter leaving Bagram - Saigon 1975-style.

The Economist - the voice of the City of London - is even promoting "Afrighanistan". There are nuances, of course. NATO had its ass kicked in Afghanistan by all sorts of Pashtun factions bundled up as "Taliban". But NATO "won" in Libya.

With a certainly foreseen spin-off; the Islamist brigade which attacked the In Amenas gas field complex in the Algerian desert was using NATO-facilitated Kalashnikov AK-104s, F5 rockets, 60 mm gun-mortars and, in a nifty NATOGCC fashion touch, the "chocolate chip" camouflage Qatar handed out to the NATO rebels in Libya (yellow flak jackets with brown patches). What next, the cover of Uomo Vogue?

Friday, October 21, 2011

Fighting over the corpse of Gaddafi like vultures

AFTER NATO – The death of Muammar Gaddafi as a wounded prisoner of war. Disturbing images on Al Jazeera. A war crime?


By Pepe Escobar
They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway - an eerie echo of Saddam Hussein's "hole" - he was found by Transitional National Council (TNC) "rebels". And then duly executed.
- Brazilian journalist Pepe Escobar’s last book was Obama Does Globalistan (2009). Read his full article here and his “Roving Eye” columns at the Asian Times.


By Gordon Campbell

THE DEATH of Muammar Gaddafi – either from wounds inflicted by a NATO air strike, or (more likely) from summary execution on his way to hospital – cancels the option of an international war crimes trial. Doubtless, such a trial would have given the Libyan dictator a useful platform from which to harangue the court, and to reveal embarrassing details of the lucrative deals he’d signed in the past with the same Western governments who eventually sent their warplanes to depose him.

No doubt, Gaddafi alive would have been a disruptive figure on the landscape of the new Libya. The trial of Slobodan Milosevic didn’t set an inspiring precedent for how the rule of law is likely to operate in such cases, Yet for all their flaws, such trials are the only alternative to the extra-judicial killings and assassinations (eg Osama Bin Laden, Anwar Al-Awlaki) that are fast becoming the West’s preferred modus operandi.

Also, there was a faint hope that Gaddafi on trial could have been the focus of a truth and reconciliation process in which the Libyan people who suffered at his hands could have confronted the humbled tyrant in a courtroom, and told their stories. More to the point, Gaddafi dead removes a source of national unity. Hostility to Gaddafi is just about all that is holding together the various Libyan rebel militias.

That lack of unity is a product of Gaddafi’s 40-year personality cult, which crushed any semblance of civil society. Now, all the tribal factions that Gaddafi manipulated so skilfully will have to be represented in a government of national unity. As the Stratfor intelligence think tank has pointed out, it is already clear that the Libyan Transitional National Council that the West recognises, enjoys little respect or authority among many of the rebel fighters:
The NTC is one of several political forces in the country. Since the rebel forces entered Tripoli on August 21, there has been a steady increase of armed groups hailing from places such as Misurata, Zentan, Tripoli and even eastern Libya itself that have questioned the authority of leading NTC members. These groups have been occupying different parts of the capital for two months now, despite calls by the NTC (and some of the groups themselves) to vacate.

In other words, the TNC has only a shaky clam to authority beyond Benghazi. At the same time, the outside world is expecting the TNC to honour the dodgy contracts for Libya’s oil reserves that Gaddafi signed, and not to let matters like internal politics or morality get in the way:

There have been repeated questions over the status of business contracts and agreements involving Russian companies, which have been signed by the Gaddafi regime, and whether they will be honoured. They generally involve oil or gas development and exploration, but also include railways and military cooperation….

Last month the Russian Foreign Ministry recognized the Transitional National Council of Libya as the current authority, adding that it expected existing contracts to be honoured.

“At present the Transitional National Council is analysing the contracts, signed by the Gaddafi regime, in order to establish whether or not they are transparent. I do not think the new Libyan government will begin with the evaluation of contracts with Russia by political criteria,” Margelov said, adding that it would be more correct for the new government to analyse the contracts from a technical and economic perspective.
Now, the real problems begin.

- Independent New Zealand journalist Gordon Campbell can be read on his Scoop Media blog and on his Werewolf netzine.
BEFORE NATO – Independent images of the Gaddafi regime and reasons why the West had to ensure the crushing of a maverick Arab voice.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Welcome to Libya's Quagmire City

Post-Gaddafi Libya ... doomed by the oil and water hijack? Photo: Neon Tommy, USC: Annenberg School for Journalism. Below: Pepe Escobar.

BRAZILIAN journalist Pepe Escobar, author of Globalisation: How the Globalised World is Dissolving into Liquid War, has an uncanny knack of slicing through the hypocrosy and exposing Western duplicity. His articles since the start of the so-called Arab Spring in January have been revealing reading, if rather gloomy. Today on Radio New Zealand's Saturday interview slot with Kim Hill, he exposed the realities of post-Gaddafi Libya. He warned that an Al Qaeda extremist was rebel military commander (Abdel Hakim Belhaj) in Tripoli and the country could now slide into a protracted conflict with two guerrilla forces warring with a weak new central regime - Gaddafi loyalists and Jihadist fundamentalists. Libya is about to be carved up over the control of oil and water - coveted by France - reserves by the "right to plunder" (R2P) doctrine. This is also a theme Escobar has explored in his latest article for Asia Times Online. Welcome to Quagmire City:

The white man's burden doesn't allow asking Africans what they think about the current Western/monarchical Arab onslaught on the northern shores of their continent. At least some are not beating around the bush.

Over 200 African leaders and intellectuals released a letter in Johannesburg, South Africa, stressing the "misuse of the United Nations Security Council to engage in militarised diplomacy to effect regime change in Libya", as well as the "marginalisation of the African Union".

As for the Western "winners" in Libya, they are not even playing smoke and mirrors anymore. Richard Haass, president of that Gotha of the US establishment that is the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote a Financial Times op-ed blatantly stating: "The 'humanitarian' intervention introduced to save lives believed to be threatened was in fact a political intervention introduced to bring about regime change."

As for those lowly bit part local actors - Libyans from Cyrenaica - Haass already dispatched them to the dustbin of history: "Libyans will not be able to manage the situation about to emerge on their own", and with "two million barrels of oil a day" at stake, the only solution is an "international force". Translation: occupation army - as in Afghanistan and Iraq. Welcome to neo-colonialism 2.0.

Payback time
So the US establishment is now as brazen as the wealthy right-wing nut jobs of the Donald "that thing on his head" Trump variety. Trump told Fox News: "We are NATO [North Atlantic Treaty Organisation]. We back NATO in terms of money and weapons. What do we get out of it? Why won't we take the oil?"

In geopolitical Groundhog Day mode, it's indeed Afghanistan and Iraq all over again - an orgy of looting, statue-smashing, eye-catching TV reality show segments, even street banners cheerleading NATO (imagine Americans thanking the Chinese for "liberating" New York by bombing).

Not to mention prime corporate media idiocy. CNN has moved Tripoli east - to the eastern Mediterranean, somewhere near Lebanon. The BBC showed a Tripoli Green Square "rebel" celebration set in ... India, with Indian flags. Hail the total integration of NATO and Western/GCC media; GCC is the Gulf Cooperation Council, the six wealthy fundamentalist satrapies also known as the Gulf Counter-revolution Club.
And what next: a Green Zone remix near Green Square?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Libya is no Iraq – this revolution is the real deal

Libyan rebels celebrate the capture of Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli. Photo: Hamza Turkia/XinHua

By Mohamed Salem
via MediaMonitor

MUAMMAR GADDAFI and his sons are now on the run, fleeing from the Libyan people, yet already the doomsayers and prophets of disaster have lined up to tell the world it isn't worth it, that Libya is destined to go down the route of chaos and fragmentation. Libya will be another Iraq and Afghanistan, we are told.

They are wrong, because the post-conflict scenario in Libya differs from those two examples of failed Western intervention in several crucial aspects. Indeed if you study the indicators, Libya is poised to be the most complete and potentially most successful of any the Arab uprisings so far.

The roots of Iraq and Afghanistan's tragedy lie in the abrupt and imposed nature of change. It's easy to forget that Libya's organic and intense popular uprising preceded any international intervention. UN security council resolution 1973, which authorised the use of force to protect civilians, was only passed when it became clear that a massacre in the east was imminent. This is not Nato's revolution, not by a long way. The Libyan revolution remains very much the real deal.

The reason this matters is because it means no foreign power can now assert a moral right to meddle in Libya's future. Libya's destiny is now rightfully in the hands of its people, having been hijacked by Gaddafi and his cronies for almost 42 years. It also means the West must to a degree absolve itself of direct responsibility for what happens next in Libya and leave the planning to Libyans themselves.

The worst idea of all would be to send in foreign ground troops now, even under the peacekeeping banner. Not only would this be met with fierce opposition by the Libyan people, it would send the message that the West still feels that Arabs cannot be trusted to look after themselves.

Even without foreign bases on Libyan soil, some commentators have raised the spectre of a Ba'athist-style insurgency against the new Libyan government by regime loyalists. This prediction does not stand up to scrutiny either. The moment Gaddafi is captured or killed and his regime put to bed, there will be nothing left for his supporters to support.

There are no sectarian, ethnic or ideological cleavages to be exploited to foment unrest and violence. The onus is now on the Libyan people to show restraint and respect for the rule of law in dealing with regime officials and soldiers, and to refrain from vigilantism and retributive justice.

Mohamed Salem is the pen name of a British-Libyan journalist who writes for The Guardian.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Libyan intervention - two views from contrasting camps

WAS there any real justification in the devastating intervention in Libya - initially French, British and US-led and now with NATO driving? Is there really a moral case for this "no-fly zone" sham? Is it really all about saving civilian lives, or blatantly ensuring a regime change with control of oil once again the bottom line? There is a long list of countries that probably deserved foreign intervention in recent years, but were simply ignored with fossil fuels not being a critical factor: Somalia and international piracy, Ivory Coast, Sudan and Zimbabwe just to name a few. All left in the dustbin of Western hypocrisy. Here are some contrasting views from two columnists - Gordon Campbell on Scoop and the London Daily Mirror's Tony Parsons. Campbell contrasts the Libyan and Iraqi scenarios, defending the attack on Libya while condemning the invasion of Iraq, but Parsons brands the British involvement in Libya as simply "insane". Campbell writes:
Was the intervention in Libya justified – and if so, does that mean the invasion of Iraq in 2003 was justified? The conditions laid down by the French for their participation in enforcing a no-fly zone over Libyan air space go some way to answering those questions. Before they would join in any military action in Libya, the French were asking for (a) a clear UN resolution for the intervention(b) it had to be a UN operation, not one led by NATO (c) there would have to be some Arab involvement in the force, however token and (d) there would have to be a direct request and support for that intervention from a significant part of the civilian population.

Image: Tim Denee

France’s stance is relevant not simply because it is one of the thre
e main partners in the military force now attacking Libya. In 2003, it had been the most articulate opponent of the US invasion of Iraq, for reasons set out in this speech to the UN in 2003 by its then Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. All the conditions France have asked for in 2011 stand in striking contrast to the Iraq situation – which had no valid UN mandate, was a unilateral American-led adventure, had no Arab participation, and was in response to no direct threat to the people of Iraq, unlike the direct threat being posed to the people of Benghazi.

The immediacy of the murderous threat that Colonel Gaddafi posed to the civilian populations in the Libyan towns and cities that contain the rebels mark the main difference from the situation in Iraq. Without that immediate threat, the rationale for military action to topple the tyrant in Libya sounds almost identical to the Bush administration’s justification for intervening to topple the tyrant in Iraq.
Parsons in the Mirror says that if British prime minister David Cameron "had to send his kids to war, we'd all live in peace". In his latest column, he wrote:
It costs £900,000 for every Tomahawk missile ­– I am so glad we didn’t waste all that money on something stupid.

Oh, what a stupid war. Oh, what a dumb Britain. Stark raving mad – a country with empty pockets starting another open-ended, multi-billion pound conflict when we haven’t even finished the last one.

Are we insane? Have we learned nothing?

A country that can’t afford to police its own streets acting as though it can police the world. A country that is cutting back on military spending sending its ­undermanned, ­overstretched forces off to fight some more.

A country that can’t take care of its old people taking on the burden of caring for the oppressed people of Libya. A country that is currently closing down day centres for disabled children deciding it can afford another conflict that will waste millions every single day.

Barmy. Yet somehow so easy to understand. Thatcher, Blair and now Cameron – they all found it impossible to ignore the ­seductive call of war.

How much more satisfying it must be to confront the likes of General Galtieri, Saddam Hussein and Colonel Gaddafi than to deal with the problems of rising unemployment, soaring inflation, failing schools, housing ­shortages, a stagnant economy and all the rest.

Thatcher set the tone for the modern British Prime Minister. A nice little war can define your entire career. It’s far easier than creating jobs, wealth, hope.
But Parsons reckons that Thatcher had at least an achievable - and winable - goal. And he is decidedly nervous about a crop of "soft" politicians with little appreciation of the devastation of war; who can decide so casually on a warmongering path.
As I have noted before, it is terminally dangerous to have an army, navy and air force commanded by politicians who have never heard a shot fired in anger.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A tale of two cities – Tripoli and NZ's quake town

captured the contrasting mood between two cities with poignancy, but almost accidentally. After three days of heavy black borders to mourn the loss of some 147 dead and a further 50 missing, the newspaper and other media across NZ told stories of courage, drama and devastation in the Christchurch earthquake.

A world away, and tucked deep on p. 17 in today’s Herald, the Libyan crisis raged on in Tripoli: “A city in the shadow of death.”

More than half the front broadsheet page of the Herald was devoted to the death of five-month-old Baxtor Gowland, a child of the last quake. Pictured clad in a scarlet Father Christmas outfit and cottonwool beard, Baxtor was born just two weeks after the 4 September 2010 quake. And now, tragically, he is a victim.

The inside front page told of “one street’s misery”, showing a fullpage graphic of Santa Maria Ave in the seaside suburb of Redcliffs: Reported Andrew Koubaridis:
In the minutes after Tuesday's devastating earthquake, the people of Santa Maria Ave, Redcliffs, gathered at the top of the street and hugged and cried.

Still in shock from the violent shaking, they scrambled from their shattered homes and sought comfort from one another - many will never be able to live in their homes again.

One side of the street has several homes cracked beyond repair. Others have been almost split in half and are now in danger of falling down on to a street below.
Another story reported how an Australian female urologist used tradesman’s tools – a hacksaw and a multipurpose knife – to amputate both legs of a quake victim lying trapped under a beam in a collapsed building. She saved the 52-year-old’s life.

Columnist Noelle McCarthy cited “the great poet of collapse, William Yeats, who wrote: “All is changed, changed utterly.” While noting that there is a scale to measure earthquakes, she asked how do you quantify their toll?:
In the aftermath of disaster, where to start? We start with each other. We take care of each other, we acknowledge this loss.
On Pacific Scoop, former Fiji Times editor Jale Moala, now a subeditor with the Christchurch Press, described the city as being “like a war zone” and a shock to Fiji migrants just used to cyclones and hurricanes.

Local Radio Apna and Suva’s were condemned by authorities for quoting an unnamed doctor saying eight Fiji Islanders had died in the earthquake. The authorities insisted this was false.

Meanwhile, from Tripoli in Libya, The Independent’s Robert Fisk reports in the Herald on gunfire, fear and rumour in the capital:
Up to 15,000 men, women and children besieged Tripoli's international airport last night, shouting and screaming for seats on the few airliners still prepared to fly to Muammar Gaddafi's rump state, paying Libyan police bribe after bribe to reach the ticket desks in a rain-soaked mob of hungry, desperate families. Many were trampled as Libyan security men savagely beat those who pushed their way to the front.

Among them were Gaddafi's fellow Arabs, thousands of them Egyptians, some of whom had been living at the airport for two days without food or sanitation. The place stank of faeces and urine and fear. Yet a 45-minute visit into the city for a new airline ticket to another destination is the only chance to see Gaddafi's capital if you are a "dog" of the international press.

There was little sign of opposition to the Great Leader. Squads of young men with Kalashnikov rifles stood on the side roads next to barricades of upturned chairs and wooden doors. But these were pro-Gaddafi vigilantes – a faint echo of the armed Egyptian "neighbourhood guard" I saw in Cairo a month ago – and had pinned photographs of their leader's infamous Green Book to their checkpoint signs.

There is little food in Tripoli, and over the city there fell a blanket of drab, sullen rain. It guttered onto an empty Green Square and down the Italianate streets of the old capital of Tripolitania.

But there were no tanks, no armoured personnel carriers, no soldiers, not a fighter plane in the air; just a few police and elderly men and women walking the pavements – a numbed populace.

Sadly for the West and for the people of the free city of Benghazi, Libya's capital appeared as quiet as any dictator would wish.

But this is an illusion.
Turkey is mounting the biggest evacuation operation in its history, with more than 25,000 Turks living in Libya fleeing. Twenty one other governments have asked Ankara for help getting their nationals out. A US-chartered 600-passenger ferry is leaving Tripoli for Malta and Israel has allowed 300 Palestinians from Libya to enter the occupied territories.

Petrol and food prices have trebled; towns outside Tripoli have been ripped apart by bitter fighting between Gaddafi supporters and opposition groups.

Loyalist forces patrol the capital’s streets, tanks guard the outskirts and the state radio station is heavily guarded.

This war zone is rapidly exploding.

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