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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Target Gaddafi: Reactions to the Assassination Attempt

May 3 2011
last update May 24

Some further reactions to the strike that killed Saif (or Seif) al-Arab al Gaddafi and his three young kids, while apparently aiming for their grandpa, Muammar Gaddafi.

It's been noted Saif survived an earlier attack on a family compound, again by the US, in 1986, when he was a young boy. Less luck these days.

The Mirror seems to think Saif deserved it - he was a spoiled thug. He allegedly hired someone to kill someone once over being famously kicked out of a bar. There's a Gaddafi - always attach your darkest plots to the highhest-profile hitch you can and be sure to be seen ... involved in a weapons-smuggling probe, they say. Had a way of charges of being dropped.

No one has provided evidence he or his three children were involved in attacks on innocent civilians. Or even against the NATO-backed insurgents trying to topple the regime in a civil war. Except by cheering up Grampa Gaddafi in his murderous campaign. So score one for the protection of innocents after all.

If the morale loss angle is working, it's not evident. They're putting on strong and defiant faces in Tripoli. Washington Post on the funeral, May 2:
About 2,000 Gaddafi supporters gathered for the funeral, chanting slogans in support of the regime. There was no sign of Gaddafi, who has appeared in public infrequently since NATO warplanes took over Libya’s skies in mid-March.

Saif al-Arab’s coffin, covered in a wreath of flowers and draped in the green flag adopted by the regime since Gaddafi took over in a military coup in 1969, was carried through a throng of supporters, who chanted, “The people want revenge for the martyr” and “Revenge, revenge for you, Libya.”
The most recognizable figure at the graveside was the bespectacled Saif al-Islam, dressed in a black round hat, a white shirt and black waistcoast. He reached down to touch his younger brother’s chest for the last time and then fought back tears as the body, covered in a white shroud, was taken from a simple wooden coffin and lowered into the ground.

Swiftly regaining his composure, Saif al-Islam then left the graveside, flashing V-for-victory signs, waving at faces he recognized and shaking his fist in defiance, his every step jostled by a surging and poorly controlled crowd.

Benjamin Barber: Libya: This is Nato's dirty war
The Guardian, May 2 2011
A scathing (but not probing enough)piece by the author of Jihad vs. McWorld.

In Syria, where the government is also "killing its own people", prudent strategists urge restraint, cautioning that regime change can lead to unknown and pernicious consequences.
Here, the (intended) consequences are known, hoped for, planned for. Nothing's 100% sure, but the top people all seem ready to bet on it.

But it is the plain stupidity of the Nato commitment to assassination and violent regime change that is most disconcerting. What on earth is the endgame?
And end to the Green revolution. The expansion of McWorld. Privatizations and re-structuring.

Want to be sure that [Gaddafi] will fight to the finish at maximum cost to others? Corner him, try to kill him and his family, and warn him that he has no way out but abject surrender, certain arrest and probable execution.
Self-fulfilling prophecy. Provoke that which will "require" the desired end-game.

Alaa al-Ameri: Gaddafi is a legitimate target
The Guardian, May 3 2011

Al-Ameri offers no legal reasoning to support the title, only rhetorical ones. He cartoonish bad guy. It okay to kill him.

Gaddafi is not a head of state. He is a warlord in control of a personal army that he has tasked with the mass killing and terrorising of Libyans for the crime of wishing to live as free human beings.
It's easier to pick out the few correct words in there than to address the wrong ones. Newspeak in action here.

George Jonas, National Post:
Fancy that. Three generations of Gaddafis arriving at a known control and command centre just as NATO begins an air strike. Isn't it a small world? What a coincidence. It has to be, because the commander of NATO operations in Libya tells us we don't target individuals. As the UN's air force, we're 21st-century knights: Our quest is to rescue princesses without slaying dragons.

Or maybe NATO is lying and General Bouchard doesn't know it. Maybe NATO commanders aren't in the loop. After all, do commanders need to know? Targeted assassination is a policy matter; it's sufficient if the commander-in-chief knows about it, and judging by his speech [on the killing of Osama bin Laden], he does. He knows what targeted assassination are and why they may be necessary.

Arab Times on-line passes on details of the victims and the plea of Libya's top Catholic.
ROME, May 1, (AFP): The most senior Catholic official in Tripoli on Sunday confirmed on Italian television that Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Arab had been killed and appealed for a ceasefire.
“I confirm the death of the son of the leader,” Giovanni Martinelli, the bishop of Tripoli, told the Sky TG24 channel.
Television pictures showed him standing with other religious dignitaries in front of three bodies covered in shrouds and flags.
He said he was taken to the morgue by officials of various local churches and added that they then all said a prayer.
Martinelli said he felt the anger of all those present but added that the dignitaries thanked him for his “gesture of solidarity”.
An early critic of the Western military campaign in Libya, he appealed to NATO, the United Nations and the international community to end the bombing of Libya.
“I ask, please, out of respect for the pain due to the loss of a son, a gesture of humanity towards the leader (Gaddafi),” he said.
Al Arabiya on Sunday broadcast footage taken from Libyan Jamahiriyah TV which it said were the bodies of Saif al-Arab and the three children — two 2-year-olds and a five-month-old. They were wrapped in green cloth with their faces covered in white.
Pravda: Only Criminals try to assassinate world leaders. Moscow Times: Foreign Ministry Says NATO might be targeting Gaddafi.
"Statements by participants in the coalition that the strikes on Libya are not aimed at the physical destruction of … Gadhafi and members of his family raise serious doubts," a ministry statement said Sunday.

A State Duma deputy who often serves as a mouthpiece for the Kremlin's views on foreign affairs was less diplomatic.

"More and more facts indicate that the aim of the anti-Libyan coalition is the physical destruction of Gadhafi," said Konstantin Kosachev, who heads the Duma's International Affairs Committee.

Kosachev called on Western leaders to make their position on the airstrikes clear.

"I am totally perplexed by the total silence from the presidents of the United States, France, the leaders of other Western countries," Kosachev said in an interview, according to Interfax. "We have the right to expect their immediate, comprehensive and objective assessment of the coalition's actions."

China calls for a cease-fire (on NATO this time!). As does Venezuela, urging wider UN support.

May 8: More details on the second strike on the Gaddafi family home and the burning of empty embassy buildings, and the responses to that: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2011/may/08/ml-libya/

May 24: Ireal Shamir has an excellent article I missed: Did the UN Security Council Authorize Assassination? (Counterpunch, May 5). An excerpt:
The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court announced on Thursday that he would soon stand before the United Nations and report on alleged Libyan war crimes. We can only hope that his brief will include the latest war crime, the murder of Qaddafi’s family, his son and three grandchildren, and the assassination attempt on the life of the Libyan leader on May Day, 2011. Cameron, Sarkozy, the NATO field commanders and the Danish air crew should all be indicted for this crime.
Or whomever, exactly. I heard the jets were Norwegian-flown ... But the following is highly interesting:
The date of the operation was known well beforehand, and had already been openly discussed in late April by the Russian Secret Service SVR (External Intelligence Service). On April 29th, a Russian netzine published an article by Kirill Svetitsky who quoted an anonymous source within SVR:

“There will be an attempt to kill Muammar Qaddafi on or before May 2. The governments of France, Britain and the US decided on it, for the warfare in Libya does not proceed well for the anti-Libyan alliance: the regular army has substantial gains; Bedouin tribes entered the fight on the government’s side; in Benghazi, a “second front” was opened by the armed local militias who are tired of rebels’ presence, their incessant fights and robberies.

“But the main reason for the timing is that the Italian parliament plans to discuss Italy’s involvement in Libyan campaign on May 3. Until now, decisions were taken by Berlusconi, but there are strong differences of opinion within the government coalition regarding the Libyan war, and they will probably bring the government down on May 3, and Italy will effectively leave the anti-Libyan alliance. It is likely to have a domino effect. For this reason leaders of the UK, the US and France decided to eliminate Qaddafi not later than May 2d, before the session of the Italian parliament on May 3d.”

Unlike many Internet predictions, this one turned out to be timely and exact. On May 1, the US, France and the UK made a failed attempt on the life of Muammar Qaddafi, although they did succeed in killing his son and three grandchildren. Such unusual operative foreknowledge implies that Western leaders had advised the Russians of the planned attack, and that the SVR had then leaked the plans.
Actually, as we've seen, the attack occurred about 8:30 pm the night of April 30, but obviously reports didn't really emerge as to the effects, even within Libya, until the first hours of May 1. Same difference, mostly. Either way it's not exactly "well before," but the previous day - April 29 - it had been reported based on a probably fresh leak or good guess that NATO would try to assassinate Gaddafi. That's gotta mean something - at the very least that their moves are getting more predictable.

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