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Posts Tagged ‘African Union’

Fresh NATO raids target Libyan capital

Posted by Admin on May 28, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20110528/ts_afp/libyaconflict_20110528083220

Fresh NATO raids target Libyan capital
 Smoke billows behind the trees following an air raid on the area of Tajura, east of Tripoli on May 24
by Imed Lamloum 51 mins ago

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Fresh NATO-led air strikes on Saturday targeted the district of Tripoli where Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi has his residence, after G8 world powers intensified the pressure on the strongman to step down.

For the fourth successive night, powerful blasts rocked Bab Al-Aziziya near the city centre, an AFP correspondent said as Libyan state media reported air raids on the Al-Qariet region south of the capital.

The strikes came after US President Barack Obama told a summit of G8 world powers that the United States and France were committed to finishing the job in Libya, as Russia finally joined explicit calls for Kadhafi to go.

Russia’s dramatic shift — and an offer to mediate — came as British Prime Minister David Cameron said the NATO mission against Kadhafi was entering a new phase with the deployment of helicopter gunships to the conflict.

“We are joined in our resolve to finish the job,” Obama said after talks with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the G8 summit of industrialised democracies in the French resort of Deauville.

But the US leader warned the “UN mandate of civilian protection cannot be accomplished when Kadhafi remains in Libya directing his forces in acts of aggression against the Libyan people.”

G8 leaders from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the US called in their final statement for Kadhafi to step down after more than 40 years, in the face of pro-democracy protests turned full-fledged armed revolt.

“Kadhafi and the Libyan government have failed to fulfil their responsibility to protect the Libyan population and have lost all legitimacy. He has no future in a free, democratic Libya. He must go,” it said.

But the Libyan regime rejected the call and said any initiative to resolve the crisis would have to go through the African Union.

“The G8 is an economic summit. We are not concerned by its decisions,” said Libya’s deputy foreign minister, Khaled Kaaim.

Tripoli also rejected Russian mediation and will “not accept any mediation which marginalises the peace plan of the African Union,” he said. “We are an African country. Any initiative outside the AU framework will be rejected.”

Kaaim said it had no confirmation of a change in Moscow’s position after President Dmitry Medvedev toughened Russia’s stance at the G8 meeting by declaring: “The world community does not see him as the Libyan leader.”

African leaders at a summit in Addis Ababa on Thursday called for an end to NATO air strikes on Libya to pave the way for a political solution to the conflict.

The pan-African bloc also sought a stronger say in resolving the conflict.

Kaaim meanwhile confirmed the visit on Monday of South African President Jacob Zuma, without indicating whether the exit of Kadhafi from power would be discussed as the South Africans have claimed.

On Thursday, the Libyan regime said Tripoli wanted a monitored ceasefire.

But NATO insisted it would keep up its air raids in Libya until Kadhafi’s forces stop attacking civilians and until the regime’s proposed ceasefire is matched by its actions on the ground.

Meanwhile Kadhafi’s wife Sofia on Friday slammed strikes against the Libyan leader and his family, and accused NATO forces of “committing war crimes” with its action against the regime.

Arab League chief Amr Mussa said there was a yawning gap between Tripoli and the rebel National Transitional Council on Kadhafi’s fate, with the rebels demanding he go immediately and the regime saving his exit for “later.”

“I was not there. But I wished that I was so I may die with him,” she told CNN in a telephone interview, describing the reported death of her son Seif al-Arab from a NATO air strike.

“My son never missed an evening prayer. We had strikes every day, and the strikes would start at evening prayer. Four rockets on one house!” she said in the rare interview.

International forces, which have been attacking Kadhafi forces under the terms of a UN resolution to protect civilians, “are looking for excuses to target Moamer. What has he done to deserve this?” asked Sofia.

NATO, she said, is “committing war crimes” in the North Africa country.

“They killed my son and the Libyan people. They are defaming our reputation, she said.

“Forty countries are against us. Life has no value anymore,” she lamented, in the wake of her son’s death.

Doubts have been raised in recent days of the veracity of reports on Seif al-Arab, Kadhafi’s youngest son, being dead.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi pointed out Wednesday that the international coalition had no information on his demise, and said the report from a Libyan government spokesman was “propaganda.”

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France, Britain say NATO must step up Libya bombing

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110412/wl_nm/us_libya;_ylt=AqmJBrd0s6wr2JXn_UtpgotvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJkbmdjcTRvBGFzc2V0A25tLzIwMTEwNDEyL3VzX2xpYnlhBHBvcwMxBHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDZnJhbmNlYnJpdGFp

A rebel fighter aims a rocket at the frontline ...
A rebel fighter aims a rocket at the frontline in Ajdabiyah, April 11, 2011
By Maria Golovnina Maria Golovnina 8 mins ago

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – France and Britain, who first launched air attacks on Libya in coalition with the United States, on Tuesday criticized NATO‘S bombing campaign, saying it must do more to stop Muammar Gaddafi bombarding civilians.

NATO took over air operations from the three nations on March 31 but heavy government bombardment of the besieged western city of Misrata has continued unabated with hundreds of civilians reported killed.

The criticism by London and Paris followed new shelling of Misrata on Monday and the collapse of an African Union peace initiative.

Echoing rebel complaints, Juppe told France Info radio, “It’s not enough.”

He said NATO must stop Gaddafi shelling civilians and take out heavy weapons bombarding Misrata. In a barbed reference to the alliance command of the operation, Juppe added: “NATO must play its role fully. It wanted to take the lead in operations, we accepted that.”

British Foreign Secretary William Hague also said NATO must intensify attacks, calling on other alliance countries to match London’s supply of extra ground attack aircraft in Libya.

NATO, is operating under a U.N. mandate to protect civilians, stepped up air strikes around Misrata and the eastern battlefront city of Ajdabiyah at the weekend. It rejected the criticism.

“NATO is conducting its military operations in Libya with vigor within the current mandate. The pace of the operations is determined by the need to protect the population,” it said.

Libyan state television said on Tuesday a NATO strike on the town of Kikla, south of Tripoli, had killed civilians and members of the police force. It did not give details.

PEACE TALKS FAIL

The spat within the alliance came after heavy shelling and street fighting in the coastal city of Misrata on Monday where Human Rights Watch says at least 250 people, mostly civilians, have died.

Rebels on Monday rejected an African Union peace plan, saying there could be no deal unless Gaddafi was toppled. His son Saif al Islam said such an idea was ridiculous.

Rebel leader Mustafa Abdel Jalil on Tuesday thanked Western countries for the air strikes but said they could not relieve besieged cities and appealed for arms and supplies.

“NATO’s air fleet cannot deliver the occupied cities where Gaddafi’s forces, using the civilian populations as a human shield, have now taken cover,” he said in a statement, adding that the insurgents needed time to build an army capable of toppling the Libyan leader.

Abdel Jalil pointedly named French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who the rebels hail as a hero, as the leader of the coalition supporting his forces.

Sarkozy led calls for military intervention in Libya and his warplanes were the first to attack Gaddafi’s forces.

NATO is unpopular among many insurgents, both because they believe it initially reacted slowly to government attacks and because it has killed almost 20 rebels in two mistaken bombings.

Although they have recently praised the alliance after its attacks helped break a major government assault on Ajdabiyah, many of the rebels in the field still hailed Sarkozy.

Gaddafi’s forces on Tuesday bombarded the western entrance to Ajdabiyah, launch point for insurgent attacks toward the oil port of Brega on the eastern front. There were eight blasts, apparently from artillery.

Rebels said earlier they were about 40 km (25 miles) west of Ajdabiyah, a strategic crossroads that has been the focus of fierce battles in the last two months.

NATO attacks outside Ajdabiyah on Sunday helped break the biggest assault by Gaddafi’s forces on the eastern front for at least a week. The town is the gateway to the rebel stronghold of Benghazi 150 km (90 miles) north up the Mediterranean coast.

Amnesty International on Tuesday accused Gaddafi forces of executing prisoners, killing protesters and attacking refugees.

SCORN

Rebels in Misrata, their last major bastion in western Libya and under siege for six weeks, scorned reports that Gaddafi had accepted a ceasefire, saying they were fighting house-to-house battles with his forces.

Rebels told Reuters that Gaddafi’s forces had intensified the assault, for the first time firing truck-mounted, Russian-made Grad rockets into the city, where conditions for civilians are said to be desperate.

The difficulty for Western nations in maintaining momentum in Libya was revealed in a Reuters/Ipsos MORI on Tuesday that found ambiguous and uncertain support for the operation among Britons, Americans and Italians.

While they supported ousting Gaddafi, they were worried about the costs of a military campaign and uncertain about the objectives. Support was more solid in France.

Gaddafi’s former foreign minister Moussa Koussa, speaking in Britain where he fled last month, said on Tuesday the war risked making Libya a failed state like Somalia.

Koussa, who will attend an international meeting on Libya’s future in Doha on Wednesday, called for national unity in an interview with the BBC.

(Additional reporting by Michael Georgy in Ajdabiyah, Souhail Karam and Richard Lough in Rabat, Christian Lowe in Algiers, John Irish in Paris, Adrian Croft in Luxembourg; Writing by Barry Moody; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110401/wl_nm/us_ivorycoast

Posted by Admin on April 1, 2011

Laurent Gbagbo, Président de la République (Cô...

Laurent Gbagbo President of Ivory Coast

Fierce fighting spreads in Ivory Coast showdown

By Loucoumane Coulibaly and Ange Aboa – 1 hr 36 mins ago

ABIDJAN (Reuters) – Fierce fighting spread across Abidjan on Friday as forces loyal to Ivory Coast’s Laurent Gbagbo fended off attacks by those seeking to install rival presidential claimant Alassane Ouattara.

The heaviest clashes centered around the state television station, which went off air after pro-Ouattara forces seized it overnight. Gbagbo’s camp said it had retaken it in the morning.

Booms of heavy weapons fire also rang out from near Gbagbo’s residence and office, both of which have come under attack, as well as two major military bases.

Gbagbo has been hit by a number of high-level defections in the military and the African Union called on him to step down immediately. But loyalists have fought back and a Paris-based Gbagbo adviser said his surrender was “out of the question.”

The main city in the world’s top cocoa grower has turned into a war-zone since forces loyal to the internationally recognized president, Ouattara, marched in on Thursday after a swift push south aimed at ousting Gbagbo.

Gbagbo has refused to quit since a November 28 election that U.N.-certified results said he lost.

Hundreds of foreigners were taken to a French military camp after they were threatened by looters.

The United Nations also called on Ouattara to rein in his forces, citing what it said were unconfirmed reports they had abducted and mistreated civilians.

“We can hear shooting and see soldiers moving but there are also armed civilians running in the streets,” said Camara Arnold, a resident in Cocody, the leafy neighborhood that is home to the state television building and Gbagbo’s residence.

One resident said overnight fighting was so heavy it shook the earth.

The power struggle had pushed cocoa prices higher, but they have tumbled since Ouattara’s push on expectations that exports will be freed up. Ivory Coast’s $2.3 billion 2032 bond, on which it defaulted in January, extended gains on Friday, rising almost 1.5 points on hopes of an end to the conflict.

Pro-Ouattara forces faced little resistance as they advanced south this week but Patrick Achi, a spokesman for his government, said Gbagbo’s forces were still fighting at the state television building.

It was not clear where Gbagbo was and his camp in Abidjan was not available for comment. Alain Toussaint, a Paris-based adviser of Gbagbo’s, said he would not give up.

“He will not surrender. It is out of the question.”

Ouattara’s fighters attacked Gbagbo’s residence overnight and heavy weapons fire erupted on Friday near the presidential palace in the center of town in what a military source said was an attack by pro-Ouattara forces.

Reuters witnesses said clashes were also heard coming from Treichville, a neighborhood where the Republican Guard has a base that is used to protect the city’s main bridges. Residents also reported heavy fighting at the Agban gendarmerie base.

Charity workers said it had become impossible for people in Abidjan to obtain medical care in the current conditions and UK-based Amnesty International said the city was “on the brink of … total chaos.”

STANDOFF KILLED HUNDREDS

Gbagbo has been in power since 2000. His mandate ran out in 2005 but the presidential election was delayed until 2010 because of instability in the country.

A Sorbonne-educated history professor who prides himself on being in touch with ordinary Ivorians, he rose to prominence as firebrand lecturer who challenged the autocratic rule of Ivory Coast’s first post-independence president.

The four month standoff since the election has killed hundreds and rekindled the country’s 2002-3 civil war. About 1 million have fled Abidjan alone and 122,000 more have crossed into Liberia, according to the United Nations.

Earlier this week, Ouattara’s forces advanced from several directions, taking the capital Yamoussoukro and the cocoa port of San Pedro with little resistance.

Some of Gbagbo’s top officers, including the head of his armed forces and gendarmerie, have abandoned him but an unknown number appear to be putting up stiff resistance and Ouattara’s forces could get sucked into bloody urban warfare with his hard-core supporters, some of whom are recently armed civilians.

The capture of San Pedro, which ships half of the country’s production, could kick-start the flow of beans that dried up in January due to sanctions, but an EU diplomat said sanctions will not be lifted until Gbagbo steps down.

An internal U.N. report, seen by Reuters, said pro-Gbagbo forces had ceded control of the airport to the world body but, elsewhere in the city, peacekeepers had exchanged fire with Gbagbo loyalists on Thursday.

At least 494 people have been confirmed killed since the standoff began, according to the United Nations, but, given the scale of fighting, the real figure is likely to be much higher.

(Additional reporting by Tim Cocks in Abidjan; Additional reporting and writing by David Lewis; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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Libya: The Objective of “Humanitarian Bombing” is Death and Destruction

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=23945

by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research, March 25, 2011

The Bombing of Civilian Targets

The objective is not to come to the rescue of civilians.

Quite the opposite. Both military as well as civilian targets have been pre-selected.

Civilian casualties are intentional. They are not the result of “collateral damage“.

Early reports confirm that hospitals, civilian airports and government buildings have been bombed.

Within hours of the air attacks, a Libyan government health official “said the death toll from the Western air strikes had risen to 64 on Sunday after some of the wounded died.” The number of wounded was of the order of 150. (Montreal Gazette, Gadhafi hurls defiance as allied forces strike Libya, March 19, 2011).

The death toll resulting from aerial bombings and missile attacks (March 24) is of the order of 100 civilians, according to Libyan government sources ( UN Chief Expects Int’l Community to Avoid Civilian Casualties in Libya, March 25, 2011)

Media Disinformation

These deaths resulting from US-NATO missiles and aerial bombings are either denied or casually dismissed as `collateral damage`. According to British Foreign Secretary William Hague modern humanitarian warfare does result in civilian deaths, a totally absurd proposition:

“This operation has been doing what it was meant to do, protect the civilian population of Libya, and there is no confirmed evidence of any casualties at all, civilian casualties, caused by the coalition strikes on the Gaddafi regime,” (British Foreign Secretary William Hague,  No evidence of civilian casualties in Libya strikes: UK | Reuters, March 25, 2011)

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates confirms that “The coalition is going to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties and most of the targets are air defence targets isolated from populated areas.” (West trying to avoid Libyan civilian deaths: Robert Gates – World – DNA, March 22, 2011)

The objective of the media disinformation campaign is to blatantly obfuscate the loss of life of civilians.  Western media reports on casualties are heavily convoluted. Tomahawk missiles and aerial bombings are upheld as instruments of peace and democracy. They do not result in civilian deaths.

Without media disinformation, the legitimacy of the military operation under R2P would collapse like a deck of card.

Several hundred people gather at a funeral. The latter is dismissed as Qadhafi propaganda.

The funeral is ‘fake” according to Western reports. It is presented as a staged event.

In the words of one report: “Men pray for people supposedly killed in air strikes. But the contents of these coffins remain unclear.( See Civilian Casualties in Question at Tripoli Funeral – WSJ.com, March 24, 2011, In Libya, coffins carry a mystery, SMH, March 26, 2011).

Humanitarian Bombing and Responsibility to Protect (R2P)

The purpose of these bombardments is to destroy the country’s institutions, its productive base. It’s called “humanitarian bombing”. It is justified under the concept of  “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P). Power generating facilities, bridges, roads, hospitals, TV stations, government buildings, factories, are singled out as strategic targets.

Libyan sources (unconfirmed) report that two hospitals and a medical clinic were bombed:

“Al-Tajura Hospital was hit as was Saladin Hospital in Ain Zara. The clinic that was bombed was also located in the vicinity of Tripoli, the Libyan capital.  Not only were these civilian structures, but they were also all far away from the combat zone.

Civilian air facilities throughout Libya have been attacked. (Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, Breaking News: Libyan Hospitals Attacked. Libyan Source: Three French Jets Downed, Global Research, March 19, 2011)

In the case of the hospitals, the smart bombs are extremely precise. The Russian Foreign ministry has accused the Western military alliance of conducting an indiscriminate bombing campaign. (Metro – Russia: Stop ‘indiscriminate’ bombing of Libya, March 19, 2011)

Invariably the Western media will state that Qadhafi forces are bombing the country’s hospitals, without supporting evidence.

There are indications that hospitals are included in the list of targets. Canadian CF-18 fighter jets were assigned specific civilian bombing targets. The pilots decided to return to base without attacking their pre-selected target, which was identified as an airfield. According to the press reports, the selected target was adjacent to a hospital: “Lawson said the risk was not related to any threat to the CF-18sbut rather potential damage to civilians or important infrastructure such as hospitals, on the ground.” ( CTV Calgary- Canadian pilots abort bombing over risk to civilians – CTV News, March 23, 2011, emphasis added)

Public opinion is invited to unconditionally endorse a new war theater in North Africa.  The so-called international community has managed through media propaganda to build a consensus.

The Responsibility to Protect has been endorsed by civil society organizations and NGOs. Many sectors of the progressive Left are supporting the bombings of Libya as a means to installing democracy, without even analysing the nature and composition of the rebellion.

Those who speak out against the US-NATO “no fly zone” are casually branded as “Qadhafi apologists”.

The Yugoslav Model of “Humanitarian Bombing”

Humanitarian bombing is part of a historical process. It is embedded in military planning.

The Libyan “humanitarian bombing” campaign is an integral part of military strategy which consists in destroying the country’s civilian infrastructure. It is modelled on previous humanitarian bombing endeavors including the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia and the 2003 military campaign against Iraq.

When Yugoslavia was bombed in 1999, bridges, power plants, schools and hospitals were identified as “legitimate military targets” selected by NATO’s Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) in Vicenza, Italy and carefully “validated prior to the pilot launching his strike.” The same procedure is being applied to Libya: military and civilian targets are validated in advance. The pilot is not always informed as to the precise nature of the target.

In 1999, the children’s hospital located in Belgrade’s embassy area was the object of air attacks. It had been singled out by military planners as a strategic target.

NATO acknowledged that they had done it, but to “save the lives” of the newly borne, they did not target the section of the hospital where the babies were residing, instead they targeted the building which housed the power generator, which meant no more power for the incubators, which meant the entire hospital was for all sakes and purposes destroyed and many of the children died.

I visited that hospital, one year after the bombing in June 2000 and saw with my own eyes how they did it with utmost accuracy. These are war crimes using the most advanced military technology:  The so-called “smart bombs”.

In Yugoslavia, the civilian economy was the target: hospitals, airports, government buildings, manufacturing, infrastructure, not to mention 17th century churches and the country’s historical and cultural heritage.

The diabolical objective of triggering an environmental catastrophe in the Danube river basin was also on the drawing board. NATO targeted the Pancevo petrochemical plant near Belgrade. The objective was no only to disable the plant but also to trigger an environmental catastrophe. How did they do it?

“A thermal imager from a spy satellite or an aircraft can detect infrared radiation emitted from any object situated on the petrochemical plant and convert its readings into a high-resolution video or snap picture. … In the words of a Pentagon spokesman, the U2 “snaps a picture from very high altitude, beams it back in what we call a reach-back, to the States where it is very quickly analyzed”. And from there, “the right targeting data” is relayed to the CAOC in Vincenza which then “passes [it] on to people in the cockpit”.

The “smart bombs” were not dumb; they went where they were told to go. NATO had scrupulously singled out the containers, tanks and reservoirs, which still contained toxic materials. According to the petrochemical plant director, NATO did not hit a single empty container: “This was not accidental; they chose to hit those that were full and these chemicals spilled into the canal leading to the Danube“. … When the smart bombs hit their lethal targets at Pancevo (see photos below), noxious fluids and fumes were released into the atmosphere, water and soil. “More than one thousand tons of ethylene dichloride spilled from the Pancevo petrochemical complex into the Danube [through the canal which links the plant to the river]. Over a thousand tons of natrium hydroxide were spilled from the Pancevo petrochemical complex. Nearly 1,000 tons of hydrogen chloride spilled from Pancevo into the Danube River” (Michel Chossudovsky, NATO Willfully Triggered an Environmental Catastrophe In Yugoslavia, Global Research, 11 April 2004)

A ‘smart bomb’ hit this container with perfect accuracy. (Pancevo petrochemical complex ( ©Michel Chossudovsky, March 2000 )

The container on the right was targeted by NATO because it was full of highly carcinogenic VCM ( © Michel Chossudovsky, March 2000 )

See Michel Chossudovsky, NATO Willfully Triggered an Environmental Catastrophe In Yugoslavia, Global Research, 11 April 2004

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