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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Secret files reveal Dennis Kucinich talks with Qaddafi Regime

Today Jamal Eishayyal reported in Al Jazeera/English that he found some papers in the office of Abdullah Alsinnousi, head of Libya's intelligence service and one of the most fear men in Libya, that seem to document the communications of several prominent US citizens with the Qaddafi regime in the months before it was overthrown. The following information request is said to be from Congressman Dennis Kucinich:
Good Morning Gentlemen.
This is the Congressman you both spoke with. He is going to fight for us but he has asked us for evidence. I can bring whatever we can gather. If it is sensitive I will carry it, otherwise we can email it. House to vote next week on ending US involvement in Libya

l.Any corrupt (verifiable) acts by the Opposition leaders. Include any personal motives for instance to make money or gain certain types of power.
2.Any known Al-Qaeda operating in the Opposition.
3 .Any evidence of atrocities committed by the Rebel soldiers.
4-.Any evidence of Civilian deaths by NATO.
5 .Any evidence of arms sales to the Opposition in Benghazi or Misrata, including dates, who sold the weapons, what type and the cost of the deals.
6.Any evidence of weapons being smuggled on boats to Misrata, with dates. and type of weapons.
7.Any evidence that the uprising was a planned event prior to February 17th. Include intercepted communications, names, dates.
S.Evidence supporting that the Regime has a regular practice of hiring African military in its Pan-African units and this was not a new (mercenaries) thing just for the uprising.
9.Communications with the UK and USA prior to the UN bombings to show Regime was trying to negotiate peacefully.
10.Evidence of cease fires by the Regime or withdrawals of troops. Dates, location, description (including why cease fire broke down).
11.Evidence that before the uprising started, there were democratic projects under way, for instance a plan for elections and so forth. This shows that they were already going this way and aren't just saying that now.
l2.Evidence that The Leader had already planned to step down before the uprisings. This shows there was already a transition going on. It also helps him save face for when he does step down because it will look like that was the plan all along.
l3.A list of tribes and location known to be loyal to Regime, those pledging loyalty to Opposition, and the remaining ones that have not pledged either way. The population of each group as well, This shows that the Rebels don't have the full support of the country.
l4.A list and description (including date and location) of humanitarian efforts by Regime since this started, or their attempts to aid the civilian population, and any efforts blocked by NATO or the Rebels.
It will be used for:
A) A lawsuit against
B) Defending Saif in the ICC
C) Publicity to reform the image of Regime.
D) To help negotiation positions

At the time Kucinich was attempting to get passed a resolution which he authored that would mandate an immediate withdrawal of US forces from Libya absent congressional authorization. Dennis Kucinich has issued a response to this news to the Atlantic Wire:
"Al Jazeera found a document written by a Libyan bureaucrat to other Libyan bureaucrats. All it proves is that the Libyans were reading the Washington Post... I can't help what the Libyans put in their files... Any implication I was doing anything other than trying to bring an end to an unauthorised war is fiction."
While that reply would seem to indicate that this communication was a fabrication, earlier this week, Kucinich issued a press release defending his search for peace in Libya and confirming his contact with the Qaddafi regime:
Washington, Aug 26 - The Guardian newspaper recently reported that it found communications between me and an intermediary regarding a possible visit to Libya.

From the beginning of the conflict, I have led the effort in challenging the Obama Administration’s war in Libya and to seeking a just, peaceful resolution to the conflict. My opposition to the war has been well-known, including through a number of pieces published in The Guardian.

In my efforts to end the war, I have been contacted by many parties – including members of the Gaddafi regime and some with ties to the rebels. Reaching a just and peaceful solution requires listening to all sides.
The Guardian article Kucinich is referring to is one published earlier this week and speaks of other found secret papers about an attempt to arrange a meeting between the Congressman and officials of the Qaddafi regime. The Guardian wrote:
On 22 June a letter sent to Libya's prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, by a US-based lobbyist for the regime, Sufyan Omeish, noted that Kucinich was "concerned that his personal safety in Tripoli could not be guaranteed". He preferred to conduct meetings with regime officials outside Libya. The plan was for Kucinich to meet "senior Libyan officials, including Gaddafi". The proposed trip never took place. Kucinich visited Syria instead.
The Al Jazeera article also reports on another document the appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush, and senior Libyan officials Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail on August 2, 2011 at the Four Seasons Hotel in Cairo, a few blocks from the US embassy. Welch was advising the Qaddafi regime on how to win the propaganda war.

Copies of the documents can be found on the Al Jazeera website at the above link. As the once secret business of the Qaddafi regime becomes public knowledge we can expect to get a much clearer picture of the workings of that regime as well as it's connections to it's US supporters.

Here is Al Jazeera's video report:
This diary posted a little before mine and has a very lively comment section: Documents Found in Libya Say Dennis Kucinich Offered to Help Qaddafi UPDATE - Wednesday, Sept 1, 2011: We have this additional info from Politco:
Kucinich told The Guardian that he had held an hour long telephone conversation with Libyan Prime Minister Al Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi but ended up deciding to visit Syria, another country in the throes of protest against a violent dictator.
Hour long? Could this be the conversation recorded in the memo? Politico continues:
At first, Kucinich did not publicize his trip to Syria, in which he met with Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. Rather, he was first spotted in Damascus by a CNN correspondent. Soon thereafter, he gave a press conference to Syrian media in which he was quoted as saying, “President Bashar al-Assad cares so much about what is taking place in Syria, which is evident in his effort towards a new Syria and everybody who meets him can be certain of this.” Kucinich later disputed this reporting, saying that his message was lost in translation from Arabic.
I find it extremely interesting that Kucinich intended to keep his trip to Syria a secret. Why was he going there? We know from other reports [see above] that he refused a meeting with Qaddafi officials because he felt it was "unsafe" and suggested a meeting outside of Libya. Now, where could such a meeting take place given the ICC indictments and the travel ban on Qaddafi officials? This raises the question of Kucinich's conduct if his trip to Syria involved a covert meeting with Qaddafi's representatives violating the travel ban or avoiding arrest. Might that be criminal? More on Kucinich's defense of Qaddafi: Kucinich on NATO in Libya: ‘Gangsterism’
Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, may have gone too far even for the Puget Sound peaceniks he is courting as a potential carpetbagger candidate for Congress in Washington. As much of the world celebrated the apparent fall of Libya’s Col. Gaddafi, Kucinich on Tuesday released a statement calling for NATO commanders to be hauled before the International Criminal Court. “If members of the Gaddafi Regime are to be held accountable, NATO’s top commanders must also be held accountable through the International Criminal Court for all civilian deaths resulting from bombing,” said the seven-term Cleveland congressman. “Otherwise, we will have witnessed the triumph of a new international gangsterism.” Kucinich delivered a spirited defense of the dictator’s foreign policy while claiming he does not “sympathize with Colonel Gaddafi’s brutality.” He also seemed to blame foreign investment for social conditions that led to the anti-Gaddafi rebellion. “On December 19, 2003, Libya voluntarily gave up its nuclear weapon-making capability and on January 6, 2004 ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” he wrote. “Its relationship with the US on the mend, Libya then opened up to international investment and began the wholesale privatization of its industries, leading to massive unemployment and dissatisfaction with the state of things, particularly among younger Libyans.”

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Who really beat Qaddafi?

Now that it is clear that the 42 year reign of Mummar Qaddafi has come to an end and there is little left to do on the military side beyond putting down a few pockets of pro-Qaddafi resistance, the question of bragging rights to this victory seems to be coming to the fore in certain western circles.

NATO and it's allies are looking to increase their influence in Libya so they can cash-in on post Qaddafi developments. Although they never managed to get "boots on the ground" during the conflict as NATO would have liked, they still hope to fulfill that dream, via some "peace keeping" or "stabilization" mechanism. Regardless of whether they are successful in that quest, they will be peddling their influence in a hundred other ways.

In preparation for that, they are now trying to take credit for the victory over Qaddafi in subtle ways that will allow them to take ownership of it in the public mind. Typical of the way they do that is the story that has been circulating in the media in the past few days about a group of British SAS on the ground in Libya. An example is this one in the Telegraph 24 Aug 2011:
Libya: SAS leads hunt for Gaddafi

British special forces are on the ground in Libya helping to spearhead the hunt for Col Muammar Gaddafi, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

For the first time, defence sources have confirmed that the SAS has been in Libya for several weeks, and played a key role in coordinating the fall of Tripoli.

With the majority of the capital now in rebel hands, the SAS soldiers, who have been dressed in Arab civilian clothing and carrying the same weapons as the rebels, have been ordered to switch their focus to the search for Gaddafi, who has been on the run since his fortified headquarters was captured on Tuesday.

I don't want to address the question of whether or not this is true. Even if the SAS were there, they can hardly take credit for this brilliant victory, a "key role" could be anything. That could mean communications and intelligence and it almost certainly meant supporting the sea assault by Thuwwar from Misrata, but trying to imply that a handful western special force Rambo types, who suffered no causalities as far as we know, are the real authors and heroes of this victory is to take credit were it is not due.

The campaign that routed Qaddafi's Tripoli defenses in a few days was masterful! First there were the coordinated campaigns in the west coming down from the Nafusah Mountains and from in the east, west of Misrata, then the convergence on Tripoli via three major roads, from the west, east and south, together with an amphibious landing of a brigade from Misrata and the uprising by secret forces already in Tripoli. It was a brilliant victory. It showed great unity and coordination by freedom fighters from separate parts of Libya and the leadership of their command staff in spite of the assassination of their chief of staff, most likely by Qaddafi agents, only weeks before. It will go down in military history as a classic victory.

The idea that the authors of this were some westerners who just parachuted in and not the people who lived Qaddafi's nightmare for 40 years and have been fighting it for the last 6 months is ridiculous. Those most likely to believe it are those that have some misconceptions about the supremacy of western special forces and the inferiority of Arabs.

The Libyans are the ones that have been fighting in these lands since before the Romans. They know the lay of the land and they knew the rising capabilities of their people. The only thing they could never be sure of was NATO, which was MIA for the early parts of the campaigns around both Misrata and the Nafusah Mountains and bombed the wrong armies too many times. Why do the British feel the need to resurrect the "Lawrence of Arabia" mythology to try to snatch credit for this win from the revolutionary Libyan people?

Take for example the organizations of the secret forces inside of Tripoli itself. Do you seriously think that was pulled together under Qaddafi's nose by some British SAS guys in Arab clothes? They wouldn't even know their way around and they wouldn't be trusted by anybody. Two months ago I wrote Tripoli Burn Notice about an agitational action by the Free Generation Movement in Tripoli. They have organized many such actions in the past six months and also managed a rising tempo of armed attacks on Qaddafi checkpoints and other targets in the city. The forces that would rise up from within Tripoli itself were schooled and organized by these actions, not by SAS neighborhood classes.

And it was not some SAS guys with satellite gear that kept critical communication links up, it was the hacker groups like Anonymous, both inside and outside Libya that made sure the uprising had some degree of Internet access even in the worst of blackouts. The Google initiated speech-to-tweet service for Libya was far more important than anything the spooks contributed. A lot of operational information pasted through Twitter.

So with regards to the story about the British SAS on the ground in Libya, the question is why are they letting it 'leak' out now? The British government always "no comments" any story about the SAS, why then is the Telegraph saying it "can disclose?" That indicates that they have some sort of official permission or backing to print this story. Why is the gov't changing it's policy in this case? It's because making this story public is itself part of a psyops campaign directed at the public. This conclusion is quite independent of whether the story is true or not since it normally wouldn't be disclosed even if it was true.

In spite of all the commentary that says different. It was the Libyan freedom fighters, not NATO that beat Qadaffi. Sun Tzu said "Every battle is won before it is even fought," and this revolutionary war was won before it was ever fought because the people were sick to death of Qaddafi's rule. If Qaddafi was going to beat the uprising militarily, he would have already done so in the first month before the UN and NATO got involved. In that first month the freedom fighters were completely unskilled and practically unarmed whereas Qaddafi's forces were at their peak.

Qaddafi threw just about everything at them in that first month. Jet aircraft, helicopters, tanks, artillery, anti-aircraft weapons against civilians and of course, thousands of arrests and disappearances. The siege of Misrata, Libya's Stalingrad, started then. Grad rockets, cluster bombs, artillery, even naval bombardment until NATO made him stop that. The siege of Misrata was to go on for 4 long months before the freedom fighters had pushed Qaddafi's army beyond his 20 km. Grad rocket range. In some periods I've been told, they were losing an average of 50 people a day in Misrata.

The freedom fighters on the other hand, started out with practically nothing. Some had meat cleavers in their hands when they first attacked the barracks in Benghazi. As a result of that they got a few real weapons but still they had no training. But they had courage! The hospitals were filling up with Thuwwar that had accidentally wounded themselves, and they kept falling into traps and walking into ambushes, but they learned. They also had no overall organization or strategy. Most units began as a small band of brothers fighting together. During the months of battle, these youth groups coalesced into bigger units sometimes called battalions or brigades. Only slowly did they develop and gain strength.

But they showed perseverance right from the beginning. As so often happens in revolutionary periods, two would step forward for everyone killed, imprisoned or captured by Qaddafi. Qaddafi had divisions of crack trained troops, the best UK, EU and Russian weapons and all the soldiers money can buy, but he couldn't trump that revolutionary spirit.

The protests started out peacefully, as they had in Tunisia and Egypt. Once the people elected to meet Qaddafi's state violence with the people's revolutionary violence, there was no looking back. Qaddafi extracted a horrific toll in that first month of violence, probably about 7000, the majority of those killed in the whole six month war, and yet the strength of the Libyan revolutionary campaign continued to grow. Qaddafi sealed his own fate when he ordered his army to open fire on unarmed protesters. The die was cast when the people of Benghazi summoned up the courage to seize the barracks.

After that it was only a matter of time. Had NATO not entered the war on the side of the revolution, it certainly wouldn't have been done in six months. It would have been a protracted war and Qaddafi would have killed many, many more Libyans before it finally came to the same conclusion because the Libyan people simply were not going to put up with him any longer.

NATO did not win this war and this war was not the first war won by air power. This war was won by the revolutionary Libyan fighters on the ground. What NATO did with their intervention was to shorten the war and that is really why they entered the war. Those that say it wasn't about humanitarian concerns are right. So are those that say it was about oil. They were already getting the oil but given the economic crisis, the NATO countries couldn't afford to have the flow of Libyan oil stopped for years by a protracted war. They also didn't like the prospect of the relatively tamed revolutions in neighboring Tunisia and Egypt being radicalized by a protracted revolutionary war in Libya. After a month of seeing that Qaddafi's massive violence wasn't working, they acted to settle the matter quickly by throwing their air power behind the revolution. They acted to shorten the war, and in that they did serve a humanitarian purpose.

There is also the related mythology that NATO stepped in just in time to keep the rebel army from being crushed by Qaddafi forces. NATO did step in just in time to keep the civilian of Benghazi from being massacred, but that is not the same thing as defeating the liberation army in the field. The liberation army was growing in all parts of Libya, as was revealed shortly, not just in the east as the experts said. As the US learned in Vietnam, killing masses of civilians with aircraft, tanks and artillery is easy. Defeating a dedicated people's army in its own country is not.

NATO didn't win this war but they want you to think they did. They want to take ownership of this victory for at least three reasons that I can think of. First, they don't want people to get the "wrong" idea that people actually did this, rose up and overthrew an oppressor. That could be very bad for the bottom line. Second, the more they can take ownership of the victory, the more they can justify pushing their greedy noses into the Libyan trough. That could be very good for the bottom line. Third, it makes the argument for "boots on the ground" now go down a little easier if they can argue that they're there already.

Why do they need to disparage the victorious people's army so badly? Even on Al Jazeera we hear "untrained and undisciplined" rebel army in Tripoli. How do that get that from the practice of this army on the ground? The ultimate test of discipline for an army is it's ability to take and hold ground, it soldiers ability to follow orders so that the army can operate in a coordinated manner, and especially it's ability to bounce back from setbacks in a coherent way. The Liberation army has shown all those qualities and much more, an as yet we have heard no reports of widespread looting, revenge killings or other bad behavior by the freedom fighters in Tripoli. And as far as "untrained" is concerned, none who saw this army and it's soldiers in February and now can doubt that they have been trained. How and by whom may be in question, maybe they're self-taught, but the training is proven by the results.

I am also sick of hearing nonsense like "am I alone in wanting to have more information on who the rebels are?" Frankly, I supported the NLF in Vietnam 40 years ago on little more than the gut instincts of a 20 year old. In Libya, thanks to digital technology and the Internet, we have a virtual cornucopia of information about who the "rebels" are. There is far more information in YouTube videos, Facebook pages, Tweets, blogs posts, white boards etc, etc, than anyone could ever hope to consume. There is the excellence coverage of AJE available on-line 24/7. Thanks to the excellent work by Google Translates, you can even read Arabic websites in English with little trouble. Who would have thought that 10 years ago? The Libyan activists have made all of this publicly available, and still we hear "we don't even know who these rebels are" as if the Left's collective ignorance is an indictment of the Libyan people's movement. I think this comes from a combination of arrogance and laziness because I don't get the feeling most of these complainers have spent even an hour browsing http://feb17.info.

The other Arab people don't share the left's doubts. After Friday prays today, the Syrian protesters celebrated the success of the Libyan revolutionary war. It was celebrated in Tunis and Cairo as well. Western "Marxists" may know that "Libya is different" and that in Libya, a CIA/NATO backed group of armed contra is attempting "regime change" against a "progressive", "anti-imperialist" Jamahiriya, but the Arab Street in Syria, as well as Tunisia and Egypt know that it is all one revolutionary struggle and that at this particular time, the Libyans are in the lead. That is why the imperialist need so badly to get control of it.

Even the formerly pro-Qaddafi Russia Today is launching it's own arguments for a NATO force on the ground after the battle has been won. Now it's "the Libyan dictator" and today they are raising a scare about Qaddafi's stockpile of chemical weapons. Either he might still use them for a grand "going out" party or worst??, they might fall into the hands of the rebels and al Qaeda. Their solution? NATO has a responsibility to clean up "it's mess", so they better get down there and make sure those weapons are secure.

This example clearly illustrates the relationship between taking ownership of the military victory and "having to" take "responsibility" for the post-war outcome. More than just bragging rights for the defeat of Qaddafi are at stake. If they can claim the victory, they can claim the spoils. That is almost certainly one of the reasons NATO offered to "help out" in the first place. Of course they helped out in a way that was almost guaranteed to cost them no lives and very little money beyond Obama's drone fest. They have to fly those planes anyway and they really didn't drop as many bombs as some people have been lead to believe.

It is ironic that these types of news stories and this line of argument by the NATO PR people will find perked ears among many in the anti-NATO intervention crowd. Generally speaking, they have already discounted the grave danger that the people of Benghazi were faced with at the time that NATO acted, and they have also discounted the Libyan uprisings as a real organically growth people's struggle against a dictatorship. Many have argued all along that this was a western backed, CIA planned assault by NATO surrogates bent on "regime change." In other words, they had already given NATO ownership of this struggle even before the victory, so naturally they will welcome any news that supports their conclusions.

Back in March when this left wing crowd first noticed the Libyan revolution and started issuing various "Statements on Libya," I said that I thought they were tailing after their own bourgeoisie. I said that because I felt that revolutionaries would have recognized the significance of the Arab Spring much earlier and seen the central importance of the armed struggle shaping up in Libya long before the UN or NATO got involved. I said that because they only seemed to 'wake up' to what was going on after the imperialist had made it a question of public discourse when the bourgeoisie needed to get the public involved.

But a big part of the "tailing after their own bourgeoisie" POV didn't fit because the anti-interventionists came into the struggle opposed to NATO, seemingly opposed to their own bourgeoisie. What tricked them was that NATO, for it's own creepy reasons, some of which I have discussed here and here, came into this fight on the side of the revolution. As a result, much of the anti-war movement, short on analysis and driven by reflex, came out opposed to NATO. They took a counter-revolutionary stand with regards to the Libyan revolution

A good example of this viewpoint can be found on the Marxist website Kasama in a piece by Mike Ely titled:
Regime change by bomber: NATO’s victory in Libya
Do I really need to quote from it? The title makes it clear what he thinks. Anyway while we are here. How does Mike think the war was won?
The key element in their overthrow has been the massive deployment of aerial power by major imperialist countries (including the U.S. and its European NATO allies). It destroyed the Libyan government forces, and increasingly picked off, one by one, any concentrations of military forces willing to stand and fight.
He points to NATO stats of over 7,500 strike missions in the war to date. What he doesn't tell you, which I have pointed out elsewhere, is that this number is very misleading because in NATO's Libya campaign, they have actually attacked targets in less than 20% of the "strike missions," i.e. four our of five planes come back from strike missions without having dropped anything. This abnormally has raised eye brows in defense circles but has gone unnoticed by the anti-NATO "massive bombing" crowd.

And how does he think Tripoli was taken so fast?
The ground-based opposition to Gaddafi has increasingly walked into Tripoli through the cratered remains of Libyan government forces.
Is that true? How many bombs has NATO dropped in the last week in Libya in general and around Tripoli in particular? From NATO's daily reports we have:
Key Hits 17 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Brega: 3 Rocket Launcher, 2 Tanks.
In the vicinity of Az Zawiyah: 2 Armed Vehicles, 1 Military Boat.
In the vicinity of Badr: 4 Armed Vehicles.
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 1 Military Facility, 1 Radar, 2 Surface to Air Transloaders, 3 Surface to Air Launchers, 2 Surface to Surface Launchers.
In the vicinity of Waddan: 2 Ammo Storage Facility.
In the vicinity of Zlitan: 2 Tanks.

Key Hits 18 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Az Zawiyah: 1 Command and Control Node, 2 Armed Vehicles, Transloader, 5 Tanks.
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 4 Military Facility, 1 Surface to Air Missile.

Key Hits 19 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of AzZawiyah: 1Artillery Piece.
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 9 Military Facility, 3 Radars, 1 Radar Guided Anti Aircraft Weapon System, 1Tank.
In the vicinity of Zlitan: 1Military Logistic Vehicle, 1Tank.

Key Hits 20 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 3 Military Facility, 1 Military Storage Facility, 7 Surface to Air Missile Transloaders, 1
Radar, 1 Surface to Surface Missile, 2 Armed Vehicles, 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicles, 3 Command and Control
Node, 2 Multiple Rocket Launcher.
In the vicinity of Sirte: 1 Command and Control Node.
In the vicinity of Brega: 1 Multiple Rocket Launcher, 1 Heavy Machine Gun, 1 Military Firing Position.
In the vicinity of Gharyan: 1 Armed Vehicle, 1 Anti Aircraft Gun.
In the vicinity of Zlitan: 1 Surface to Air Missile Launcher.

Key Hits 21 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 3 Command and Control Facilities, 1 Military Facility, 2 Radar, 9 Surface to Air Missile Launchers, 1 Tank, 2 Armed Vehicles.
In the vicinity of Bin Ghashir: 1 Radar.
In the vicinity of Al Aziziyah: 5 Surface to Air Missile Launchers.

Key Hits 22 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Brega: 2 Multiple Rocket Launch

Key Hits 23 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 2 Armoured Fighting Vehicles, 2 Military Heavy Equipment Truck, 3 Surface to Air
Missile System, 1 Radar.
In the vicinity of Ras Lanuf: 3 Armed Vehicles, 3 Multiple Rocket Launchers.
In the vicinity of Zuwarah: 2 Tanks, 3 Armed Vehicles, 2 Military Trucks, 1 Military Facility.

Key Hits 24 AUGUST:
In the vicinity of Tripoli: 2 Military Storage Facility, 1 Military Heavy Equipment Truck, 2 Anti Aircraft Gun, 1
Surface to Air Missile Support Vehicle, 1 Multiple Rocket Launcher, 1 Radar.
In the vicinity of Sirte: Surface to Surface Missile Support Vehicles.
In the vicinity of Okba: 1 Surface to Air Missile.
In the vicinity of Bani Walid: Anti Tank Rifles

So NATO hit 84 targets in an 8 day period around Tripoli starting 3 days before the beginning Operation Mermaid Dawn. Of those 23 were missiles or missile launchers, 12 were vehicles of various sorts including a tank and 9 were radar installations. This is what is being portrayed as a carpet of bombs which allowed the Arab army to just waltz on into Tripoli over the decimated remains of Qaddafi forces.

The hospitals of Tripoli, Misrata and Benghazi are full to overflowing with injured and dying freedom fighters, true working class heroes. Many have given their all and will never see the new Libya or their twenty-fifth birthday. The Libyan people have paid with their blood to show that even the application of massive violence won't defeat the people's will to liberation.

And we have to read this stuff from a so-called Marxist? This is a very sorry time for our movement.
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

BREAKING: Libyan TNC won't extradite Lockerbie bomber

In an announcement that might seem to indicate that the new revolutionary government of Libyan won't be as compliant to NATO wishes as some have hoped, a minister in Libya's National Transitional Council said Sunday that Libya will not extradite Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the man convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie airline bombing. According to Reuthers:
"We will not give any Libyan citizen to the West," Mohammed al-Alagi, the NTC justice minister, told reporters in Tripoli. The NTC is the de facto government of Libya's rebel movement.

"Al-Megrahi has already been judged once and he will not be judged again ... We do not hand over Libyan citizens. (Muammar) Gaddafi does."

Megrahi, who had been diagnosed with cancer, served eight years in a Scottish prison for orchestrating the bombing of the Pan Am passenger plane which blew up over the Scottish town of Lockerbie in 1988 killing 270 people. He was released in 2009 on compassionate grounds after doctors gave him only months to live.

Megrahi's release angered politicians in the United States -- where many of the victims of the bombing came from. Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron later said the decision by Scotland's justice minister was a mistake.

Also new details have emerged about Mummar Qaddafi attempt to influence Dennis Kucinich in his views of Libya and NATO's involvement. Common Dreams reports:
Secret documents in Tripoli seen by the Guardian reveal the desperate attempts made by the Libyan government in its final months to influence US and world opinion. It approached key international opinion formers from the US president Barack Obama downwards.

The regime tried to persuade the Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich – a well-known rebel who voted against Nato military action in Libya, and opposed the Iraq war – to visit Tripoli as part of a hastily arranged "peace mission". The Libyan government offered to pay all Kucinich's costs related to the trip, including "travel expenses and accommodation".
On 22 June a letter sent to Libya's prime minister, Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi, by a US-based lobbyist for the regime, Sufyan Omeish, noted that Kucinich was "concerned that his personal safety in Tripoli could not be guaranteed". He preferred to conduct meetings with regime officials outside Libya. The plan was for Kucinich to meet "senior Libyan officials, including Gaddafi". The proposed trip never took place. Kucinich visited Syria instead
Omeish, a US based filmmaker, was active in arranging other image building trips to Qaddafi's Libya. He worked with Libyan Foreign Minister Al-Baghdadi Ali al-Mahmoudi to arrange them. In one correspondence with him that has been revealed:
He then discusses an urgent proposed peace mission to Libya to try to sway international opinion in their favour. He writes: "We have already obtained confirmation of the involvement of a high-profile US congressman to participate … and are making additional overtures to obtain further congressional involvement from other members.

"Moreover, we have also obtained a new confirmation from a high-profile Princeton professor of international law and a former UN fact-finding commissioner to join our delegation." Omeish boasted that he was also working with "award-winning/Oscar-nominated filmmakers to help document the truth about Libya … to ensure maximum world-wide exposure."

In another message, Omeish urges Baghdadi not to communicate via Gmail, but to use a more secure private account.

Baghdadl has since denounced the Qaddafi regime and fled to Tunisia. As he talks and more of the regimes secrets come out, it will be interesting to find out more about the connections some of the more prominent anti-interventionist had with the Qaddafi regime.

Meanwhile in the capital city of Tripoli, alexblx's posterous reports that things are moving towards a kind or normalcy and stability given that the liberation of the city about a week old:
The citizens of Tripoli – have moved as efficiently as their Benghazi compatriots in establishing civil society in the city. To date – police and traffic wardens are back on duty – rubbish is being cleared – shops are opening – many people are out in the streets.

The NTC are distributing cooking gas in Tripoli - & have ordered bulk fuel supplies to power water pumps - to get water pipes working again Libya

NTC says it will start distributing 30,000 tonnes of petrol on Sunday, and provide cooking gas within the next 48 hours.

A ship carrying fresh water and diesel for the power stations is due to dock in the next couple of days.

Gun signs have been erected against celebratory shooting in Martyrs Square – and local neighbourhoods – have started gun registers so all neighbours can track the issue of firearms – and guns are being handed back in at these registries. As I predicted in the article below – “the Tripoli people show the same commitment to civil government as Benghazi”
Then she talks about the NTC stewardship of the large eastern city:
Take a look at Benghazi civil society since liberation

Boy scouts directing traffic - teenagers cleaning streets - mothers preparing community meals - policemen and civil servants turning up for work even if not always paid - parents forming education committees for their children - citizens establishing charities to provide food, housing, and medical services for displaced African and Arabic foreign workers stranded in the city during the uprising - intellectuals forming political and philosophical discussion groups - newspapers and media outlets opening up like there's 42 years of lost expression to make up for![there is].

And all this 'civilization' has happened - during a major military conflict - in which the city's very existence was under threat - by the massive military might of Gaddafi goons and Regime contract killers.
It will be interesting to see how things develop in the new revolutionary Libya. It will also be interesting to see what we will now start to find out about the old Libya.

James Bay of AJE has been out in the filed reporting on Libya for a long time. Below is his latest report on the situation in Tripoli.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya
Thu Sep 08, 2011 at 8:59 AM PT: Call for Megrahi's return Pressure was mounting last night on the British Government to seek the return of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, who has been a vigorous supporter of the Gaddafi regime since being returned to Tripoli from a Scottish jail two years ago. The Tory MP Robert Halfon said rebel leaders should be urged to extradite the former intelligence officer. The Foreign Office said: "He was convicted in a Scottish court under Scottish law. He could be returned under the terms of his release but that is a matter for the relevant authorities."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

#Feb17: @NATO Please help MEDEVAC wounded from #Libya

As the military phase of the Libyan Revolution is quickly being driven to a successful conclusion, many, including this diarist, are looking forward to the end of the NATO mission in Libya.

And it would appear that it's air combat mission is winding down. According to their own reports, NATO hit 2 targets in all of Libya on Monday, 22 targets on Tuesday due largely to a spurt of air strikes over Zuwarah[8] and Ras Lanuf[6], and 10 on Wednesday.

However, there is another urgent mission that it is hoped that NATO can undertake that probably more clearly falls under its mandate to protect civilian lives than anything it has done so far. NATO can save many lives right now if they can assist the overwhelmed hospitals of Tripoli with MedEvac and treatment of the wounded ASAP.

I just saw Bashir Sewehli of the Libya Youth Movement on AJE making this request. I decided to use today's diary to echo it.

Action Item: Please tweet this request to NATO @NATO

Look for more information on this here soon.

Follow clayclai on Twitter
For more background on the Libyan Revolution and links to lots of information see my other writings at the DailyKos and WikiLeaks Central:
What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?
BREAKING: Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!
Does PDA Support Qaddafi?
BREAKING: Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is JoinedHelter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure
Qaddafi's Long Arm
SCOOP: My Lai or Qaddafi Lie? More on the 85 Civilians presumed killed by NATO
Did NATO kill 85 Libyan Villagers As Qaddafi Regime Contends?
CCDS Statement on Libya - a Critique
The Assassination of General Abdul Fattah Younis
NATO over Tripoli - Air Strikes in the Age of Twitter
How Many Libyans has NATO Killed?
Qaddafi Terror Files Start to Trickle Out!
Have Libyan Rebels Committed Human Rights Abuses?
Tripoli Green Square Reality Check
Behind the Green Curtain: Libya Today
Gilbert Achcar on the Libyan situation and the Left
NATO slammed for Libya civilian deaths NOT!
2011-07-01 Qaddafi's Million Man March
NATO's Game Plan in Libya
February 21st - Tripoli's Long Night
Did Qaddafi Bomb Peaceful Protesters?
Tripoli Burn Notice
Libyans, Palestinians & Israelis
'Brother' Qaddafi Indicted plus Libya & Syria: Dueling Rally Photofinishs
An Open Letter to ANSWER
ANSWER answers me
2011-06-22 No Libyans allowed at ANSWER Libya Forum
Are they throwing babies out of incubators yet?
Continuing Discussion with a Gaddafi Supporter
Boston Globe oped supports Gaddafi with fraudulent journalism
2011-04-13 Doha summit supports Libyan rebels
Current Events in Libya
Amonpour Plays Softball with Gaddafi
Arming Gaddfi
North African Revolution Continues
Is Libya Next? Anonymous Debates New Operation

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What should those that opposed NATO's intervention in Libya demand now?

If it is understood by 'now' I mean 'soon', which is to say when Qaddafi is finally defeated, because as I write this he is down but not yet out. And by 'out' I mean 'in', in prison or dead, that is. There is now no doubt that he soon will be. Even this morning Mummar Qaddafi's Foreign Minister said that his government has fallen.

So looking forward to that happy hour:

What should those that have been opposing the no-fly zone and other aspects of NATO intervention in the Libyan crisis be demanding now?

IMHO they should be demanding that NATO get out! They should demand that NATO take it's planes and go home, and if there are any spooks on the ground, like we all know there are, then bring them back too. This time I will be 100% with you.

The US/NATO/UN bull-shit story is that they stand for the fight against tyranny, as if they don't have their eye on the money twenty-four seven.

Their Libyan Story was that the tyrant Qaddafi was about to massacre thousands of people unless military power was used against him, and much more than the opposition could muster and 'not today but yesterday', meaning his tanks were already entering Benghazi.

And it must be admitted that there was some truth to that. He's done that sort of thing before. What was it? 1200 murdered in 2 hours with artillery in '96, and he had already killed many times that in trying to put down the current uprising.

So the French swooped in and saved Benghazi. Obama pounded Qaddafi's air defenses with the usual US heavy hand, then NATO took up the slack for 4 months with a coalition of European countries doing the heavy lifting in the air war and the US bringing up the rear with less than 17% of the strike missions. This really was a 'coalition of the willing.'

When all the deaths tolls are added up the number killed by NATO will probably be in the low hundreds whereas the number killed by Qaddafi was already in the high thousands and would have been much, much higher had his air power and armor not been put down.

So, for once, NATO did a good thing. Fine. Don't blow it now by sticking around and making mischief. Thank You. Good Bye.

Once Qaddafi isn't killing anymore, they can actually hang up the banner "Mission Accomplished" with some sense of pride. Good. Now go home.

Unless, of course. that wasn't really their mission.

So now comes the maneuvering to stick around after having seen the date safely to the door. This is a dangerous time for the Libyan people and their revolution. However, they have many factors working in their favor not the least of which is how they have organized themselves over the last six months. Plus they got a lot of important things right in their revolution. One of those was not allowing NATO ground troops. Nada, None. Zip.

The good thing about that is now that there are no more dragons to slay, there is really nothing for NATO to do but fly off into the sunset.

Anything else would be a whole new mission under a new mandate and that must be forcefully opposed by anti-imperialists and revolutionaries alike.

Without "boots on the ground", NATO is seriously limited in its ability to shape Libya's future, which is to say, screw with the Libyan revolution.

NATO wanted ground troops in. They wanted it bad. You can only control so much from the air, and frankly, that's not a lot. So they did a lot to persuade the NTC to let ground troops "help out." But they said No and UN resolution 1973 also said no to ground troops.

I remain suspicious of three NATO "friendly fire" incidents largely because they were surrounded by NATO claims that such accidents were much less likely to happen if only they could have their own forward air controllers on the ground. Somehow they must have worked it out because the "friendly fire" incidents dropped off.

And there were other things. But the revolution maintained its strong stand. Thanks, but no thanks. Smart move.

And make no mistake about it, while NATO help was important, this was a victory of the Libyan people's army. They did the heavy lifting and the dying. They showed incredible courage from the very beginning and developed very creditable military skills in the end.

As the US found out in Vietnam, you can't win a war from the air, no matter how brutally you apply it, if the soldiers on the ground don't win it for you. So while NATO intervention was important and did save many lives. I don't think it was decisive.

If Qaddafi was ever going to beat the revolution militarily, he would have already done so in the first month of armed conflict, before the UN passed the resolution. If the truth be told, the UN/NATO crowd gave him a clear month, between February 17th and March 17th, to use his military power however he wanted against first unarmed, and then lightly armed, civilians. Tanks, artillery, helicopters, jet air craft, naval bombardment, whatever. He probably killed about 700-800 in one night in Tripoli. NATO only cried "oh the humanity" when they saw it wasn't working. Then they switched sides.

During that first month, what was to become a very effective fighting force, was just getting started. Clerks and mechanics were picking up weapons for the first time. Small groups were banding together and learning how to fight an armed struggle for the first time. They had no experience. They had no leadership. They had no heavy weapons. And yet they persevered! This was when Qaddafi's forces were at their peak.

No, if he was going to be able to put down the uprising militarily, he would have done so in that first month. After that the military tide was already turning against him. The resistance army was already taking shape and showing stick'em. I'm sure the NATO military analysts saw that.

That is not to say Qaddafi couldn't have slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians in Benghazi, Misrata, Tripoli and other places. Killing unarmed civilians in cities with tanks, rockets and aircraft and beating a dug-in army in the field are two different things entirely. Had NATO not intervened, he would have killed a lot more Libyans, but that wasn't going to make people give up, that was just going to make them mad.

Then it would just drag on and get very bloody and turn into a really protracted war. Six months is nothing. The Vietnamese liberation war took 30 years with various NATO allies taking turns at bat. I think that is what NATO was really afraid of, a protracted war in Libya.

The NATO intervention was about oil, but not in the way many people think. They already had the oil. They had settled that question with Qaddafi many years ago. And it wasn't because they were afraid of losing it to China or Russia as some think. Companies compete for oil all the time on the international market. British, US, EU and now Chinese, Indian, Russia and Brazilian companies all compete for oil all over the world without getting their governments to go to war for them. We're talking international capitalism here. I'm sure Walmart wants to see Chinese companies get all the oil they need to keep cranking out the cheap plastic stuff they import.

But given the current world capitalist crisis, and the part energy prices play in that, they simply can't afford to have Libyan oil off the market any longer than necessary. If Qaddafi could have settled things quickly, even with thousands of anonymous deaths, they would have been happy and kept buying "his" oil. But they couldn't afford a protracted war that would take Libyan oil off the market for years, and even if a bloodbath in Benghazi was successful in putting down the uprising, it would have been witnessed by the world. Then they would have been forced to impose sanctions and that would have taken Libyan oil off the market for years anyway.

So as it turns out, the best option for NATO was to stop the bloodbath and go ahead and help Qaddafi's opposition win this thing. That's why they came in on the side of the revolution.

I heard a statement from an ENI executive yesterday. He said they hoped the NTC would still honor the 5 year agreement they signed with Qaddafi in 2008. That is the main reason NATO got into this fight, to get back what they already had ASAP. Of course they would like more. They wouldn't be imperialists if they didn't.

So while NATO probably has what they call "hush puppies on the ground", they don't have any boots on the ground. This is a real problem for them because they can't control the post war situation like they know how. Not that Iraq or Afghanistan are outstanding examples of imperial sophistication. Without an occupation, they'll have to find something else to do. They still have 'soft power' but it has limits.

So now we see a move to introduce boots on the ground. Already as the war is ending, we hear talk in certain circles of the possible or probable need to send in some kind of "peace keeping force" to help with "stabilization." As if!

As if a nation that rose up against a dictator, forged an army and a government from scratch and eventually beat the tyrant and his mercenary, but well trained and well equipped, army in the field couldn't deal with the peace. Who says? European experts and talking head speculating:.

"Chaos on the ground." "Shari law" "The need, possibly, for an international stabilization force." "A faction riddled movement" "The sort of Chaos we saw in Iraq" "Many different factions, many different tribes." "all the factions, all the groups" "They'll split along tribal lines." "They all have so many guns." "The Islamics will take over."
"They don't know how to govern themselves."
That one's my personal favorite. As if we do. My mom had this saying about the pot calling the kettle black.

"It might turn into a 'fail state!'"
Now that one should really shame them. It's an admission that in the eyes of these so called champions of democracy, a dictator that rapes his country for 42 years is not a failed state.

They seem to almost have this hope that things won't work out smoothly. If only there is enough disruption and enough conflict that they can come to the rescue with some sort of ground force.

Their problem now is that with a relatively small footprint on the ground, it will prove deuce difficult to even "encourage" infighting and disruptions that they can use to justify an occupation.

We should all unite to strictly oppose any such schemes and the chauvinist presumptions that give it a platform even when there are no supporting facts.

No boots on the ground! Not Now! No Way!

Talk preparatory to this came up around the discussion of transferring Siaf al-Islam Qaddafi to the ICC during those hours when the NTC, the ICC and the media all thought he had been captured.

I remember that all Jacky Rowland on Al Jazeera/English could talk about was how important it was that he be transferred to the ICC immediately for a fair trial rather than receive some "rough justice" in Libya based on "vengeance." As if!

As if it has already been determined that he can't receive a fair trial in Libya. Based on what? Have any of the Qaddafis captured so far been summarily executed? Isn't he a Libyan? Weren't his crimes committed principally in Libya? So what happened to national sovereignty?

Did Osama bin Laden receive "rough justice?" He wasn't a US citizen or found in the US, but if he had been captured, I doubt that Obama would have sent him off to the Hague.

Personally I don't see how it is even possible for Saif al-Islam to receive "rough justice" if by that you mean a punishment that is greatly disproportional to the crime. How can you deliver "rough justice" to someone who has killed thousands and robbed billions? He can only serve one life sentence and even with the death penalty, you can only kill him once.

All such talk just plants in the publics mind the idea that the Libyans can't be trusted to govern themselves. We should vigorously expose such talk for what it is, chauvinism in the service of imperialism.

There is also the question of giving back the Libyans their stolen loot. The frozen assets should be unfrozen immediately and turned over to the revolutionary Libyan government and where that requires a UN resolution, no country should be allowed to use its veto to coerce the Libyans into making oil deals or other deals under threat of losing billions that rightly belong with them, not in US and European banks.

And there are, no doubt, other things that the anti-imperialist movement in the US and around the world can do to support the Libyan revolution and block the NATO countries from completing their imperialist mission in Libya. Those are our tasks now in relation to the Libyan revolution.
Good reads today on the 'net:

Guardian: Libya is no Iraq – this revolution is the real deal
Yansoon: Gaddafi the Closet Imperialist
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Qaddafi's Tripoli Compound Falls!

See also the Witnessing Revolution Live Blog team here on Daily Kos

This morning, PST, the tweets started coming in indicating that Bab Al Azizyah, Qaddafi's heavily fortified compound in the heart of Tripoli has been taken by the freedom fighters. Although this is not the end, It is a major breakthrough. THE END IS NEAR!

Photo: Freedom Fighter in Bab Al-Aziya compound, standing on golden fist.
Here is a map showing the current battle lines for Libya and Tripoli.

Here is the CNN live blog report on the breeching of the compound:
Live blog: Rebels say they have taken Gadhafi compound

[Updated 12:12 a.m. ET, 6:12 p.m. in Libya] An historic building inside Moammar Gadhafi's vast Bab al-Aziziya compound has been burned and the fighting at the compound is over, a Libyan rebel told CNN's Sara Sidner.

Sky News showed video they said was from inside the compound. In the video, rebel forces surrounding the iconic sculpture of a raised fist crushing a U.S. plane in Gadhafi's compound.

[Updated 12:02 a.m. ET, 6:02 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner said rebels told her the "fight is finished" at Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound.

“They could even swim in the swimming pool” Sidner said rebels told her.

Rebels said the blasts being heard are celebratory.

[Updated 11:58 a.m. ET, 5:58 p.m. in Libya] An Al Jazeera reporter inside Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza reported there is no resistance anymore inside the compound.

[Updated 11:45 a.m. ET, 5:45 p.m. in Libya] People in Tripoli are displaying files they say are from Moammar Gadhafi's compound, CNN's Sara Sidner reported Tuesday.

The documents, files and receipts have the official regime stamp and Gadhafi's name on it, Sidner reported.

"This neighborhood has gone wild," Sidner said.

Sidner is being handed even more documents by the rebels.

Rebels told Sidner they are going room-by-room to clear the compound.

One of the documents is a medical file that has the name of Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam, Sidner reported.

[Updated 11:39 a.m. ET, 5:39 p.m. in Libya] Rebels are saying they have made it into Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound, CNN's Sara Sidner reported.

"They have been able to take some of the weapons off of the Gadhafi forces," she said.

Rebels are telling Sidner "Gadhafi is nearly finished."

Sidner said that rebels said they are still inside trying to secure the area, but are celebrating as fighting continues.

“Now they’re going to try and clear the compound," Sidner said rebels told her.

Sidner said that she is less than half a kilometer from the compound and can see more smoke coming from the area.

Sidner said rebels are hugging each other and crying on the streets. Loud chants can be heard in the background.

Rebels shouted "God is great, God is great" in celebration Tuesday.

[Updated 11:32 a.m. ET, 5:32 p.m. in Libya] CNN's Sara Sidner, reporting from a neighborhood close to Gadhafi's Bab Al Aziza compound, said there are "massive blasts and lots of gunfire" in the area.

"We have confirmed a civilian that has been hit by sniper fire according to a nurse" at the local clinic, Sidner reported.

This is a dangerous place to be," she added.
And here are some of the tweets:
Alarabya Breaking: sources say independence flag has been raised on Gaddfi's house #Tripoli #Libya via @feb17voices
ShababLibya LibyanYouthMovement
It is now the end-The only thing left for #Gaddafi to do is run. Our brave #FreedomFighters have control of his compound. #Libya #tripoli
@acarvin: Wonder how soon it'll be before we see Gaddafi compound loot/memorabilia on eBay. #libya
alchemist585: So now we have just two areas that are still under occupation by the forces of evil:
Hathba ??????
Busleem ??????

Odd Bits...

This is a great video that eloquently answers the question "Who are Rebels?" The short story is that they are the Libyan working class united in armed struggle against a monarchy. They prefer to be called freedom fighters BTW.
This is an interesting article about the role the Internet is playing in the battle for Tripoli:
How tweets and texts helped the rebels take Tripoli Libyans are free to text, call and blog again after a long telecommunications blackout, in a powerful symbol of how the rebels are ringing the changes. Libyan rebel sympathisers in Tripoli used Twitter and Facebook to give anti-Gaddafi forces the map co-ordinates of pro-Government snipers and heavy artillery as the battle for the capital unfolded. The episode demonstrates how important an issue the control of new media has been in the battle for Libya, with the rebels apparently making a concerted effort to wrest control of mobile phone and Internet resources before attempting to attack the state television station’s Tripoli headquarters. Members of the Free Generation Movement, a dissident group who have been making secret broadcasts and podcasts from inside Tripoli throughout the six-month uprising, posted the map references of places where they said loyalist gunmen were holding out as the rebels swept into the city on Sunday. One typical Facebook message, posted on Sunday, said: “Snipers on rooftop of tallest building at junction of Jraba Street and Ras Ahsan. Coordinates to the Location of Snipers in Benashour 32°52’12.28?N 13°12’22.36? E”. The rebel sympathisers appeared to take advantage of a window of opportunity after internet access was unexpectedly restored in Tripoli late on Sunday. By Monday the website of the state-controlled service provider Libyan Telecom and Technology (LTT) was carrying a message in Arabic that read: “God is great ….We congratulate the Libyan people on the fall of oppression and tyranny, and we urge the people to celebrate and preserve public property. Libya one tribe.”
Here is another piece from today about technology and the war:
Special report: In Libya, the cellphone as weapon The International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo made an appeal in February for "footage and images to confirm the alleged crimes", after the United Nations Security Council referred the Libyan uprising to the court. A court filing applying for arrest warrants listed video evidence, mainly from media, but also from unspecified sources, in support of its claim. In the Mediterranean city of Misrata, in particular, a group of rebel-allied lawyers has worked to gather evidence of what it calls war crimes committed by Gaddafi forces. "In the beginning when there were snipers we had to move around carefully," said Omar Abulifa, a former prosecutor and head of the Misrata-based Human Rights Activists Association. "It was hard to get the evidence, but we did what we could." As the rebels gained control of more of the city in April and May, the association set up a system to gather evidence after every incident, especially the continued bombardment of the city with Grad rockets by Gaddafi loyalists, which killed and injured many civilians. The footage they gathered includes videos taken from the cellphones of rebel fighters and from those of government troops captured or killed during the fighting. Other video and photographs came from citizens of the town. Some of that film can be used as evidence, Abulifa says. "But not all of it because to be used as evidence it has to be from a trusted source and it has to be clear what is happening." Around 150 gigabytes of video gathered by the city's media committee, which was set up after the uprising, has been provided to the association. A member of the committee gave a Reuters reporter who was in Misrata in July a large volume of that material.
So much material has been gathered in this war that I see a massive database project in the future. Eventually there can be a timeline and a map were you can see every battle and every incident from multiple views because everything has been recorded by multiple cameras. In the comments to my diary yesterday, Carl Davidson questioned why my position on Libya is different from Iraq. My answer ended up being very long and detailed and also made use of Juan Cole's excellent blog yesterday, which I had already decided to highlight in my dairy today, so rather than let all those words get lost in the comments, I have elected to repeat them here: I think generallies have a very limited usefulness and 'generally' each situation has to be evaluated on it's own merits. For example WW1 & WW2 were in many respects the same, imperialist wars between 'great powers' to divide up the world. However I think it was absolutely right for the class-conscience US worker to opposed US intervention in WW1 and support US intervention for WW2. I will save my explanation of those choices for another time. Would you have opposed intervention in both? Some socialists opposed Lend-Lease saying "Roosevelt needs its dictatorial powers to further his aim of carving out of a warring world, the American Empire so long desired by the Wall Street money lords." Would you have been one of those? Now what was the War on Iraq? IMHO it was an imperialist war for the control of oil and the domination that goes with it. It had been more than a decade in the planning with the '91 Gulf pre-war and 10 years of sanctions. It was not shaped by any uprising and revolution among the Iraq people [unless I slept thru that part]. US aircraft dropped over 29 thousand munitions in the first 30 days and over a hundred thousand ground troops went in at the same time. Now what is the "War on Libya", as you and the other anti-interventionist like to call it? Is it a "remake" of the War on Iraq, as you would have us believe? Well US aircraft hit a total of 132 targets in the first 100 days, and no ground troops. So as wars go, not in the same class at all. And what prompt it? Just another grab for oil as the anti-interventionist would have you believe? In terms of the "another war for oil thesis" Juan Cole has eloquently answered that it his blog today Top Ten Myths about the Libya War which I highly recommend:
10. This was a war for Libya’s oil. That is daft. Libya was already integrated into the international oil markets, and had done billions of deals with BP, ENI, etc., etc. None of those companies would have wanted to endanger their contracts by getting rid of the ruler who had signed them. They had often already had the trauma of having to compete for post-war Iraqi contracts, a process in which many did less well than they would have liked. ENI’s profits were hurt by the Libyan revolution, as were those of Total SA. and Repsol. Moreover, taking Libyan oil off the market through a NATO military intervention could have been foreseen to put up oil prices, which no Western elected leader would have wanted to see, especially Barack Obama, with the danger that a spike in energy prices could prolong the economic doldrums. An economic argument for imperialism is fine if it makes sense, but this one does not, and there is no good evidence for it (that Qaddafi was erratic is not enough), and is therefore just a conspiracy theory.
Or was there something else going on at the time? Well there was this thing called the Arab Spring that swept the whole region starting in December and there was this uprising in Libya that had Feb 17th as it's official kick off. Could that possibly have anything to do with this "War on Libya?" Before the U.S. intervened in Libya there was this revolution taking place in Libya. I know you call it a civil war and see the US and intervening in a civil war, but I think that characterization is kindness to Qaddafi. Juan Cole again:
5. The Libyan Revolution was a civil war. It was not, if by that is meant a fight between two big groups within the body politic. There was nothing like the vicious sectarian civilian-on-civilian fighting in Baghdad in 2006. The revolution began as peaceful public protests, and only when the urban crowds were subjected to artillery, tank, mortar and cluster bomb barrages did the revolutionaries begin arming themselves. When fighting began, it was volunteer combatants representing their city quarters taking on trained regular army troops and mercenaries. That is a revolution, not a civil war. Only in a few small pockets of territory, such as Sirte and its environs, did pro-Qaddafi civilians oppose the revolutionaries, but it would be wrong to magnify a handful of skirmishes of that sort into a civil war. Qaddafi’s support was too limited, too thin, and too centered in the professional military, to allow us to speak of a civil war.
An just as you discount the Libyan revolution in your consideration of the matter, you also think "protecting civilians from massacre,’ ‘humanitarian intervention’ and so on are diversions if not falsehoods." That assessment is another kindness to Qaddafi that nobody that honestly assesses the facts surrounding Benghazi when 1973 was passed believes. Juan Cole again:
9. Qaddafi would not have killed or imprisoned large numbers of dissidents in Benghazi, Derna, al-Bayda and Tobruk if he had been allowed to pursue his March Blitzkrieg toward the eastern cities that had defied him. But we have real-world examples of how he would have behaved, in Zawiya, Tawargha, Misrata and elsewhere. His indiscriminate shelling of Misrata had already killed between 1000 and 2000 by last April,, and it continued all summer. At least one Qaddafi mass grave with 150 bodies in it has been discovered. And the full story of the horrors in Zawiya and elsewhere in the west has yet to emerge, but it will not be pretty. The opposition claims Qaddafi’s forces killed tens of thousands. Public health studies may eventually settle this issue, but we know definitively what Qaddafi was capable of.
This was the Libyan people's war in the beginning and it remains so today, in spite of NATO support. NATO has no boots on the ground and has lost no lives. Regardless of what the Russians say, it has been the Libyan people that have done the 'heavy lifting.' NATO has been trying all along to get "boots on the ground" but the rebels have refused. I think they have handle the whole situation very well to this point. So I think the main contradiction in Libya today is between the dictatorship and the people. NATO entered this struggle, which was already in progress, on the side of the revolution. It did so for creepy, self-serving reasons in spite of the rhetoric, just like WW2. It is not to be trusted as an honest partner, just like WW2, nonetheless, it is on the right side of this struggle, just like WW2 and those that opposed US intervention in the Libyan situation are not serving the forward progress of humanity just as those that oppose US support for the allies in WW2 didn't. Now I know that some people think that the US could never be on the right side of any struggle and so any struggle in which they take a side, anyone else on that side, i.e. Libyan freedom fighters, must also be bad. This is a narrow, ahistorical and un-dialectical view of the situation. The reasons why NATO is supporting the revolution in Libya are complex and convoluted. I have covered much in my other blogs and so won't go into that here. See especially NATO's Game Plan in Libya I know those that would have had the US stay out of WW2 would bristle at the charge that objectively they were supporting the fascist domination of much of the world but that was the reality.That being said, opposing NATO intervention period, also means opposing the revolution in Libya and supporting Qaddafi. That is very different from opposing NATO manipulation of the situation to gain advantage for itself by subverting the revolution while "supporting" it, but that is the task at hand for revolutionaries as opposed to "anti-interventionists."
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Monday, August 22, 2011

Does PDA Support Qaddafi?

What's wrong with this picture? While Mummar Qaddafi was shelling unarmed protesters in the Tajoura neighborhood of Tripoli, Progressive Democrats of America was giving his chief American supporter, Cynthia McKinney, an award in the Santa Monica mountains.

This Saturday, August 20, 2011, the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains held their 6th Annual PDA Birthday Party and Fundraiser. The event was organized by Dorothy Reik and was billed as "an afternoon and evening of politics, food and music atop beautiful Topanga Canyon." The requested donation was $50, which is one of the reasons I did not attend.

The centerpiece of the event was the Teddi Winograd Courage Award recipients for Activism in the Pursuit of Peace and Justice. This was given to Ron Kovic and Cynthia McKinney.

Ron Kovic, who fought in Vietnam and wrote "Born on the 4th of July" certainly deserved the award. Ron is a good friend and also honorary co-chair, together with Martin Sheen, of the fundraising committee for my current film project, Vietnam: People's Victory. Ron, like me, was an early supporter of the Arab Spring and an avid viewer of Al Jazzeera/English.

Cynthia McKinney, on the other hand, is a different matter. While she has certainly supported progressive causes in the past, and I strongly supported her, even joining her group Dignity, what she has been doing lately is shilling for Mummar Qaddafi. She had taken a Dignity delegation to Tripoli to support Qaddafi, had just completed a nationwide ANSWER Coalition sponsored speaking tour "Eyewitness Libya" and was in the middle of another 21 city Libya tour sponsored by International Action Committee.

She had just flown into L.A. for the award on Saturday after speaking on behalf of the one she calls "Brother Qaddafi" on Friday in St. Louis and had to fly right back out again to speak in support of Qaddafi again on Sunday in Pittsburgh. If she was running true to form, on Friday she was spouting Qaddafi propaganda such as:
Libya's Revolution brought free health care and education to the people and subsidized housing. In fact, students in Libya can study there or abroad and the government gives them a monthly stipend while they are in school and they pay no tuition.
Libyans govern themselves by The Green Book, a form of direct democracy based on the African Constitution concept that the people are the first and final source of all power.
None of the above is true BTW and I would be very curious as to what she had to say on Sunday with Qaddafi on the run and two of his sons under arrest.

As it turned out, about the same time PDA was starting their event in Topanga Canyon, the Libyan opposition was beginning their final push to take Tripoli which they called Operation Mermaid Dawn. All across Tripoli people came out into the streets in spontaneous demonstrations. Although these protesters were mostly un-armed, Qaddafi responded with a vengeance. In the Tajoura neighborhood of Tripoli, he used tanks to slaughter the people. It is likely hundreds were killed. On this audio recoding you can hear the shells exploding and the people screaming.

It must gave been about the same time PDA was giving it's award to Cynthia McKinney.
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In a related development we have this:
Breaking Story: Libya, Intelligence Officer Defects, Records of Payments to Journalists/Activists by Gaddafi
Just In: Payment Records to Media/Bloggers/Activists by Gaddafi in Rebel Hands

Reliable sources in Libya, both with rebel forces and in Tripoli have verified that records of payments made to activists, journalists, bloggers and other media personnel by Gaddafi have been turned over to rebel forces.
Included is a list of names, some very well known, some less well known, including records of payments, email correspondence and lists of specific articles.

Some named are still in Tripoli while others have are in the US, Britain and Western Europe. Received from representatives of the National Transitional Council, the recognized government of Libya:
We’ve received a number of documents detailing rates for articles published and blogposts posted, with the highest rates being paid for articles that make it into the mainstream media (2,000 USD per article) and the lowest (500 USD per item) for blogposts of more than 700 words. Those who XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX are paid 15,000 USD per day spent there, plus 3,000 USD per article datelined Tripoli or another Gaddafi-held area.
As some of the people implicated are still in Libya, no names are being released until all are out of harms way. I can't wait. Soon we may find that Cynthia McKinney abd others have been motivated by more than ideology. Were those appearances on Libya State TV paid endorsements?

It sound like some journalists and activists should be prepared to be embarrassed and possible a great deal more were they found to be unregistered foreign agents.

Click here for a list of my other blogs on Libya

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Operation Mermaid Dawn, the Battle to Liberate Tripoli is Joined

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Tripoli has been liberated!
ICC prosecutor's spokeswomen says has confirmation Qaddafi has been detained.
Celebrations across most Libyan cities now.
Freedom Fighters are in control of all parts Tripoli except Bab Al-Azizyah
Two South African planes are reported to be on tarmac in Tripoli Airport.
AU says Angola or Zimbabwe may be offering Mummar Qaddafi a place to go.

TNC: Saif Qaddafi and Mohammed Qaddafi captured. People Celebrating across Libya! 3:03 pst
Snipers reported in central #Tripoli near Bab al Aziziya #Libya 5:16 pst
N_Benghazi ?
Neighborhoods near Bab AlAziziyah are facing serious shelling and gunfire right now, residents are out defending. #Tripoli #Libya 5:16pst
BREAKING CONFIRMED:- the #Libyana mobile phone network compound in ALSHAT BOULEVARD is totally under FF control #Libya #Tripoli #MermadDawn
4:55pst Favorite Retweet Reply
Libya 7orra
by N_Benghazi
BREAKING CONFIRMED #SoogJumaa:- 3 truckloads of dead subsaharan african mercenaries in SoogJumaa overnight 4:52 pst
EndTyranny101 Ahmed Sanalla
#Gaddafi forces are attacking #Bin #Nabi mosque in #Alsaream street...Gaddafi now shelling mosques!! #Tripoli #Libya 4:52

Opposition forces have taken Al-Mayah, a town 20miles from Tripoli.

This is a live interview with Zeina from the frontline.
August 21, 4:30 pst Ibriham Moussa, Qaddafi's PR guy, just complete a press conference. They're done. Talking about everything in past tence, blaming NATO, saying thousands will defend Tripoli. I doubt Qaddafi is still on Tripoli. Meanwhile at this hour three neighborhood are reported to be in complete control of the freedom fighters.
Tripoli: 31 soldiers killed pro-Gaddafi Published with Reuters le 21/08/2011 The fighting that took place last night in Tripoli have been 31 deaths among the soldiers loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, reports the TV station al-Jazeera. The chain added that 42 other soldiers were captured by the rebels in Libya. Weapons fired and explosions echoed through the streets of the city since last night while the insurgents say they are ready to launch the final assault against the Libyan leader to power for 41 years.
eyewitness for the bombarding of #Tripoli with missiles by #Gaddafi (sorry in Arabic)
Gaddafi Condemns Rebels As Tripoli Faces Siege Posted in August 2011, News | 07:04 (TRIPOLI, Libya) — Libyan rebels said they launched their first attack on Tripoli in coordination with NATO late Saturday, and Associated Press reporters heard unusually heavy gunfire and explosions in the capital. The fighting erupted just hours after opposition fighters captured the key city of Zawiyah nearby. Gunbattles and mortar rounds were heard clearly at the hotel where foreign correspondents stay in Tripoli. NATO aircraft made heavy bombing runs after nightfall, with loud explosions booming across the city. “We planned this operation with NATO, our Arab associates and our rebel fighters in Tripoli with commanders in Benghazi,” Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of the rebel leadership council, told the Arab satellite channel Al-Jazeera. Benghazi, hundreds of miles east of Tripoli, is the rebels’ de facto capital.(See pictures of the battle for Libya.)
@AnonymousSyria tweeted 11:06 pst A must-see, Libyan anchor holding a gun threatening anyone who might think of taking control of state TV #Libya #Feb17 Videos Posted by Tripoli Our Capital
Bashir Sewehli, a Libyan activist, tells us Souq al-Jomaa neighbourhood in #Tripoli is controlled by the opposition #Libya 10:14 pst
Guma El-Gamaty FF from 3 axis outside tripoli will reach outskirts of the capital soon and trigger a massive deserting by many who r now on Gadhafi side!! 9:40pst via Twitter for BlackBerry®
Abdul Helal According 2 #gergaresh resident abt 90% of #Gaddafi F hve been cleared over night frm #gergarish #Tripoli east #Jansour using gelatina bombs 9:36pst via Twitter for iPhone
Shortly after nightfall in Tripoli Saturday night the Libyan liberation army encircling Tripoli combined with an uprising by freedom fighters and protesters inside of the city and NATO air support in Operation Mermaid Dawn, the final battle to liberate Tripoli and with it, the entire country of Libya from Qaddafi's 42 year dictatorship. Many people are dying tonight as Qaddafi forces are shelling parts of Tripoli at the same time DSL is coming back on in other sections. Both Mummar and Saif Qaddafi have been on Libyan State TV tonight trying to whole back the tide.
Watch this diary over the next 48 hours for frequent updates on this fast moving story.
These DailyKos diaries are also covering these events: Witnessing Revolution #227: Battle of Tripoli or #MermaidDawn Witnessing Revolution Diary #228: Battle of Tripoli continues Witnessing Revolution Live Blog #229 - Libya Breaking: The Battle For Tripoli Has Begun. W/ Updates. "All Hell Has Broken Out in Tripoli." I will add stuff here only if it has net been covered in these other excellent blogs. and if you want to understand what is so revolting about Qaddafi see yesterday's dairy: Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure At this hour 21 Aug 2011 00:42, Al Jazeera English is running this:
Libyan capital rocked by blasts and gunfire Sustained automatic gun fire and a series of explosions have rung out in Tripoli, reports in the Libyan capital said. Blasts and gunfire rocked Tripoli after the break of the dawn-to-dusk fast of Ramadan on Saturday and witnesses reported fighting in the eastern neighbourhoods of Souq al-Jomaa, Arada and Tajoura. A government spokesman had earlier said an attack on Tripoli by rebels seeking to depose Muammar Gaddafi had been "dealt with". ... Explosions also sounded in the same area as NATO aircraft carried out heavy bombing runs after nightfall.A senior official in the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) said on Sunday that Tripoli operation was coordinated between opponents of Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli and the rebels. "The zero hour has started. The rebels in Tripoli have risen up," said Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice-chairman of the NTC, based in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi. "There is coordination with the rebels in Tripoli. This was a pre-set plan. They've been preparing for a while. There's coordination with the rebels approaching from the east, west and south." Ghoga said NATO warplanes were launching raids to distract Gaddafi's forces. "The next hours are crucial. Many of their (pro-Gaddafi) brigades and their commanders have fled." He added. Operation Mermaid’ Colonel Fadlallah Haroun, a military commander in Benghazi, said the battles marked the beginning of Operation Mermaid - a nickname for Tripoli. He also said the assault was coordinated with NATO. Haroun told AP news agency that weapons were assembled and sent by tugboats to Tripoli on Friday night. "The fighters in Tripoli are rising up in two places at the moment - some are in the Tajoura neighbourhood and the other is near the Matiga (international) airport," he told Al-Jazeera. Tajoura has been known since the beginning of the uprising in February as the Tripoli neighborhood most strongly opposed to Muammar Gaddafi's regime. The head of the rebel's leadership council said they chose to start the assault on Tripoli on the 20th day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which fell on Saturday. The date marks the ancient Islamic Battle of Badr, when Muslims conquered the holy city of Mecca in A.D. 624. A representative for Tripoli on the rebel leadership council told the AP that rebels were surrounding almost every neighbourhood in the capital, and there was especially heavy fighting in Fashloum, Tajoura and Souq al-Jomaa. In Benghazi, thousands of Libyans celebrated in the main city square, shooting fireworks and guns into the air, and waving the rebel tricolor flag.
Click here for a list of my other dairies on Libya