July 28/29, 2011
extensive edits Sept. 12
From What Fount Springeth This?
The unfolding of the new libya, and its old colors of monarchy, has been painted as the natural triumph of the peoples' will against a tyrant's rule. This had just occurred in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia (and nowhere else yet), leaving everyone just knowing it was just time for change in that narrow region and, hey, who doesn't hate Gaddafi, right? Everyone who was capable joined with the masses, we believed, driven by the noblest of abstract virtues - freedom, equality, justice - perhaps unseen in such purity since the French Revolution. The old, the corrupt, and the cruel was to be swept away by crashing waves of light, it seemed back around March 1.
By now we can see this wasn't quite right (well, most of us can). In fact the reality on the ground seems artificially murky, brutal, deceptive, and highly troubling. And the first and major steps towards enforcing any new Libya - the help of powerful outsiders - looks more like a well-planned soft coup than a mass uprising.
The uprising originated, to some extent anyway, with Libyans - but only a select few visionary ones operating within Libya, in Paris, and especially in New York. These pioneers worked largely through the United Nations, but in an unusual personal, not national capacity. I'm no expert on international law, but I suspect what happened here was illegal.
This fascinating but ignored line of thought is the cornerstone of an impressive recent article I read and will cite throughout this one: The Role of the UN Security Council in Unleashing an Illegal War against Libya, by Ronda Hauben, published on July 20 by the Center for Research on Gloablization.
The article starts with the the official explanation why the UN's Security Council chose to take up the issue of Libya: a member state of the Security Council, Lebanon, had brought the issue before them in late February. This was followed by a second from the Arab League, and the white people countries well-known for loathing Gaddafi simply followed up on that. No euro-Imperialism there, most presume.
But the Arab League has its own conflicts of interest and reasons to dislike the Libyan regime, at least in the alleged 2003 Gaddafi plot to kill Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah (a decent starter source, NYT, on that strange chapter). There are also supposed rivalries over religious influence, wiath Gaddafi accused of wanting to supplant the medieval monarchy and make Libya the new center of Islam (can't find a handy link for that).
And Qatar, a firm non-european support for the rebellion against Gaddafi in every conceivable way, through the Arab League and on their own, has some kind of previous beef with the Colonel that's apparently quite serious. According to recently published reports, based on files found in Tripoli, British authorities had agreed to offer special protection to Seif al-Islam Gaddafi from a possible 2002 plot to kill him. According to Muzaffar Iqbal, writing for Pakistan's The News (International), the plot might be disinformation, but was linked to "Qatar’s interior minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Khalid al-Thani," who "was also accused of sheltering “terrorists” at his farm by none other Richard Clarke, the former White House counterterrorism director, who considered his ministerial post a “direct and serious threat to US forces present in Qatar.""
|The Arab League - Arabs! - approved|
"no fly" at the UN. Photo: Reuters,
via the Sofia Echo
And as the UK Guardian noted, Lebanon also has its beef with the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, in the form of a long-dead Shia cleric allegedly killed and buried - or alive? - inside Libya. By the sound of it, this was well-played on by rumor-spinning rebel schemers and helped prod things along.
Along with a hasty, poorly-attended, and still far from unanimous vote, the Arab League - Arabs! - approved a "no fly zone," and thus provided a fig leaf for this open door to imperialist bombardment of Muslims which they later - limply - protested for a couple of days.
The "hate Gaddafi" club - which the regime had clearly allowed grow too large - put themselves in charge of writing Libya's future. The "screw Gaddafi" and "oh well, what can you expect?" clubs - also too large - apparently just let them do it, with nothing more severe than abstention.
The Libyan Invite I: Dabbashi
But even with the troubling grudges considered, this telling obscures an earlier and shadier genesis yet, Hauben argues, also from within the Arab world.
It was not a Security Council member nation which started this process. Nor was it the Arab League. Rather it was a party that one could argue had no legitimate basis to speak at the United Nations, especially not to the Security Council.Mr. Dabbashi seems to be the second in charge of the mission to the UN, normally. The mission was actually headed by Abdel Rahman Shalgham, the Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (Libya's formal title). Why Shalgham's Chargé d’Affaires was able to have such leverage isn't clear to me; elsewhere Dabbashi is also described as the "Deputy Ambassador," so perhaps he was in charge at the moment, February 21 to be precise, for some legitimate reason.
This party, was, by that time, the former Chargé d’Affaires to the United Nations for the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya [Libya], Ibrahim Dabbashi. Dabbashi had taken the unusual actions of first announcing to the press that he had defected from representing the government of Libya at the UN, and then requesting an emergency meeting of the Security Council about the situation in Libya.
His request to the Security Council began a process which, in less than a week, resulted in passing the stringent sanctions against Libya and the referral of its officials to the ICC that are included in SC Resolution 1970. SC Resolution 1970 then set the stage for SC Resolution 1973 passed three weeks later which authorized military action against Libya.
Either way, the underling defected on day six of greatly misunderstood "protests", rejecting the post he filled ... or, rather, not doing that. As Hauben put it "while an appropriate course for a defecting government official from a country would be to resign his official position as a Deputy Ambassador for Libya at the United Nations, this is not what happened."
|Dabbashi tells it juuuust how|
it is. Photo: Al Arabiya
In fact, he went on to represent "the people" of Libya. This always clearly meant the anti-Gaddafi insurgents, and eventually their strange political leadership, the rebel Transitional National Council (TNC or some variant - they change it every couple months). But before they had quite gelled, Mr. Dabbashi in New York had declared himself their ambassador - and not the deputy. By dint of entrepreneurial spirit and swift action, he was now the boss now and his old boss ... that remained to be seen. Boss again, or an enemy supporting the "genocide?"
Ibrahim Dabbashi's actions were clearly geared towards creating a new nation in the space of the old, and that seems a bit like diplomatic warfare to me. And whether he knew or suspected it then, he was making himself the permanent representative to the UN for racist lynch mobs, looters and retribution thugs, arsonists, rapists, cop-killers, serial fakers of claims and evidence, neo-colonialist free-market sell-outs, genuine if misguided freedom-seekers, and, to some extent, al Qaeda and assorted Islamo-nihilist mercenaries.
Either way, I went a bit beyond Hauben to see more of just what this turncoat did with his invented new position; it would take the form of words on the record. I rely on an article from Al Jazeera English, Feb 22. By this, it's not the cautious statement of a loyal servant of his government forced by events. The turns of phrase and even more the suggested actions reveal a rather advanced conception of what this crisis offered and how it should be exploited. Calling on the widely reported but unverified rumors of a bloodbath, he said in part:
The tyrant Muammar Gaddafi has asserted clearly, through his sons, the level of ignorance he and his children have, and how much he despises Libya and the Libyan people [...]Here Dabbashi clarifies he is declaring war, but only after the other side started it. With quick and comprehensive thinking, he laid out much of how it should be done: he demanded an inquiry by the International Criminal Court for crimes against Humanity by Gaddafi and his sons (investigation done, warrants eventually issued, used as bargaining chips to bring the NTC to power). He warned of Gaddafi fleeing justice into exile (setting up the travel ban), and warned of money smuggling (setting the world towards freezing as much of the Libyan economy as possible).
This is in fact a declaration of war against the Libyan people. The regime of Gaddafi has already started the genocide against the Libyan people.
The officers and soldiers of the Libyan army wherever they are and whatever their rank is ... [should] organise themselves and move towards Tripoli and cut the snake's head.
He also prophetically recommended a no-fly zone and air embargo over Libya, as al Jazeera explained, "to prevent mercenaries and weapons from being shipped [sic] in." (It was only just then that rumors of aerial bombardment were starting to appear as well, greatly strengthening this case). He warned of sabotage at oil installations "by the coward tyrant," (reminding us all what this was really about). And of course he encouraged employees of Libyan embassies all over the world to join him, and "stand with their people." He urged this specifically for the mission in Geneva, which should pressure the UN Human Rights Council to action. [again, the al Jazeera article]
By and large, these diplomatic defections did happen, swiftly and en masse, a real coup of an achievement. Other areas of the government and military only dribbled defectors, usually loud-mouthed ones, but the ambassadors just poured out, helping convince the world it must really be over for the Jamahiriya. And again, this moved fast starting on day six of the violent protests in Libya that allegedly surprised everyone.
Mr. Dabbashi's bold course of action, as personal as it was, could conceivably have lined up with the overall will of Libya's people. Clearly a formidable segment rejects Gaddafi just as virulently (if less strategically) as he does. But with time to understand, we can see the impression of a total nationwide mutiny that drove Dabbashi was a fiction, and one he himself co-wrote.
Al-Mesmari and The Date that Lives in Infamy/A Cabal Enabled?
The address above was given on February 22, since the UN headquarters was closed on the the 21st when Dabbashi first announced his resignation elsewhere (President's Day is for the whole world now). Besides commemorating our own great leaders, the date of his unequivocal defection is noteworthy. As Hauben explains, another Libyan official, Nouri al-Mesmari, also announced his resignation as the Jamahiriya's protocal chief on the 21st.
Al-Mesmari resigned from Paris, having informally resigned upon flying there, unannounced, in October. He had reportedly spent the time between linking French intelligence with Libyans planning some nebulous uprising set for February, and rebuffing all inducement to return to the targeted nation. (See here for explanation.)
Al-Mesmari's previous job as chief of protocol (from Which Dabbashi would so boldly stray) had put him into intimate contact with all diplomatic posts, like Dabbashi's. He told al Jazeera on February 27 (video) that he was "a pure diplomat," in charge of "relationship with the embassies." Strangely, six days after resigning, he told them "I am in charge of the diplomacy in Libya" (emph. mine).
And for what it's worth, it's also been speculated by seasoned observers that al-Mesmari was in turn put up to defect by now-defected Libyan foreign sinister Moussa Koussa (reported on Africa Intelligence, passed on via Meyssan at least). Hauben also makes note of both men, Mesmari and Dabbashi, making specific use of the term "genocide" to describe what Gaddafi was doing. This term has no basis in reality, with the "cide" based on confused rumors, and the "geno" part being just silly. But that precise word, accurate or not, does have a certain resonance - especially in Geneva.
The apparent signal for these twin defectors in Paris and New York was the decisive turn of the previous day in Benghazi, their emergent rebel capitol. Heavily armed "protesters" finally overwhelmed the Katiba army barracks, after days of trying, with the heroic help of a suicide bomber. To save this last toehold of security in the city, Interior Minister Abdel Fateh Younes was sent by Tripoli to restore order. But upon arrival he made a deal - the surviving soldiers would be allowed to leave, and he, Younes the great, would join their cause, along with the force he brought. He was "with the people" publicly by the evening of the 20th.
It was first thing in the morning that these two made their announcements - only once it was clear Benghazi had fallen and Younes had jumped. If people are jumping, it might seem like the ship is sinking. And they knew, by some instinct (?), it was time to add to that impression and quickly, before it could be shown the Jamahiriya still sailed on, just a few rats lighter.
As I've noted here before, it's generally illegal to recognize a group not in charge of a nation. And even considering that, there was no group here - Dabbashi at first represented no legally extant body. If he was chosen by anyone in particular, (besides that defunct old regime that once chose him), it would be by a still-unproven conspiratorial cabal, who all agreed to things like "say genocide," and "be sure to mention his sons!"
If not Conspiratorial, at Least Illegal
These are just little clues, and not proof, but in concert with the stealing and re-appropriation of government posts, alarm bells should have been going off.
It would appear to be a serious breach of UN protocol for a defecting official who had formerly been the representative of a nation that is a member of the UN, to be able to request a Security Council meeting and to have the Security Council grant the meeting and allow the defecting official to participate in the meeting. Similarly, to allow the defecting diplomat to make unverified allegations at the meeting against the government of a UN member nation would only compound the serious violation of the UN Charter represented by this abuse of UN processes.I never really thought about it before reading this article, but that does seem quite illegal. I just thought it sounded extremely wrong. Why did I not think of, or hear of the actual impropriety of it? I can understand the Americans, French, Qataris, etc. biting their tongues and egging this on, but where are the clear protests from Russia, China, Venezuela? (Out there, perhaps, but ignored). This is really a strange and shady situation. As Reuters said:
The [security] council met at the request of Libyan Deputy Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi, who along with most other staff at Libya’s U.N. mission announced on Monday they were no longer working for leader Muammar Gaddafi and represented the country’s people. They called for Gaddafi’s overthrow.”The Libyan Invite II: Shalgham Jumps Ship, Washington Sinks It
As we've seen, deputy ambassador Dabbasi took the first bold steps, while his superior, ambassador Shalgham at first acted differently. Before mindlessly repeating the tales of massacres and "genocide," he called home and asked. Hauben cites this video and explains:
Shalgham also attended the February 22 Security Council meeting, along with Dabbashi. In informal comments after the meeting, Shalgham indicated that he had been in contact with a relative in Tripoli and was told that the alleged atrocities that the media was claiming had happened in Tripoli were not true.
Similarly, speaking to the press, he indicated that he had been in contact with government officials in Tripoli who said that they, too, disputed the claims of atrocities taking place in Tripoli and planned to invite journalists from Al Arabiya and CNN to see for themselves that the allegations were inaccurate.These offers would have been useful towards establishing the truth as it's now emerging, but they were rebuffed forcefully by the West. Shalgham's pointed reference to Tripoli's view was not in the spirit of the cabal, and as that video link shows, made him a persona non-grata with the journalists there, expecting an absolute defection to the "light side."
But he was somehow brought around, perhaps by his number two, or any other comination of forces in this massive geo-political lynch mob against his home government. Within a couple of days, he too was resigning and denouncing his personal friend, Muammar Gaddafi, and his regime in stringent terms. A more specific example of the diplomatic disconnect over who represents Libya arises from his subsequent lobbying, as Hauben explains:
One good example of this departure from protocol obligations is demonstrated by two documents. The first is Security Council Resolution 1970 (S/RES/1970(2011). The document states in its opening statement (21):Once enough rats had jumped, the ship was sunk. However many nations immediately recognized them or didn't, the UNSC had recognized the rebels from a mile away as of February 22. The Gaddafi regime was diplomatically neutered, just a thing that the bombing of could commence. As Hauben noted, the actual Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, headquartered in Tripoli, in charge of most of Libya, and supported by an uncertain but sizeable chunk of Libya's people, was not allowed to speak for itself.
“Taking note of the letter to the President of the Security Council from the Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya dated 26 February 2011.” (S/Res/1970(2011),p.1)
The problem of acknowledging this letter this way in the body of Resolution 1970 is that on February 25, the former Libyan Ambassador to the UN, Abdel Rahman Shalgham had informed the Security Council that he had defected.
By February 26 he no longer represented the Libyan government. Consequently there was no basis for the Security Council to refer to a letter from him, as a letter from the Permanent Representative of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
The Security Council should have found a way to hear from a member of the government of Libya, rather than substituting a defector Ambassador and his delegation for the official delegation of Libya.
No legitimate Libyan government official was invited to take part in Security Council proceedings. When the Libyan government tried to appoint legitimate government officials to replace the defector delegation, the US government would not approve the visa requests for the replacement delegates, in violation of the Host Country obligations of the US. In this way, the US prevented the Libyan government from being able to present its case before the Security Council.And so Mr. Shalgham, the slightly delayed rebel ambassador of NATO's Libyans, was number one again and Dabbashi again his deputy. The ambassador of the brand-new nation, sketched out in New York and soon inked-in with ever more blood in Libya, put his words on the record on the 25th. He easily swayed the council to embraced the new Libya, literally. One last time, Hauben:
In his presentation to the Security Council meeting on Friday, February 25, Shalgham made a virulent denunciation of the Libyan government, complete with analogies to Hitler. Shalgham ignored the conflicting accounts of what was happening in Benghazi and instead painted a picture of peacefully demonstrating civilians unjustly subjected to a massacre.
Shalgham presented no proof for his allegations nor was he asked to present any. Instead, he was consoled by the Secretary General and members of the Security Council, with several Security Council members, embracing and comforting him.
At right is actually a separate hug on March 16, upon securing the pivotal no-fly zone at the UNSC, sanctioning NATO bombardment of his country. Shalgham, right, and the US ambasssador, Susan Rice, left. Might have that backwards, I don't follow the news too close.
Photo: Monika Graff, Getty Images
Something snapped between February 22 and 25, and the real Abdel Rahman Shalgham was apparently killed in the process, another early casualty of the Libyan Civil War, snuffed out like so many under murky circumstances.