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.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Erasing History in Az Zawiyah?

June 27, 2011

Here is a video from Sky News, aired, I believe, on May 10.  It claims to document Gaddafi's propaganda war as regards the city of Az Zawiyah, 30 miles west of Tripoli. It had fallen into rebel hands somehow (covered in a separate post - the fall of az Zawiya) in late February, and was militarily re-taken by about March 10.

Here, buildings are draped again in green flags and streamers and portraits of col. Gaddafi to show its acceptance of his rule. A small group of a few dozen pro-government demonstrators is shown. The correspondent/narrator, Stewart Ramsey, said in his low, grave, unamused tone: "There are 200,000 people in Zawiya. We're not convinced this dozen [sic] actually come from the town itself." No, even twelve-to-fifty supporters in a town of that size is too much for them to imagine. Another Ramsey report lazily blames similar demonstrations elsewhere on the "Gaddafi rent-a-mob," showing a sentiment that "defies credibility." Speaking of credibility...

But the main subject was the purported attempt to cover up and disappear the signs of the rebellion from the world and especially the city's residents. "The gardens where the dead were buried have been dug up," he said, and indeed, grave-sized holes are shown. Here, the first rebel dead and perhaps their victims, were buried in the only area they controlled - the city's main square. It wasn't a garden, but a large patch of bare soil (On closer look, it is the central garden, right next to the main square). It also was not a graveyard. The bodies there were likely dug up for proper burial somewhere besides downtown. Or, as Ramsey intones with a hate-filled sneer, they were "trying to erase history in this place." (the graves are also covered and shown in the fall)

More perplexing is how the Mosque seems to have been torn down. Ramsey says it's so, and there is a video of the scene as the mosque's destruction was wrapping up, with the damaged minaret still standing but the rest just dirt.  I have video and satelite imagery showing where it was, and it seems to not be there now. The real reason isn't clear, but that doesn't stop Ramsey from being certain. Now with the building gone, somehow, "we'll probably never know how many people died here."

And voicing his great offense, aimed at Arab viewers no doubt, he added "I can't recall any Muslim country attempting to wipe a holy place from memory." First, he's never proven they were trying to do this - they just tore it down is all we know. But sadly, many viewers will just nod in agreement at how insane the regime is to try blanking out history like this.

Second, there is at least one partial parallel in the main mosque of the world all Muslims are supposed to go to. Following the 1979 armed takeover of the grand mosque in Mecca by messianic Sunni fanatics, Saudi security forces demolished large and important portions of the intensely holy structure re-taking it. They also left the poison gas filled, death-tainted, underground Qaboo abandoned and permanently sealed-off.

I cite Yaroslav Trofimov's book the Siege of Mecca, which I recently read. Seperately, the authorities there did try to erase history, Trofimov writes, banning the episode's mention in the kingdom. Nonetheless, the legend lived on in the hearts of  those inspired by it, like one Osama bin Laden, whose network now helps to destroy Libya. And the Saudis and their Gulf friends for once agree with al Qaeda - and the NATO bloc - on this nation-destroying mission. Small world!

Back to az Zawiyah, 2011. Sky's Ramsey has built a Libyan censorship strawman, based on moving some misplaced bodies, and demolishing a damaged mosque. And he counters it with this weak one-liner: "a Sky News team was there from the start - and this is what happened in Zawiyah." What's shown (0:37 at in the video at top) is a single incident with marching protesters suddenly changing course at the sound of heavy gunfire and a loud thud in the near-distance. They run back towards the camera crew, shouting "Allahu Akbar!" as always.

Running from unexpected warning shots is what really happened? No, it's more than that. The fuller video was posted on March 8, presumably aired by Sky News from about that same time, as the government re-conquest was nearly done, and at least twelve days after "the start," depending when that really was. In this scene, carefully unarmed protesters (no visible clubs, even!) chant and march for the camera with the monarchist flag. They're all moving towards something, perhaps government forces near downtown, perhaps looking to generate some "repression."  The reporter and her cameraman are driven to a point and let out of the truck just as the shooting starts, and close to it. They take about three steps and then duck and turn back with the others.

And that's what really happened in Zawiyah? A likely stage-managed show of fake repression, concealing a dirty little civil war the protesters started with all kinds of outside agitation and encouragement?

But again, no ... it was much more than that, stretching back two weeks or more... (again, see the Fall of az Zawiyah for a more useful chronology and some different views of the temporary freedom there.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Un Avenir Incertain" in Libya

June 25, 2011
last update July 7

Such is the title of a French-language report from the International Center for Research and Study on Terrorism and Aide to Victims of Terrorism (CIRET-AVT) and the French Center for Research on Intelligence (CF2R). Translating to "an uncertain future," it's based on a month-long tour of Libya, rebel-held and government-held, in the month of April. The report says it was completed in May, so it's at least a month old by now as it finally comes to my attention.

PDF download links, CF2R hosted: French original, English language CF2R posting. Thanks to Peet73 for alerting me of the translated version.

It was mentioned more recently by RFI English, and by the conservative National Review Online - because it's a Democrat's war, I presume. As both these note, the report focused on the terrorist/Jihadist aspect of the rebel uprising, finding it a significant part of the mix making up the rebel fighting force and leadership. This joins former al Qaeda prisoners of Guantanamo Bay and others seeking an Islamic emirate with conservative Libyan monarchists (including former Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil), opportunistic defectors, and a minority of true pro-democracy forces that the whole lot has been portrayed as.

The al Qaeda element has, in my opinion, been over-played by the Libyan government and American conservatives. It's a handy way to cause doubts, when standard appeals to fairness and truth fall flat. Islamists like the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, al Qaeda in the Maghreb, former aQ detainees like Sufyan bin Qumu and Abdelkareem al-Hasadi are involved in the fighting, especially in Dernah. There is no doubt of that, and any video shows that about 50% of all rebel vocabulary consists of Allahu Akbar.

But despite their enthusiasm, they will not in my opinion be running Libya once this is done. The main danger they pose is putting up an awkward fight as they're told this and refuse to accept it right off. And if their number are high enough, and the specter of TNC-brokered NATO control feared enough ... well, it might be a concern. My opinion could be wrong, and it's all worth more study.

The report also makes some other very interesting observations, as translated in the NRO piece:

Little by little, [Misrata] is starting to appear like a Libyan version of Sarajevo in the eyes of the “free” world. The rebels from Benghazi hope that a humanitarian crisis in Misrata will convince the Western coalition to deploy ground troops in order to save the population.
It is thus now obvious that Western leaders — first and foremost, President Obama — have grossly exaggerated the humanitarian risk in order to justify their military action in Libya.

The real interest of Misrata lies elsewhere. . . . The control of this port, at only 220 kilometers from Tripoli, would make it an ideal base for launching a land offensive against Qaddafi.

It is a little-known fact that Benghazi has become over the last 15 years the epicenter of African migration to Europe. This traffic in human beings has been transformed into a veritable industry, generating billions of dollars. Parallel mafia structures have developed in the city, where the traffic is firmly implanted and employs thousands of people, while corrupting police and civil servants. It was only a year ago that the Libyan government, with the help of Italy, managed to bring this cancer under control.

Following the disappearance of its main source of revenue and the arrest of a number of its bosses, the local mafia took the lead in financing and supporting the Libyan rebellion. Numerous gangs and members of the city’s criminal underworld are known to have conducted punitive expeditions against African migrant workers in Benghazi and the surrounding area. Since the start of the rebellion, several hundred migrant workers — Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans — have been robbed and murdered by rebel militias. This fact is carefully hidden by the international media.
(bolding mine throughout)
Up until the end of February, the situation in western Libyan cities was extremely tense and there were clashes — more so than in the east. But the situation was the subject of exaggeration and outright disinformation in the media. For example, a report that Libyan aircraft bombed Tripoli is completely inaccurate: No Libyan bomb fell on the capital, even though bloody clashes seem to have taken place in certain neighborhoods. . . .

The consequences of this disinformation are clear. The U.N. resolution [mandating intervention] was approved on the basis of such media reports. No investigative commission was sent to the country. It is no exaggeration to say that sensationalist reporting by al-Jazeera influenced the U.N.

During the three weeks [that Az Zawiyah was controlled by the rebels], all public buildings were pillaged and set on fire. . . . Everywhere, there was destruction and pillaging (of arms, money, archives). There was no trace of combat, which confirms the testimony of the police [who claim to have received orders not to intervene]. . . .

There were also atrocities committed (women who were raped, and some police officers who were killed), as well as civilian victims during these three weeks. . . . The victims were killed in the manner of the Algerian GIA [Armed Islamic Group]: throats cut, eyes gauged out, arms and legs cut off, sometimes the bodies were burned . . .

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Libyan Crisis: Events, Causes and Facts

June 6/7 2011
edits July 2

I haven't watched it, but it's important enough to post instantly. Libya's government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, on his Youtube channel (still not pulled as a war  crime!) has uploaded at least two long videos in a series of the above title. Please share this!

Okay, it's two parts. about 30 minutes total, and in English.
Made by R. Breki Goheda, of Tripoli.
Part 1/2:

Part 2:

Just for the unique footage used in abundance, this video is well-worth watching if one is interested in this war. The narration is workable, but should have been re-done, at least in places - there are a lot of verbal type-os. It's better than my Arabic would be. The tone is pro-Gaddafi, with the style of state news, and most English-speakers will find it unconvincing just because of that. However, the facts as presented are in some cases verifiably true and in other case, we at least shouldn't be too quick to dismiss the view from Tripoli. A fair amount of detail is included, and it lines up with what I've been learning elsewhere as the nebulous, emergent, historical truth of the matter.

Part 1, around 6:15, shows the "al Baida massacre" aftermath and interrogation. The scene of the soldiers' capture, if not their execution, is given as happening at Labraq airport, near al Baida.

In essence, the video blames the violence on Islamic extremists who hijacked the peaceful protest - in some spots from the first day - and turned it into a civil war. And they are now enabled by the massive Western intervention of NATO.

It's claimed that contrary to the popular mythology, the government forces tried their best to not massacre civilians. I'm leaning that way myself seeing more and more video evidence, and the government's laxness seems to have been a huge factor in how so many cities and even military bases fell into rebel hands. It could well be argued they should have been more violent early on. Hundreds did indeed die, but on both sides, and nearly all at security bases far from the original protests, during attacks on these that eventually succeeded. A lot of detail is given here on how many total tanks (250) and other weapons fell into rebel hands, along with video of them playing with their new toys.

Besides the massive shooting of peaceful protesters, two other crucial claims are addressed - the bombing of protesters by aircraft, and the use of African mercenaries against them. Both are denied, if in a stale and unconvincing manner. Still, it's true - there's no credible evidence for either type of state crime. In fact, despite the huge importance of the charges, none of the these three main ones was ever verified in any way and thus remain, as Goheda pointedly notes, nothing but rumors.

And of course the UN security council resolutions 1970 and 1973, based on these rumors, opened the way to legal, economic, and military action against Libya. This is, of course, highly troubling now that we learn the rumors were all apparently false. More troubling yet is that the simple excuses were used shamelessly and without consequence or reproach, to muscle through a long-desired regime change agenda that will hand all of Libya to those same "armed gangs" and, more importantly, their US-educated, NATO-backed, free-marketeer puppets for plunder in the rebel leadership.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Attack on the Peace Drive

June 3, 2011
Last Update June 18

This is post is dedicated to a reported event I've never heard of outside of a Libyan government press conference by Moussa Ibrahim. That alone would cause most people to give up considering it any further. But I'm not most people.

The video in question is on Youtube, entitled Peace drive kidnapping of two women by armed group attacking convoy 30 3 2011. And strangely, after calling it undated, I just now noticed, at the end of the long title, a date! March 30. Oops. The main subject Mr. Ibrahim tried to keep it to was a reported kidnapping (as well as at least one killing) that resulted from a "peace drive" of loyalist civilians, hoping to open talks with the rebels in Benghazi. The accompanying text:
Dr Moussa Ibrahim on what happened to the peace caravan 100km east of Sirte, where two Libyan women were kidnapped by armed rebels. This peace drive was called for and organised by the Libyan tribes, not by the government.
The Western press was distrustful, and clearly trying hard, right then and there, to spin the news back against the government. After the fact, I have yet to see if anyone wrote anything about it. I was following the news close enough then I'd be surprised if I totally missed it. But then, I missed that date ...

All of the video above is also included in this video I just made based on it, with info, questions, and opinions inserted. (page link)

Further Information
I could find little, using different search word variations. (but then, I didn't even know the date to help narrow things down). I could before find only one reference, dated March 31, to a since-deleted Youtube video of "The Libyan rebels opening fire on a peace caravan of women, children, and the elderly." Url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtmL60oHXtU. So I did have the date, just couldn't see the video.

At my video posting, I asked for more information, and got some quickly, from Youtube member "Anti-Nazi Hippy"

The attack link is the same dead end I found. But the aftermath video, via user "Rayyisse," works and is interesting (I saved a copy).

It's dated April 7 (stamped later, not necessarily the date it was filmed), and shows Libyan soldiers posing at the scene of a mysterious incident or incidents. Two tour busses are left abandoned, tires flat, windshields shattered, marked with spray-painted Arabic graffiti. Only at the very end is a third bus shown, apparently gutted by fire to boot.

In the middle span is shown quite a number of destroyed or abandoned tanks at the same scene, some just yards away from the busses, others scattered across the desert nearby. It looks like around a dozen. Some are still on fire, or on fire again. Others are charred, seemingly flattened a bit, some with turrets blown off and laying nearby. I thought it looked like a NATO air strike where, one presumes, the tanks came to rescue the besieged caravan only to be bombed for coming too near to rebel positions.

Except ... a couple at least are painted with the rebel/monarchist flag, which the soldiers kick and spit at. Another with a flag on its turret is shown pouring flames. Are these rebel tanks that had come to meet the peace caravan? Managed to kill a few and take some captives before being partly destroyed by the nearby army?

The Attack Video -
Searching for the text, I found this:
Libyans in the west decided to settle the matter with peaceful negotiations with armed rebels from the east. They formed a convoy consisting of hundreds of people, mostly women, children and elderly people. They went to the east of Libya, t...
And at that page, an existing posting of what I presume to be the attack video:

And at the same link is included a version with English subtitles, and commentary, added:

I cannot verify if it's the same, but I'd guess so, and made sure to save a copy of each. Off the bat, it's not completely convincing. Perhaps the subtitles version threw me off.
"We want peace," "These rebels are dangerous! Damn them!" "Ooh, here comes the soldiers! These are the Gaddafi soldiers coming to save us!" etc. Possibly genuine, possibly scripted.

It shows the view from one woman's vantage point, as she runs, shrieking, towards a larger group of people milling around a line of at leas six tour busses. The hills here are covered with tiny flowers, not the sandy desert the tanks were filmed in (although it's conceivable the two spots are very close). There is gunfire and light explosions heard, but it sounds like a nearby battle.  The other people visible - barely, as the camera flies around - do not seem to be running or taking cover like the camerwoman is. Only she seems so agitated, fearing for her life, and prominently clutching a white cloth of surrender in her right hand as she runs towards the others, who seem much safer a hundred yards away. Along the way, she helps an old man said in the subtitles to be injured. But judging how he easily stands right up when she offers her hand, it seems more like he was just tired. The one with translation has the man off-screen talking to her halfway through saying the government was telling them they were in danger and had to flee. She seemed to already know that, but the others don't really. It's strange.

I have previously done some critiques of what I suspect are fake propaganda videos by Libyan rebels. I may finally have a contender here from the government side. I intend to see about learning more, however, to see if my skepticism is just in overdrive here. I'll report back what I learn and decide, sometime later now. Just this took too long.
Update June 18: After explaining how I wasn't going to do any new research, I just did some but will only explain it briefly: The above aftermath video was probably, instead, this, dated (as the video is) April 7, Ajdabiya:
Rebel fighters claimed NATO airstrikes blasted their forces Thursday in another apparent mistake ... […]
A rebel commander, Ayman Abdul-Karim, said he saw airstrikes hit tanks and a rebel convoy, which included a passenger bus carrying fighters toward Brega. He and other rebels described dozens killed or wounded, but a precise casualty toll was not immediately known.
This video shows three busses, not one, but otherwise it's a better match with what's shown.

And at about the same time, a better match for the peace drive bus - Sky News, video, 100 miles east of Sirte, March 29:
“This is the road to Sirte. We’re about 100 miles from Gaddafi’s home town and the rebels’ advance has been badly blocked by some heavy fighting about five miles down the road. We’ve seen at least three bodies come back, but for the rest, the rebels are simply parked off and waiting for the coalition to do their job for them with air strikes.” 
“Fear and bad intelligence paralyze the rebels. The movemement of a coach was enough to cause panic. I saw this bus come across the front line. In it were 30 or 40 young men, fighting age males."
How he knew the passenger makeup is unclear, but a dark blue tour bus is shown driving towards the camera. It has an escort of a few pickup trucks, one with a very large gun pointing straight up. Later, standing by the abandoned coach, he said:
"Now, the rebels feared that they might be infiltrators sent by Gaddafi to sow mayhem and chaos behind their lines. The wheels were shot out, and the bus itself has been shot up. But there’s no evidence of blood inside it. What we don’t know is what happened to the young men."
And for what it's worth, I blew portions of a couple of nights trying to stabilize that attack video, which is clearly a different scene from the one Sky showed. This is about the best I could do, and better than I meant to. The gunfire sounds realistic, and we have confirmation a dark blue coach, like the five seen here, was peppered with gunshots.

There is at least one other person besides the camera woman waving a white flag, and a few sort of jogging towards the top of the hill, plus the man telling them to flee (back to the busses, or away from them?). All this suggests if the scene is partially staged, there are a few people at least in on it.

Did they stop and get out upon being attacked, or was it a surprise as many were scattered out on some pit stop? The trucks are there pretty much the whole time the busses are visible. SOrry the volume's a little high - turn your stuff down before starting it. I was trying to just boost the battle and background sounds.

Cluster Bombs in Misrata: How Many Were Duds?

June 18 2011

The only reasonably confirmed cluster bomb attack on Misrata, the night of April 14, was of "at least three" Instalaza MAT-120 cluster munitions, visibly bursting over the city and scattering their bomblets - 21 each. The MAT-120 is a weapon in NATO's known arsenal but not Libya's, but their use in Misrata was instantly blamed on Libya. One of the bomblets - found or made innocuous - can be seen at left, held for the camera of either Human Rights Watch or the New York Times, I forget which.

If it's in this shape, I think that means it never exploded. I was wondering how many of these at least 63 little guys detonated at all, given there seemed to be no deaths or even injuries in the residential area targeted. There was at least the one that was a dud, and I thought I saw a photo of at least two in the same frame.

I was going to look at the available pictures again sometime, or some reports, but stumbled across this first: a video by UNICEF, posted June 6.  I found the screen capture below interesting - fourteen apparent dud bomblets displayed amongs other military artifacts in a downtown bazaar. That would suggest a failure rate of somewhere just under 25% if the number was 63.
Did any of these things actually blow up, I wonder, or was no live fire, no death, part of the psyop code of ethics? It sure wouldn't be on the brutal government attack agenda, to do something so stupid just to get caught and kill no one in the process anyway, in the attack or after. 

Update June 19: There are now some questions over the research supporting no Libya link to the MAT-120, at least, and related issues. I'll try to report on this once I've gotten a clearer view. One helpful new source is this follow-up from C.J. Chivers, the New York Times reporter who first ran with the story. He cites reports before his arrival early on April 14, and bursts visible as he sailed in as consistent with (but not proof of) more cluster bombs. He saw the bomblets starting that first day, and late that night/early on the morning of the 15th, he heard several detonating with "distinct sounds — a densely compressed set of crunching, rolling explosions in a small area." Plus there were the other witnesses who said they saw such detonations.

So really this line of questioning probably isn't worth much. But the image was interesting, and for what it's worth, there's a small thought.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Video: Rockets from a Mosque

June 17, 2011

First, the video posted by the UK Telegraph on their Youtube account - NATO-released aerial footage of "Pro-Gaddafi forces us[ing] mosque to launch missiles." Says it's in Zlitan, western Libya (i.e. government control, except to some extent, lately)

I agree that seems to be a mosque, there are people out front, and there are missiles/rrockets flying out of it, and blowing up targets a mile or so away down the road. What's not clear is who's in there, what they're shooting at, and why.

I invite comments until I can add more.

For Example ...

June 17, 2011

In Tripoli, the government publicly continues to reject any peace blueprint that sets Kadafi's exit as a precondition.

"No one can come here with a plan that includes the departure of the leader," Musa Ibrahim, chief government spokesman, said Sunday. "This tells us that people are not interested in peace and democracy in Libya. They are interested in implementing a foreign agenda in Libya."
LA Times, June 15

Aside from the bolded, all true. They have come with the plan, they can eventually force it to happen. They can't do it legally, or righteously, but they can, will, and are. Face up, guys. Read the post below.

A Moment of Despair, or Just a Bit Tired

June 17, 2011

I do have about six blog followers now, so I figure I owe an update. I haven't been posting this last week, or following the Libya news so much. It alternates between pissing me off and depressing me, and still no hope my humble opinions and facts will change anything ... so why am I beating mt head against this wall?

I know why, in the long-run, but the urgency has to go. For whatever reason, I care and it has motivated me to understand, and hopefully to communicate so others can care. But time and again I come up against limits - time, focus, background understanding, reliable information from inside Libya, etc ... Now on top of it I feel really tired in the head, drained as if after a huge task, despite hardly achieving anything on this issue a couple of weeks.

I can't add anything but this at the moment, and then perhaps some simple re-posts. No deep research. I'd still like to see this site be a valuable resource for looking back and understanding, after the fact if not before. But at the moment, don't expect much.

Also, the Lockerbie issue has sucked me back in some. That's an important subset of Libyan history about a bombing that had itself not a lick to do with Libya.

The main thing getting me down is I fear that the government of that framed and demonized country has lost its chance by now to keep anything on their own terms, despite the huge sacrifices and appeasements of the past. Right or wrong, Muammar Gaddafi should have already stepped down, from whatever exactly it is he's elevated on (I'm hazy there). That should have happened weeks ago, while the government there was still half-recognized and still stood a chance of maintaing control in his absence. He should have put himself outside the loop - no orders, he's retired and reclusive, leaving the PM or whoever in charge (again, hazy).

He should even have left the country, as everyone was demanding. Not for good, hopefully, but until some sanity returned and the new system was approved. Sometimes, right or wrong, when armed men hop in your car and threaten you and/or your family, it's best to just get out and let them have it. In some cases, they will have it either way, the difference is only who dies along the way and who lives to try and win the car back.

Further, I thought, non-expert that I am, a temporary partition was the sanest answer to the insane situation forced on Libya by mid-March. Any other solution - that is, any type of immediate re-unification - would put too many people under enemy occupation and sow future strife. Tripoli should have led the way. They'd not fire anywhere east of Brega or so, nor on Misrata, and find a clever way to prove they were pulled back and any more firing was by definition by provocateurs who should be ignored. One way or another, that was always another tricky part that I don't have a ready answer for.

Misrata would eventually return to Western control, following talks and two-way migration of those who belonged on the other side. Full re-unification would be a goal, but a tricky one and some years off.

Regular Libya would keep all on-shore oil and have an even smaller population to feed. Cyrenaica would get the eastern offshore stuff only - the rebels and their NATO backers would learn you don't get rich off of seeking freedom/regime change this way. But they wouldn't starve either, and they'd have time to reflect on what they just did without the excuse of fearing a looming holocaust.

Tripoli should have offered the above concessions in pursuit of partition and been grateful to have survived with anything on their own terms, and used it to quickly bring in that more acceptable system they said they were only months away from anyways. This might have still maintained the best of the al Fatah revolution, still met Libyans' needs as they're accustomed to, maintained at least some true independence from foreign financial control, and still allowed democratic reforms, and civil and human rights reforms. All ideas and even political parties could compete and allow the better-funded and non-demonized Western ones to triumph with trickery, if allowed, but oh well.

Starting all this and proving the cease-fire - if that was even possible - might have removed enough excuses so as to leave NATO naked in its aggression and force them to back down. They'd have to save face, so it'd help to give them something of a victory - "Gaddafi's Libya has lost Gaddafi!" might have done it. It might have avoided the full Wall Street takeover by these American-educated free-marketeers of the rebel Transitional National Council. They've already promised Libya to the men with the guns, and now thanks in part to the Leaders' and/or government's inability to be as flexible enough, the script will keep playing out just as it was written.

It's depressing. But then again, each day brings new ideas and new hope.

Best of luck to the people of Libya, whatever government they wind up under.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

NATO Bombing Civilians in Benghazi?

June 14 2011

Yesterday afternoon, I noticed the following unusual story on the blog of Leonor Massanet, an Italian blogger in Libya. A day old by then, she herself calls it (translated) "the biggest surprise of this conflict," which means something. The text, auto-translated from Italian:

Today, NATO has bombed Benghazi, killing 90 armed rebels and there are 20 injured in hospital.
No one knows why. 
At present there are two groups of armed rebels in the east that they are facing and killing each other.
At the moment we do not know why.
Nearly a day later, Google searches show nothing to add to this reported, first-ever, NATO assault on the capitol of its foot soldiers against Gaddafi. Further explanation falls again to Leonor. In a comment beneath that, she added:
The information that I give are from people who have proved they are honest and are not fans because I know very well. These people are involved in the conflict and have relatives or friends in most parts of Libya including the army, plus things I have said the Libyan TV. Yet his speech is usually inaccurate. The Libyans were amazed by this news and do not understand it either. We can only hope a few days and see what happens. 
Yesterday I said that the armed rebel group has been a split because of disagreements and as NATO bombs where they are told. The rebels say the French that they are in Benghazi and in NATO, so there are some interests that are bombing the rebels and NATO do not realize until it happened. Again I speak for the Libyan view of the street.
So if I'm reading this right, the prevailing theory is there are warring factions within the rebel movement that have come into open conflict, and one side called in a NATO strike on the other, with NATO presumably thinking they were hitting Gaddafi soldiers ... way up in Benghazi? That was a threat on March 19, but never a reality nor even much of a worry since then.

And a follow-up post from Tuesday (yesterday):
Seems to be clarifying the reason why NATO bombed yesterday an area of ​​Benghazi that killed 90 people, 20 seriously wounded and 80 wounded treated differently.
The Libyans living in the Benghazi area said they were declared out of this movement of the rebels and that they wanted nothing to do with either one side or another.
Next Friday is a great move program in Benghazi against the rebels and had the suspicion that this move comes out of this neighborhood.

A neighborhood thought to house anti-rebel, anti-NATO (?), andti-Gaddafi (?) elements planning some kind of movement on Friday, now bombed by NATO on Monday. This is a fascinating alleged story that deserves some documentation, details, video evidence, and so on - if it's true. I'll be watching especially for Youtube videos from Libyan TV. Channels to watch: Rayyisse, On to Denver.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Defending Rape Charges: Hysterical Grandstanding

June 13/14 2011

Ooh, a Small but Noisy Controversy!
The claim of mass rape by the besieged regime of Muammar Gaddafi is regularly made to and passed on by the Western media, and generally met with widespread credulity. From rebel-affiliated doctors, supposed neutral experts, and anonymous comments via Twitter and Youtube, we've heard of mass rape, abuse, and humiliation  of women, children, and men in the thousands perhaps by now.

We only hear a few direct accounts, and are told nearly all the victims are silent due to the stringent social taboo against discussing rape or accepting "dishonored" survivors. The Islamic prohibition against lying is another, less acknowledged, potential factor in the dearth of reports.

The body of accusations from this handful includes the famed banshee of the Rixos, Iman al-Obeidi, and her globetrotting theatrics. It includes the ridiculous Viagra claims pushed by Susan Rice to dropped jaws at the UN Security Council. Even the Leader's son Saadi Gaddafi is on the record ordering the rape of male prisoners by African mercenaries, and his top official Abdullah Senoussi is accused of personally sodomizing an old man with a stick in an underground dungeon. These are to some extent collected at this post, which has been getting a lot of views lately.

This renewed interest was triggered by a new twist - on June 9, the International Criminal Court's top prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, added to the ICC's accepted evidence against Col. Gaddafi orders for mass rape. This, he said, was based on "some information" that had them "more convinced" than before of sexual warfare, a "new aspect of the repression" not included in his original set of highly politicized charges. By politicized, I mean they're so technically vague they can only point lazily to the very top shelf - the Leader Muammar Gaddafi, his son and likely successor Saif al-Islam, and Mr. Senoussi. The last was nabbed for a more direct "participation ... in the attacks against demonstrators." Was it below ground level, Mr. M-O?

Immediately after this announcement, a verbal conflict broke out among the Human Rights experts at the United Nations. On one side is M. Cherif Bassiouni, an Egyptian-born UN human rights investigator. He just finished heading up the first-ever official fact-finding mission to Libya and as he announced their findings of regime war crimes, he also managed to cast doubt on Moreno-Ocampo's latest decision (see below for details).

Semantics-Based Quibbles Over "Hysteria"
On the other side are at least two scholarly women, both focused largely on Bassiouni's use of the word "hysteria" to describe the exaggerated and largely baseless claims of mass rape, as alleged against both sides in the conflict. As the Canadian paper National Post reported:
“It is unfortunate that UN investigators of Libyan human rights violations have chosen words which downplay rape allegations and suggest that the main problem was the use of such claims to spread the fear of atrocities, rather than the commission of the atrocities themselves,” Anne Bayefsky, a Canadian political science professor who heads the New York-based monitoring group Eye on the UN, told Postmedia News.

“Investigator Bassiouni’s use of the word ‘hysteria’ in this context is especially insensitive in light of the oft-repeated use of such vocabulary to diminish the credibility of rape victims.”
This is fair enough as a semantical exercise, but it doesn't work any further. Hysteria - in general usage - is one mindset that clouds judgment of what's true. The context of Bassiouni's statements (see below) makes clear that he means not personal hysteria of the pseudo-medical type, but social hysteria of the mass type. That may or may not be a good description of what's going on, but it's clearly something that's not likely to be straight truth.

The first bolded part presumes the atrocities really were carried out, which is the opposite of what Bassiouni implied. In fact, Bayefsky's argument is almost as perverse and criticizing critics of the Salem witch trials for using the term "witch-hunt." Just because the town went mad in its pursuit of witches doesn't excuse the evil done by the witches.

In short, the use of this singular word is nothing to get hysterical over.

Squeezing the Controversy
The other opposing view presented by the National Post is clearly more of a professional - Margot Wallstrom, the UN’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict
Wallstrom defended Moreno-Ocampo’s claims, saying there were “consistent reports from people, from organizations, from UN entities and others on the ground.

“It is difficult to give a figure, but this is part of the arsenal of the Gadhafi troops,” she said.
Wallstrom, a former Swedish minister, told reporters that armed groups continue to use rape as a weapon of war because it is “cheaper, more destructive and easier to get away with than other methods of warfare.”
On Bassiouni’s use of the word hysteria, she said officials should “avoid such language.”

“This has been called history’s greatest silence,” she said of the crime of rape. “For too long, it was not considered proper to mention rape and sexual violence.”
Oh, enough with the dramatics! To the extent silence about sexual violence is the problem, loudly proclaiming false rape charges and having the "world community" bully it into legal realty is not the right antidote.

"Consistent" reports, as far as I can see, means they all share the traits of screaming rape, and pointing the weapon at the demonized government. To the extent I've been able to verify, each report or support does so based on murky evidence and unclear methodology. Is a pile of that collectively more or less reliable than its individual parts?

The bolded phrase, “cheaper, more destructive and easier to get away with," is the kind of talk that eggs on those who would try to stop the alleged crime, and who already were doing it, by targeting the regime for destruction. Every new claim only helps justify the course already chosen from day one for other reasons entirely. 

In summary of Wallstrom's comments, it's hard to imagine that someone trying to be honest and level could squeeze that much political poison out of this disagreement. It is a simple clash between her perception of reports and Mr. Bassiouni's findings from going there. And to publicize the difference and grand-stand like this, she had to first commence, as the National Post put it, "squabbling in a way that critics say is causing an unnecessary distraction as the war in the country rages on."

Why He Didn't Quite Buy it
The critical reader who still sides against the alleged down-player might wonder here "who is this Cherif Bassiouni? Some out-of-touch Gaddafi supporter at the UN, as well as a horrible sexist pig?"I can only offer his Wikipedia page, which I haven't even read. He just headed the first ever official fact-finding mission to Libya for one thing, to actually investigate the rumors that have already sort-of justified about 3,000 NATO strike sorties.

He doesn't come across as pro-Gaddafi. The investigator seems to be gripped by the same general assumptions as most about how the conflict unfolded. As Voice of America noted on June 9, the same day he spoke of mass hysteria:
The chair of the Commission of Inquiry, Cherif Bassiouni, does not mince his words as he presents the conclusions of the fact-finding mission to the U.N. Human Rights Council.

“There have been many serious violations of international humanitarian law committed by government forces and their supporters amounting to war crimes. They include attacks on civilians and civilian objects and targets, attacks on humanitarian-related personnel, attacks on medical units and transports using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions,” Bassiouni said.
It's not clear if these attacks on civilians are of the warfare type where one side is called civilian, or the more crucial (alleged) slaughter of non-violent demonstrators in the first few days. Crimes happen during wars, and the rebels started it. Any other country would have stomped twice as hard as Tripoli did in response to the early rebel outrages.

But the investigators seems to feel differently, and I'll nod to their superior knowledge - for once that seems justified. But it's only on the one issue of mass-rape where the chairman seems to be very at odds with the general lynch mob mindset descending on Gaddafi from all sides. Below is much of an article from the Herald-Sun (Australia), conveying his actual statements on that, including hints of just what the ICC's "new" evidence for mass rape really is:
But Cherif Bassiouni, who is leading a UN rights inquiry into the situation in Libya, suggested that the claim was part of a "massive hysteria".

Mr Bassiouni told journalists that he had heard those claims when he visited rebel-held eastern Libya. But when he went to Tripoli, "the same story comes up."

"This time it's the government people telling us, 'you know what? The opponents have a policy of rape, we have discovered that they are giving out contraceptives and Viagra pills'," he recounted.

"So I told them, 'this is exactly what the other side told us'," he added. "What it is, at least my interpretation of it is, when the information spread out, the society felt so vulnerable... it has created a massive hysteria," said Mr Bassiouni.

The investigator also cited the case of a woman who claimed to have sent out 70,000 questionnaires and received 60,000 responses, of which 259 reported sexual abuse.

However, when the investigators asked for these questionnaires, they never received them.

"But she's going around the world telling everybody about it ... so now she got that information to Ocampo and Ocampo is convinced that here we have a potential 259 women who have responded to the fact that they have been sexually abused," Mr Bassiouni said.

He also pointed out that it did not appear to be credible that the woman was able to send out 70,000 questionnaires in March when the postal service was not functioning.

The circumstances of these 259 alleged reports do sound fishy, especially considering the explosive nature of rape charges and their history of being marred by a very steep convenience-to-plausibility ratio. It's possible rebel networks augmented delivery in lieu of the post office, but to get 60,000 responses back, roughly 1% of Libya's total population, and expect them to be honest, would be a bit much. How many were done in the same hand and ink? Were there really zero mailed-in claims of rape by rebel forces, as the reportage implies? A ratio of 259:0 just doesn't seem plausible to me, if the sampling was at all representative.

There are many variables we don't know, but this is reportedly what convinced Mr. Moreno-Ocampo to modify the charges. And those are against the men at the very top, suggesting further evidence - or imaginings - tying these 259+ possible rapes to orders from on high.

Mr. Bassiouni said he'd be looking into the questionnaires claim further, despite his doubts, and for once I get a slight sense of sanity and a hope that he'll look fairly. He also added:
For the moment, the team has only heard of three cases [of rape by government forces]. "We've not investigated these cases, we hope to be able to investigate them. These would be in the midst of a military operation, a field operation. These would clearly be a war crime."
So he doesn't completely dismiss that rape in a military context might well have happened in at least three cases (besides that of Iman al-Obeidi). But its origin from on high cannot honestly be drawn from these few cases or even from 500, beyond general responsibility. Some "hysteria" to demonize the other side seems to be behind the massive narrative laid out for us, added to by each publicized and believed claim.

As is clear, the 259-victims-by-questionnaire claim adds little to the credibility of this complex of often cartoonish allegations. The ICC and Moreno-Ocampo just don't seem to find that important.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

John Burns, Propaganda Robot, Clunks Into Battle

June 8/9 2011

Tripoli Playing Up Civilian Deaths?
John F. Burns of the infamously propaganda-laden New York Times has a new op-ed piece: Libya Stokes Its Machine Generating Propaganda decrying a defensive war of words and ideas as the latest tools in an evil war against freedom and innocent people. As Burns sums up the effects of NATO's crimes, justified by rumors, against a sovereign nation:
With Colonel Qaddafi effectively a fugitive in his own capital; with Libyan rebels making important gains in recent days in the western mountains; with growing food shortages; and with an urban underground in Tripoli capable of mounting mass protests that the government can suppress only with deadly fire, the government now seems to be relying ever more heavily on its propaganda machine.
He may be right about two cases he cites, where a girl hit by a car was shown as a victim of a NATO bomb, and the church damaged only as a side-effect of a bombing of the military compound right next door. He might even be right about a general policy of exaggerating civilian death reports. I wouldn't be so flippant as to claim to know the answer to such complex questions with so many variables I couldn't pin down. And, as he says, what the hell else can they do, aside from undignified and abject surrender?
With no way of stopping the airstrikes, it seems as though the hidden power of the government’s intelligence and security agencies has been turned to persuading world opinion — above all, opinion in the NATO countries carrying out most of the airstrikes, the United States, Britain and France — that the strikes’ main victims, and often the intended targets, are civilians, and not military, as NATO has said.
That's some paranoid imagination (which I encourage, of course), suggesting basically, the Libyan CIA is engineering this to trick us. But brutal as they're supposed to be, they can't come up with enough dead civilians to be very convincing (see below).

Such silliness aside, the real targets of the bombs is the same as that of the sanctions and money seizures, which are designed to squeeze civilians. The common target of these, and of all other anti-Gaddafi efforts, is the government and the economic system it protects. They want at Libya's resources like Gaddafi wouldn't allow, and what we're seeing is the oyster shell being cracked open for the pearl.

They won't shy away from killing civilians and denying it, but neither will they wantonly seek that out, as the government there might seem to suggest at times.

Laughing at the "Bank Shot"
Another incident the other day saw a family host a missile in their yard following a nearby NATO strike in the mid-evening. This is explained in more detail here, and called "absurd." It was first passed off to the foreign media, apparently, as a NATO missile. Burns notes, starting with the obvious mix-up as the laughable and showing moment it isn't:
But a NATO missile with Cyrillic script on its components? With that discovery from the wreckage, the official briefing about 50 journalists paused in his fulminations against NATO, but only to recalibrate his account. Yes, he said, it was a Russian missile, part of Libya’s armory, but it had reached the backyard by what foreign reporters familiar with arcade games quickly dubbed the “bank shot” or “pinball” method.

In that sequence, a NATO bomb or missile first hits a Libyan arsenal somewhere out in the dark, igniting the Russian missile and sending it blasting off into the night. The effect, the handler said, was the same, regardless of the missile’s provenance. NATO had nearly killed innocent Libyan civilians.

“It is an aggression,” he said. “It is evil.”
Why would there not be dangers like secondary explosions and even fluke missile flight, when hitting ammunition stores? Earlier in the conflict, late March, a young baby boy was killed by a Libyan missile, allegedly ignited in a NATO strike at an ammunition depot around 6 am. The depot was some five miles (8km) away, but there was a hole in the wall and a baby who reportedly died less than instantly after a sheet of exploded metal cut into his little face and head.

The account was doubted somewhat at the time, partly from the great distance involved, but was mostly just left "unconfirmed," for lack of detail from NATO. Now Burns and others dismiss the same thing happening again, from a confirmed strike on an ammunition depot one kilometer distant. Thankfully, no one was killed this time.

Both denials carry a soft implication that the Libyans fired their own missiles around into civilian areas to create propaganda against NATO. Another turn of their intel agency propaganda machine! Certainly drawing attention to the fact of these incidents is taken as propaganda by the ilk of Mr. Burns.

This might sound a little "conspiracy theory," but to be fair, consider the odds - at least two Libyan missiles land in civilian areas, at the time of NATO strikes with US missiles that never target civilian areas. And out of about 3,000 strike sorties to date ... many hitting places full of other explosives ... really, what are the odds that only two or three rockets would enter homes?

"Linked in Some Way..."
Burns seems quite confident that basically no civilian deaths have occurred from NATO's "humanitarian bombardment" of Libya, and certainly none on purpose.
Civilian damage, where there has been any, has been mainly in the form of blast and shockwave impact on nearby buildings. Where civilian buildings have been hit, they appear to have been empty, and linked in some way to the military targets.

Sightings of civilian casualties have been rare, though not for want of official endeavor. But 11 weeks into the airstrikes, the government minders’ credibility, at least among foreign reporters, has worn perilously thin.
He doesn't mention the Gaddafi family residence in the Ghargour neighborhood, where a NATO bomb fell, at about 8:30 pm on April 30, while the Libyan leader was present. He was spared, but three toddlers, the Leader's son Seif, a family friend, and some of the animals in the peting zoo out back were killed.

It had been deemed a command and control bunker linked to "attacks on civilians," and NATO claimed no idea why - or if - the Gaddafi family was there.

Burns also glosses over the NATO bombing of a group of religious leaders in Brega, at dawn on May 13. These clear civilians, on a mission of peace into rebel territory, were hit right during their brief stay in a government building, deemed just then a command and control bunker needing to be taken out. Nine were killed, their bodies shown on state TV, verifiable on Youtube (see above link).

Funeral Fakery
Mr. Burns first came to my attention covering the funeral for these nine killed at Brega, which he suggested was fake. (again, see above link) Never mind the strike was acknowledged by NATO for time and locale, that the Imams' presence there was known, that nine bodies were shown, and nine coffins were laid in the ground in Tripoli within 24 hours.

He slyly countered it all with silence, appeal to bias, and rumors he picked up from whispers on the side, with or without cash enticements. The men in the coffins were other people, he learned - the long-dead, a driver, someone's uncle, possibly Gaddafi victims dug up for this show, but not the Imams claimed to have been killed.

Now in his current work, he says:
Visits to bombing sites, hospitals and funerals have produced a succession of blunders, including patients identified as bombing victims who turned out not to be, empty coffins at funerals and burials where some of those interred turned out not to be airstrike victims at all.
Chances are he's referring in part to that little "fact-finding mission." The other points, well ... take them with a grain of salt, until verified somehow.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Iman al-Obeidi Alleges More State Abuse

June 4/5, 2011
last update June 7

Rape Victim or Threat to Libya? 
I've covered Iman al-Obeidi only in passing at this blog so far, even though she's quite famous and important to most observers as the face of regime rape in Libya. My thinking is even if the rape allegations ganging up on Gaddafi are all disinformation, it really should have a better face than that. More evidence should exist, and it was to that I turned.

Her story is so crucial because of her powerful attention-grabbing entrance, among the more visually convenient moments of the propaganda war. She was detained for taking an allegation of a serious crime not to the proper authorities, but to the Rixos hotel, during a press conference. There, foreign media outlets hungrily took in her emotional account, note the bruises and marks that proved some type of abuse (rope marks around ankles, none around wrists), and photographed her unnerving arrest and removal.

The journalists' home nations were at the same time attacking, with high-tech bombs, Libya's government and system for any excuse that could be found. It's all but impossible to imagine a parallel situation where an American woman's words could have the kind of effect on the homeland that hers could on her own land in that context. I imagine the American Iman in that parallel universe would be dragged off and likely shot (it'd be a different country, really).


Both her initial reported gang rape by soldiers and her enthusiastic introduction to fame are covered widely elsewhere, but not well enough. I won't try to fix that, however, until I've been able to look closer.

But she was dragged away by sinister Gaddafi thugs before she was done telling all. Western journalists were duly skeptical of the government's story of where she was afterwards. They said jail and then a crisis shelter, standard for Libyan rape victims who suffer additional social stigma unknown to Americans. But surely she was locked away being brainwashed into recanting, tortured for the hell of it, raped again, or just plain dead. Silenced, one way or another, it was suspected.

But she re-appeared, and was able to speak with western media on numerous occasions and told the same story. She was allowed apparent freedom of movement, but spoke of threats all around - a certain man who gave her a certain look, and so on, sending subtle messages. Clearly, she hinted, and the press amplified, she was afraid for her life there under the government's gaze.

Meanwhile, the men she had accused prepared a counter-suit for libel. Con artists and the truly threatened - two classes of people who like to skip town.

She said she felt trapped, and she wasn't allowed to leave legally. But in early May, about six weeks after making her allegation to some very accepting foreign enemies, she fled easily enough to Tunisia, with a simple disguise and the help of an army traitor. This "hero" was probably hired by the rebel council (TNC) to bring her to Benghazi before the upcoming trial exposed her as a fraud. 

From there, she wound up, reportedly with rebel help, in Doha Qatar, Arab capitol of rebel support.

A Rough Return Trip
For some reason, she was just now and to much protest all around shipped back to Libya. She landed in Benghazi, not Tripoli, but it was against her will, she says, and she was beaten up in the process.
Speaking to CNN on Thursday after she arrived in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, Ms. Obeidy said that she had been beaten, handcuffed and forced onto a Qatari military plane. A Libyan opposition activist who met Ms. Obeidy in Benghazi told CNN on Friday that she had a black eye, bruises on her legs and scratches on her arms. [source]
Not only Gaddafi's thugs, but even Qatar's security forces can't keep their hands off this woman, even scratching at her like wild animals, it would seem. It must be some energy she exudes, but the protests have already come in that Qatar has abused her Human Rights

I doubt we've heard the last of that. Is it possible she beat herself up to hurl accusations against anyone who doesn't do things her way? Yes, if the trick had previously been used and rewarded. How long till the rebels currently protecting her allegedly toss her through a first-floor (open) window?

The UK Daily Fail says right out she was "sent BACK to Gaddafi," which would be right - she's got a libel trial to show up at and defend her possibly lying self. But that's not how it happened, and that's not why she was sent back.

Al-Obeidi was sent back, against her own will, international law, and even the wishes of the United States. As noted in a strangely-titled AFP article "US scores Qatar deportation of alleged Libyan rape victim."
US officials had repeatedly asked the Qatari government to allow Iman Obeidi to "travel with UNHCR (High Commissioner for Refugees) officials to a safe third country," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
"So we were disappointed at her forced return (to Libya), and we believe it's a breach of humanitarian norms," Toner said.
Associated Press
Sybella Wilkes, spokeswoman for the United Nations' refugee organization, added that Al-Obeidi was a recognized refugee.
And she said there was not any 'good reason' why she was deported from Doha, where she sought refuge last month.
Human Rights Watch said 'this kind of deportation' was ilelegal under international law.
If they're breaking the law for "no good reason" that's evident, trust that there's a good reason. You just can't see it, and should ask why. One site offers, as speculation, that since "Qatar has formally recognized the rebel regime in Benghazi," Qatar perhaps "thinks that this recognition means that it is OK to deport al-Obeidi to territory under control of a "legitimate" regime." But that just seems inadequate.

Besides the violation of will, emotional stress, etc. there's physical danger, some fear.
Asked if her life is at risk in opposition-held areas, [Mark] Toner replied: "It's difficult to say. We believe her life is clearly at risk in Libya... We've expressed our concern to the TNC that her security be looked at."
What the hell? "Clearly in danger"" How is that clear? She lived in Tripoli itself, at the government's total mercy, for six weeks, always afraid for her safety and of being silenced, but allowed to complain of it endlessly to journalists, without once being killed. So she's paranoid. She wasn't even kept under control enough to prevent her flight abroad.

Now we're to be worried that some sleeper cell of Gaddafi loyalists inside Benghazi is going to do what? Kill her now after she's told the story a dozen times, had the world believed it, and has now discredited herself by accusing yet another government of serious abuse? There's no logical reason to do that or to suspect anyone of planning to do so. This threat might have finally defused itself.

The main danger to her life is the possible propaganda value such a ridiculous assassination would hold - she may risk a false-flag "silencing." It might provide enough push to finally topple the regime what killed that poor martyr for freedom. Barring that, the alleged sleeper cell attack could at least justify a bloody purge of fifth columnists within Benghazi.

Her hysterical energy and initial chutzpah has been recognized by the entrepreneurs at the TNC as an asset - and an abundant one. Expect a squeeze. Something spurred the Qataris to make this unpopular decision. Perhaps it was the advice of the foreign sinister Moussa Koussa, from Doha helping steer the war against Gaddafi.

Anyway, for whatever reason, someone in Qatar decided she'd be of most use in the war effort closer to such perceived dangers. If she winds up "silenced" by a loyalist attack, or just has an "attempt" made, please note that I called it.
Update June 5/7: That was short-lived. She's being sent to Malta, reportedly, along with her father this time, or perhaps to Italy, and thence onto Romania, as previously planned.  Has a note of attempted, quiet finality to it. Perhaps the unexpected Qatari "beating" along with the flight was the last straw. Thank goodness. As you can see, that move was "weirding me out."

An Attempt to Seize Power

June 7, 2011

By Eddie McDaid,
special to The Libyan Civil War
via e-mail

While we are constantly reminded that much of the West's media is 'under strict control of the Libyan regime' we are undoubtedly subjected to skewed filtering of information lending itself to bolster any 'humanitarian' ideologies we are claiming are our reasons behind the repeated assasination attempts on Gaddafi. I think it's very important to remain sceptical and recognise the counter reports and claims about the 'rebels' and their actions, who might be behind them, and ultimately their vision of a 'free' Libya.

I'm not anti-intervention per se, but this current situation doesn't appear to, nor has anyone I know except some of the most rabid right wingers, been labelled as some sort of genocidal operation by the Libyan army, but more an emerging civil war with an already well armed group of rebel/protesters.

Indeed, if the accusation of moving towards any form genocidial agenda has been levelled against anyone in this conflict it is the 'rebels' and their treatment of black non-Libyans - the 'rebels', the ones we're arming and funding.

However, how sure are we of what is really going on? Are we there to support/defend ordinary 'protestors' or are we arming and providing support to essentially mob rule who are just as vicious as the current regime?

The oversimplification here is that Gaddafi is a bad man who is oppressing his own people and a group of rebels are trying to win democracy and liberty for the people and they need and should get our help. The complexity is that its actually far more like a tribal civil war and some people in Libya are just as frightened of the rebels as they are of Gaddafi. People can't go all realpolik on us about why its Libya and not somewhere else if you're supposedly supporting some high-minded principle of humanitarianism to justify this. It's either humanitarian or it isn't.

I strongly suspect that support for Gaddafi, as loony as he seems to us, is far greater in Libya than our media and politicians would want us to believe and that this rebellion is not in fact a popular uprising at all, but an attempt to seize power by forces funded and encouraged by us.

And now with the intervention of NATO, are we the real purveyors of death in Libya? If previous 'military interventions' are anything to go by, very many innocent people will suffer or die as a direct consequence of our actions.

I'm interested in getting both sides of the story, which is something you won't get from our politicians. Obviously Gaddafi is a lunatic and a thug, but what he actually does, and what the 'rebels' actually do will be grotesquely distorted by us in order to fit a simplistic good vs evil narrative in order to sell our imperialist intervention.

I don't know what the real motive is behind our intervention, but I'd hazard a guess that in an era of spiralling oil prices and serious worries about energy security it's about getting rid of the unpredictable anti west guy and replacing him with a more stable, dare I say it, pliant regime. And it always a nice bonus if you can get a government in place that's happy to take some of our cash and then let us privatize the shit out of all their natural resources and saddle them with loads of debt to 'help' them rebuild the stuff we blew up.

It's a kind of historical cycle. We intervene out of *insert whatever culturally acceptable fig leaf here* and breed the next generation of dictators, tyrants stoking up civil wars, which explode a few decades down the line meaning we have to intervene to mop it up. And repeat.

Our bombing of Libya to influence their internal politics is on the exact moral level of Al Qaeda bombing New York to influence American internal politics. And it seems to be having the same entirely predictable result.

A fascinating article here by Adam Curtis is well worth a read: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/adamcurti...d_baddies.html

Cynthia McKinney’s truth dispatches from Libya: Days 1-3

June 7 2011

Re: Cynthia McKinney’s truth dispatches from Libya: Days 1-3
The San Francisco Bay View
June 5, 2011
by Wayne Madsen

The legendary conspiracy theorist writer is bringing in some pretty level-headed news from former US congresswoman on her own fact-finding mission in West Libya. Actually, it's a larger team effort than I realized. As noted at the end of the dispatch:
The DIGNITY Delegation of independent journalists from across the United States is on a truth-telling, fact-finding mission to Libya. Headed by former Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the delegation will be joined by former Sen. Mike Gravel and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark. For more information, contact Don DeBar at dondebar@optonline.net.

Issues that are covered:
- the deliberate targeting of Muammar Gaddafi (including some new details of the April 30 strike that killed his son Saif and three of his infant grandchildren)
- the lack of rebel strongholds in the west of the country often described in outside media, and the abundance of pro-Gaddafi sentiment in these areas.
- attacks on migrant refugee camps in neighboring Tunisia.

Excellent work.

Monday, June 6, 2011


May 12, 2011
edits May 15

(Some thoughts split off from elsewhere, perhaps to be added to later ....)

Consider NATO's approach to this "humanitarian crisis" in Libya - created by NATO member states or not. It's costing more lives in this "stalemate" than Gaddafi's unfettered repression likely would have, but it does have the opposite outcome from the alternative as for who runs Libya. Some distinction or other has the Dogs of War running in a pack over an obviously illegal and dishonest war of aggression on a state whose main crime might have been getting set up by CIA-type shenanigans, again. Demanding regime change as the only solution to this very fishy situation backs him into a corner, and ensures a longer fight, and we lose track on purpose of what we were supposed to be doing from the outset. 

Obvious air support for the rebels as they seized cities (or is it the rebels are obviously NATO's ground troops?) is masked always as a simple measure to protect innocent civilians. An obvious assassination atempt that kills four innocent civilians, three of them under two years of age, was a simple part of the aforesaid mission, targeting command and control, and communications, intelligence, morale, the leader's sense of a future, whatever. It's all obvious, just too much so to bother explaining. 

Doublespeak is what it's become. Hillary Clinton finally boiled it down May 5 in Rome:
“We have made it abundantly clear that the best way to protect civilians is for Qaddafi to [surrender in the civil war] and to leave power [however long it takes and however many civilians die in the interim]. This is the outcome we are seeking.” [source]

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Bombing Imams - Why?

May 15/16 2011

Those unfamiliar with the incident last Friday morning that, it's said, killed several Muslim imams on a peace mission to the east, should see Details on the May 13 NATO Strike at Brega.

In NATO's acknowledged dawn raid on Brega, nine religious representatives were killed (mis-reported as both 11 and 16), with another 45-50 or more injured. There is still some confusion over whether the victims were proper imams or men from the government's bureau of Islamic affairs there to meet the imams (although the latter seems a better fit) - see above link, at the bottom of the article).

The city of Brega is only about 25 miles southwest of the contested city of Ajdabya, which is in turn about 50 miles south of the rebel capitol Benghazi. The Guardian's Michael Chulov reports on the mission of the clerics:
The group had reportedly travelled to Brega from across the war-torn country. They had appeared on state-run television on Thursday and, according to government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, planned to move to the nearby city of Ajdabiya on Friday and then to Benghazi.
But as it happened, they spent the hours between those events in a building which NATO was forced to bomb during their brief stay. As always, they insist it was a "command and control bunker," part of the government's C-and-C system, or C3 (adding non-command communications) or C3I (adding intelligence). Attacking these is said to prevent the flow of orders or materiel to any effort to attack the well-armed, NATO-backed "civilians" intent on overthrowing the government. This is very important, for "humanitarian" reasons of course.

Now, NATO acknowledges hitting a building in Brega. And the government's got quite a few dead and gravely injured victims shown, in a bombed building at Brega. Let's dispense with hypothetical possibilities and presume the two facts are directly connected. NATO bombs killed these religious leaders on their purported mission of peace.


When NATO destroyed a Gaddafi family home on the night of April 31, killing three babies and Gaddafi's 29-year old son while narrowly missing the leader,  it was a C3 center and who knows why or if the Gaddafis were there. A barracks hit in Tripoli's Tajoura district a month earlier was within a residential neighborhood, and reportedly killed 40 civilians.

If we accept both NATO's versions of these and other attacks, and the civilian deaths reported, the government complexes hit frequently have war-control facilities right next to or inside of homes, hospitals, schools, and sewage treatment plants. They're hit anyways, damaging these civilian facilities over and over, with NATO always voicing regret for any civilian deaths that may have happened, and promising to "look into it" (it's the last we ever hear).

Considering this pattern, would Gaddafi find it a deterrent to run military operations from a building in Brega, and use the same place to house these pilgrims? He might possibly try, but again, it shouldn't be expected to work. NATO has only to fail to verify the claims, and they can be considered irrelevant.

If not a deterrent, perhaps he set things up this way as a trick - a human sacrifice to give NATO a black eye. This is just the kind of thing they're accused of frequently, and they are using the Brega strike for PR advantage against the "barbaric, inhumane NATO." But really, they have plenty of excellent gripes already that have had little effect, and they stood much more to gain from a successful peace mission. That would be quite a thing to throw away on more Gaddafi "human shield" brutality against his own people when any random religious leaders not engaged in something important could be slapped into some secret command bunker to similar effect.

Did NATO know anything about the clerics and the mission they were on? I suspect so, given their appearance on TV the previous day. Did it effect the bombing raid? I suspect so. Their strikes usually happen late at night when people are asleep, but this one was a bit later, and caught them just as they had woken up and gathered together for a pre-journey "religious ceremony." That might indicate an intent to kill as many of them as possible, which could be managed if someone were slipping them detailed enough information.

Another option is a NATO screw-up that hit the wrong building and only by chance killed these guys, just as they happened to be on their way to try and talk the rebels down. That seems like rather a steep coincidence, leaving the other options where one command structure or another (Libya's or NATO's) conspired to bring these pilgrims of peace together with the war's destruction.

The final possibility I'd like to float is that in some twisted Orwellian way, NATO's and the government's assessments are both true. Perhaps the Euro-Atlantic leadership had decided the planned meeting with the rebels would be an attack on them. And clearly the Imams making last minute preparations at the guest-house in Brega would be the command and control of that attack.

Perhaps they felt the clerics had kalashnikovs and suicide vests under their robes, but more likely it was a less literal attack which they feared. Given the intensely religious bent of the rebel masses, the credentialed clerical entourage ("including a leading cleric named Sheik Omar Ibrahim" - among the dead according to Mathaba) might have a chance of reaching a few. Considering the faded initial euphoria of February and possibly clearer thinking beneath the surface, some few rebels might wind up laying down their arms and setting an example for others yet. As an ideological challenge to the rightness and wisdom of NATO's favorites ruling all Libya, it might have been potent. Therefore, it could be said, the Imams themselves were plotting a type of attack on the "civilians" of Ajdabya and eventually Benghazi. That would be unacceptable to those who intend to have them rule all Libya.

The main goal, in this possibility, would be to fully stop the peace mission. But failing that, if the remaining Imams continued on, they might be even more discredited in rebel eyes by their ordeal. They were already perceived as a pro-Gaddafi delegation, by virtue at least of seeking an end to the war aimed at destroying the regime. But after the strike, the rebel leaders could say "you want to talk peace to us? You spent the night in a Gaddafi command center coordinating attacks on us! That's what NATO says, and we believe our patrons. Now go home and we'll see you again when we get to Tripoli."

But I've seen nothing about the mission continuing, at least on schedule. This NATO attack on civilians does seem to have been fatal to the victims' efforts at peace. How much clearer does it need to get that NATO has unstated interests that totally overshadow their public ones?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Dumas and Verges: Defend Monsters - Not Gaddafi

June 1/2 2011

I'm not entirely sure NATO can be sued, effectively anyways. But two French lawyers of some repute are ready to give it a try, on behalf on Libyan civilian victims of the organization's air strikes. And more to the point here, they're prepared to defend the leader targeted by all these deadly explosions - Muammar Gaddafi. Some excerpts from a news story on this:

French ex-Minister in Libya, would defend Gaddafi
Peter Graff, Reuters, May 29 2011
Tripoli (Reuters) - Former French foreign minister Roland Dumas visited Libya as a lawyer to prepare a legal case on behalf of victims of NATO bombing and said he was prepared to defend leader Muammar Gaddafi if he is sent to The Hague. Dumas, who served as foreign minister under socialist President Francois Mitterrand, said he had seen several civilian victims of NATO bombing in a hospital and had been told by a doctor there that there were as many as 20,000 more.

I rather doubt that high a number, an issue I'll cover seperately. Nonetheless, there are victims, likely well into the hundreds or perhaps low thousands. It is worth a pause to notice that we can't be sure, considering NATO's record of assassination attempts and 'inability' to confirm things, that there haven't been 20,000.

Nonetheless, as Dumas continued:
"This is brutal, brutal aggression against a sovereign country," Dumas told a news conference in a Tripoli luxury hotel on Sunday, attended by people introduced as family members and supporters of relatives of civilian casualties.

"At the moment we have been retained, we have a mandate on behalf of the victims of the military bombardment of NATO, who carried out their military action against civilians with the artificial -- very artificial -- cover of the United Nations," Dumas said.

"Following an approach by the government of Libya, we have decided to make this trip to see for ourselves the condition of the victims and the situation," he said.
It's the guy with Dumas that has me concerned:
Dumas was accompanied by prominent French defense lawyer Jacques Verges, who said his goal was to "unmask those assassins" responsible for NATO air strikes. Verges said he had wept in hospital upon meeting civilians wounded "solely because they are Libyans."

Verges -- whose clients have included Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie -- and Dumas had been among lawyers expected to defend ousted Ivory Coast president Laurent Gbagbo, who is being investigated for alleged human rights abuses during the conflict sparked by the disputed 2010 presidential election.

Their names were dropped from the most recent list of Gbagbo's lawyers.
I think Gaddafi as well should drop - or not retain - the team. I don't trust, or know much about, these guys. But it seems to me they might be the establishment anti-establishment of France. And as well all know, France has a lot of its people working this war. The one Libyan defector that wound up in France was the one who made contact with the DGSE, protest leaders, and defecting military, to help arrange the protest-war. Their top "human rights" philosopher, Levy, has made an eloquent-sounding case for supporting the rebels (including this laughable episode). Its water privatizing companies have the most use for Libya's publicly-owned "Great Manmade River." France's diplomats were the first to recognize their rebel foot soldiers as Libya's government, its Air Force is taking the lead in bombing, and its strangle little president Sarkozy oversseing it all unapologetically, pinning all France's war crimes on Gaddafi and painting himself as a big hero.

So when some top French war criminal defenders come out to "defend" the target of these psyops, be wary.

Admittedly, the two sound quite possibly sincere, and I don't know much about either. Dumas I've never heard of, in fact, but Verges is a Thailand-born French maverick, immortalized in that Terror's Advocate movie I've been meaning to see. He's made fame, money, and maybe history defending of various terrorists (most famously Carlos the Jackal) and even Nazi war criminals like Barbie. Here's the trailer:

At the end is the line that, clever as it is, troubles me in this context:
I was asked "would you defend Hitler?" I said "I'd even defend Bush! But only if he agrees to plead guilty."
Would he defend Obama, Cameron, or Sarkozy for their current war crimes if they admitted to them? If he defends their adversary Gaddafi, will he require the Leader to first admit his guilt for the charges he's being saddled with by the International Court that's Criminal? Gaddafi needs someone who understands that he is not the monster he's portrayed as, not someone who thinks it's cool to cozy up to monsters.

US Cluster Bombed Misrata?

June 1/2, 2011

Here I'll first just mention, and later comment on, an interesting and very specific allegation. A while back, extra deadly and widely banned cluster bomb(s) were discovered to have been used in Misrata. Of course, the blame went right to the besieging Libyan forces loyal to the government of Libya. As usual, I'm not convinced that's true.

But supposing the bomb(s) or their signs really were found there (I haven't looked into the details yet), someone is responsible. There's no worthwhile tactical advantage for any side to use such a weapon in Misrata, where people loyal to both sides reside and struggle. The only clear value to anyone is the bombs being sent - dropped, fired, or simply set down - by forces loyal to the takeover effort, strictly as dehumanizing propaganda against the government.

That has been alleged by an organization called Human Rights Investigations, of whom I also know little. (sorry, time is so limited for me these days...) First, a summary of the allegations worked into a new article for "The Examiner"
PSYOP: US Navy cluster bombs oil-rich Libya, blames Gadaffi
Today, Human Rights Investigation (HRI) has called for accountability related to the recent cluster bombing of Libyans in the nation's third largest city, Misrata. HRI has evidence that, although Human Rights Watch and a US media reporter blamed Gaddafi supporters for the war crime of cluster bombing Misrata, it was the United States Navy and Western allies who cluster bombed the city in April in the US led war on oil rich Libya, and then led a deadly psychological operation for further violence.
The Libyan government has consistently denied the charge, which many take as proof that the charges are true. But this group with a website claims it can all but prove the opposite, who did cluster bomb Misrata.

The findings are mentioned around elsewhere, like at the Iranian Press TV.
The HRI said it has convincing evidence that the cluster bombing blamed on pro-Gaddafi forces was actually carried out by the US navy.

So, the link given is this:
But that only covers some possibly unusual ships/crews in the right area to have done it. I'll have a look and report back on this plus the following further articles in support.
The cluster bombing of Misrata: The case against the USA
Admiral James Stavridis
As the official story of Misrata unravels…
June 2: I've skimmed through all of them. There's nothing like proof, but a good case is made with some admirably detailed research. The second link ("case") is particularly useful, and at the very least explains just what the supporting evidence there is for when, where, and how the cluster bombs came in. I'm instinctively a little skeptical of this (I have over-active disinformation detectors), but I've decided it's all worth considering closely, over the next week or two. I'll bump this post to the top again when I decide what else to type.

June 8: Once I got through it, I realized it was a very interesting case. I decided to relate it in a separate post. Please see that - my official opinion, explained there: we don't know who caused these bombs to burst over Misrata, although the United States Navy appears the most likely candidate if we had to pick someone. But either way, it's looking very unlikely it was Libya. They need to be de-blamed as soon as possible.