Warning

Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Behind the Scenes...: Original Article, March 2011

Re-posted May 27 2012
originally published March 30 as Crimes Against Reality in Libya, part 1.
re-posted here as Behind the Scenes on the Al Baida Massacre, April 28
last updates/edits Sept 11, 2011
---
23 Claimed Martyrs
On February 23, Youtube first showed a grim recent discovery from eastern Libya. The discovery was made by locals of somewhere unclear in the area around al Baida and Dernah. There are several articles available about this, many citing an amateur video, and some link to one of at least four recordings available on Youtube. These show an array of 22 corpses on a dusty patch of pavement amongst non-descript buildings, in a walled area just off some barren stretch of road. Their hands are all bound, clearly prisoners, and illegally executed by gunshots to the head.

Iranian channel Erasaneh, posted on Youtube (3:00 in) is one of the sources (the only video one I could find) linking this find to a separate news story broached the same day, February 23. Simply put by Erasaneh, “130 Libyan soldiers have been executed for refusing to open fire on anti-Gaddafi protesters.” They and others cited a prominent Human Rights group for the number, and the video for partial confirmation, who announced the same day:
Paris - At least 640 people have been killed in Libya in protests against the regime of Muammar Gaddafi since they started last week, the International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR) said on Wednesday. The figure is more than double the official Libyan government toll of 300 dead, and includes 275 dead in Tripoli and 230 dead in the protest epicentre in the eastern city of Benghazi, the IFHR's Souhayr Belhassen told AFP.

The Benghazi toll includes "130 soldiers who were executed by their officers in Benghazi for refusing to fire on crowds" of protesters, she said. Belhassen, who heads the Paris-based IFHR, said the toll was based on military sources for Tripoli and on Libyan rights groups assessments in Benghazi and elsewhere. The Libyan government said on Tuesday that 300 people had died in the protests, including 111 soldiers.
Note that Tripoli did have a death toll, and that a majority of the discrepancy was based on this large new portion of 130 against the regime. Why didn't they acknowledge the 130 loyalists they had just hours before been accused of killing?

How do we know that's what happened? "Libyan rights groups" are cited. We don't know their evidence, affiliations, or credibility. But it is this hasty and dramatic announcement by the IFHR that nearly everyone else cites as the basis for this highly useful claim against our universal enemy and avoiding the same against our good guys, the protesters and citizen-fighters of Libya. (see comments below for my enquiry to them about their evidence)

What we can know is what the video shows. The  22 corpses are uniformed in solid green, blue-ish camouflage, and civilian clothes, many black African, many Arab. They were all bound, hands behind backs, blindfolded, shoes removed, and shot in the back of the head. Brain matter, missing faces, and large pools of thick blood abound. The other 100-plus victims  must be somewhere else - perhaps inside a building, perhaps in other locations and incidents altogether. Details are really that hazy.

But unless the whole world has it wrong (and that has happened, see below), this is the footage of part of that mass killing. Given the chronology above, with around 125 Gaddafi loyalists apparently slain in fighting with rebels, it's hard to imagine some other portion of those forces also slaughtering about the same number of their own amidst the chaos, for ... refusing to shoot the "protesters" ... who were fighting and killing them ... and wound up capturing a further 200 of the suspected mercenaries and/or army soldiers.

For refusing Gaddafi's orders and giving their lives in the process, these 22 were hailed by rebels and their affiliates as martyrs for the cause of freedom, heroes worthy of having streets name after them in the new capitol. But the evidence for that version of their demise was never clear. The video record of the aftermath, in itself, does little to explain why and by whom they were executed while held helpless.

Two available videos version show a 23rd body on the ground - alive. One is available here, and shows the survivor on his back in the bloody gravel and dust, in a spot between two corpse that’s empty in the other recordings. He’s wearing green fatigues with blood stains, seemingly covered in mud, but unbound and showing no visible injuries whatsoever. There is a pool of fresh-looking blood near his head, but the whole thing seems quite possibly fake. The cameraman just walks right past the living man, panning in on the gore of the others and chanting. Very strange response.

Another version shared on Facebook and thence on rebel site libyafeb17.com shows some (other?) passersby responding a bit more humanely. This oddball is there described as a “dying soldier who is being encouraged to say the testimony of faith." The cameraman, translated on that page, explained how the martyr said he was sent “from Az Zawiyah, he said Mu’ammar sent him.” (Thus, not from Sabha, where the real survivors were flown from). This statement isn't shown, just explained as the cameraman is called over to look at the survivor.

The fading man is also seen begging for water, which another man dribbles into his mouth. The last line from behind the lens almost reads like a sick joke: “Alright alright, don’t give him too much, you might kill him.” The camera’s panning in on the most bizarrely decimated heads would also be consistent with a rather twisted "onlooker." Not good signs. One can be excused for wondering, as commentator Stewart at the Feb17 video's page has, if the camera crew are in with the execution crew.

Gaddafi's Copy: Behind-the-Scenes
Further, the rebel site hosting the "survivor" video touts it as “demonstrat[ing] the falsity of Gaddafi run state tv which accused the rebels of executing these soldiers after muting the audio and filtering sections of it.”

That would not surprise most observers in the slightest, but we have the video in question also available on Youtube. Upon review, it's not muting some audio that's the problem, but a whole alternate beginning. Only one video is claimed to show direct evidence of what happened behind the scenes near al-Baida some night in late February. And, however they got a copy, it was shown first (and only, as far as I know, aside from some Youtube postings now pulled) by al-Libya, the new, "liberal" and "private" news station owned by Muammar’s son Saif Gaddafi.

This recording shows nine apparent military men seated on a long pinstriped couch, unbound but cowed and looking various shades of worried. The other half of the room, behind the camera and to the sides, is a noisy roomfull of people speaking Arabic, questioning and haranguing their unhappy guests. (I cannot understand Arabic in the slightest, but I later found a transcript - see the update post).


I have numbered the prisoners of protest from left to right. #1, 5, 7, and 9 wear Green fatigues, while #3 and 6 sport the distinctive Libyan bluish camouflage fatigues. Captives #2, 4, and 8 are in civilian clothes. Two (8, 9) look black African, the rest different shades of Arab. #1 and #6 seem the senior ones among them (balding), and a few look quite young. #4 seems around 17-18 years of age.

Captive #6 has the air of a long-serving officer, and keeps his head down, softly answering the few questions he's asked. He seems more than anything deeply sad about the things he never got around to doing after retirement.  #9, a big black guy, is repeatedly questioned at great length and tries to answer (all but inaudible, unfortunately). Captive #5 is standing apart from the rest for a while early in the video, gesturing emphatically, trying to explain something to his captors, a look of urgent worry on his face. After a while he's apparently told to shut up and sit down. He sits down in the middle of the couch, looking glum.

Identified in Both Videos
That the famous video of 22/23 martyrs is the aftermath of the one shown on al-Libya is based on their own comaprison, which is highly contested (in partisan Youtube comments, anyway. Some are a hoot.). Most people should naturally be expected to reject the word of Gaddafi-regime TV, but in this case it's not just propaganda. The video is right here for anyone who cares to double-check it for themselves. (And if it gets yanked, I have a copy saved, and will try to make sure it's available)

Their visible findings are based on three freeze-frames, each showing a certain corpse next to an image of an eerily similar person in the first video. Each is supposedly a match for skin color, build, hair, and clothing. The three they were willing to put their name to are the prisoners I numbered, 6, 9, and 8, in order of their appearance, at 4:00, 4:07, and 4:18 in the video.

Each of al-Libya’s three guesses is, in my opinion, better than the last. The one they decided was #6 might well be wrong. This corpse seems to have hair both too thick and too curly. But at this resolution and with an apparently off-center balding spot, and the wrong angle to see it clearly, I don’t feel confident ruling him out. They may have had better copies and expertise to work with.

I kind of think the body laying across the backside of their #6, with its brains all over his blue camo legs and the ground, is prisoner of protest #5, the pleader. But it's hard to tell with no face, and the network did not venture that guess. The corpse they correlated with #9 is entirely consistent and a good guess. Few, but far from none, among a contingent of 325-plus-whoever would be that build and dressed the same as him.

But the one they linked with captive #8 (at right) is the sinker, all but undeniable. With his unique white pinstripe sweater, dark green pants, gangly build, and constant slouch, he has a distinctive and downcast look bedfore his captors. This body with a noticeably hunched back suggests the slouch was from more than just his mood, and helps create a correlation one cannot reasonably ignore. It's the same guy.

Or faked video. But that's special pleading, and a weak position generally to take.

Furthermore, I can see bodies that could quite possibly be captives #1, #3, and #7 in there as well, but from there I run out of clear potential matches. It would seem the distinctive-looking captives #2 and 4 are not among those filmed the next morning. Perhaps they were spared, or joined the rebellion, or were killed elsewhere.

All told, this looks a lot like at least three and as many as seven of those same nine loyalists, executed in cold blood and strewn like refuse amongst 15-19 others of similar demographics and outfitting. And nothing about this video looks fake in the slightest. It's ridiculous to imagine a regime so besieged to even bother trying to fake as explanation for any of their reported slaughters, only to have the world ignore and dismiss it anyways.

No, this is likely the truth that the world is ignoring and dismissing. The camera - usually we presume it doesn't lie. ... Usually. (see the update post for the IFHR's non-reaction to their error).

The Ones Not on the Couch
Next I turn to the captors, as seen in the al-Libya video. As generally noted, they do not seem to look or operate like senior loyalist commanders offing some mutineers.

These I've numbered, a bit more abritrarily. #1 is the cameraman, obviously unseen. Captor #2, "the Imam" I'll call him, stands to the camera's left, just barely on screen in parts. We can see he's not tall, but has a long, dark, unruly beard, a good-sized nose, and soft, pink, chubby hands. He seems to hold a walking stick (?), and wears a loose, light-colored top (possibly a robe, or is that a Gandalf/Osama leap of imagination?).

"The Imam" seems to lead the haranguing, and also patiently "comforts" the distressed prisoner #5 until he gently pushes him down to re-join the others on the couch. Later he dramatically turns to the big black guy, #9, causing a brief moment of shock, as seen here, and levels some more serious questions at him, I guess.

Captor #3 is a masked young man of apparently fair Arab stock, perhaps holding a cell phone. He briefly squats down and leans on the couch to the right of captive #9. Someone on that end of the room, perhaps him, also lets a machette dangle across the screen at one point.

#4 is very light-skinned and almost Slavic-looking, wearing a white jacket and holding a rifle. At one point he shouts over an unknown command to the captives (shown at right). #5, standing guard between #4 and the window, is of a darker complexion and sharp features. He looks rather professional in his all-black, all-tight outfit. #6 only pops in briefly at 1:54 to invade prisoner #9's personal space for unsure reasons. This person is also black-African-looking, and wearing something green and black.

We can also see, through the open window's lattice, that it's dark outside and a crowd has gathered to watch this all.

One commentator at Youtube was able to understand the dialog that would really help me out, and panned the whole thing.
"The comments the "news reader" made at the end were false, she said that the interrogators asked their prisoners who their "emir" was, trying to invoke fear of islamists, in truth the interrogators asked who the commanding officer was "dobaat" then asked who is the boss "raees" then "they asked who is "emir", so to try to portray them as islamists is incorrect, she was also trying to insinuate that the eastern part of libya were in a war against the western part of libya. In summary, this is the type of "news" that the people in Tripoli are subjected to 24 hours a day.
Well, that would make it more informative on at least this episode anyway, which to my knolwedge hasn't once been seen on CNN, BBC, or al Jazeera or the rest. Not even Russia Today, to my knowledge.

Further Awkward Insights
So it appears these regime-loyal fighters were not murdered for refusing to “shoot protesters.” Rather, it could be they were offed for refusing to join the insurgency. This goes strongly against the once-prevailing idea that the whole country had effectively mutinied, leaving an illegitimate and insanely depraved tyrant in charge with only a few paid thugs. But here we see dedication and sacrifice, and a human side to the loyalists, defending their country from an unprecedented and bewildering inside-and-out attack, that we are currently bombing to smithereens in the dozens, if not hundreds. (Armored personnel carriers carry what?)

Further we see here a shrinking roster of vile and desperate mass-murder by those who remain loyal. Could it be the reality on the ground is more nuanced and unclear than the dramatic narrative of heroism against madness that we’ve been sold? These 22 killings, plus the fifteen at the courthouse in al-Baida, and likely many others, were not done in cold blood by Gaddafi’s desperate thugs. Most likely the full 125-130 who demised in that reported sum did so at the hands of the same side, just not the side reported to the world.

Perhaps it’s time to reconsider other incidents in and around Benghazi as well, like another six soldiers, or alternately (or also?) “dozens” of mutinous soldiers “burned alive in their bunkers," we’re told, for the same crime – refusing to shoot peaceful protesters. Again, how we know the villains, their motives, and that the victims were alive when burnt, is not the slightest bit clear. We do know protesters have no problem lighting government buildings on fires. LibyaFeb17.com hosted at least one recording of this atrocity exhibition. A few corpses are shown, extremely burnt, nearly skeletal, placed in body bags but re-opened. That’s all I could vouch for, but the rest of the world has taken it through the same distorted filter as they get everything about this war. It's obviously the work of an ever-insaner tyrant who really, really, really must go, quickly! The claim is widely repeated, including at MoD Oracle, a private site sort-of-linked to the British Ministry of Defense, mostly serving service-members with general military information.

Please also consider the above information next to this hyperventilating warning from the same IFHR who are the only ones vouching so prominently for the “killed for refusing” claim.
“New credible information, and sometimes still difficult to verify, regarding the murders of soldiers refusing to follow orders [...inter alia...] suggest that Gaddafi has effectively decided to implement a mass extermination of those participating in the protests and furthermore, the systematic repression of civilians. The intention announced by Gaddafi in a speech on Feb. 22, to eradicate the “rats” should be taken seriously." [emph. mine] [source, PDF]
And on the flip-side, obviously, we’ve seen an ugly dark side of the “rats” the world is so intensely interested in protecting on their march to control of Africa's greatest oil reserves. We have here good evidence we've all been hoodwinked and are blowing up Libya to help hand it over to – in part – radical Islamists, and uncivilized war criminals, with no compunction about using unnecessarily brutal terror tactics and fobbing it off on the enemy to help secure their continued tactical air support from the “civilized” world.

Question: does an unlawful combatant (aka rebel, bandit, terrorist) posing as, and among, peaceful protesters - and seizing control of cities full of them - constitute using human shields?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Gaddafi Carbonizes Families?

April 26 2011
Last updates/edits April 27

Over the weekend, Libyan government forces withdrew from the strategic town of Misrata - or so they said. In the last weeks of the fierce two-month siege, Gaddafi's troops and armor moved into the city, among the civilians. Thus they enjoyed relative immunity from NATO's once omnipotent air attacks. Yet despite this, they proved unable to decisively re-take the city in time.

The last straw is not certain, but the decision to pull out coincided with the NATO decision to fly US drone air-strikes in Misrata. They left, in fact, on April 23, the same day as the first missile fired by a predator unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). It was claimed by NATO as hitting a rocket battery outside the city, and no other such attacks have been acknowledged in Misrata.

Despite the announced withdrawal from the city's safety, the NATO threat that waits outside the walls, and the new drone additions, shelling continued into the 24th and beyond. It's presumed, obviously, to be from Gaddafi's troops just hanging around out there. By reports, at least 20 more have been killed and perhaps 100 wounded in the last few days in these seemingly duplicitous attacks.

A New Horror: Carbonized in the Shelling
AFP reported on Monday, April 25, a whole new twist to civilian death in Misrata:
In the Mujamaa Tibi hospital, Mohamed al-Fajieh recounted the results of the night's fighting, describing unusually severe wounds and corpses reduced to little more than ashes. There were "completely charred corpses, some of them so badly burned that we aren't sure they are human bodies," he said. "This is the first time we've seen such burns."

According to figures provided by sources at hospitals across Misrata, around a dozen people were killed and at least 20 wounded in the latest fighting. Sources have said those caught up in the violence were all civilians - men, women and young children.
http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-world/nato-bombs-hit-kadhafi-office-rebels-advance-in-misrata-20110425-1dua9.html?skin=text-only

The Guardian posted a harrowing series of Twitter tweets to the same effect, at 10:24 am on the 25th. These had come in over the preceding hours from "the author and award-winning Sunday Times correspondent, Hala Jaber," sending on information called in to her from area hospitals.
#Misrata calling msg1: " Gaddafi toops bombing misurata heavly with rockets from the periphery of city," reported by doctor there. #Libya

#Misrata calling msg2: doctor reporting "Family arrived -- carbonized babies, mother, father. They were in their car." #Libya

#Misrata calling msg3: Doctors in hospital shocked by the state of children & families brought in dead.The pictures are really awful. #Libya

#Misrata calling msg 4: "People asleep in homes when GF fired mortars randomly. Shababs unable 2 brinbg dead who are still burning." #Libya

#Misrata calling msg 5; "The head of a baby brought in without his torso. Carbonized family so badly burnt placed in a bag 2gether" #Libya
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/blog/2011/apr/25/libya-syria-middle-east-uprising-live

Indeed, people need to see these images. Considering the above, it sounds like this strange flaming death struck out all over town, with many victims all at once. It's bizarre. All that Jaber shows, however, is three photographs, of a single "carbonized family" of three, by the captions. Image links and captions:
1) Please be warned extremely graphic picture of family totally carbonized in tonight's shelling.
2) Extremely graphic please be warned, but I believe they must be seen. Father of family totally carbonized as did his child and wife.
3) Eight year old Abdulnoor Muftah Abdulnoor killed tonight in Misrata.

I asked Hala to clarify some details via e-mail, and she kindly responded. She says Little Abdelnoor is not a member of the same family, so any issues with him (like seeming to peek at the camera) are irrelevant to this study.

The father of the charred family, and no one else, is shown in both of the other photos. That is, there's only one victim of this new horror shown, with the family at large only described. She also tells me that the family in question could be of three to five members. I'm not sure if this ambiguity is from the state of the remains or from some unclear communication.

But the father, as given, looks like a victim of the fires of hell. His left arm is charred to the bone, and his right shoulder exploded out in a boiling mass. Parts of his head have caved in, it seems, and his torso looks like orange styrofoam covered with a thin black crust. By the man's leg position and general toasted rigidity, I don't believe he was seated at death. So if this was the family in the car, he must have been alive long enough to get out of the car and stand up.

What class of weapon could do this?
Carbonized in the shelling, he was. That never happened before, but now it's happened to him and quite a few other people. Why now all of a sudden? Right when Predator drone strikes had begun over Misrata? Because these little punks are known to carry a missile called hellfire (how apropos for the "Great Satan" to use against Muslims!), and those do just about this to people. Time magazine reporting on a US drone strike against al Qaeda organizers in Yemen:
He was not just any man, it seems. U.S. officials think he was Kamal Derwish, a Yemeni American cited in federal court papers as the ringleader of an alleged terrorist sleeper cell in Lackawanna, N.Y., outside Buffalo. The putative American in al-Harethi's entourage traveled under the name Ahmed Hijazi, an alias used by Derwish. A positive identification may be difficult: the 5-ft.-long Hellfire turned the six people in the car into a mass of carbonized body parts. "They never knew they were in our sights," a U.S. official said. "And I can assure you, they never knew what hit them."
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1003721,00.html

(This description also argues against the father being packed into a car with others at the time)

A highly critical (and probably slanted) report on UAV use gives a third-hand account that includes young "collateral damage":
The social worker recalled arriving at a home that was hit, in Miranshah, at about 9.00pm (May 2009)... The drone strike had killed three people. Their bodies, carbonized, were fully burned. They could only be identified by their legs and hands. One body was still on fire when he reached there. Then he learned that the charred and mutilated corpses were relatives of his who lived in his village, two men and a boy aged seven or eight. They couldn’t pick up the charred parts in one piece. Finding scraps of plastic they transported the body parts away from the site. Three to four others joined in to help cover the bodies in plastic and carry them to the morgue. But these volunteers and nearby onlookers were attacked by another drone strike, 15 minutes after the initial one. Six more people died. One of them was the brother of the man killed in the initial strike.
http://www.for.org.uk/files/drones-conv-killing.pdf

Here, if Hala Jaber's description is true, we have what might be our first family or families and possibly others, charred by hellfire in Libya on day three of the robot war there. People scoffed when Deputy foreign minister Khaled Kaim called the drone decision a "dirty game" and said it would "be another crime against humanity."
http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/World-News/Libya-Tribes-Could-Take-Over-Misratah-Fight-Against-Rebels-From-Army-Minister-Khaled-Kaim-Says/Article/201104415977735

On the Other Hand...
I have the feeling there's something else strange going on here that will be playing out in the next couple of days. The father's posture is strange - his whole left side is burnt to a crisp, yet his left arm is reaching for his right shoulder, rather than protecting his face. That exploded mess over there could be consistent with a previous injury he was concerned with at death, only to be torched later on, causing it to boil out like that. I'm not an expert in these things, but I can see a case to be made that he was dead before being carbonized.

There are many other victims reported, and the sheer number of such cases - probably more than a dozen going by the reports - is strange given the single UAV strike acknowledged. There might well have been other strikes not admitted, but public perceptions and civilian casualties are well-known factors from UAV usage in Taliban country. One would expect the coalition to begin this campaign with at least as much care as usual. I find it hard to visualize dozens of strikes killing whole families and others unless that's what they were aiming for.

These numbers and the purely civilian makeup, including children (the smaller briquettes), suggest someone intent on framing the drones had perhaps gotten their own hellfre missiles, or equivalent, and blasted some innocents. Or managed to identify a target that would be struck by them, and stuffed it with civilian corpses.

The Gaddafi regime has already been accused of this in this war, and it is the obvious beneficiaries of such a ruse. Even if the world media refused to buy the trick (they would refuse), the Libyan people might, and might then move to end this war, at least in the west, with an enraged human wave on Misrata ... or something like that.

But conversely yet again, the outside world (with their fighter jets and such) will be buying something else. And it will be perhaps the gravest allegation yet - Gaddafi is carbonizing families just to give the West a black eye. The very fact that the trick wouldn't work on us, and could only backfire, might suggest that someone is framing them to seem to be framing the coalition. That would never be widely believed, and admittedly, it is convoluted, and requires a sophistication of thought the rebels haven't shown much of yet. But it does fit with the pattern I've seen of Tripoli being framed for horrific things, in this war and before.

We need facts here, now more than ever. Solid, non-tweeted, facts about when and where and how these people died. Somehow I doubt we'll get them.
---
Update April 27: Below I will link to any articles discussing this curious turn. So far, I seem to be at least two steps ahead of the crowd, and no one else I can find has put it together yet.

Material Motives

Posted April 27 2011
last edits May 18


Could it be? A war claimed to be fought for purely moral reasons, actually motivated by, at base level, economic concerns? We're there to "prevent a bloodbath," then to stop all government attacks on "civilian targets" (rebel-held, secessionist cities), responding to atrocities in the east - real or reported - with attacks in Tripoli, and providing tactical air support to rebel advances. This all steadily and predictably (to some) is shifting towards regime change and perhaps the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi as the only "acceptable" solution.

Of course, the nation's economy will have to be re-jiggered, as a side effect, once the colonel's green machine has been scrapped...

The following will be expanded, re-organized, and split-up with links until it's the best possible not-too-huge resource to understand what these side effects might entail. I'm putting it up partly empty, and invite   submission, via comments, of further motive categories and quotes/links to fill in beneath them.

John Pilger, April 6:
The Euro-American attack on Libya has nothing to do with protecting anyone; only the terminally naive believe such nonsense. It is the West’s response to popular uprisings in strategic, resource-rich regions of the world and the beginning of a war of attrition against the new imperial rival, China.
[...]
There is a civil and tribal war in Libya, which includes popular outrage against Gaddafi’s human rights record. However, it is Libya’s independence, not the nature of its regime, that is intolerable to the west in a region of vassals; and this hostility has barely changed in the 42 years since Gaddafi overthrew the feudal king Idris, one the more odious tyrants backed by the west.
http://www.johnpilger.com/articles/david-cameron-s-gift-of-war-and-racism-to-them-and-us

Oil, obviously ...
Libya is has the largest oil reserves in Africa. The U.S. Energey Information Administration cites 44.3 billion barrels proven reserves, as of 2010 (the next up: Nigeria at 37.2 and Algeria at 12.2 bbl)
http://ei-01.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/Libya/Oil.html
Libya's state-run oil companies have generally excluded Western corporations, and external economic sanctions have both hampered full exploitation of oil in the 1990s. Only in 2003 did Libya's oil fields open up to some corporate involvement. This era, and BP's famous off-shore exploration deal linked in the media with their Gulf of Mexico spill and the release of "Lockerbie Bomber" al-Megrahi, has come to symbolize Libya's purported openness to Western greed. It has led many to believe there is no problem getting at Libya's oil as things stood.

However, the last two or three years had seen gradual pull-out of many of these companies in the face of unpopular limitations and terms. A regime change might just change those problems. Guy Chazan, Wall Street Journal, April 14:
"Libya has gone from the world's most exciting oil-exploration hot spot in 2005 to another geologically, politically and fiscally risky also-ran," says Charles Gurdon , a North Africa expert at Menas Associates, a consultancy.
[...]
Libya kept its crown jewels off limits to foreigners. The huge onshore oil fields that accounted for the bulk of its production remained the preserve of Libya's state companies. Yet without advanced foreign technology to improve oil-recovery rates, output at these big fields gradually declined, by as much as 6% a year in some cases.
[...]
Politics continually intruded, particularly in 2009, the year the Scottish authorities released Abdel Baset al-Megrahi , the Libyan imprisoned for his role in the bombing of a passenger jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, on compassionate grounds. The Canadian government expressed disapproval at the hero's welcome Mr. Megrahi received on his return to Tripoli. Shortly afterward, Libya told Petro-Canada, a Canadian company, to halve production from its Libyan fields. Libya said the reduction was needed to make sure Libya was in compliance with OPEC quotas. But other companies weren't targeted, analysts say.
[...]
Gradually, foreign oil companies' interest in Libya faded. When Libya offered them the right to bid on exploration tracts in December 2007, half of the blocks attracted no bids.

A clutch of companies left Libya as their five-year exploration licenses began to expire, among them Chevron Corp., BG Group PLC and Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd.
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/for-wests-oil-firms-no-love-lost-in-libya-2011-04-14

Susan Lindauer, March 28:
Last October, US oil giants— Chevron and Occidental Petroleum— made a surprising decision to pull out of Libya, while China, Germany and Italy stayed on, signing major contracts with Gadhaffi’s government.
[...]
About July, I started hearing that Gadhaffi was exerting heavy pressure on U.S. and British oil companies to cough up special fees and kick backs to cover the costs of Libya’s reimbursement to the families of Pan Am 103. Payment of damages for the Lockerbie bombing had been one of the chief conditions for ending U.N. sanctions on Libya that ran from 1992 until 2003.
[...]
Knowing Gadhaffi as well as I do, I was convinced that he’d done it. He’d bided his time until he could extort compensation from U.S. oil companies. He’s a crafty bastard, extremely intelligent and canny. That’s exactly how he operates. And now he was taking his revenge. As expected, the U.S. was hopping mad about it. Gadhaffi wasn’t playing the game the way the Oil Bloodsuckers wanted.
http://news-now.org/2011/04/susan-lindauer-libya’s-blood-oil-vampire-war/

Some have suggested Qatar's reward for its fervent support of the rebel cause will be control and develop Libya's oil system - they were given supervision of the first exports, for starters.
Azerbaijan Business Center:
http://abc.az/eng/news/52557.html

Banking.
Libya has a 100% state-owned central bank, funded with nationalized oil, and with zero IMF debt. This will almost certainly change if/when the folks described below take over.

General Economic Restructuring: Privatization and "Free Markets"
See the post Libya's Free Market Future.
Vijay Prashad:
The Benghazi council chose as its leader the colorless former justice minister Mustafa Abdel Jalil. Jalil's brain is Mahmoud Jibril, a former head of the National Economic Development Board (NEDB). A U.S. embassy cable from May 11, 2009 (09TRIPOLI386) describes Jibril as keen on a close relationship with the U.S. and eager "to create a strategic partnership between private companies and the government." Jibril's NEBD had collaborated with Ernst & Young and the Oxford Group to make the Libyan state more "efficient." Jibril told the ambassador that "American companies and universities are welcome to join him" in the creation of new sectors outside hydrocarbons and that "we should take him up on his offer." His Ph.D. in strategic planning from the University of Pittsburg is useful in this context.

A 1994 Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) discussion entitled “Post-Qaddafi Libya: The Prospect and The Promise, featured one Dr Ali Tarhouni, Libyan expat in America, professor in Seattle, who stated at the conference, “with privatization, entrepreneurs will reach out and get involved in regional cooperation by searching for markets.” [source] Now 17 years later he's back in Libya on invite to be the Transitional National Council's minister of finance, oil and economics. He recently ventured back to Washington DC to lobby for a chunk of the $30 billion-plus of the Libyan peoples' money stolen/frozen by the Obama administration, ideally, to dole out as it sees fit. Dr. Tarhouni said:
“We’re faced with the same sanctions as Gadhafi,” he said, referring to U.S. sanctions that have frozen more than $34 billion of Libyan government assets, in addition to U.N. and European sanctions. “I don’t have access to any foreign exchange to cover any purchases, open lines of credits to merchants, so that’s a very challenging aspect to what I do.” [source]
This ultimately pro-Wall Street angle is a consistent feature of the rebel TNC leadership, and probably the one that makes them so attractive to the Western elites who decided at the outset to support them, despite professing "little knowledge" of who the rebels really were... As I said in the Free Market Future article:
The handy thing is how many talking heads and think-tank experts there are to back these guys up. "Of course privatization is the answer! Gaddafi was against it and he was evil! Had mercenaries on Viagra rape kids! Just look at the state Libya was in before under Gaddafi's Green Book sytem!" Indeed, take a look - ask for specifics. Environmentally speaking, do we need more bio-diversity, or more monoculture? Why is it different when it comes to economic systems?

And let's be honest a moment - in an age of such Western economic failure, is the Euro-Atlantic community really more likely to be dispesnsers of good advice - good enough for a regime change war - or to be looking for some stored up financial blood to suck - via a regime change war and the plunder-tization of Libya?

Water
Pepe Escobar again:
The water privatizers
Few in the West may know that Libya - along with Egypt - sits over the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer; that is, an ocean of extremely valuable fresh water. So yes, this "now you see it, now you don't" war is a crucial water war. Control of the aquifer is priceless - as in "rescuing" valuable natural resources from the "savages".

This Water Pipelineistan - buried underground deep in the desert along 4,000 km - is the Great Man-Made River Project (GMMRP), which Gaddafi built for $25 billion without borrowing a single cent from the IMF or the World Bank (what a bad example for the developing world). The GMMRP supplies Tripoli, Benghazi and the whole Libyan coastline. The amount of water is estimated by scientists to be the equivalent to 200 years of water flowing down the Nile.

Compare this to the so-called three sisters - Veolia (formerly Vivendi), Suez Ondeo (formerly Generale des Eaux) and Saur - the French companies that control over 40% of the global water market. All eyes must imperatively focus on whether these pipelines are bombed. An extremely possible scenario is that if they are, juicy "reconstruction" contracts will benefit France. That will be the final step to privatize all this - for the moment free - water. From shock doctrine to water doctrine.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC30Ak01.html

Military-political organizations
NATO, as Pepe Escobar writes, intends to subordinate the last Mediterranean country (aside from Syria and Lebanon) not allied with NATO, to make the Med "a NATO lake." Further, the U.S. African Command (Africom) does not want to co-exist with the Libya-favored African Union.

Pepe Escobar, "There's no business like war business", Asia Times, March 30
It started with Africom - established under the George W Bush administration, beefed up under Obama, and rejected by scores of African governments, scholars and human rights organizations. Now the war is transitioning to NATO, which is essentially Pentagon rule over its European minions.

This is Africom's first African war, conducted up to now by General Carter Ham out of his headquarters in un-African Stuttgart. Africom, as Horace Campbell, professor of African American studies and political science at Syracuse University puts it, is a scam; "fundamentally a front for US military contractors like Dyncorp, MPRI and KBR operating in Africa. US military planners who benefit from the revolving door of privatization of warfare are delighted by the opportunity to give Africom credibility under the facade of the Libyan intervention."

Africom's Tomahawks also hit - metaphorically - the African Union (AU), which, unlike the Arab League, cannot be easily bought by the West. The Arab Gulf petro-monarchies all cheered the bombing - but not Egypt and Tunisia. Only five African countries are not subordinated to Africom; Libya is one of them, along with Sudan, Ivory Coast, Eritrea and Zimbabwe.
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC30Ak01.html

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Terrorists 1 and 2! Ah, I see you’ve met!

Reflections on the Libya conflict, Gaddafi, bin Laden, and their shared history
Re-poted April 26 2011
Original posting, March 21


Paul Hudson, father of a Lockerbie victim and co-president of the Families of Pan Am 103/Lockerbie – a separate group from Victims of Pan Am 103 Inc. - posted a press release about a week ago, on the eve of the UN vote about a no-fly zone over Libya. It’s a pretty militant dispatch filled with minor inaccuracies (Libya was not on Bush's “axis of evil,” for one) and the usual annoying spin the U.S. family members of 103 victims are so well-known for. Something about believing that their children were killed by Gaddafi’s regime might have something to do with that.

As others have been doing, he seems to believe every report from the rebel side and hears none from the other, and falls back on alarmist tactics to urge sterner measures against the Gaddafi regime. He called for immediate military strikes and recognition of the new government in Benghazi, to prevent a “genocide” against the “peaceful protesters.” Out inaction in this war has the danger of "starting a war," he cautioned.

Hudson’s advice and the thousands who share the same view has apparently made it happen. The United States, UK, and France pushed through a 10-0 vote at the United Nations security council on the imposition of an enforced no-fly zone. And it has just-now-noticed additions specifying Gaddafi’s forces can also not drive tanks, or do anything ground based that threatens “civilian targets.” The meaning of civilian is unclear; it seems by the news reports of actions taken so far to include protesters, and also the half of Libya now under rebel control, and also their advancing forces. Witness the famously photographed rebel fighter jet shot down over Benghazi. Officially (by rebel accounts) this was shot down by Gaddafi's forces, who were close enough to both shoot it and to be threatened by it. They were guilty of breaking the cease-fire, an unprecedented one-sided one, with an open-ended military license to back it up, in the middle of a rather sudden mass defection and war that is not clearly understood by most people (myself included).

Clearly what’s needed is to rush into this fray before we can figure out what the hell’s going on there. Make no mistake, supporting the protesters is an urgent and a humanitarian impulse, we’re told by the US ambassador to the UN: "the violence must stop, the killing must stop, and the people of Libya must be protected and have the opportunity to express themselves freely." And as a French government spokesman clarified, the “free expression” referred to is "go(ing) all the way in their drive for freedom, which means bringing down the Kadhafi regime." [source]

What a novel concept, sure to be introduced here or there, in the heartlands of revolutionary enlightenment freedom themselves. Following this overseas trial run, of course. Or perhaps not.

It's not an entirely savory bunch we are going in to protect, either. There are the deep-east-Libyan Arab racists among them, identifying African “mercenaries” often just by skin color, venting their dislike of Gaddafi’s pan-African ideas by cutting down immigrant workers and lifetime citizens alike in the dozens, according to a number of reports. [see here and here] Many others escaped such harm only by fleeing quickly enough.

But then there’s Daffy Qadhafi’s loony charge that al Qaeda, its north African branch at least, is behind the revolt. He said this from the beginning, to a general response in the west of hysterical laughter. As impassioned commentator David Rothscum aptly put it “ we consider him to be a schizophrenic autistic nutcase of course.” It doesn't help that he added that they were tripping on hallucinogens, of course, in a surreal and contradictory twist.

Again on the eve of serious bombardment, Gaddafi tried to explain to the world: "If you come here to carry out air strikes, you are not coming to protect the human rights of civilians, you are... going to be opening the door to al Qaeda." Strangely, as President Obama orders missiles, his anti-terrorism Czar John Brennan, for one, concedes there is cause for just that concern, as with any Muslim nation being destabilized. Or perhaps more so. Early on in the Libyan uprising, it was reported on CNN and elsewhere that Al Qaeda's North African wing offered through a website to "do whatever we can to help" the rebels. This tends to go against Gaddafi's idea they had initiated the revolt. But just now, they've issued a "warning against America" to the rebels of their stripe.

Brennan was however all but sure of renewed terrorism if Gaddafi remains. Indeed, he might be more angry, for some reason, and so must go, opening the door for someone. And clearly Gaddafi’s death machine and bin Laden’s are in the same group to Americans and the French – Arabic speaking airliner-scale terrorist bad guys, and the worst two among them. As Mr. Hudson noted
"[Gaddafi is] the admitted No. 2 international terrorist, second only to Osama Bin Laden, having caused the murder of hundreds of Americans, French, UK and other innocent citizens in the bombings of U.S. bound Pan Am 103 killing 270, UTA flight 772 killing 170, the La Belle Disco bombing in Berlin, dozens of other terrorist attacks, and delivering large shipments of plastic explosives for IRA terrorist bombings, plus killing thousands of his own people who regularly disappear into his torture chambers or are assassinated abroad. (...)
I’m confident some portion of that list is true, but at the very least the deadliest among them and the one that brought Mr. Hudson into such impartial and scholarly contact with this ring of terror, has been sadly misattributed. (see: the rest of this site).

The two Libyan agents accused of bombing Flight 103, Abdelbaset al Megrahi and Lamin Fhimah, were indicted in 1991 on flimsy and dubious evidence. Of three witnesses against the accused, at least two were paid $2 million each, and still managed to provide almost zero credible evidence between them.   The trial judges themselves in 2000 dismissed one of them, the star witness Giaka, for likely mass-fabrication, and acquitted the accomplice, convicting Megrahi alone for a crime he couldn't do alone. This itself was decided on reasoning seriously questioned on official review in 2007. Gaddafi and Libya never did "admit" to this crime, this alleged Libyan plot on Malta. There’s also much better circumstantial evidence and a truckload of cover-up indicators pointing elsewhere.

Nonetheless, back in the early 1990s, the politically leveraged indictments led into demands for a trial Libya couldn’t agree to, leading to a UN air embargo and steep sanctions. These caused an unknown number – reportedly thousands - of preventable Libyan deaths, possibly included in Mr. Hudson’s numbers as Gaddafi’s fault. This only ended after the two accused surrendered for a compromise trial in 1999. Mr. Hudson noted an agreement to limit the trial’s fallout, unjustly he thinks.
Prior to turnover of the Pan Am 103 indicted terrorists for trial, a letter by former UN Secretary Kofi Annan stated that the U.S. and UK had agreed not to pursue the case so as to destabilize the Gaddafi regime.
Yes, political assassination was a genuine concern, as that was likely the US and UK goal in framing and pursuing the two Libyan agents. And this wasn’t the only thing the Anglo-American alliance has used to destabilize or kill the colonel. Cruise missile accidentally hit his house in 1986, killing a a baby daughter of his. Another thing once used, a decade later, was the no. 1 terrorist on Hudson’s list – Osama bin Laden and his once obscure al Qaeda network.

David Shayler is our troublesome original source for this, a former MI5 officer, who is now certifiably nuts. But this 2002 article by Martin Bright in the UK Guardian makes quite clear that he had at least one dynamite conspiracy find earlier on: the UK MI6 (foreign intelligence) worked in the mid-1990s with al Qaeda's north African network, in Libya, on a plot to assassinate Gaddafi. The cell there, called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), included one Anas al-Liby ("the Libyan"), a fairly senior member close to bin Laden in his days in Sudan. As Bright explained the LIFG's bold and British-sponsored move:
The assassination attempt on Gadaffi was planned for early 1996 in the Libyan coastal city of Sirte. It is thought that an operation by the Islamic Fighting Group in the city was foiled in March 1996 and in the gun battle that followed several militants were killed. In 1998, the Libyans released TV footage of a 1996 grenade attack on Gadaffi that they claimed had been carried out by a British agent.
The west played that down, and the escaped British agent al-Liby took part in the US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in August 1998. For this he was indicted in 2000 and fled, from asylum in the UK (Manchester). With a $25 million bounty on his head, he wound up in the Afghanistan area, joining the post-9/11 Jihad.

Shayler was on trial for revealing some genuine secret or other (I'm unclear what), and his explanation of why, this Libya plot he had to expose, was called “pure fantasy” by the government. But during the trial amazing lengths were gone to to keep it all quiet. Public Interest Immunity certificates were issued, Mr. Shayler was barred from saying or entering anything about it, the media was gagged from reporting on it, and so on. The article explained:
Astonishingly, despite suspicions that he was a high-level al-Qaeda operative, al-Liby was given political asylum in Britain and lived in Manchester until May of 2000 when he eluded a police raid on his house and fled abroad. The raid discovered a 180-page al-Qaeda 'manual for jihad' containing instructions for terrorist attacks.
The MI6 officer who ran this fiasco were named, but thought to be relocated and re-named by then. The operation is said to have hampered Libya's efforts to arrest Osama himself, or take a hard-line against his nascent network. Indeed, Muammar Gaddafi's terrorist regime was the first in the world, in May 1998, to declare bin Laden a wanted criminal. Shayler had insisted it, and supporting evidence came out in the 2002 book Forbidden Truth by Dasquie and Brisard. Thus, the West's obsession with Gaddafi could have had some role in allowing the attacks of September 11, 2001 and others, before and since.

Al-Liby remained in the fight until he was killed in Pakistan, in 2008. But some of his affiliates remained in Libya, mostly the heavily Islamist eastern half that now, it's proudly boasted, "has never accepted Gaddafi's rule." In fact, he's sometimes referred to there, perhaps literally, as the "anti-Christ."

The government has taken a different tone on the LIFG today, a softer one, partly to respect international criticism of human rights abuses. Now they are "rehabilitating" the terrorists rather than executing as before. Nonetheless, as reported, "the LIFG in 2007 reaffirmed its determination to topple Kadhafi's regime and to replace it with an Islamic state, and also stated its affiliation to Al-Qaeda."

Under these peoples' influence, parts of neglected eastern Libya have spawned at least two things of note in the last decade. One is the highest rate of al Qaeda volunteers, per capita, in the Arab world, and now the mutiny against Gaddafi.  A further 110 rehabilitated LIFG members were released, as scheduled, a day before the planned "day of rage" that started the revolt in February. And now, some of al-Liby's offspring are, or had better be, planning a coalition government over Africa’s largest oil deposits, if they are to replace a long-despised “terrorist” regime. Or just hold onto what the allies up north seem to think they have a right to.

Now of course, all the rebels are not al Qaeda fanatics, but just how many are is unclear. As David Wood reported for the Huffington Post:
U.S. officials declined to discuss the make-up of the anti-Gaddafi forces in eastern Libya, and U.S. intelligence agencies declined to comment publicly.
It’s presumably hoped that the "undesirable elements" will be co-opted or weeded out one way or another after things have settled and freedom is realized.

And similarly, not all of the protesters we're protecting are war criminals. But some apparently are. An amateur video (view with discretion) shows rows of dead Libyan soldiers "who refused to obey orders to shoot their fellow Libyans and they were executed by the regime and its mercenaries.” it was the major incident you heard about, the one near al-Baida, where 130 of Gaddafi's soldiers were killed somehow, surely added to the figures against him, and claimed by the rebels as a platoon of martyrs for their freedom fight. Refusing orders to kill innocents, faces blown off. The world was moved.

But another video, shown on Libyan state TV from footage intercepted somehow, shows a number of the same soldiers (apparently, by clothing, build, etc.) and their captors before the killing. From that it seems the rebels themselves themselves blew the heads off of these helpless prisoners, and passed off the edited cut to an accepting world * as another predictable Gaddafi slaughter. Or we have to give the regime very high marks for rapid and convincing video fakery. (Please see the explanation of this at my favorite skeptics forum).

Well, now with some help from northerners, seizing the sky again from a murderous tyrant, the rebels might have the whole regime on its way to being just as bound and helpless as those claimed “martyrs”  near al-Baida. Amid the pools of blood at slaughter's end, we’ll hear the explanation – as usual, it was all Gaddafi’s fault. The world will cheer for the freedom fighters. And then some other things will happen, who knows what.

* (Previously I’d noted here the alleged work of the extra-brutal Palestinian terror group PFLP-GC in Bosnia, fighting alongside proto-al Qaeda elements for Bosnian freedom from Serbian rule. Starting in May 1992, some of these terrorist elements reportedly killed civilians and conducted other false flag atrocities blamed on Serb forces and used to help win NATO air support to protect human rights. [source] It is my belief that the PFLP-GC also organized or at least equipped the murder of Mr. Hudson’s daughter in 1988, despite Libya taking the blame.) 

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Tribal Threat in Misrata

April 25 2011
last updates April 28

World attention has lately centered on the Misrata theater of the war, with its urban fighting and government shelling in a "medieval" siege. The humanitarian concern, however, masks a more strategic one. (see Why Misrata Matters) As soon as it became clear the United States was tired enough of the stalemate to commence drone warfare over the city (and bring the civilian protection so loved in Pakistan), the Libyan army finally made the decision to remove themselves from Misrata.

Some units were shot at on their way out, and thus left under rebel fire, but the ones captured swore they were leaving anyway. And it was on orders from above, not from low morale (not that it's high). The rebels and their supporters worldwide have nonetheless claimed that they single-handedly forced the retreat. The Associated Press noted:
A resident of Misrata says rebel fighters have driven Moammar Gadhafi's forces to the edge of the besieged city in western Libya [and that] rebel fighters on Sunday cleared the rest of Tripoli Street, a thoroughfare previously controlled by Gadhafi loyalists. He says opposition forces took control of the main hospital in the area.

Al Jazeera April 28
"Our freedom fighters have managed to defeat the soldiers of Gaddafi" by forcing them out of Misurata, Khalid Azwawi, head of the local transition committee, said late on Wednesday.


Orla Guerin, BBC, April 24:
"[T]he rebels had managed to cut off the Gaddafi troops, they had managed to break their supply lines. And this is why in the end the rebels were able to flush them out."


Reuters, April 23:
A wounded Libyan government soldier captured by rebel forces in Misrata said on Saturday the army had been ordered to retreat from the city. "We have been told to withdraw. We were told to withdraw yesterday," the soldier, Khaled Dorman, told Reuters.

Lying in the back of a pickup truck, he was among 12 wounded army soldiers brought to a hospital for treatment in Misrata. As he spoke, other uniformed soldiers moaned in pain, saying "My god, my god." Another serviceman, asked by a Reuters correspondent if the government had lost control over Misrata, said "Yes."

But this isn't a government surrender, says the government. They're intent on at least clearing out this rebel stronghold in the west. The idea now, reportedly, is to allow in the civilian tribes, who are itching to re-open Misrata's port for the rest of the region not trying to secede. They would presumably be armed by the government - one can hardly imagine a standard Libyan tribe having many rocket launchers or tanks. As Chinese news site Xinhuanet reported on April 23:
[Libyan government spokesman] Khaled Kaim said, "The situation in Misrata will be eased, will be dealt with by the tribes around Misrata, and the rest of Misrata's people, not by the Libyan army and you will see how they will be swift and quick and fast and the Libyan army will be out of the question, out of the situation in Misrata because Libyan people around Misrata, they cannot sustain it like this. The sea port has been seized by the rebels and the tactic of the Libyan army is to have a surgical solution but it doesn't work. With the air strikes, it doesn't work and we will leave it to the tribes around Misrata and Misrata's people to deal with the situation there in Misrata."
http://news.xinhuanet.com/english2010/video/2011-04/24/c_13843574.htm

Associated Press report, April 24:
Libyan tribal leaders are trying to get rebels in the city of Misrata to lay down their arms within 48 hours, a government official said early Sunday, after a day of fierce clashes between opposition fighters and Moammar Gadhafi's forces.

If negotiations fail, Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said tribal chiefs may send armed supporters into the city of 300,000 to fight the rebels. In the meantime, the Libyan military is halting operations in Misrata, Kaim said.

However, the Misrata area is not known to have very large or dominant tribes, and rebels in the city questioned how much support Gadhafi had among them. It is also unclear whether the rebels would be willing to negotiate, particularly after claiming to have forced government forces to retreat. Kaim said tribal chiefs are still trying to get in touch with the rebels.
http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/24/ap/middleeast/main20056832.shtml

There is still to my knowledge no confirmation from the tribes themselves. So far it's just what Kaim and other government sources say. Rebels are skeptical of the tribal will or ability to challenge their right to hold the city. After all, it is the rebels alone in Libya with the power to require NATO or CIA (drone) air strikes! Or any "legal" air support at all! It is they alone who are recognized as the legitimate government by France, Qatar, John McCain, and their old pals in Italy! If that doesn't scream legitimacy in Libyan society, well... it doesn't. And they might not be as popular in the west of the country as they've led us to believe.

Reports of heavy bombardment continued into the 24th despite the touted army pull-out. The BBC, in a video report, got word of this from a doctor at a local hospital, who cited 10 killed and 45 wounded. Their reporter Orla Guerin also provided some camouflage for the promised tribal moves, explaining fears that "the Army might re-invade in civilian clothes." That's what it will probably be, in reality or presentation, if the tribes do attack. The rebels feel this empty threat is "a game, this is a trick," Guerin explains, "and that he does intend to keep up the seige, and that he has no intention of freeing Misrata."

All such concerns aside, government forces are effectively gone from the city proper, and these attacks could just be parting shots or rearguard actions. Only time will tell if this retreat holds, or if the tribal approach will come to fruition. If it does, it will show that large, functioning sections of the Libyn polity is still with the government, a message the west is loathe to consider. And it would sorely test the rebels' tactical air support from NATO. Will they be willing to kill non-uniformed, civilian fighters as they go up against their allied non-uniformed civilian fighters? Kill the people of Libya to save the people of Libya?

It will also, likely, be cried foul over, as the regime using "human shields." That usually happens when NATO's rendered powerless. Or worse yet, rebels will insist they're army in diguise and NATO will call that good enough and destroy them anywyay with preadator-fired "Hellfire" missiles.

The Guardian, April 24:
Tribal leaders have not confirmed any intervention, and rebel leaders in Misrata are sceptical about the government's statements. But Kaim said early on Sunday that the tribes were "trying to get in contact with the rebels".
[...]
Ahmed Mohamed Said, a computer engineer turned rebel, said it was ruse to make the conflict look like civil war, rather than a government turning on its own people, and thus prevent Nato from assisting the rebels from the air. "Gaddafi wants it to look like brothers are fighting brothers," he said. "That will never happen."
[...] 
[Khalid Kaim] added: "The leaders of the tribes decided to do something to bring normal life back. Their main demand is that foreign fighters leave the town or surrender themselves to the army." The regime maintains that rebels fighting in Misrata and the east of the country are being driven by al-Qaida and Hezbollah militants – a claim rejected by the opposition.

Kaim said the tribal leaders want to reopen access to the port, which has been under the control of rebel forces since the siege began. The port served all Libyans, he said, but was of particular interest to tribes south of Misrata.

"The leaders of the tribes are determined to find a solution to this problem within 48 hours," he added. "The other option is military intervention."

He claimed the six tribes in the region could muster a force of 60,000 men to "liberate" the city. Any assault by the tribal forces would be ruthless, he claimed. "The tribal leaders are pushing to intervene militarily," he said. "We have to do our utmost to stop this. If the tribes move into the city, it will be very bloody, and I hope to God we will avoid this."
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/24/libya-misrata-tribal-leaders-talks
---
Any further developments in this subject will be inserted below.
---
May 15: Well, obviously the 48-hour deadline has passed. Misrata has remained under seige, and it appears to from Government forces, who remained near the city and hold or held until recently (accounts differ) the airport and a military base. NATO and the rebels have reportedly worked well together tho whittle this back.

So far, the tribes haven't taken their own part in fighting, but they seem to be working that way still. On May 5, Tripoli hosted a large gathering of 2,000 tribal leaders, who by and large called for the rebels - especially in Misrata - to surrender. One source notes:
Mansour Khalaf, who heads Libya's largest tribe, the Warfalla, told reporters during the conference that although he denounces the uprising and supports Col. Gadhafi's leadership, he would not send armed followers to join the Libyan army's fight against the rebels, as some other tribes have vowed to do.

Site "Manifesto"

Posted April 25 2011
last update November 22


Dedicated as it is to exploring the unreported underbelly of the Libyan civil war of 2011, this blog/site comes on the scene fairly late in the war. We're perhaps nearer its end than its beginning in mid-February. It will however continue to focus on the war's legacy on whatever shape Libya takes once the dust is settled, beyond covering the awkward conflict, however long it continues.

The Libyan Civil War: Critical Views makes no claim to present the full picture of what's going on - just some of the more important parts your governments and media might not be telling you about as they seek to justify a war they longed for well before the "protests" of 2011.

The sources and viewpoints called on here - like all human works - have their biases, mostly unusual and fairly overt. This stands out to the general public, steeped as they are in the pervasive, effectively invisible, and near-total bias of the Western mainstream media. We've been asked by narrowly-owned news sources to proceed on the simplified good-rebels-vs.-evil-dictatorship construct without any of these complicating considerations. This slant makes news into propaganda, and that's the opposite of a free society we claim to be fighting for over there.

The types of questions I raise here: "Who are the rebels and how did their rebellion start?" "How evil has the government response really been?""Why is regime change the only solution the West proposes to end the crisis?" "What are the ulterior motives of those who insist it is?" "How on Earth could it all be turned back now, after so many have invested so much, so brazenly, in such lean times?"

The site will feature some original and re-posted articles and essays, plus many valuable topical posts compiling snippets from and links to informative articles elsewhere. It's hoped the site will eventually become a well-organized hub of resources for a deeper understanding of what's happened or is still happening.


The site was created April 23 by researcher and commentator Adam J. Larson (aka Caustic Logic) of the United States (about the author coming soon). Other authors' work will appear here, in re-posted form if not by original contribution. For re-posts, I thank my behind-the-scenes e-mail tips from various other researchers, especially one Brian Souter. Articles shown as posted by Caustic Logic and not otherwise attributed at the top, were written by Mr. Larson. (like this one, with the third person creepiness). Otherwise, the author will be given at the top of a post, along with an original URL where appropriate.

The date and time fields are not to be taken literally - I use these often to bump updated posts back to the top, or down the list to make room at the top. The date posted and of the last edits are given in the post text, and usually kept current.

Also, comments of all kind (preferably civil and on-topic) are encouraged. Especially from Libyans if they feel the world's not hearing them well. In fact, if anyone would like to express their views in a moderately-viewed blog you don't have to create, you can contact me however and send something. Even if it disagrees with my views, I could find a place for almost anything that advances our understanding of a murky situation or starts a more useful dialog.


Note Nov.22: A few valuable readers/commentators, especially Felix, have been for while now crossing over into what I'm calling contributor status, scaring up links and views I wouldn't have myself, and enriching the site. Peet73 and Petri Krohn also warrant massive props for numerous contributions, and a few others deserve credit for the things they bring to the table. I'm past the point of being able to write on, respond to, or even to acknowledge, most of the great additional thoughts entering by comment.So be sure to check the comments beneath any post you find interesting- some of the best gems of information are sometimes under the article.

Contact: caustic_logic@yahoo.com (as with comments, no guarantee of a response these days)

---
Update June 26: reflections on two months and beyond
The title of this blog is now officially not really correct. It never became the organized hub for a wide range of critical views and revealing facts.

My time and energy constraints haven't let up enough to let this be as amazing a site as I hoped, but it would seem I've had some success gathering useful information. As I've done before, it's been from selective obsessiveness over narrow to middling slices of the big picture. The post "rape allegations ganging up on Gaddafi" is a recurring must-read for a few new viewers each time Ms. al-Obeidi or other allegations comes up.

My re-posting of and comments on the video Libya Crisis: Events, causes, and Facts has been among the most viewed, thanks to recent crush of new viewers from Germany, where the rebel TNC was recently semi-recognized. A lot of Germans want to see the video of how these folks first came into control of much of Libya, and it's not too pretty.

Several other posts have helped shed light on murky episodes, and others have just let me vent some thoughts. Some just sit there, others get re-posted and cited widely. As far as the attention and validation aspect of this project (and hey, who isn't motivated by that in part?), I'm happy enough.

Otherwise, the course of events I've tried to follow along with has left me alternately dismayed, angry, and depressed. For this plus time and attention reasons, staying current with the whole field in any detail isn't working, and I have a hard time just re-posting things without adding something anyway ... so lately I'm just following the news loosely, and occasionally noting something as I learn of it.

Otherwise, I'm mostly sticking to my speciality - detailed consideration of what's already happened. And I mean really happened, as opposed to just reported. I'll continue to try and deliver sporadic brilliance, as time allows, and make this more of a tool to look back and understand, since all the truth exposed so far hasn't done a damn thing anyway to stop this sick war, and I can't work under that kind of immediate pressure anyway.
---
August 28: As mysterious massacres unfold across the holdout areas of Tripoli, I enjoy a viewing surge for indirectly related reasons: the other day, I had 3,052 new, unique viewers in a single day, and between 500 and 1,000 a day since. 11,277 people, or computers, or IP addresses, whatever, from 148 countries have visited the site. Many people aren't aware there are that many countries. There are several dozen more, and should be a few dozen more than that, in my opinion. It's a big world, after all.

As for one that's being removed and replaced (though not in that order), I am still recieving viewers from green-flag Libya, as I have steadily (if slowly - they're not Internet addicts there) for all but a few brief disruption, for this whole war. This despite persistent claims they've all been blocked to avoid dangerous ideas of freedom spreading. Bullshit! That's backwards! Anyway, the flag counter still has one more green flag, making 38 to date. Any day I expect it to change (a crash of Flag Counter the other day - just as embassies were changing their flags all over, might have been by clever hackers who tried to do it here - it was rebuffed, but some views went uncounted in the interim).

Anyway, I hope to see the green keep on rolling as long as flag counter keeps it, but I welcome future Libyan viewers of all stripes, even black and red. If civil society is to "finally" take hold there, this will require some serious reckoning and soul-searching by the people of Libya.

Also, I plan to re-name the site The Libyan Civil War: Looking Back in Shame, once I feel we are looking back. But I fear the civil war will continue for quite a while.
---
Sept. 1
To add: I don't encourage continued fighting - I think if the Jamahiriya has mass appeal, it needs to sit tight until the new government's in place, then in a Libyan autumn of mass voice-raising - peaceful - demand at least a serious compromise in repayment for the immense trickery and suffering you were put through. It's worth a try, anyway, as opposed to just splashing all your blood against this war machine.

Here is the map of world viewers. I did a running one for the Lockerbie Divide, but never put one up here. Now as I await the changing of the flag on my counter, I'll show where it stands: 46 now from the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and counting!
Update Sept. 8: 6 new Libyan viewers within 24 hours! Total now: 60! I will update the graphic soon, presumably when Flag Counter stops using the old flag, one of my favorites in the world. I live in Washington state, the only one whose flag is all green, but  for the picture of George Washington. So it resonates.

Sept. 22: Still green, and 92 now. Illusion though it is, it reflects a reality deeper than the main one, and perhaps stronger in the long run. One thing's for sure - this all-or-nothing, fight-or-die approach has been disastrous. Cartoons can win, if they've got good enough bombers and control of the world's legal levers.     But tricks can only last so long ... My advice to the Greens: lay low yet stay visible, surrender and resist, compromise but unite, remain peaceful and fight like hell, and prevail. It's how you figure out what the hell that means the decides if it gets done or not.

Sept. 23: And that was it - within hours there was a 92 with the new flag next to it. That may seems slow to some, but Flag Counter still no flags for North Sudan and South Sudan. My new map locks the number of green flags at 92, and in roughly the space of my proposed East Libya will go the Libyan views past that. I do hope to get quite a few.

There are also notable increases since my last map from France and French-speaking countries (thanks Michel Collon), from Italy (thanks ... Italian person(s)), the USA (thanks ORXT1000) from across Africa (thanks, many, including Khadija Magardie), and worldwide (thanks Uruknet for many re-postings of my articles).

Oct. 3
And for recent German readers, I thank some sharp comments at Spiegel's discussion forum. Here's the latest map, once the new Libyan flags (total minus 92) reached past 20 and the new level to go from deep green to olive. I have a Niger viewer now, and 181 nations total, and have added a new category for 1-3 viewers - it's the new zero.

Nov. 22
At 190 countries, I had to check and decide Flag Counter uses a more liberal system. Generally, there 193-195 countries in the world, but I'm sure there are more than five flags I'm still missing at F.C. Finland and India have kicked ass lately, Russia's been making some moves up the ranked-views ladder, and new flag Libya has been allowing my site to be read, and it's getting read by 150 unique viewers now since the changing of the colors. The latest map I did a few days ago:



Why Misrata Matters

April 25 2011
update May 18


Note: Below I failed completely to note that Misrata is a major port, serving a large surrounding area. The port being in rebel hands and the surroundings in government control is a central gripe behind the "tribal threat" of late April.

Misrata (alt: Misurata, Arabic: مصراتة) is Libya’s third largest city (after Tripoli and Benghazi), boasting in peacetime about 550,000 people. Considered Libya’s commercial capital, it lies in the west of the country about 130 miles east of the capitol Tripoli. [1] With the de facto rebel capitol Benghazi itself no longer in immediate danger, Misrata has become the new focal point of the Libyan civil war. To hear mainstream news accounts, this would seem to be from the humanitarian crisis there. However, the real reasons behind the West's desperation to "save" Misrata are certainly more strategic than altruistic.

A Crisis of Disputed Size in the Western Holdout
It was among the amazing number of Libyan cities, east and west, that fell to rebel control within just a few days of the revolt’s start on February 17. This flash of activity was much more violent and pre-planned than the world public realizes, but that was needed to seed the impression that the whole country had “voted” by popular action to secede from the capitol.

After the initial shock of this unprecedented mutiny, the loyalists in the army and within the “liberated” cities re-grouped with an early-March roll-back. In general, rebel support was too weak to last in the west, and caved easily, and by the 19th rebel control was limited to their de facto capitol Benghazi and points eastward. The only exception to this rule was vital and sizable Misrata, then and for the last month the only western city even partially held by rebels.

With its switched-off electricity and water, sometimes severed supply lines, and the flight of thousands unwilling to fight, the city has become much less vibrant, to the say the least. On top of that, there's the siege: neighborhood-scale fighting, tanks, snipers, and mortars and rockets launched from afar. It's been described by rebels as a living hell, with "unimaginable carnage," hospitals overflowing, bodies piling up uncounted in the streets. Rebel pleas always cite among those killed indiscriminately women, children, and the elderly, in every single explosion.  It's been said Gaddafi is flattening the city, strangling it, and intends to slaughter every person in it.

However on April 10, Human Rights Watch released information on Misrata showing something less inhuman than all that:
According to Dr. Muhammad el-Fortia, who works at Misrata Hospital, medical facilities have recorded 257 people killed and 949 wounded and hospitalized since February 19, 2011. The wounded include 22 women and eight children, he said. [2]
Dr. Alan J. Kuperman, a respected scholar of humanitarian interventions, cited this as evidence that "Moammar Khadafy is not deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who fight against his government" ("narrowly" being relative under the circumstances). Since the fighting there started nearly two months earlier, he finds from HRW's numbers "of the 949 wounded, only 22 — less than 3 percent — are women. If Khadafy were indiscriminately targeting civilians, women would comprise about half the casualties." [3]

In the roughly 45 days since the seige began, 257 is only about six deaths per day, on average. That isn't likely a complete number, but no more likely to be very far off. In reality it looks less like a genocidal massacre than the six weeks of low-level but NATO-prolonged urban warfare it is. Even presuming a gross margin of unreported deaths, 400 or even 500 dead is really not that high - at most about 0.1% of the population. If the government were trying to kill "as many people as possible," with this much time to have done it, they are failing badly.

The Key to the Whole of Libya
Misrata’s fate has become second only to Benghazi’s. But as with the capitol, the motivation to maintain the third city is not to prevent a slaughter of innocents, but for two interlocking geo-strategic reasons.

One reason is, essentially, the city's location. Benghazi holds the key to Cyrenaica (the region from there eastward), which has remained in rebel hands since the end of February. But as the western outpost, Misrata holds a partial key to the whole nation. It's the last geographic bastion of the illusion that this is a nationwide popular uprising, as opposed to an East-West civil war. The latter, but not the former, could be settled with partition, an answer that makes sense now (any other option will leave substantial numbers of people under the rule of now-hated enemies and "traitors"). But the rebels and their western sponsors want to take the whole country, and so both are quite intent on keeping Misrata in rebel hands.

The other reason to the same effect is the city's size. Gaddafi is fully in charge of only one of the tree top cities (Tripoli), with #2 undeniably lost and #3 contested. As a piece in Bloomberg Businesswek noted yesterday:
Rebel control of Misrata would leave Qaddafi in charge of one major city, Tripoli, W. Andrew Terrill, a research professor of national security affairs at the Strategic Studies Institute of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, said in an interview. “If the rebels have Benghazi and Misrata, they’re looking like a viable force and a legitimate government” and it could make a stronger case for other nations to join France, Italy and Qatar in recognizing them, Terrill said. [6]
And finally, a more immediate consideration, again location-based - when and if the rebel are ever able to attack Tripoli itself, it would be from Misrata, not Benghazi. After the putative pullout of April 23:
Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani, the rebel spokesman, dismissed reports of progress in Misrata."It is a disaster there," he said. "Kadhafi is not going anywhere. Misrata is the key to Tripoli. If he lets go of Misrata, he will let go of Tripoli. He is not crazy enough to do that."
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1381068/Hundreds-dead-bodies-streets-city-reduced-rubble-Full-horror-Misrata-siege-finally-emerges.html

Human Shields?
Clearly something extraordinary is driving the rebels of Misrata to stay in that "hell" with their families, to reject each offer of truce or negotiation, and maintain the city as both a war zone and a buffer against legitimate government counter-attack. Any attempt to re-impose order with armaments is deemed unacceptable, since the fighters have situated themselves in a city stuffed with civilians. That is, they're using themselves and their families, in a sense, as human shields.

And when Gaddafi's forces aren't willing to deliver horrible enough atrocities, the rebels or someone sympathetic will fake the most incendiary crimes for them. Children targeted by snipers in Misrata widely claimed, but only "proven" by a highly dubious x-ray image that's been presented now in connection with at least two separate children who don't seem to have been all-but-killed as they should be.

Mid-April did see a brutal new offensive, with a few dozen more killed in rocket attacks on Misrata, as usual including women, children, and the elderly. [4] Cluster bombs have reportedly been found. The harbor was attacked again. The rebels predicted a total slaughter would finally befall them without more NATO involvement soon.

What they really mean is Misrata will no longer be a rebel town, but the coding helps. The leaders of the US, UK, and France, who happened to be meeting in these same bloody days, jointly denounced, among other things, the “medieval siege” of Misrata. And these pleas finally allowed them to make some new decisions on a core realization that all three nations have agreed on for four decades now - essentially, Gaddafi must go. "It is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Gaddafi in power," they lied jointly on the 15th. [5]

Nonetheless, NATO air strikes fell off notably and stayed low-key, for fear of civilian deaths, as government forces pulled themselves fully inside the city. The same situation the rebels had exploited for weeks, when it's protecting the Libyan army, is unaplogetically called "using human shields." This has created the impression that they are snatching civilians and strapping them to their tanks, tying NATO's hands while they drive over piles of young children.

So a decision was made to bring in the drones, well-known for differentiating between civilians and combatants (??) and then the whole situation shifted. (see Misrata: the Tribal Threat)

Sources:
[1] Wikipedia. Misrata. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Misrata
[2] Human Rights Watch. "Libya: Government Attacks in Misrata Kill Civilians." April 10 2011. http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2011/04/10/libya-government-attacks-misrata-kill-civilians
[3] Kuperman, Alan J. "False pretense for war in Libya?" Boston Globe. April 14 2011. http://articles.boston.com/2011-04-14/bostonglobe/29418371_1_rebel-stronghold-civilians-rebel-positions
[4] "Rocket barrage hits Misrata, NATO says Gaddafi must go" Times of India, April 15. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/middle-east/Obama-Sarko-Cameron-seal-deal-Oust-Gaddafi/articleshow/7996431.cms
[5] http://www.libyafeb17.com/2011/04/letter-on-libya-by-obama-cameron-and-sarkozy/
[6] http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-04-23/u-s-drone-hits-libyan-target-nine-killed-at-syria-funerals.html