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Sunday, May 12, 2013

UNAC demands "US Out of #Libya!"???

Where are these people's heads?

If there is one thing that the killing of the US ambassador and three other US citizens in Benghazi on 11 September 2012 illustrates, it is the tiny size of the US presence in Libya now. The US knew there were still forces in Libya that opposed the overthrow of the Qaddafi dictatorship and opposed any US presence in the country. "No more than seven Americans were in the compound, including Ambassador Stevens", according to WikiPedia. They knew that Benghazi was the center of this armed opposition and yet the US ambassador went there with just a few US agents for protection and was forced to rely on the Libyans for their main protection force.

The United National Antiwar Coalition opposed the Libya revolution as soon they became aware of it and they saw it as a repeat of Iraq and now, ignoring reality, they are still trying to stuff it into that box. But consider the differences: After the defeat of Saddam Hussein by the US military, the US had over 160,000 combat troops in the country. In the Green Zone, they built the largest US embassy in the world, and the number of US contractors of all types involved in the occupation of Iraq was incredible.

Consider the contrast with Libya now. There never was a US occupation of Libya. There are no US bases, in spite of predictions that AFRICOM would be relocated there, and there are no US soldiers in Libya beyond the usual embassy marines. While the CIA undoubtedly has a presence in Libya, there is no indication that it is as large as when they were running black sites with Mummar Qaddafi. The fire power the attackers in Benghazi directed at the US forces was overwhelming and sustained. The only reason more US forces weren't killed in the Benghazi attack is that there were so few US forces there.

And yet UNAC is raising in Libya the same demand that they raised in Iraq and Afghanistan, "US Out of Libya" as if by raising the same demand they can imply that the situations are parallel without proving their case with facts.

Given the lack of a substantial US presence in Libya, one can only wonder what the practical implications of this "US Out of Libya" are. Are they, for example, demanding that the US close it's embassy in Libya and remove all diplomatic personnel?

If that is the case, it looks like UNAC may be getting its way. From the Gulf Today we have this report
US pulls out staff from embassy in Libya
May 12, 2013

TRIPOLI: The United States on Friday announced that they were withdrawing some diplomatic staff from Libya, amid security concerns over a recent flare-up in political unrest there.

Tensions have risen in Libya since ex-rebels besieged two ministries at the end of last month in a row over a law that would ban officials who served under slain ruler Muammar Qadhafi from holding office. “In light of the current unsettled conditions around major anti-government demonstrations in Tripoli, the under secretary for management has approved the ordered departure of non-emergency personnel from Libya,” said US State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell.

“A handful of our staff members have, indeed, departed Libya. Our embassy in Tripoli is still open and still functioning.”

Gunmen surrounded the Libyan foreign ministry on April 28 and the justice ministry two days later to demand the passing of a law excluding Qadhafi collaborators from office. More...
The US feels threatened because some of the revolutionaries are still holding on to their arms and are willing to brandish them whenever they think their revolution may be in danger, but these concerns that widespread violence was about to break out around this political struggle have proven to be over blown.

Libyans all over country came out in large numbers to demonstrate against the heavy handed tactics of these militias and they convinced them to withdraw this siege and now the ministries are back at work. As is often chanted at Occupy demonstrations in the US, "This is what democracy looks like!" From the Libya Herald we have this report:
Ministries back to work after sieges end
By Ahmed Elumami.
Tripoli, 12 May 2013:
Staff at the Foreign and Justice Ministries went back to work today after almost a fortnight of being kept out of the buildings by armed militiamen. The latter had originally mounted the blockades in support of the Political Isolation Law.

The buildings were handed over this morning to a group comprising a number of Congress members and leaders of groups that had supported the militiamen. According to the spokesman of Supreme Security Committee, Murad Hamza, the group that “received” the Foreign Ministry included its Undersecretary, Abdul-Razaq Graid, two Congressmen and a members of the Political Isolation Law coordination group.

Foreign Minister Mohamed Abdulaziz and Justice Minister Salah Marghani resumed work following an agreement between Congress officials and the leaders of the gunmen had been reached, the spokesmen for the respective ministries told the Libya Herald.

The reason for the formal handover, according to the militiamen, was that they wanted to show that nothing had been damaged or stolen during the period they h[e]ld the offices. Officials confirmed that was the case.

“Nothing has been touched,” a member of staff at the foreign ministry this afternoon, noting that files and computers of had not been tampered with.

“We’ve started working normally,” he said. More...
The truth of the matter is that US President Barack Obama showed only slightly more interest in intervening in Libya than he has shown so far in intervening in Syria. The US had to be dragged into intervening in Libya by the other NATO allies and for the first time in NATO history, it was the European allies and not the US, that played the leading role in a NATO operation. It was French planes that made the first attacks, stopping Qaddafi's tanks just as they were entering Benghazi. If not for those French planes, Qaddafi would have done to Benghazi what Bashar al-Assad has done to Homs and many other Syria cities.

Obama was trying to get the "US Out of Libya" almost as soon he got in, which is why the Independent was running this story before the Libya air campaign was just two weeks old:
US to pull out of Libya air attacks
Friday 01 April 2011
The announcement, in the hope that Nato partners can take up the slack, drew incredulous reactions.

The announcement drew incredulous reactions from some in Congress who wondered aloud why the Obama administration would bow out of a key element of the strategy for protecting Libyan civilians and crippling Muammar Gaddafi's army.

"Odd," "troubling" and "unnerving" were among critical comments by senators pressing for an explanation of the announcement by Defence Secretary Robert Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen that American combat missions will end on Saturday. More...
After NATO formally took over the air campaign over Libya, the US continued to fly the majority of the supply and refueling missions and even carried out another 60 strike sorties and 30 drone strikes as of 20 June 2011, but the majority of the strike sorties were done by the US European allies. While the US flew 25% of all sorties, they were heavily weighted towards support and refueling missions rather than strike sorties.

France did the most by flying 35% of the strike sorties. Britain was also a leader. Tiny Denmark "bombed approximately 17 percent of all targets in Libya and together with Norwegian flights have been the most efficient in proportion to the number of flights involved" according to Wikipedia. This is a reference to the fact that a great many US "strike sorties" never dropped any ordinance. According to Human Rights Watch this air campaign killed 72 civilians unlawfully.

The illusion that the Libyan Revolution was largely a US instigated "regime change" operation or even that the bombing of Libya was mainly a US affair is one that Leftist like those represented in UNAC must cling to because it serves their US centric narrative that the Libya conflict was basically a repeat of what happened in Iraq, but for them to still be raising the slogan "US Out of Libya" in 2013 only shows how far from reality these folks have wandered.

Click here for a list of my other diaries on Libya

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