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Posts Tagged ‘Muammar al-Gaddafi’

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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Gaddafi, Lies and Video Tape: Libya and the Rumor Mill

Posted by Admin on May 15, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/time/20110514/wl_time/08599207152300;_ylt=Ar_gdLahkMDjCxsglLEGEilvaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJtMjUxODRmBGFzc2V0A3RpbWUvMjAxMTA1MTQvMDg1OTkyMDcxNTIzMDAEcG9zAzI5BHNlYwN5bl9hcnRpY2xlX3N1bW1hcnlfbGlzdARzbGsDZ2FkZGFmaWxpZXNh

Truth, as they say, is the first casualty of war. Yet even by those measures, the three-month Libyan conflict has brought a wealth of rumors.

Just five days after the revolt erupted in Benghazi, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that Gaddafi was headed to Venezuela. His remarks sparked a media frenzy, with journalists converging on Caracas to await Gaddafi’s arrival in exile. Three days later, on Feb. 24, commodities traders said that oil and gold prices had dropped due to rumors that Gaddafi had been injured. Oil prices dropped again on March 7, after rumors that Gaddafi was scrambling to negotiate an exile deal for himself. And on March 21, days after Western fighter jets began bombing Tripoli, a German newspaper reported that a rocket attack had killed Gaddafi’s son Khamis, whose military brigade has led the assault against Libyan rebels. So far, none of the rumors have proved true. (See TIME’s exclusive photos on the ground in Tripoli.)

The latest tale surfaced last Friday, when Italy’s Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told an Italian reporter that Muammar Gaddafi had fled Tripoli after being wounded in a NATO air strike on his compound the day before. Frattini said he heard the information from Tripoli’s Catholic Bishop Giovanni Martinelli, a Libyan-born Italian with close sources across the capital, thanks to his decades in the country. The Bishop, said Frattini, had said that “international pressure has apparently provoked a decision by Gaddafi to seek refuge in a safer place.”

The rumor lit up Twitter feeds and led to a few celebrations – premature ones. Within hours, Gaddafi went on state-run Libyan Television to tell his supporters that he was still alive, and to vow to survive the NATO campaign. “I live where you cannot reach and cannot kill me – in the hearts of millions of people,” Gaddafi said in a defiant challenge to the coalition. Bishop Martinelli denied the story Frattini attributed to him, telling a French radio station on Saturday that “I’ve never said he [Gaddafi] was injured or had left Tripoli.” (Watch Libya’s ragtag rebels in action.)

The speech included no video. An unnamed regime official told the Guardian newspaper on Saturday that Gaddafi was worried that video footage could help NATO bombers to pinpoint his exact whereabouts. Gaddafi’s statement on Friday was a stark contrast to his wartime television appearances, where he has summoned television crews to film him giving thundering diatribes against the rebels and Western governments. And unlike those hours-long speeches, he spoke for just 90 seconds, igniting speculation among rebel and exile groups that Gaddafi had indeed gone to ground.

Wounded or not, Gaddafi may soon have a legal reason to be out of sight. On Saturday, the International Criminal Court‘s prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo told a Spanish newspaper that he would seek arrest warrants for Gaddafi, his son Saif al-Islam, and his intelligence chief Abdullah Senoussi, when he goes before a judges’ panel in The Hague on Monday. If the warrants are issued, the three men would face extradition orders to stand trial in Holland, for having ordered security forces to open fire on unarmed demonstrators in Benghazi in mid-February. U.N. investigators claim that between 400 and 600 Libyans were killed in the first days of the revolt, before the rebels took up weapons, transforming the protest movement into a civil war.

Bringing Gaddafi and company to justice is going to be a tall order. But a warrant and NATO bombs are enough reasons for anyone to go into hiding.

See TIME’s photos of Gaddafi’s Tripoli.

See TIME’s special report “The Middle East in Revolt.”

View this article on Time.com

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Libyan forces pound Misrata, 1,000 evacuated by sea

Posted by Admin on April 18, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110418/wl_nm/us_libya

By Michael Georgy Michael Georgy 59 mins ago

BENGHAZI, Libya (Reuters) – A chartered ship evacuated nearly 1,000 foreign workers and wounded Libyans from Misrata on Monday as government artillery bombarded the besieged city that now symbolizes the struggle against Muammar Gaddafi‘s rule.

“We wanted to be able to take more people out but it was not possible,” said Jeremy Haslam, who led the International Organization for Migration (IOM) rescue mission.

“Although the exchange of fire subsided while we were boarding … we had a very limited time to get the migrants and Libyans on board the ship and then leave.”

A rebel spokesman said four civilians were killed and five wounded by government shellfire which pounded Misrata for a fifth day on Monday. He raised Sunday’s death toll to 25, mostly civilians, because several of the wounded had died, and said about 100 had been wounded.

Libya’s third-largest city, Misrata is the rebels’ main stronghold in the west and has been under siege by pro-Gaddafi forces for the past seven weeks. Evacuees say conditions there are becoming increasingly desperate and hundreds of civilians are believed to have been killed.

“The Gaddafi forces are shelling Misrata now. They are firing rockets and artillery rounds on the eastern side — the Nakl el Theqeel (road) and the residential areas around it,” Abdubasset Abu Mzeireq said on Monday morning.

The Ionian Spirit steamed out of Misrata carrying 971 people, most of them weak and dehydrated migrants mainly from Ghana, the Philippines and Ukraine, heading for the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in eastern Libya.

It was second vessel chartered by the IOM, which took out nearly 1,200 migrants from Misrata last Friday.

Among the rescued group were 100 Libyans, including a child shot in the face, the IOM said in a statement.

“We have a very, very small window to get everyone out. We do not have the luxury of having days, but hours,” said IOM Middle East representative Pasquale Lupoli.

“Every hour counts and the migrants still in Misrata cannot survive much longer like this.”

Pro-Gaddafi forces have also kept up an offensive on the rebels’ eastern frontline outpost of Ajdabiyah, which rebels want to use as a staging post to retake the oil port of Brega, 50 miles to the west.

One witness said he saw around a dozen rockets land near the western entrance to Ajdabiyah on Sunday and many fighters fled as explosions boomed across the town.

Sunday marked a month since the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution authorizing force to protect civilians in Libya, leading to an international air campaign.

Despite NATO air strikes against Gaddafi’s armor, rebels have been unable to hold gains in weeks of back-and-forth fighting over the coastal towns in eastern Libya.

With NATO troops bogged down in Afghanistan, Western countries have ruled out sending ground troops, a position reinforced by the British prime minister on Sunday.

“What we’ve said is there is no question of invasion or an occupation — this is not about Britain putting boots on the ground,” David Cameron told Sky News in an interview.

Scores of volunteer fighters and civilian cars carrying men, women and children on Sunday streamed east from Ajdabiyah up the coast road toward Benghazi, where the popular revolt against Gaddafi’s 41-year rule began in earnest on February 17.

The United States, France and Britain said last week they would not stop bombing Gaddafi’s forces until he left power, although when or if that would happen was unclear.

The rebels pushed hundreds of kilometers toward the capital Tripoli in late March after foreign warplanes began bombing Gaddafi’s positions to protect civilians, but proved unable to hold territory and were pushed back as far as Ajdabiyah.

JUST LIKE IRAQ?

In Tripoli, Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, said in an interview that the world had gone to war with Libya based on nothing more than rumor and propaganda.

“The biggest issue is the terrorists and the armed militia,” Saif Gaddafi told the Washington Post. “Once we get rid of them, everything will be solved.”

Government forces were hunting down “terrorists” in Misrata just as American forces did in Fallujah in Iraq.

“It’s exactly the same thing. I am not going to accept it, that the Libyan army killed civilians. This didn’t happen. It will never happen,” he said.

Once they were beaten, it would be time to talk of national reconciliation and democracy under a new constitution that would reduce his father’s role to a symbolic one, the Post quoted Saif Gaddafi as saying.

The London-educated son was once seen as a potential reformer but his comments indicated that Gaddafi was in no mood to compromise despite the international pressure. The rebels have rejected any solution that does not remove Gaddafi and his family from power.

The U.N. humanitarian affairs chief, Valerie Amos, speaking in Benghazi after a visit to Tripoli, said the government had given her no guarantees regarding her call for an overall cessation of hostilities to help the relief effort.

She also said she was extremely worried about the situation in Misrata. “No one has any sense of the depth and scale of what is happening there,” she said.”

(Additional reporting by Ashraf Fahim in Benghazi, Mussab Al-Khairalla in Tripoli, Mariam Karoumy in Beirut, Sami Aboudi in Cairo and Hamid Ould Ahmed in Algiers; Writing by Angus MacSwan, editing by Tim Pearce)

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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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NATO general: ‘We’re doing a great job’ in Libya

Posted by Admin on April 12, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110412/ap_on_re_eu/libya_diplomacy;_ylt=AqKenJswHYuJzvqlFth6Hh9vaA8F;_ylu=X3oDMTJrNm03bm42BGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwNDEyL2xpYnlhX2RpcGxvbWFjeQRwb3MDMQRzZWMDeW5fYXJ0aWNsZV9zdW1tYXJ5X2xpc3QEc2xrA25hdG9nZW5lcmFsdw–

A wounded rebel fighter is carried away toa hospital on the outskirts of Ajdabiya, Libya.

1 hr 13 mins ago

BRUSSELS — A NATO general is rejecting French criticism of the operation in Libya, saying the alliance is performing well and protecting civilians.

France’s foreign minister said earlier Tuesday that NATO needed to do more to take out the heavy weaponry that has repeatedly checked the advances of opposition forces. Alain Juppe told France-Info radio, “NATO has to play its role in full.”

Dutch Brig. Gen. Mark Van Uhm says the alliance was successful in enforcing an arms embargo, patrolling a no fly zone and protecting civilians.

Van Uhm says, “I think with the assets we have, we’re doing a great job.”

NATO took over command of the operation over Libya from the U.S. on March 31.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

LONDON (AP) — Libya’s former Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa is traveling to Doha to share his insight on the workings of Moammar Gadhafi‘s inner circle, British government officials said Tuesday, as NATO searches for solutions following weeks of international airstrikes.

Koussa has been asked to attend the conference on Libya being held in Qatar as a valuable Gadhafi insider, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. News of his trip came as France’s foreign minister said NATO needed to do more to take out the heavy weaponry that has repeatedly checked the advances of opposition forces.

“NATO has to play its role in full,” Alain Juppe told France-Info radio.

Alliance officials in Brussels did not immediately respond to the criticism, but France’s frustration with the developing stalemate on the ground, where Libyan rebels have struggled to capitalize on Western air attacks, has been echoed across Western capitals.

British government officials say they hope that Koussa’s trip to Doha, where Arab and Western leaders are meeting to chart the way forward on Libya, will help give participants a better idea of how to force Gadhafi out of office.

“He’s a Gadhafi insider. He may be able to offer solutions where others are falling short,” one of the officials said, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

In a statement, Britain’s Foreign Office confirmed that Koussa was “traveling today to Doha to meet with the Qatari government,” as well as Libyan rebel officials, adding that Koussa was “a free individual, who can travel to and from the U.K. as he wishes.”

Koussa had been held at a safehouse since he fled to Britain late last month, but agents from Britain’s external intelligence agency MI6 stopped questioning Koussa last week, according to the official. Koussa had been staying in a safehouse until late Monday night, according to Noman Benotman, an ex-member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group and relative of Koussa who has been in regular contact with the former foreign minister since he fled to Britain.

Although Koussa was provided with legal advice, Benotman said he believed he had “cleared most of the legal hurdles in the U.K.” surrounding his alleged involvement in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing and arming the Irish Republican Army.

Meanwhile France and Britain sent out conflicting signals about the need to provide succor to the rebel-held city of Misrata, which has been subjected to weeks of punishing bombardment by Gadhafi forces. Juppe said in his interview that the EU had to do more to get humanitarian aid to Misrata, but British Foreign Secretary William Hague told reporters that aid was still getting through.

Speaking ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg, Hague said the aid already delivered there did not need any military backing so far.

“Humanitarian assistance is getting through to Libya, including to Misrata. That, so far, has not needed military assistance to deliver it,” Hague said.

The European Union said over the weekend it is ready to launch a humanitarian mission in Misrata soon, with possible military support, if it gets the necessary backing from the U.N.

Meanwhile, IHH, an Islamic aid group in Turkey, said it will send an aid ship to Misrata on Wednesday, carrying food, powdered milk, infant formula, medicines and a mobile health clinic.

The IHH has a self-declared mission to assist Muslims in the region. It deployed dozens of activists, including doctors, two days after the Libyan uprising began in February and established a tent city and a soup kitchen at the border crossing with Tunisia.

Last year, Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists, including one American dual national, in a raid on Mavi Marmara, an IHH-sponsored ship that was trying to breach Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip carrying aid supplies.

The soldiers said they opened fire after coming under attack by a mob of activists wielding clubs, axes and metal rods. The activists said they were defending themselves.

Angela Charlton in Paris, Raf Casert in Luxembourg and Selcan Hacaoglu in Turkey contributed to this report.

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Gaddafi envoy in Britain for secret talks

Posted by Admin on April 10, 2011

http://www.headlinenewsbureau.com/siterun_data/news/politics/docdece502d734d5968f88f91f07bac595b.html

Exclusive: Contact with senior aide believed to be one of a number between Libyan officials and west amid signs regime may be looking for exit strategy All today’s developments in Libya Libyan fixer’s visit to London may show sons want way out Those who have defected – and those who still support Gaddafi

Colonel Gaddafi‘s regime has sent one of its most trusted envoys to London for confidential talks with British officials, the Guardian can reveal.

Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, visited London in recent days, British government sources familiar with the meeting have confirmed. The contacts with Ismail are believed to have been one of a number between Libyan officials and the west in the last fortnight , amid signs that the regime may be looking for an exit strategy.

Disclosure of Ismail’s visit comes in the immediate aftermath of the defection to Britain of Moussa Koussa, Libya’s foreign minister and its former external intelligence head, who has been Britain’s main conduit to the Gaddafi regime since the early 1990s.

A team led by the British ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, and MI6 officers embarked on a lengthy debriefing of Koussa at a safe house after he flew into Farnborough airport on Wednesday night from Tunisia. Government sources said the questioning would take time because Koussa’s state of mind was “delicate” after he left his family in Libya.

The Foreign Office has declined “to provide a running commentary” on contacts with Ismail or other regime officials. But news of the meeting comes amid mounting speculation that Gaddafi’s sons, foremost among them Saif al-Islam, Saadi and Mutassim, are anxious to talk. “There has been increasing evidence recently that the sons want a way out,” said a western diplomatic source.

Although he has little public profile in Libya or internationally, Ismail is recognised by diplomats as being a key fixer and representative for Saif al-Islam. According to cables published by WikiLeaks, Ismail represented Libya’s government in arms purchase negotiations and as an interlocutor on military and political issues.

“The message that was delivered to him is that Gaddafi has to go, and that there will be accountability for crimes committed at the international criminal court,” a Foreign Office spokesman told the Guardian , declining to elaborate on what else may have been discussed.

Some aides working for Gaddafi’s sons, however, have made it clear that it may be necessary to sideline their father and explore exit strategies to prevent the country descending into anarchy.

One idea the sons have reportedly suggested – which the Guardian has been unable to corroborate – is that Gaddafi give up real power. Mutassim, presently the country’s national security adviser, would become president of an interim national unity government which would include the opposition. It is an idea, however, unlikely to find support among the rebels or the international community who are demanding Gaddafi’s removal.

The revelation that contacts between Britain and a key Gaddafi loyalist had taken place came as David Cameron hailed the defection of Koussa as a sign the regime was crumbling. “It tells a compelling story of the desperation and the fear right at the very top of the crumbling and rotten Gaddafi regime,” he said.

Ministers regard Koussa’s move to abandon his family as a sign of the magnitude of his decision. “Moussa Koussa is very worried about his family,” one source said. “But he did this because he felt it was the best way of bringing down Gaddafi.”

Britain learned that Koussa wanted to defect when he made contact from Tunisia. He had made his way out of Libya in a convoy of cars after announcing he was going on a diplomatic mission to visit the new government in Tunis.

It was also reported that Ali Abdussalam Treki, a senior Libyan diplomat, declined to take up his appointment by Gaddafi as UN ambassador, condemning the “spilling of blood”. Officials were checking reports that Tarek Khalid Ibrahim, the deputy head of mission in London, is also defecting.

The prime minister insisted that no deal had been struck with Koussa and that he would not be offered immunity from prosecution. “Let me be clear, Moussa Koussa is not being granted immunity. There is no deal of that kind,” Cameron said. Within hours of his arrival in Britain, Scottish prosecutors asked to interview Koussa about the 1988 Lockerbie bombing. The Crown Office in Edinburgh has said that it is formally asking for its prosecutors and police detectives to question him.

But government sources indicated that Britain does not believe Koussa was involved. He was at the heart of Britain’s rapprochement with Libya, which started when Tripoli abandoned its support for the IRA in the early 1990s.

He was instrumental in persuading Gaddafi to abandon his weapons of mass destruction programme in 2003. One source said: “Nobody is saying this guy was a saint, because he was a key Gaddafi lieutenant who was kicked out of Britain in 1980 for making threats to kill Libyan dissidents. But this is the guy who persuaded Gaddafi to abandon his WMD programme. He no doubt has useful and interesting things to say about Lockerbie, but it doesn’t seem he said ‘go and do it’.”

However there is unease among Tories about Britain’s involvement in Libya. Underlining those concerns, Boris Johnson, the London mayor, told BBC Question Time that a continued stalemate in Libya could “have terrible consequences”. Johnson said; “I do worry that if we get into a stalemate; and if, frankly, the rebels don’t seem to be making the progress that we would like, we have to be brave, to say to ourselves that our policy is not working, and encourage the Arabs themselves to take leadership in all of this.”

William Hague, the foreign secretary, said he had a sense that Koussa was deeply unhappy with Gaddafi when they spoke last Friday. “One of the things I gathered between the lines in my telephone calls with him, although he of course had to read out the scripts of the regime, was that he was very distressed and dissatisfied by the situation there,” Hague said.

Libya Middle East Arab and Middle East unrest Muammar Gaddafi Foreign policy Peter Beaumont Nicholas Watt Severin Carrell Guardian News & Media Limited 2011

 

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Special report: The West’s unwanted war in Libya

Posted by Admin on April 1, 2011

Flag-map of Kingdom of Libya

Flag Map of Kingdom of Libya

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110401/wl_nm/us_libya_decisions4

By Paul Taylor – Fri Apr 1, 4:27 am ET

PARIS (Reuters) – It is a war that Barack Obama didn’t want, David Cameron didn’t need, Angela Merkel couldn’t cope with and Silvio Berlusconi dreaded.

Only Nicolas Sarkozy saw the popular revolt that began in Libya on February 15 as an opportunity for political and diplomatic redemption. Whether the French president‘s energetic leadership of an international coalition to protect the Libyan people from Muammar Gaddafi will be enough to revive his sagging domestic fortunes in next year’s election is highly uncertain.

But by pushing for military strikes that he hopes might repair France’s reputation in the Arab world, Sarkozy helped shape what type of war it would be. The road to Western military intervention was paved with mutual suspicion, fears of another quagmire in a Muslim country and doubts about the largely unknown ragtag Libyan opposition with which the West has thrown in its lot.

That will make it harder to hold together an uneasy coalition of Americans, Europeans and Arabs, the longer Gaddafi holds out. Almost two weeks into the air campaign, Western policymakers fret about the risk of a stray bomb hitting a hospital or an orphanage, or of the conflict sliding into a prolonged stalemate.

There is no doubt the outcome in Tripoli will have a bearing on the fate of the popular movement for change across the Arab world. But because this war was born in Paris it will also have consequences for Europe.

“It’s high time that Europeans stopped exporting their own responsibilities to Washington,” says Nick Witney, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations. “If the West fails in Libya, it will be primarily a European failure.”

A FRENCH FIASCO

When the first Arab pro-democracy uprisings shook the thrones of aging autocrats in Tunisia and Egypt in January, France had got itself on the wrong side of history.

Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie had enjoyed a winter holiday in Tunisia, a former French colony, oblivious to the rising revolt. She and her family had taken free flights on the private jet of a businessman close to President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, and then publicly offered the government French assistance with riot control just a few days before Ben Ali was ousted by popular protests.

Worse was to come. It turned out that French Prime Minister Francois Fillon had spent his Christmas vacation up the Nile as the guest of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, the next autocrat in the Arab democracy movement’s firing line, while Sarkozy and his wife Carla had soaked up the winter sunshine in Morocco, another former French territory ruled by a barely more liberal divine-right monarch.

Television stations were re-running embarrassing footage of the president giving Gaddafi a red-carpet welcome in Paris in 2007, when Libya’s “brother leader” planted his tent in the grounds of the Hotel de Marigny state guest house across the road from the Elysee presidential palace.

On February 27, a few days after Libyan rebels hoisted the pre-Gaddafi tricolor flag defiantly in Benghazi, Sarkozy fired his foreign minister. In a speech announcing the appointment of Alain Juppe as her successor, Sarkozy cited the need to adapt France’s foreign and security policy to the new situation created by the Arab uprisings. “This is an historic change,” he said. “We must not be afraid of it. We must have one sole aim: to accompany, support and help the people who have chosen freedom.”

MAN IN THE WHITE SHIRT

Yet the international air campaign against Gaddafi’s forces might never have happened without the self-appointed activism of French public intellectual Bernard-Henri Levy, a left-leaning philosopher and talk-show groupie, who lobbied Sarkozy to take up the cause of Libya’s pro-democracy rebels.

Libya was the latest of a string of international causes that the libertarian icon with his unbuttoned white designer shirts and flowing mane of greying hair has championed over the last two decades after Bosnian Muslims, Algerian secularists, Afghan rebels and Georgia’s side in the conflict with Russia. Levy went to meet the Libyan rebels and telephoned Sarkozy from Benghazi in early March.

“I’d like to bring you the Libyan Massouds,” Levy says he told the president, comparing the anti-Gaddafi opposition with former Afghan warlord Ahmad Shah Massoud, who fought against the Islamist Taliban before being assassinated. “As Gaddafi only clings on through violence, I think he’ll collapse,” the philosopher told Reuters in an interview.

On March 10, Levy accompanied two envoys of the Libyan Transitional Council to Sarkozy’s office. To their surprise and to the consternation of France’s allies, the president recognized the council as the “legitimate representative of the Libyan people” and told them he favored not only establishing a no-fly zone to protect them but also carrying out “limited targeted strikes” against Gaddafi’s forces. In doing so without consultation on the eve of a European Union summit called to discuss Libya, Sarkozy upstaged Washington, which was still debating what to do, embarrassed London, which wanted broad support for a no-fly zone, and infuriated Berlin, France’s closest European partner. He also stunned his own foreign minister, who learned about the decision to recognize the opposition from a news agency dispatch, aides said, while in Brussels trying to coax the EU into backing a no-fly zone.

“Quite a lot of members of the European Council were irritated to discover that France had recognized the Libyan opposition council and the Elysee was talking of targeted strikes,” a senior European diplomat said. Across the Channel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, aware of the deep unpopularity of the Iraq war, had turned his back on Tony Blair’s doctrine of liberal interventionism when he took office in 2010. But after facing criticism over the slow evacuation of British nationals from Libya and a trade-promotion trip to the Gulf in the midst of the Arab uprisings, he overruled cabinet skeptics, military doubters and critics among his own Conservative lawmakers to join Sarkozy in campaigning for military action. However, Cameron sought to reassure parliament that he was not entering an Iraq-style open-ended military commitment.

“This is different to Iraq. This is not going into a country, knocking over its government and then owning and being responsible for everything that happens subsequently,” he said. In Britain, as in France, the government won bipartisan support for intervention.

GERMANY MISSING IN ACTION

In Germany, on the other hand, the Libyan uprising was an unwelcome distraction from domestic politics. It played directly into the campaign for regional elections in Baden-Wuerttemberg, a south-western state which Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats had governed since 1953.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, leader of the Free Democrats, the liberal junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, tried to surf on pacifist public opinion by opposing military action. Polls showed two-thirds of voters opposed German involvement in Libya, a country where Nazi Germany’s Afrika Korps had suffered desert defeats in World War Two. Present-day Germany’s armed forces were already overstretched in Afghanistan, where some 5,000 soldiers are engaged in an unpopular long-term mission. Westerwelle made it impossible for Merkel to support a no-fly zone, even without participating. He publicly criticized the Franco-British proposal for a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force to prevent Gaddafi using his air force against Libyan civilians. Merkel said she was skeptical. The Germans prevented a March 11 EU summit from making any call for a no-fly zone, much to the frustration of the French and British.

Relations between France’s Juppe and Westerwelle deteriorated further the following week when Germany prevented foreign ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized powers from calling for a no-fly zone in Libya. Westerwelle told reporters: “Military intervention is not the solution. From our point of view, it is very difficult and dangerous. We do not want to get sucked into a war in North Africa. We would not like to step on a slippery slope where we all are at the end in a war.”

That argument angered allies. As the meeting broke up, a senior European diplomat tells Reuters, Juppe turned to Westerwelle and said: “Now that you have achieved everything you wanted, Gaddafi can go ahead and massacre his people.”

When the issue came to the U.N. Security Council on March 17, 10 days before the Baden-Wuerttemberg election, Germany abstained, along with Russia, China, India and Brazil, and said it would take no part in military operations.

Ironically, that stance seems to have been politically counterproductive. The center-right coalition lost the regional election anyway, and both leaders were severely criticized by German media for having isolated Germany from its western partners, including the United States. The main political beneficiaries were the ecologist Greens, seen as both anti-nuclear and anti-war.

U.S. TAKES ITS TIME

In Washington, meanwhile, President Barack Obama was, as usual, taking his time to make up his mind. Military action in Libya was the last thing the U.S. president needed, just when he was trying to extricate American troops from two unpopular wars in Muslim countries launched by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama had sought to rebuild damaged relations with the Muslim world, seen as a key driver of radicalization and terrorism against the United States. The president trod a fine line in embracing pro-democracy and reform movements in the Arab world and Iran while trying to avoid undermining vital U.S. interests in the absolute monarchies of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Gulf states. Compared to those challenges, Libya was a sideshow.

The United States had no big economic or political interests in the North African oil and gas producing state and instinctively saw it as part of Europe’s backyard. Obama had also sought to encourage allies, notably in Europe, to take more responsibility for their own security issues. Spelling out the administration’s deep reluctance to get dragged into another potential Arab quagmire, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in a farewell speech to officer cadets at the West Point military academy on March 4: “In my opinion, any future Defense secretary who advises the president to again send a big American land army into Asia or into the Middle East or Africa should ‘have his head examined’, as General (Douglas) MacArthur so delicately put it.”

Prominent U.S. foreign policy lawmakers, including Democratic Senator John Kerry and Republican Senator John McCain pressed the Obama administration in early March to impose a “no- fly” zone over Libya and explore other military options, such as bombing runways. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had said after talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Geneva on February 28 that a “no-fly” zone was “an option which we are actively considering”.

But the White House pushed back against pressure from lawmakers. “It would be premature to send a bunch of weapons to a post office box in eastern Libya,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said on March 7. “We need to not get ahead of ourselves in terms of the options we’re pursuing.”

While Carney said a no-fly zone was a serious option, other U.S. civilian and military officials cautioned that it would be difficult to enforce.

On March 10, U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper forecast in Congress that Gaddafi’s better-equipped forces would prevail in the long term, saying Gaddafi appeared to be “hunkering down for the duration”. If there was to be intervention, it had become clear, it would have to come quickly.

ARAB SPINE

U.S. officials say the key event that helped Clinton and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, persuade Obama of the need for intervention was a March 12 decision by the Arab League to ask the U.N. Security Council to declare a no-fly zone to protect the Libyan population. The Arab League’s unprecedented resolve — the organization has long been plagued by chronic divisions and a lack of spine — reflected the degree to which Gaddafi had alienated his peers, especially Saudi Arabia. When the quixotic colonel bothered to attend Arab summits, it was usually to insult the Saudi king and other veteran rulers.

The Arab League decision gave a regional seal of approval that Western nations regarded as vital for military action.

Moreover, two Arab states – Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – soon said they would participate in enforcing a no-fly zone, and a third, Lebanon, co-sponsored a United Nations resolution to authorize the use of force. Arab diplomats said Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister with presidential ambitions, played the key role in squeezing an agreement out of the closed-door meeting.

Syria, Sudan, Algeria and Yemen were all against any move to invite foreign intervention in an Arab state. But diplomats said that by couching the resolution as an appeal to the U.N. Security Council, Moussa maneuvered his way around Article VI of the Arab League’s statutes requiring that such decisions be taken unanimously. It was he who announced the outcome, saying Gaddafi’s government had lost legitimacy because of its “crimes against the Libyan people”.

The African Union, in which Gaddafi played an active but idiosyncratic role, condemned the Libyan leader’s crackdown but rejected foreign military intervention and created a panel of leaders to try to resolve the conflict through dialogue.

However, all three African states on the Security Council – South Africa, Nigeria and Gabon – voted for the resolution. France acted as if it had AU support anyway. Sarkozy invited the organization’s secretary-general, Jean Ping, to the Elysee palace for a showcase summit of coalition countries on the day military action began, and he attended, providing African political cover for the operation.

OBAMA DECIDES

Having failed to win either EU or G8 backing for a no-fly zone, and with the United States internally divided and holding back, France and Britain were in trouble in their quest for a U.N. resolution despite the Arab League support. Gaddafi’s forces had regrouped and recaptured a swathe of the western and central coastal plain, including some key oil terminals, and were advancing fast on Benghazi, a city of 700,000 and the rebels’ stronghold. If international intervention did not come within days, it would be too late. Gaddafi’s troops would be in the population centers, making surgical air strikes impossible without inflicting civilian casualties.

In the nick of time, Obama came off the fence on March 15 at a two-part meeting of his National Security Council. Hillary Clinton participated by telephone from Paris, Susan Rice by secure video link from New York. Both were deeply aware of the events of the 1990s, when Bill Clinton’s administration, in which Rice was an adviser on Africa, had failed to prevent genocide in Rwanda, and only intervened in Bosnia after the worst massacre in Europe since World War Two.

They reviewed what was at stake now. There were credible reports that Gaddafi forces were preparing to massacre the rebels. What signal would it send to Arab democrats if the West let him get away with that, and if Mubarak and Ben Ali, whose armies refused to turn their guns on the people, were overthrown while Gaddafi, who had used his airforce, tanks and artillery against civilian protesters, survived in office?

The president overruled doubters among his military and national security advisers and decided the United States would support an ambitious U.N. resolution going beyond just a no-fly zone, on the strict condition that Washington would quickly hand over leadership of the military action to its allies. “Within days, not weeks,” one participant quoted him as saying.

A senior administration official, speaking to Reuters on condition of anonymity, said the key concern was to avoid any impression that the United States was once again unilaterally bombing an Arab country. Asked what had swung Washington toward agreeing to join military action in Libya, he said: “It’s more that events were evolving and so positions had to address the change of events.”

“The key elements were the Arab League statement, the Lebanese support, co-sponsorship of the actual resolution as the Arab representative on the Security Council, a series of conversations with Arab leaders over the course of that week, leading up to the resolution. All of that convinced us that the Arab countries were fully supportive of the broad resolution that would provide the authorization necessary to protect civilians and to provide humanitarian relief, and then the (March 19) gathering in Paris, confirmed that there was support for the means necessary to carry out the resolution, namely the use of military force,” the official said.

When Rice told her French and British counterparts at the United Nations that Washington now favored a far more aggressive Security Council resolution, including air and sea strikes, they first feared a trap. Was Obama deliberately trying to provoke a Russian veto, a French official mused privately.

“I had a phone call from Susan Rice, Tuesday 8 p.m., and a phone call from Susan Rice at 11 p.m., and everything had changed in three hours,” a senior Western envoy told Reuters. “On Wednesday morning, at the (Security) Council, in a sort of totally awed silence, Susan Rice said: ‘We want to be allowed to strike Libyan forces on the ground.’ There was a sort of a bit surprised silence.”

THE VOTE

Right up to the day of the vote, when Juppe took a plane to New York to swing vital votes behind the resolution, Moscow’s attitude was uncertain. So too were the three African votes. British and French diplomats tried desperately to contact the Nigerian, South African and Gabonese ambassadors but kept being told they were in a meeting.

“There was drama right up to the last minute,” another U.N. diplomat said. That day, March 17, Clinton had just come out of a television studio in Tunis, epicenter of the first Arab democratic revolution, when she spoke to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on a secure cellphone. Lavrov, who had strongly opposed a no-fly zone when they met in Geneva on February 28 and remained skeptical when they talked again in Paris on March 14, told her Moscow would not block the resolution. The senior U.S. official denied that Washington had offered Russia trade and diplomatic benefits in return for acquiescence, as suggested by a senior non-American diplomat. However, Obama telephoned President Dimitry Medvedev the following week and reaffirmed his support for Russia’s bid to join the World Trade Organization, which U.S. ally Georgia is blocking.

China too abstained, allowing the resolution to pass with 10 votes in favor, five abstentions and none against. It authorized the use of “all necessary measures” – code for military action — to protect the civilian population but expressly ruled out a foreign occupation force in any part of Libya. The United States construes it to allow arms sales to the rebels. Most others do not.

Reuters reported exclusively on March 29 that Obama had signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces. The White House and the Central Intelligence Agency declined comment. Clinton said no decision had been taken on whether to arm the rebels.

ARAB JITTERS, COLD TURKEY

No sooner had the first cruise missiles been fired than the Arab League’s Moussa complained that the Western powers had gone beyond the U.N. resolution and caused civilian casualties. His outburst appeared mainly aimed at assuaging Arab public opinion, particularly in Egypt, and he muted his criticism after telephone calls from Paris, London and Washington.

Turkey, the leading Muslim power in NATO with big economic interests in Libya, bitterly criticized the military action in an Islamic country. The Turks were exasperated to see France, the most vociferous adversary of its EU membership bid, leading the coalition. Sarkozy, who alternated on a brief maiden visit to Ankara on February 25 between trying to sell Turkish leaders French nuclear power plants and telling them bluntly to drop their EU ambitions, further angered Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan by failing to invite Turkey to the Paris conference on Libya.

Italy, the former colonial power which had Europe’s biggest trade and investment ties with Libya, had publicly opposed military action until the last minute, but opened its air bases to coalition forces as soon as the U.N. resolution passed. However, Rome quickly demanded that NATO, in which it had a seat at the decision-making table, should take over command of the whole operation. Foreign Minister Franco Frattini threatened to take back control of the vital Italian bases unless the mission was placed under NATO.

But Turkey and France were fighting diplomatic dogfights at NATO headquarters. Ankara wanted to use its NATO veto put the handcuffs on the coalition to stop offensive operations. France wanted to keep political leadership away from the U.S.-led military alliance to avoid a hostile reaction in the Arab world.

The United States signaled its determination to hand over operational command within days, not weeks, as Obama had promised, and wanted tried-and-trusted NATO at the wheel.

It took a week of wrangling before agreement was reached for NATO to take charge of the entire military campaign. In return, France won agreement to create a “contact group” including Arab and African partners, to coordinate political efforts on Libya’s future. Turkey was assuaged by being invited to a London international conference that launched that process.

That enabled the United States to lower its profile and Obama to declare that Washington would not act alone as the world’s policeman “wherever repression occurs”. While the president promised to scale back U.S. involvement to a “supporting role”, the military statistics tell a different tale. As of March 29, the United States had fired all but 7 of the 214 cruise missiles used in the conflict and flown 1,103 sorties compared to 669 for all other allies combined. It also dropped 455 of the first 600 bombs, according to the Pentagon.

For all the showcasing of Arab involvement, only six military aircraft from Qatar had arrived in theater by March 30. They joined French air patrols but did not fly combat missions, a military source said. Sarkozy announced that the United Arab Emirates would send 12 F16 fighters , but NATO and UAE officials refused to say when they would arrive. Britain’s Cameron spoke of unspecified logistical contributions from Kuwait and Jordan. The main Arab contribution is clearly political cover rather than military assets.

CASUALTY LIST

While the duration and the outcome of the war remain uncertain, some political casualties are already visible.

Unless the conflict ends in disaster, Germany and its chancellor and foreign minister – particularly the latter – are set to emerge as losers. “I can tell you there are people in London and Paris who are asking themselves whether this Germany is the kind of country we would like to have as a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council. That’s a legitimate question which wasn’t posed before,” a senior European diplomat told Reuters. German officials brush aside such talk, saying Berlin would have the backing of its western partners and needs support from developing and emerging countries more in tune with its abstention on the Libya resolution.

Merkel has moved quickly to try to limit the damage. She attended the Paris conference and went along with an EU summit statement on March 25 welcoming the U.N. resolution on which her own government had abstained a week earlier. She also offered NATO extra help in aerial surveillance in Afghanistan to free up Western resources for the Libya campaign.

A second conspicuous casualty has been the European Union’s attempt to build a common foreign, security and Defense policy, and the official meant to personify that ambition, High Representative Catherine Ashton. Many in Paris, London, Brussels and Washington have drawn the conclusion that European Defense is an illusion, given Germany’s visceral reticence about military action. Future serious operations are more likely to be left to NATO, or to coalitions of the willing around Britain and France. By general agreement, Ashton has so far had a bad war. Despite having been among the first European officials to embrace the Arab uprisings and urge the EU to engage with democracy movements in North Africa, she angered both the British and French by airing her doubts about a no-fly zone and the Germans by subsequently welcoming the U.N. resolution. Unable to please everyone, she managed to please no one.

As for Sarkozy, whether he emerges as a hero or a reckless adventurer may depend on events beyond his control in the sands of Libya. Justin Vaisse, a Frenchman who heads the Center for the Study of the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution think-tank in Washington, detected an undertone of “Francophobia and Sarkophobia” among U.S. policy elites as the war began. “Either the war will go well, and he will look like a far-sighted, decisive leader, or it will go badly and reinforce the image of a showboating cowboy driving the world into war,” Vaisse said. The jury is still out.

(Additional reporting by Emmanuel Jarry in Paris, Arshad Mohammed, David Alexander and Mark Hosenball in Washington, David Brunnstrom in Brussels, Lou Charbonneau and Patrick Worsnip at the United Nations, Peter Apps in London, Andreas Rinke and Sabine Siebold in Berlin, Yasmine Saleh in Cairo, Simon Cameron-Moore in Istanbul and Maria Golovnina in Tripoli; writing by Paul Taylor; editing by Simon Robinson and Sara Ledwith)

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US has no plans to ‘assassinate’ Gaddafi, Obama tells lawmakers

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/us-no-plans-assassinate-gaddafi-obama-tells-lawmakers-20110325-231651-149.html

By ANI | ANI – Sat, Mar 26, 2011 11:46 AM IST

Washington, Mar 26 (ANI): US President Barack Obama has told congressional leaders that the US military would not be used to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, sources familiar with Friday’s briefing at the White House have said.

“There was a discussion of how we have other ways of regime change. It’s not our role to do anything at this point from a kinetic point of view. It is our goal for regime change, but we’re not going to do it from a kinetic point of view,” Politico quoted Maryland Representative Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, as saying.

Another source briefed on the one-hour meeting confirmed that claim, saying: “It’s not just military efforts that can force his removal.”

The president, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Mike Mullen and Gen. Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, were among the administration officials briefing lawmakers involved in the Friday meeting and conference call.

Although many lawmakers have complained against Obama’s decision to strike Libyan defenses in support of a “no-fly” zone without prior congressional approval, Ruppersberger praised Obama’s handling of the situation.

“He took decisive action. He took action that was focused, and he did it pursuant to a world coalition,” Ruppersberger added.

Earlier, Arizona senator John Mccain while supporting the President’s decision to intervene militarily in Libya, remained concerned that the current efforts might not be enough to avoid a ‘stalemate and accomplish the US objective of forcing Gaddafi to leave power’.

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Libyan rebels sweep west through key oil centers

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110327/ap_on_re_af/af_libya

By RYAN LUCAS, Associated Press Ryan Lucas, Associated Press 8 mins ago

AL-EGILA, Libya – Libyan rebels took back a key oil town and pushed westward Sunday toward the capital, seizing momentum from the international airstrikes that tipped the balance away from Moammar Gadhafi‘s military.

Brega, a main oil export terminal in eastern Libya, fell after a skirmish late Saturday and rebel forces moved swiftly west, seizing the tiny desert town of Al-Egila — a collection of houses and a gas station — on their way to the massive oil refining complex of Ras Lanouf.

“There was no resistance. Gadhafi’s forces just melted away,” said Suleiman Ibrahim, a 31-year-old volunteer, sitting in the back of a pickup truck. “This couldn’t have happened without NATO. They gave us big support.” He said that rebels had already reached Ras Lanouf.

Ras Lanouf and Brega combined would be responsible for a large chunk of Libya’s 1.5 million barrels of daily exports, which have all but stopped since the uprising that began Feb. 15 and was inspired by the toppling of governments in Tunisia and Egypt.

“As they move round the coast, of course, the rebels will increasingly control the exit points of Libya’s oil,” British Defense Secretary Liam Fox told the BBC. “That will produce a very dynamic and a very different equilibrium inside Libya. How that will play out in terms of public opinion and the Gadhafi regime remains to be seen.”

The Gadhafi regime on Saturday acknowledged the airstrikes had forced its troops to retreat and accused international forces of choosing sides.

“This is the objective of the coalition now, it is not to protect civilians because now they are directly fighting against the armed forces,” Khaled Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said in the capital, Tripoli. “They are trying to push the country to the brink of a civil war.”

Fox denied that the international force hoped to oust Gadhafi: “Losing Gadhafi is an aspiration, it is not part of the U.N. resolution.”

The U.N. Security Council authorized the operation to protect Libyan civilians after Gadhafi launched attacks against anti-government protesters who demanded that he step down after 42 years in power. The airstrikes have crippled Gadhafi’s forces, but rebel advances have also foundered, and the two sides have been at stalemate in key cities.

The rebel turnaround is a boost for President Barack Obama, who has faced complaints from lawmakers from both parties that he has not sought their input about the U.S. role in the conflict or explained with enough clarity about the American goals and exit strategy. Obama was expected to give a speech to the nation Monday.

“We’re succeeding in our mission,” Obama said in a radio and Internet address on Saturday. “So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians — innocent men, women and children — have been saved.”

Pentagon officials say that forces loyal to Gadhafi are a potent threat to civilians. And they are looking at plans to expand the firepower and airborne surveillance systems in the military campaign, including using the Air Force’s AC-130 gunship armed with cannons that shoot from the side doors, as well as helicopters and drones.

Fox, the British foreign minister, ruled out supplying arms to the rebels. “We are not arming the rebels, we are not planning to arm the rebels,” he said.

NATO’s top decision-making body meets Sunday to expand its enforcement of the no-fly zone to include airstrikes against Libyan ground targets. Washington has been eager to hand off responsibility to NATO, which is expected to take command Sunday of the no-fly zone mission.

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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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US- NATO Bombings continue as hundreds die and thousands flee

Posted by Admin on March 27, 2011

Global Research, March 27, 2011

Libyan operation continues as hundreds die and thousands flee

Coalition forces leave Colonel Gaddafi‘s air defense in tatters, but on the ground tensions remain high; according to reports, at least 114 people have been killed in the first four days of the operation while 300,000 have already fled the country.

Saturday was marked by the rebels gaining control over Ajdabiya – a key gateway to the oil reserves in the country’s east. Unconfirmed reports also claim the rebels have advanced beyond Ajdabiya, toward the town of Brega.

The victory marks the first major turnaround in the uprising, and many believe it could not have been achieved without the international air strikes on Gaddafi’s troops.

On Friday, British and French planes destroyed Gaddafi’s artillery battery and armored vehicles located in and around Ajdabiya.

Saturday, on the outskirts of Misrata, allied aviation initiated an attack on forces loyal to Colonel Gaddafi that had been shelling the city occupied by rebels.

Rebel forces had been struggling for over a week to recapture some of the towns in the East that they had lost. But the road to Tripoli is lined with government forces, and the fight on the ground is intense.

The US military command claims allied forces are currently focusing on ruining the communications and supply lines between Gaddafi’s military units, not bombing the cities themselves and risking the lives of civilians, AP reports.

The rebel’s political front – the Transitional National Council – addressed a letter to the French government, thanking its military forces for their help in containing the loyalist forces.

The people of Libya consider you their liberators,” the statement reads.

The letter further relays the rebels’ desire to carry on the fight without international help.

However, the question of civilian deaths on the ground remains a major issue. Libyan state television is continuously reporting that the number of civilian deaths stands at more than a hundred, while people in the capital city remain particularly worried.

In Tripoli people woke up to fresh explosions amid fears of more bloodshed on Saturday, as three explosions rocked the area in and around the suburbs. For the third straight night the suburb of Tajura was hit. Also, the town of Zliten which is 160 kilometers to the East of Tripoli was hit with air strikes. The coalition air force insists that it is targeting important facilities of Gaddafi’s air force.­

At a short overnight press conference, the Libyan government’s spokesperson announced that at least 114 people have been killed and 445 injured in the first four days of the coalition’s week long series of air strikes. It was unclear whether these deaths and injuries were actually civilians or fighters, and ascertaining exactly who is who on the casualty list remains a problem. The people are frightened of increasing death tolls among civilians and soldiers alike.

The American military has announced that the coalition has fired 16 Tomahawk missiles and flown 153 air sorties in the last 24 hours.

NATO to take over coalition leadership

NATO is gearing up to replace the US in leading the campaign in Libya. It has been agreed that the alliance would take control of the mission on Sunday night. The fundamental question as NATO moves forward to lead the coalition is whether or not its involvement will result in an increase of casualties.

Russia’s top general, Nikolay Makarov, said NATO might even go so far as to resort to the use of ground troops if it aims to overthrow Gaddafi in the end, because the coalition’s “aerial operation seems to have yielded no results.”

Meanwhile, coalition forces have supplied NATO with an additional 25 warships and submarines, as well as 50 fighter jets to help enforce a naval blockade and prevent weapons and mercenaries from entering Libya.

The operation, dubbed “Unified Protector”, was launched on Wednesday and involves the UK, US, Canada, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Netherlands and Greece.

“The NATO ships will be located in international waters, without entering the territorial waters of Libya. Although the alliance cannot cut off all the roads to this country, it can block the most direct and obvious one – the delivery of weapons to the country by sea,” ITAR Tass news agency cited the statement.

Fabrizio Tassinari from the Danish Institute for International Studies says the operation in Libya is proving to be another key test for the EU and NATO, and there is no sign of how it will conclude.

“Definitely there is no clear understanding of what the endgame of this mission is supposed to be,” he says. “The idea of ground troops which has been voiced by some of the coalition forces is not something that was mentioned in the UN Resolution [1973]. So clearly that would be a step beyond what some of the parties, especially from the Arab world would like to see.”

“Also, because if the idea of ground troops becomes actual, the objective would become regime change rather than protecting the civilian population. In a way you can argue – if ground troops are not considered, the only other option by enforcing the no-fly zone is really to try and give the opposition a fair chance to overthrow Gaddafi by their own means. So they are in a whole different ball game as to looking at various options of supporting the opposition. But clearly ‘ground troops’ is not one of them, and I think the Libyan opposition or whoever is speaking for them at the moment is has been quite clear about that. They do not want Western ground troops on the ground,” Tassinari concluded.

Thousands of refugees flee the country every day

Meanwhile, the humanitarian situation in the region has not improved much so far.

Tens of thousands of people are continuing to flee the country each day, looking for safety and better living conditions.

According to the UN, over 300,000 people have already left the country.

The main flow of refugees is occurring on Libya’s western border with Tunisia, however many people have also escaped to Egypt.

People want to stay in bordering countries to see what happens next, waiting for things to settle down.

Families fleeing from Benghazi say the humanitarian situation in the city is critical and claim they decided to leave not because their homes had been destroyed, but simply because they did not feel safe anymore.

Security has been strengthened in many Egyptian cities on the border with Libya, with soldiers and tanks patrolling the streets and providing law and order. It remains unclear whether the army’s presence is related to the military operation in Libya or the political unrest in Egypt itself.

Also, while several weeks ago the Libyan-Egyptian border was being enforced only by the Egyptian side, now it is being patrolled by both countries; there are representatives of the so-called National Police on the Libyan side.

Thus, it may seem that the opposition is gaining some control over the country and slowly implementing some discipline.

However, judging by the number of refugees, the situation within the country has not improved much and the goal of the military operation, which claimed making the lives of the civilians safer as its objective, has not yet been fulfilled.

 

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