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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Libya's Qaddafi helped US & Israel against Iran in Olympic Games

For all those that thought the late Libyan dictator, Mummar Qaddafi was some sort of anti-imperialist hero, I would like to point out that still another way in which he collaborated with the imperialist has been revealed in the breaking news about how the US and Israel under both Bush and Obama hatched up the Stuxnet computer virus so as to conduct cyberwar against Iran. From the Ars Technica piece Confirmed: US and Israel created Stuxnet, lost control of it, we have:
That program, first authorized by George W. Bush, worked well enough to provide a digital map of Natanz and its industrial control hardware. Soon, US national labs were testing different bits of the plan to sabotage Natanz (apparently without knowing what the work was for) using similar centrifuges that had come from Libya's Qadaffi regime. When the coders found the right sets of commands to literally shake the centrifuges apart, they knew that Stuxnet could work.
So there you have it. To make Stuxnet work, they had to test on the same type of systems the Iranians had. Without this support from Qaddafi, this attack on Iran, code named Olympic Games, may not have been possible.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fake Houla Massacre Photo: Was the BBC set up?

On May 27th the BBC News website used an Iraq photo to illustrate the Syrian massacre. The picture, which showed rows of bodies wrapped in white cloth laid out on the ground ran under the headline "Syria massacre in Houla condemned as outrage grows." The picture is labeled "PHOTO FROM ACTIVIST" and is accompanied by the caption:
This image - which cannot be independently verified - is believed to show the bodies of children in Houla awaiting burial.

The photo had actually been taken by Marco di Lauro in Iraq in 2003 and is featured on his website. According the Telegraph:
Photographer Marco di Lauro said he nearly “fell off his chair” when he saw the image being used, and said he was “astonished” at the failure of the corporation to check their sources.
The fake image was exposed and taken down the same day, in fact it was up for only 90 minutes, but that hasn't stopped various "Friends of Assad" from using it to imply that events in Syria are a creation of the western media. From Alex Jones' InfoWars we get Phony ‘Houla Massacre’: How Media Manipulates Public Opinion For Regime Change in Syria
Even the BBC have gone so far as to run 9 year old photographs from Iraq, and sell them as from this latest massacre of children in Syria. Any other foreign media outlet in the UK would have its broadcasting license pulled for such a propaganda stunt. In the face of such damning manipulation, why then would so many people still believe the mainstream media’s version of reality in countries like Syria?
This website also use the photo snafu to imply the massacre is fake: Houla Massacre a fake? BBC illegally uses Marco Di Lauro's image of Iraqi victims as propaganda against the Syrian government (Must see!)

From the pro-Assad Syria 360 we get the headline PHOTOGRAPHER, MARCO DI LAURO, EXPOSES BBC’S USE OF HIS IRAQ PHOTOS AS PROPAGANDA FOR HOULA MASSACRE From the Iranian PressTV we get Truth behind BBC’s vicious tactic
Britain’s state-run broadcast BBC has been heavily criticized for using a fake photo of Iraqi dead children in order to sell a new NATO-led invasion, this time targeting Syria.
And from the pro-Russia Information Clearing House we get Engineering Consent For An Attack On Syria, Truth behind BBC’s vicious tactic and from Russia Today Oops, BBC: Iraq photo to illustrate Houla massacre?

And so it goes all over the blogisphere among the network of websites and bloggers that developed a new level of sophistication in their failed defense of Mummar Qaddafi, and are now applying that same technique of flooding the Internet with their story to obscure the fact that a massacre really did happen in Houla.

My question is: What is going on here? Clearly the BBC made a blunder by publishing the picture as it did. They claimed it was an unverified photo from an activist and I don't think anyone is seriously claiming that they used di Lauro's photo on purpose. It was on his website. They would have had to know it would be exposed as a fake in short order. They would have been setting themselves up for a fall.

No, I think the BBC was setup by someone else. Most certainly the "Activist" that sent the photo to the BBC. That entity almost certainly knew the photo was fake, probably got it from the di Lauro website, and should have known it would be exposed as a fake in short order. Therefore their purpose was certainly not to expose the crimes of the Assad regime against the Syria people but instead to obscure then. All of these outlets harping on the fake photo are also using it to imply that the massacre was fake.

The Assad government has been carrying out horrific crimes in Syria for 14 months. As with the Houla massacre, we know that the blame lies squarely with the Assad government because much of the killing is done with heavy weapons the opposition doesn't have. With regards to Houla, even the Russians and Chinese can't escape giving Assad part of the blame because many of those killed were killed by artillery, but they, like the other Assad supporters on the left, somehow see it as some sort of joint operation in which the Assad forces first used tanks and artillery to kill the anti-Assad civilians and then "armed terrorist gangs" [ATG] opposed to Assad, went in and killed the anti-Assad civilians that hadn't been killed by the pro-Assad shelling so that those civilian deaths also could be blamed on Assad. This is the kind of trash they are trying to peddle.

Now this photo gets sent to the BBC and exposed. This is known as creating strawmen so that you can burn them down. There have also been fake videos that have been exposed as obvious fakes. The claim is that they were uploaded by "Activists," but who knows?

Anyone can make a fake video and post it just as anyone can send a fake picture to the BBC, but over a hundred thousand videos of the struggle in Syria have been posted to YouTube in that last year and they make up a very convincing record that can not be faked.

The only mistake the BBC made was publishing a picture that they couldn't verify from Syria, but amidst all the killing Assad is doing, he won't allow the BBC or other media he doesn't control to report directly so they are forced to rely on unverified reports from citizen journalist in the region. I would suggest that the true purpose of the fake photo episode is to have a chilling effect on the willingness of the major media to publish what may be the only images they can get of the crimes being committed by Assad in Syria.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Who made Flame?

Flame, of course is the latest computer super bug discovered and publicized by Kaspersky Lab which also discovered the famous Stuxnet malware. Flame shares two features with the fabled Stuxnet virus, 1.) it appears to be targeted at certain middle east countries, most notably Iran, and 2.) it is of such sophistication and complexity as to imply that the source is a state actor. But unlike Stuxnet, which targeted a specific class of industrial computer, Flame is designed to spy on the target by capturing keystrokes, taking pictures and video with the target's camera, recording audio with the computer's built-in mike, and even using blutooth to collect info and sophisticated compression techniques to send the info back to its master at regular intervals.

I haven't visited Slashdot.org, where I go by the handle CatInTheHat, in a long while but in as much as I know it to be a good place to get the low down on subjects like this, I thought I have a look at the chatter over there. I found one analysis left by an Anonymous Coward so insightful that I thought it worth repeating here. He draws his conclusions based, in part, on the software licenses of the libraries used to build the rather bulky Flame malware. His comment is below the fold.

Earlier comments had already identified three commons sources of computer malware as hackivists, cybercriminals and intelligence agencies. Each of these groups has a need for different types of computer malware and creates it according to their purpose. Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, @04:14PM (#40137021) added this:
Who made Flame?

Flame seems to use libraries with permissive licenses only. No hacktivists or cybercriminals would care about this issue, they would use whatever works best.

This leaves governments, they might. Why? Because if it ever becomes known who actually made it, that party would need to release all of the sources, had they used libraries under some copyleft license! Why? Well, whoever made Flame has already obviously distributed binaries, so suing for copyleft violation would happen in court, and it would be many people suing, especially the counterparty is the government. It would be a PR disaster, and to risk that on an election year? No way.

Also, Flame requires a considerable infrastructure to store and analyze the spied information. Which governments would be capable of pulling this off? All the big ones with a lot of money to spend: China, Russia, Great Britain, France, USA, Japan, ...

So, which government cares a lot about intellectual property? China? Nope. Russia? Nope. Great Britain - well, yeah. Personally, I don't think it was Great Britain. It would be enlightening to check the Flame Lua-parts (or other plaintext in the main Flame) for spelling of -ise vs. -ize. I bet there's -ize and not -ise.

It is said that Stuxnet and Flame share similar 0-day holes. The nation which developed Stuxnet is Israel and they have a strong history of military and intelligence collaboration with USA. Israel would not have had the capability or capacity to run two such parallel programs on its own.

So who HAS likely NOT made Flame? Drop the nations which are one way or another unlikely candidates, and only one name is really left.

So, who made Flame?
USA made Flame. This is what I think. What's your analysis?
Another commenter raised questions about Kaspersky Lab:
OK, the facts, as presented so far:

- Massive, extremely sophisticated spyware is detected on computers in a few Middle East countries; dubbed "Flame", it is suposed to be similar to the infamous (well, at least for some) Stuxnet malware.
- It is not stated that, the origin of the spyware is a North American government.
- The only company that makes a public announcement about this spyware is Kaspersky Lab, a Russian security company, although the spyware in question is supposed to have been "out there" since 2007.
- Kaspersky Lab (KL) made the public announcement, however they do not provide scanner/remover for Flame; in fact, a Flame search at the KL site returns no hits.

Are we to believe that other AV companies did not know about it? Why is it that no major AV software reports it? Why is it that no Flame remover is publicly available yet?
Someone else raised a scary question:
the important somewhat scary question: how does Kaspersky accumulate so much sensitive data?

Think about it. We're talking about personal computers in the middle east. We're talking about some kind of top-shelf spyware. So where does Kaspersky pull their data from?
While still another gave this link to a Flame removal tool.

If you don't know Slashdot.org, you should check it out.

Also checkout this other diary on the Flame malware published on the Daily Kos today.
Meet Stuxnet's Big Brother - It's called Flame

Saturday, May 26, 2012

DHS files on Occupy Los Angeles released

The redactionaries over at the Department of Homeland Security have recently been forced to cough up more than 300 pages of files they have been creating that relate to the occupy movement. They did his in response to a Freedom Of Information About request filed by the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund.

As they tell it on their website:

Homeland Security Documents Show Massive Nationwide Monitoring of Occupy Movement

Documents just obtained by the PCJF from its FOIA request show massive nationwide monitoring, surveillance and information sharing between the Department of Homeland Security and local authorities in response to Occupy. The PCJF, also on behalf of author/filmmaker Michael Moore and the National Lawyers Guild Mass Defense Committee, has made a series of FOIA demands regarding law enforcement involvement in the Occupy Crackdown.

"These documents show not only intense government monitoring and coordination in response to the Occupy Movement, but reveal a glimpse into the interior of a vast, tentacled, national intelligence and domestic spying network that the U.S. government operates against its own people," stated Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, Executive Director of the PCJF. "These heavily redacted documents don't tell the full story. They are likely only a subset of responsive materials and the PCJF continues to fight for a complete release. They scratch the surface of a mass intelligence network including Fusion Centers, saturated with 'anti-terrorism' funding, that mobilizes thousands of local and federal officers and agents to investigate and monitor the social justice movement," Verheyden-Hilliard stated.

This set of released materials reveals intense involvement by the DHS' National Operations Center (NOC) in these activities. The DHS describes the NOC as, "the primary national-level hub for domestic situational awareness, common operational picture, information fusion, information sharing, communications, and coordination pertaining to the prevention of terrorist attacks and domestic incident management. The NOC is the primary conduit for the White House Situation Room and DHS Leadership for domestic situational awareness and facilitates information sharing and operational coordination with other federal, state, local, tribal, non-governmental operation centers and the private sector."

So far, I have only been able to very quickly peruse the documents. Since Los Angeles was mentioned in a number of the write-ups, I was mainly interested in what the DHS papers had to say about LA. Frankly I was wondering whether my earlier diary 2 of 5 essays: Was DHS behind the eviction of Occupy LA? might require serious revision based on these new revelations. Fortunately, the documents, though in PDF format, are text searchable with the right reader. What I found about Los Angeles wasn't very much and appears below. What I found generally was a lot of bureaucratic repetition which also means a lot of repetition of redaction. Between the redaction and the repetition 300 pages boils down to about 30 with not one original thought to be found in them.

From my quick survey, I would say at least half, or more than half of the documents concerned Occupy Portland and Occupy Oregon. DHS was on them like a cheap suit. The Occupy Portland encampment was, in part, on Federal property, so DHS involvement in tracking them and with their eviction was a rather unique situation. I also think those on the left that talk about the DHS involvement in the eviction of Occupy Portland, or show pictures of a DHS vehicle at the Portland eviction to imply a larger co-ordinationed role by DHS in the widespread occupy evictions without mentioning that fact are being disingenuous.

Most of the other stuff concerned the Occupy port actions that took place in December. Much of that had to do with Occupy Oakland and its port action. They were turned on by the threat that the port could be shut down. Referring to the links below, I found material on Occupy Oakland on ~ p. 80-101 of part 1 and p. 33-36 of part 2. I'm sure there are other references I missed. Port of Long Beach comes up on p. 66 of part 2.

While some will try to spin this material to 'prove' "the Occupy Movement continues to be monitored and curtailed in a nationwide, federally-orchestrated campaign, spearheaded by the Department of Homeland Security" as stated in this article, I think they will find scant evidence for it here. Most of the targets of these DHS papers come with a pretty clear DHS interest, such as occupations on federal property or actions directed against the ports. Nothing here to contradict their claim that decisions on how to handle the local occupations were left to the local authorities, nothing to cause me to change my assessment that DHS had nothing to do with the eviction of Occupy LA, but then, those are exactly the kind of documents they would release! Are there others?

Here are links to the DHS documents:

Part 1 of 3 (PDF)
Part 2 of 3 (PDF)
Part 3 of 3 (PDF)

These are the mentions of Occupy Los Angeles that I could find, once complete repetitions have been eliminated, this is a very complete list. All have to do with the port action and none were before the eviction. It should have been a given that in planning the port action we were bringing DHS into the picture:
Pacific Area:· District 11

Approximately 1000 protestors rallied at the Port of Oakland this are "'"""'""'"'" two marches this evening.

There are currently 158 law enforcement personnel staged at the Port facility to maintain security posture in anticipation for the arrival of the port protest movement.

* Port of Long Beach: Approximately 400 protestors rallied at the Port of Long Beach this morning. There were no port closures or work disruptions as a result of the protest. There were over 429 law enforcement personnel on·scene to f
the have di.spersed from the Port of long Beach

• Port Hueneme: Approximately 69 protestors rallied at the main gate of Port Hueneme this morning. The crowd has since dwindled to 20 people.
*Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal (San Diego): Approximately Se protestors rallied at Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal this morning. There were five arrests reported for protestors sitting in the street. The San Diego movement is planning on camping out at the Cesar Chavez Park for the evening.

2011 9:10PM
(b) (?)(C)
NOC # 1211-11 Potential Port Shutdown Threat- West Coast, US and Canada
See information below reference potential Port shutdown threat in several US cities and Canada. The cities mentioned below may already be aware of the potential protests; however, please pass information to the appropriate Fusion Centers. Nothing further is required.

The National Operations Center has received information of potential protest by the Occupy Movement who are threatening to shutdown the below major west coast ports in US and Canada on Dec. 12. The "Occupy Movement" of Oakland, Calif., has called for a "West Coast Port Shutdown" action for Dec.12 at ports along the west coast of the US and Canada. Organizers plan to protest at ports and cause closures similaf to the port closure in Oakland on Nov. 2. See affected cities and links below.

The locations possibly affected are:

Vancouver, B.C.
California - Los Angeles
California San Diego
Washington - Seattle
California - Oakland
Oregon - Portland
Texas - Houston

West Coast Port Shutdown website: http:l/westcogstportshutgQwn.org
Occupy Oakland website: www.occupyoakland,org
(b) (6), (b) (7)(C)
Senior Watch Officer
National Operations Center

On Monday, December 12, 2011 a West Coast wide OWS protest has been scheduled as part of its attempt to shutdown West Coast seaports. These demonstrations are planned in the following locations:
• Anchorage, Alaska
• Los Angeles. California
• San Diego. California
• Oakland. California
• Portland, Oregon
• Houston. Texas
• Seattle. Washington
• Tacoma. Washington
In preparation for these protests. the Field Offices of Houston, Los Angeles, San Diego. San Francisco and Seattle are actively engaged with local law enforcement and trade partners to establish contingency plans in the event these protests impact any CBP location.

Los An!ieles Field Office:
• CBP Los Angeles is participating with coordination/communication meetings with local law enforcement and public safety partners to discuss the potential "OWS" activity. Partners include the Los Angeles PD, Los Angeles Port Police, Long Beach PD. USCG, TSA FAMS, Union Pacific Police, and LA Fire Department.
• The LAILB OWS protest plans are to assemble at Harry Bridges Park in Long Beach located near the Queen Mary and cmise ship processing terminal and then to march to the nearest terminal with the intent of shutting down terminal operations.
• A LE Command Post will be activated at the Long Beach Coordination Center. The initiation date and time has not yet been determined. CBP Los Angeles will have a (b)(7)(E) in the Command Post.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Why is Russia demanding NATO boots on the ground in Libya?

There were a hundred and twelve deaths associated with the construction of the Hoover Dam but those that opposed the dam would have decried even a dozen deaths, and used them to condemn the whole project. This is the situation that the Libyan Revolution and the Libyan National Transitional Council face with regards to their critics.

Even though many Libyans were fighting and dying to topple the Qaddafi long before NATO got involved, those that opposed NATO backed 'regime change' in Libya, are now looking for every reason to dis the revolution.

This is also the situation NATO faces with regards to the recent Human Rights Watch report demanding that it investigate the 72 civilian deaths it says NATO caused in Libya.

The Libya Herald reported from Tripoli, May 16:
Russia has renewed its call for a joint UN-NATO inquiry into violations of human rights and civilian deaths in Libya.

The call, made by Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov, comes in the wake of a report by Human Rights Watch accusing NATO of failing to investigate 72 accidental civilian deaths it says were caused by NATO air strikes.
After concluding a year long study, on May 14, HRW issued its authoritative 76-page report “Unacknowledged Deaths: Civilian Casualties in NATO’s Air Campaign in Libya,” in which it concluded:
“NATO took important steps to minimize civilian casualties during the Libya campaign, but information and investigations are needed to explain why 72 civilians died,” said Fred Abrahams, special adviser at Human Rights Watch and principal author of the report. “Attacks are allowed only on military targets, and serious questions remain in some incidents about what exactly NATO forces were striking.”
To be sure, the August 8, 2011 NATO bombing of four homes in the village of Majer that took 34 civilian lives with no military targets in the area, begs for an explanation. At the time, the Qaddafi regime claimed 85 civilians had been killed. I challenge those claims in the Daily Kos in August 10th and August 12th diaries that exposed some of the regime's fabricated "evidence" and false "testimony" and cited creditable sources that put the number of civilians killed in the strike at around 30.

Still, neither that strike nor the seven others that took civilian lives, support Qaddafi claims, claims parroted by many in the anti-intervention left at the time, that thousands of Libyan civilians had been slaughtered by NATO bombs, or Dolgov claim now that:
NATO “did not have a mandate to kill any civilians”, Dolgov said, “…did not have any mandate to bomb schools and hospitals”.
As if NATO was bombing schools and hospitals, as if they where trying to kill civilians in Libya. That simply is not true. In Libya, NATO was on its best behavior. We know what they can do when they want to stick it to the civilians, as in Vietnam, or when they just don't give a damn, as in Iraq and Afghanistan, and 72 is not the number.

Even the Russian News Agency RAI Novosti remarked:
It will probably disappoint some Russian analysts, at any rate, those who talk about thousands of Libyan civilians who were killed. HRW experts who personally visited the regions hit by NATO bombing cite a much smaller figure: 72 people.

This figure is accompanied by the qualification, “at least.” In other words, it's possible that not all victims have been accounted for. But the tragic list will not become much longer in any event.
I believe in giving credit where credit is due and as an activist that, for four decades, has strongly opposed the US/NATO slaughter of civilians from Vietnam to Afghanistan, I have to say that if the HRW's figure of 72 civilians killed by NATO in Libya is even approximately correct, in this war that cost an estimated 30,000 lives, most of them civilian, they deserve a big 'at a boy' for carrying out their UN mandated military mission of protecting civilians with a minimal cost in civilian lives.

Now those that opposed NATO intervention in Libya, and are now equally opposed to any military support for Syrians being slaughtered by the Assad regime at a rate that often exceeds 72 a day, are stuck with this HRW report finding 72 civilian deaths in Libya caused by NATO over the course of eight months, and an earlier UN report that put the number at 60 civilians killed. So they must point out the lemons that help make the lemonade. They have tried to give these reports all the play they would have had those organizations reported the thousands of civilian causalities that the Qaddafi regime, and its anti-interventionists supporters such as Cynthia McKinney, claimed at the time.

So they are demanding a joint UN-NATO investigation and they are inclined to give no creditability to the NATO claim that:
NATO has said that it cannot verify the claims of civilian deaths made by Human Rights Watch as it does not have a mandate to be on the ground in Libya. The organization has said that it would begin an investigation if requested to do so by the Libyan authorities.
The critics will hear none of that, they discount the Libyan government as having a say in the matter. Just as they demand Saif Qaddafi be turned over to the ICC rather than face Libyan justice, they think the NATO should investigate these 72 deaths unilaterally.

For example Vijay Prashad author of Arab Spring, Libyan Winter, told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, February 21, 2012 that this demand for an investigation into the 72 deaths last year in Libya was not a distraction from the plight of those dying tomorrow in Syria:
The question is—the Libyans right now barely have control over the state. They barely have monopoly over violence in the country itself. The government is not fully formed. To expect them to come out and ask for a NATO probe at the same time as there are 8,500 extrajudicial detainees inside Libyan jails is rather, I think, a distraction in itself.
He is right, of course, to say that the Libyans have bigger fish to fry than demanding that a probe be conducted as to why these 72 out of the ten of thousands, met with a tragic end last year, but to brand the less than nine thousand alleged counter-revolutionaries still being held in Libyan jails as "extrajudicial" as oppose to what? Gitmo? Qaddafi jails? is simply to take another gratuitous swipe at the Libyan Revolution.

Like most of the anti-interventionists turned counter-revolutionaries, Vijay Prashad, views the Libyan Revolution from the Point-Of-View of the NATO intervention.

Since Qaddafi used his army against the protesters, and the struggled turned into a war, Vijay Prashad doesn't see the uprising in Libya that started about the same time Tunisia's Ben Ali was forced from power, in mid January 2011, as part of the "good" Arab Spring. He has branded it the "bad" Libyan Winter. He told Amy:
The uprising, it seems to me,[his pov - clay] within a month of breaking out in February, had gained immense momentum. And at its highest point, it was at the time when NATO decided to intervene. There was a conversion of an uprising, an internal civil war, into a NATO intervention.
Never mind that the people of Benghazi were very publicly demonstrating for NATO intervention because Qaddafi was about to do to them what Assad has been doing to the people of Homs, Syria. Never mind that the UN mandated it and even the Russian and Chinese voted for it. It's "when NATO decided to intervene."

Characteristic of many who opposed NATO intervention in Libya, they assume they and their world are at the center of everything. Their POV is the most valid one from which to judge the Libyan situation.

Hence, as soon as NATO got involved, that became the dominate aspect of the struggle, not just for anti-war activist in the US, but also for the Libyans too. Because of the introduction of this external factor, their struggle loses all validity. The anti-interventionists don't have to consider the internal dynamics of the Libyan struggle or show how it was changed by NATO support. They just have to know that NATO supports it so they will oppose it. Its not about Libya. Its about them. Some of these people actually call themselves Marxists!

Prashad continues with his historical POV on the Libya struggle:
By May, there were already concerns from Amnesty International that there were maybe atrocities by NATO, by rebel forces and by Gaddafi’s troops, that it was a very dangerous soup of violence in Libya.
Yes, there were atrocities committed in Libya and thousands were killed. They had been going on for many decades under Qaddafi's rule. They intensified when Qaddafi's forces open fired on unarmed protesters. Some were committed by those protesters after they armed themselves and started fighting back, and we now know at least 72 civilian were killed by NATO in support of the rebels, but why does Prashad list them in reverse order of their responsibility for atrocities and why does he act like violence in Libya just "happened?"

While Prashad, like the Russians, Chinese and others, opposed UN-NATO intervention in Libya by means of air support, they now believe that intervention gives them a license or even an obligation to meddle in Libyan affairs in ways that can only be accomplished on the ground:
One has to not only document violence, but also see that the perpetrators are prosecuted. And one has to bring a society to some kind of closure.
Like this can't be left to the Libyans. Is this now some sort of "white man's burden?"

Revealing the counter-revolutionary soul of the anti-interventionist, he was quick to dis any claims Amy made for the revolution and talk more trash:
In Misurata, yes, you’re right, there was an election on Monday to create a new city council. At the same time, Médecins Sans Frontières withdrew its entire team, because they are worried about the custodial deaths and extrajudicial torture that is taking place. In the town of Kufra, in the south of Libya, there is the continuation of the war. Weapons are all across the country.
Amnesty International found some people, less than two dozen, had been tortured to death in post-revolutionary jails and Doctors Without Borders withdrew its team in protest. Those looking to trash the Libyan Revolution like to cite that because the condemnation of Europeans is most damning.

The outbreak of tribal violence between the Zuwayya and Tobu in southeast Libya around Kufra that cost more than a hundred lives this February before the NTC and new Libyan army could effectively intervene, is another darling of those that oppose the Libyan Revolution. They just can't help but bring it up because it is probably the series of post Qaddafi violence that has taken the most lives. They like to point to it as a prime example of the "chaos" reigning in Libya.

To make their point, they depend on complete ignorance of the context. This fighting broke out in a region down near the Chad-Sudan border, that unfortunately, is no stranger to tribal warfare, but the anti-interventionists weren't paying attention before. The nearest major Libyan army bases are in Ghat and Bayda and are both around 400 miles away. This is a Qaddafi era problem. This is a product of 42 years of his rule. Southeast Libya didn't have the oil, so it didn't get the attention or infrastructure, including a local national army that could, even under Qaddafi, exercise what Prashad calls a "monopoly over violence in the country itself."

Perhaps Vijay Prashad, and other anti-interventions turned counter-revolutionaries, that like to crow about Kufra would prefer it if the NTC handled the tribal clashes around Kufra the way Mummar Qaddafi did in 2009. Having failed to position ground troops equal to the task in the region, he sent in the helicopter gunships to sort things out.

Meanwhile, since voter registration opened on May Day over 2.2 million Libyans have already registered for national elections scheduled for June 19th.

On another front, Russia is quietly attempt to free Russian nationals being held for trial in Libya for their support for the Qaddafi regime during the revolution. It would seem that opposition to foreign intervention in the Libyan struggle was more of a public policy. But then, their foreign policy is hard to understand. They threw NATO a lifeline after Pakistan shut down its supply routes to the NATO troops in Afghanistan, so apparently sometimes even NATO "intervention" is okay by them.
Click here for a list of my other blogs on Syria

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Idlib, Syria protest today on anniversary of Kent State killings

Anyone that thinks the Syrian people will given up and Assad will survive the people's uprising needs to review the pounding the defiant city of Idlib has taken from Assad's thugs in recent months and then look at the video of the protests in Idlib today. Even today the Guardian reported:
Syrian forces executing and burning residents of Idlib, Amnesty says

Report gathers harrowing testimony of victims and families caught in purge of northern city by regime troops and loyalists

Syrian forces are executing scores of suspected opposition sympathisers in the northern city of Idlib, often burning their bodies in piles or torching them in their homes then sending family members to find them, witnesses say.
Idlib, a northern stronghold of resistance, first endured months of siege and shelling by Assad's artillery and snipers, and since his goons entered the city, it has been massacre after atrocity, and yet today, after Friday pray, the people of Idlib came roaring back in their thousands to show their continued defiance.

WATCH THIS VIDEO! Ultimately, I believe this is the spirit that will save humanity. Ultimately, suppression doesn't work with us because eventually we become more pissed off than afraid.

Most of the protesters in Idlib probably aren't aware of the fact that they are demonstrating against their government's attempts to suppress peaceful protest with armed violence on the 42nd anniversary of the US government's attempt to do the same thing by killing 4 student anti-war protesters and injuring 9 others at Kent State on May 4, 1970.

I always believed that that hail of gunfire from National Guard troops, 67 bullets in 13 seconds, was no accident. It was a deliberate attempt by the Nixon administration to suppress the rising tide of anti-war protests by showing they they were willing to kill protesters right here in America.

But it didn't work, in fact it backfired on them big time because ultimately, people don't react like that.

The anti-war and social justice movements both on and off campuses had been growing rapidly all through 1969 and the winter of 1970. In the spring of 1970 new people were getting involved at an unprecedented rate. This was one of those rare times that one really feels the masses awakening. I lived it. For those that didn't witness it, not until the birth of the occupy movement last fall has there been a similar uprising.

The government knew it had to do something to the stem this rising tide. They had to show just how serious they were about suppressing it and the killing of students at Kent State and Jackson State [black college, 10 days later, May 14, 1970 police killed 2 students, injured 12] was how they demonstrated their resolve.

The response of the people was incredible! The movement saw a ten fold increase over night. At my school, Washington University where the mainstay of the protest movement had been several hundred activists, thousands came out, all of the undergraduates, most of the graduate students, (who had never protested before), and half of the professors and staff. At the state university and all the other colleges in St. Louis, the students all struck. Even the high schools got involved. I believe there were no more students shootings after Kent State and Jackson State because the powers that rule saw that that wasn't going to work. I believe the outrage of the people then helped to shorten the Vietnam War.

We are in a another period of mass activity now and this time it is worldwide. The Arab Spring continues. Today in Tahrir Square, Cario, Egypt is seeing one of the largest and most unified rallies since the fall of Mubarak. In Libya, people turned out in massive numbers to register to vote for the first time in 60 years, and in the US, May Day saw a resurgence of the occupy movement from Los Angeles to Wall St.

So watch this video and see again the spirit of defiance and sacrifice that will save humanity:

Just one example of what Idlib has endured. This is from the massacre that took place on 1/21/2012:
Videos below.

Local coordination committee for Idlib:

At 9:30am this morning 3 bombs were heard followed by heavy gunfire near the entry to Rayha road and afterwards it became clear that the security forces bombed a bus that was carrying detainees, but none of the security accompanying the bus were harmed or injured in any way.

Upon transferring these injuries to the national hospital, the protesters went in also to find the dead and identify them, only to enter a forensics room and find around 20 of bodies thrown, mutilated and with signs of torture. They then went and began to break down the doors in the hospital only to find more and more bodies of women, children and young men, old bodies that smelt very bad. 74 bodies have been counted so far.

It was noted they had numbers on them and it is shown in the videos. After this, the security forces stormed the hospital and there were severe clashes between the Assad forces and the free Syrian army and these clashes continue till now.

Hospital massacre:
Martyrs due to the bus bombing:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Prospects for peace in Sudan much better with Qaddafi gone

The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution today, May 2, 2012, that gives both Sudan and South Sudan just 48 hours to stop fighting or face sanctions. The resolution got unanimous approval, even Russia and China, who generally oppose the institution of sanctions by the international body, gave their approval in this case. China buys oil from both Sudan and South Sudan.

In response to what he considered provocations from the newly independent South Sudan, Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir declared a state of emergency in the border regions according to the Sudan Tribune Sunday, and on Monday the United Nations reported a sharp increase in the number of refugees fleeing the fighting from South Kordofan into South Sudan's Unity state. Ahram Online reported Monday, April 30, 2012:
A surging number of hungry refugees are fleeing fighting in Sudan where some are reduced to foraging in the wild, the UN said Monday as rebels said a Sudanese bomb killed a mother and two children.

There has been "a notable increase in the number of new arrivals" who have crossed the border from South Kordofan into South Sudan's Unity state, the United Nations humanitarian agency (OCHA) said in its weekly bulletin.

The refugees are fleeing fighting between Sudanese troops and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Movement-North (SPLM-N), it said.
The plague of war is again visiting the people of the southern Sudan region as border clashes threaten to grow into a full blown war. A review of the history of the region shows that war is an unwelcome visitor that has practically made itself at home in the region.

It is hoped that the threat of UN sanctions, other pressures from the international community and most importantly, the requirements of their own people will encourage the political leaders of Sudan and South Sudan to settle their differences without resorting to violence.

As a direct result of the Libyan Revolution their chances of making a peace are much better now. With Mummar Qaddafi dead, a big obstacle to peace in Sudan and the whole region has been removed because he has been a major destabilizing influence in Sudan almost from the first moment he came to power in Libya. Of all the countries in Africa that Qaddafi toyed with, Sudan may have been his masterpiece. Below the fold I want to give a short summary of that history together with a bunch of links because the minutia of a 40 year relationship could cover many volumes and can only be touched upon in this diary.

April 29th Al Jazeera report on Sudan crisis

Mummar Qaddafi and Sudan

1969 was the year of the coup d'etat for both Sudan and Libya. May 1969 saw Gaadar an-Nimeiry come to power in Sudan and September brought Muammar Qaddafi to power in Libya. Initially Gaddafi sought to forge very close ties with Sudan. For the first two years after he came to power, Qaddafi promoted a federation between Libya, Egypt and Sudan.

In August 1971, Qaddafi help thwart a left wing coup attempt against President Nimeiry by diverting a British flight containing one of the coup leaders and then handing him over to Nimeiry to be hanged. Asteris Huliaras in African Affairs said:
“One of the main features of Libya’s policy towards Africa has been its sheer volatility. In Sudan, Libya initially supported President Jaafar Nimeiry against unsuccessful leftist coup attempted in 1971; however, in 1976 the Gaddafi regime backed a coup attempt against Nimeiry that left the Sudanese leader shaken and in-secure.”
After Qaddafi's attempts to replace Nimeiry in 1976, Sudan sought protection from Libya in an alliance with Egypt and in 1977 Sudan backed Egypt when Libya invaded Egypt after the latter made peace with Israel. Likewise he reversed his earlier friendly attitude towards Nimeiry after Sudan came out in support of the Camp David Accords.

From Wikipedia on the Libyan - Sudanese conflict:
Between 1978 and 1980 Gaddafi’s Islamic Legion of Arab and African “volunteers” trained in Libyan guerrilla camps. They supported the factional fighting in Chad and assassinated political leaders in Chad who contested Libya’s interference.[9] Throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s, Qaddafi employed assassins to eradicate his enemies in Sudan, Niger, Senegal and Gambia. It is also alleged that his assassins unsuccessfully attempted to kill Hermann Eilts, former U.S. ambassador to Egypt.[9] Libya’s foreign policy in the area became apparent when in 1979, Libyan forces unsuccessfully invaded Chad, marking the beginning of the Chadian-Libyan conflict.[12] The Chadian affair crystallized African attitudes toward Libya. Sudan’s pro-Chadian stance during the conflict, would mark a significant point in the relations between Sudan and Libya.[5]
Qaddafi's Libya was driven by strong expansionist tendencies in sub-Saharan Africa. In January 1981 Radio Tripoli announced the intended merger of Chad and Libya after Qaddafi called Chad part of Libya's "vital living space." This attitude towards his neighbors made Qaddafi one of the most disruptive leaders in modern Africa. Egypt, Sudan and Tunisia all saw coup plots and assassination attempts organized in Tripoli after they rejected Qaddafi overtures for unification.

In 1983, Qaddafi supported anti-Nimeiry opposition and rebel groups with money and materials, including Anyanya II, the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement and its armed wing, the Sudanese People's Army.

In this period Qaddafi preached Arab Supremacy in Africa and he was all about building Arab unity and promoting Islam throughout Africa. In spite of this, he supported the primarily Christian Ethiopia in its struggle against Sudan under Nimeiry. In 1984, Nimeiry claimed that the Libyan Air Force, with its Soviet made war planes, killed five people when it bombed Omdurman, where Lord Kitchener won his decisive victory against the Mahdists in 1898. To continue from Wikipedia:
In reaction to the numerous coups in the region, in 1985, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) was formed when all unions and political parties except the NIF signed the “Charter of the National Alliance” and the “Charter to Protect Democracy” in order to incite civil disobedience against future coups.[13] Following this, on 6 April 1985, a group of military officers, led by Lieutenant General Abdel Rahman Swar al-Dahab, overthrew Nimeiry. Following Nimeiry’s fall in 1985, Gaddafi immediately abandoned military support for the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and provided his full support to Nimeiri’s former Muslim opponents in the North, namely Sadiq al-Mahdi’s Umma Party.[6]
With Qaddafi's support Sadig al-Mahdi became the Prime Minister of Sudan. Once in power, he allowed Libya to station military forces in Darfur. From there, they were able to better assist rebels carrying out raids in Chad.

In 1989 Colonel Omar al-Bashir overthrew Mahdi and raised his rank to Lieutenant General and he continues to run things in Sudan till this day. At first with Bashir, relations with Libya continued to improve. While they didn't move in the direction of political unification that Qaddafi wanted, the Libyan-Sudanese Joint General People’s Committee was formed and trade and development deals were signed.

Doug Lorimer, wrote in the Green Left Weekly in 2004:
The current government of Sudan, headed by General Omar Hassan Ahmad al Bashir, came to power in a military coup in 1989, and is based on an alliance between Sudan's military elite and the right-wing National Congress Party (formerly the National Islamic Front). After coming to power, Bashir quickly began implementing an International Monetary Fund restructuring program to privatise state enterprises and encourage new foreign investment.

However, Bashir's regime earned Washington's hostility by siding with Baghdad during the 1991 Gulf War. In 1993, the Clinton administration branded Sudan a "terrorist state", claiming that the Bashir government had allowed Palestinian and Lebanese guerrillas to train on Sudanese soil, and in 1997 the US imposed a trade and investment embargo on Sudan.

The following year, Washington fired cruise missiles into what it alleged was a chemical weapons factory in Khartoum but which later proved to be a pharmaceuticals plant.

However, since 9/11, Bashir — like Libya's military ruler Colonel Gaddafi — has moved to "normalise" relations with Washington. According to the US State Department website, Sudan "has provided concrete cooperation against international terrorism" and "publicly supported the international coalition actions against the al Qaeda network and the Taliban in Afghanistan".

A major motivation for Washington to find a pretext to drop its trade and investment embargo against Sudan is the country's emergence as a potential major oil exporter.
When Lorimer wrote this the whole world was watching a preventable human tragedy unfold in Darfur and that was his lead:
The UN estimates at least 30,000 people have been killed and some 1.5 million made homeless in Sudan's thinly populated western Darfur region as a result of fighting between rebel organisations based among the region's black African villagers and Arab tribal militias, collectively known as the janjaweed.
The hated janjaweed is one of Muammar Qaddafi's most terrible creations. In 2009 Anders Hastrup published a paper on CUMINet appropriately titled "Thank you Qaddafi, for the Janjaweed" that gives us a little background:
The Chadian Arabs have for a long time formed the core of the opposition to successive Chadian presidents. Put simply, there is a dichotomy between the North and South in Chad that in some ways resembles the historical North-South divide of Sudan. In Chad, however, the roles are reversed: A poor marginalised Arab North revolt against the Christian South who has monopolized political power in the hands of a narrow elite.

As early as 1966, the Chadian opposition group National Liberation Front for Chad, FROLINAT, was formed in Nyala, capital of South Darfur State in Sudan, starting a long tradition of the use of Darfur as base for disgruntled Chadian Muslims and Arabs. The political mobilisation of the Arab tribes of Chad in the initial FROLINAT and subsequent Chadian rebel movements can to a large degree help explain the origin of the janjaweed militia, whose gang raping, horse-riding murderers hold the responsibility for the displacement of more than 3 million people and the disintegration of an area the size of France into impunity and chaos.

The role played by Libya is crucial in understanding the origin of the janjaweed phenomenon in the region. In 1969, Muammar Qaddafi took power in the country and promoted a series of grand schemes, not only for Libya, but for the entire continent. Initially inspired by the Arab socialism of Egyptian President Gamal Abd al Nasser, Qaddafi became a radical Arab nationalist and sought to export his radical ideas on the African continent. This meant creating a new sense of Arab/Muslim identity among many Bedouins of the Sahel region who received both ideological and military training for the creation of an Arab homeland, the “Arab Belt” across the region. The Christian government of Chad quickly became the focus for Qaddafi’s struggle for “Arab supremacy”. This struggle was one of Qaddafi’s many experiments, where ideologies are utilized as ad hoc creations for colonising and obtaining the raw political control over given areas. He armed the nomadic Arab tribes with weapons and a dangerous ideology of Arab supremacy in this ethnically diverse region. His short-sighted goal was the instability of the Chadian regime. Qaddafi wanted Chad. The long- term effect was a continuing culture of impunity for the region’s Arabs, now armed with modern weapons against the villages of the African populations of Darfur and Eastern Chad.

A look to the margins

In many ways, the origins of the janjaweed can be traced to the meeting of the Arab Chadian opposition, armed by Qaddafi, with the North Darfur Abbala Arabs: The Arab Chadian opposition had arms and moved across the border to their camel herding neighbours, themselves poor landless Arabs of Darfur who were desperately seeking recognition and triggered by a new found ideology where they were the master race.

Roughly speaking, the same dangerous alliance of weapons and an ideology of racial supremacy merged in Sudan’s Darfur region. The area of Darfur and Eastern Chad has historically been the same, the same tribes, Arab and African, live on both sides of the border. Like Qaddafi used the marginalised Arabs of Chad to create a loyal “Arab Belt”, the Khartoum government used the landless Arabs of North Darfur to crack down on the emergent violent opposition. The results of this meeting between these groups can be found in the fierce and ruthless militias unleashing an unprecedented mayhem in Darfur in the first years of the new Millennium.
March 29, 2011, West Darfur governor Al-Shertai Ga’far Abdel-Hakam who is also the TDRA head became the first high ranking Sudanese official to go on record with an allegation they have been making privately for years, that Colonel Muammar Qaddafi was a top supporter of the Darfur rebels.
A failed by attempt by the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) in May 2008 to take over the capital was blamed on Libyan and French backing. [Sarkozy payback for Qaddafi 2007 election money? - Clay] Sudanese media quoted government sources at the time as saying that the financing of the operation was made through the Libyan Sahel-Saharan bank.

Libya is currently hosting JEM leader Ibrahim Khalil after being refused entry by the Chadian authorities last year where he was based. Sudan has sought without success to have Libya expel him.
According to the Sudan Tribune.

During the Libyan Revolution Sudan's Omar al-Bashir was able to return the favor by arming the Libyan rebels. This was revealed in statements he made last October:
"One part of the armament of the forces which entered Tripoli was 100% Sudanese," he said in the eastern city of Kassala where he was opening a new Qatari-funded road link to Eritrea.

"The Sudanese people gave its support, both humanitarian assistance and weapons, which were delivered to all the revolutionaries, in Misrata, in the western mountains, in Zawiyah and in all of Libya's regions," he said in a speech broadcast by state television.
Qaddafi opposed the independence of South Sudan. The BBC reported on an Arab-African Summit in Sirte in 2010:
Libya's leader told the same meeting that a vote for independence "could become a contagious disease that affects the whole of Africa", with various ethnic and linguistic groups also demanding independence.

"We must recognise that this event is dangerous," Col Gaddafi said.

These comments are in stark contrast to statements Libya's leader made after clashes between rival communities in Nigeria in March.

Then, he suggested that Nigeria should be divided into different states, sparking an angry reaction from Nigeria's government.
There is much, much more to be told on this topic but life is short and you should have a clue about this tumultuous relationship by now.

And of course Omar al-Bashir is every bit the war criminal that Muammar Qaddafi was and many, including me, hope he is the next to leave, but already with Qaddafi gone, and his meddling interference at an end, the prospects for a lasting peace in the region are better than ever.

Sudan adjusting to post-Gaddafi era

My other recent writings on Africa:
Charles Taylor, Qaddafi goon, found guilty of war crimes in Sierra Leone
BREAKING: Coup topples pro-Qaddafi Regime in Guinea BissauPost-Qaddafi Malawi gets new president
People flex power in three African Countries.
BREAKING: Wade defeated in Senegal & other Africa Updates
Mali Coup is latest post-Qaddafi fallout
What the PSL got right & wrong about KONY 2012
African Spring continues in Senegal
Occupy Nigeria - 1st African fruits of Qaddafi gone?
Racism in Libya
Helter Skelter: Qaddafi's African Adventure