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Crafty_Dog
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« on: February 16, 2011, 06:33:04 AM »

WSJ: Bahrain

MANAMA, Bahrain—Protests in Bahrain entered their third day on Wednesday, as tens of thousands continued to occupy a major intersection in the capital and thousands more marched to mourn a second man killed in Tuesday's clashes with security forces.

A committee set up by seven opposition groups to coordinate the protests called for a massive demonstration on Saturday, forecasting a gathering of at least 50,000 people.

Crowds massed at the hospital morgue, as the body of the man killed on Tuesday was ferried out on top of a land-cruiser in a coffin covered with green satin. Thousands of men followed the coffin, many holding pictures of the deceased, beating their chests and chanting "God is great" and "Death to the Al Khalifa," a reference to the country's ruling family. Security forces remained withdrawn from protest areas, stationed in large battalions around a kilometer away.

At the Pearl roundabout, a central traffic circle in the financial district of the capital which has been claimed by the protesters, more tents and makeshift food stalls sprung up Wednesday, with those who spent the night there in a festive mood. Young men, many carrying Bahraini flags, chanted and danced, while a loudspeaker broadcasted a steady stream of speeches from activists.

The mourners are expected to march to the central roundabout later in the day, further swelling the numbers there.

"It was cold last night, but we'll be here until the government meets our demands or the police come to send us to hell. More people are coming now...All of Bahrain is here," said Jelal Niama, an unemployed university graduate.

WSJ's Charles Levinson and Jerry Seib report on how public protests in Egypt have sparked protests throughout the Middle East, namely Bahrain, Libya, Algeria, Yemen and Iran.

Bahrain's King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, in a rare television address, offered condolences for the two deaths on Tuesday. He promised a probe into the killings and into the security-services' response to the protests, and pledged to make good on previous promises of reforms, including loosening media controls and providing special social-welfare payments.

Seven political opposition groups, including the leading Shiite bloc Al Wafaq, announced Wednesday that they have formed a committee to help coordinate protest activity and unify the demands of the protesters. The committee, which includes Sunni as well as Shiite politicians, will meet at least once a day starting Wednesday.

"We need to unify the demands of the people on the square without telling the protesters what to do...In its objectives this is a national unity movement, we have to convince citizens on the sidelines to join us," said Ebrahim Sharif, a Sunni Muslim and former banker who heads the secularist National Democratic Action society.

On Tuesday, Al Wafaq suspended its participation in Bahrain's parliament, where it holds 18 of the 40 seats, in solidarity with the protesters.

The protests and clashes that erupted on Sunday have turned Bahrain into the latest flashpoint in a wave of Arab rebellion that has already unseated regimes in Tunisia and Egypt and has triggered large protests in Algeria, Jordan and Yemen. It has also raised wider worry about the rapid spread of the unrest, and sharpened the dilemma for the Obama administration as it struggles to shape events in ways that don't harm U.S. interests in the region.

Bahrain is a tiny, island kingdom in the oil-rich Persian Gulf, best known for its banking prowess and bars that cater to nationals from alcohol-free Saudi Arabia next door. While it pumps little crude itself, its neighbors are some of the world's biggest petroleum producers.

Its position straddling the Gulf has made it a longtime, strategic ally of Washington. The U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet is headquartered in Bahrain, though no American warships are actually home-ported here.

Bahrain's Sunni Muslim rulers have long faced a restive Shiite population that alleges economic and political discrimination. Shiite leaders have pushed, sometimes violently, for more political rights over the years, though they have stopped short of trying to remove the ruling family from power.

Not all the protesters are unemployed or poor. Some of Bahrain's young professionals have joined the gatherings, vowing to keep numbers high. "I will go to work for a few hours then come back to the roundabout," said Jelal Mohammed, a 25-year-old who works as a banker at the local office of France's BNP Paribas. "We can get our rights."

But some Bahrainis are unnerved by the protests, fearing that instability could lead to economic difficulties and to further violence. "These people want the same as in Egypt. They want to destroy this country," said an elderly lady who declined to be named.

Although the latest protests often have an overtly Shia choreography, with chanting, chest slapping and references to martyrdom, some activists are eager to stress that the movement is not linked to Iran, the most populous Shia nation. "There is no single pro-Iran statement or slogan. This is people from both sects. We want genuine democracy, not clerical," said Abdulnabi Alekry, chairman of Bahrain Transparency Society.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2011, 07:27:05 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 06:50:31 AM »



The gleaming banking center of Bahrain, one of those family-run autocratic Arab states that count as American allies, has become the latest reminder that authoritarian regimes are slow learners.

Bahrain is another Middle East domino wobbled by an angry youth — and it has struck back with volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and even buckshot at completely peaceful protesters. In the early-morning hours on Thursday here in the Bahrain capital, it used deadly force to clear the throngs of pro-democracy protesters who had turned Pearl Square in the center of the city into a local version of Tahrir Square in Cairo. This was the last spasm of brutality from a regime that has handled protests with an exceptionally heavy hand — and like the previous crackdowns, this will further undermine the legitimacy of the government.

“Egypt has infected Bahrain,” a young businessman, Husain, explained to me as he trudged with a protest march snaking through Manama. Husain (I’m omitting some last names to protect those involved) said that Tunisia and Egypt awakened a sense of possibility inside him — and that his resolve only grew when Bahrain’s riot police first attacked completely peaceful protesters.

When protesters held a funeral march for the first man killed by police, the authorities here then opened fire on the mourners, killing another person.

“I was scared to participate,” Husain admitted. But he was so enraged that he decided that he couldn’t stay home any longer. So he became one of the countless thousands of pro-democracy protesters demanding far-reaching change.

At first the protesters just wanted the release of political prisoners, an end to torture and less concentration of power in the al-Khalifa family that controls the country. But, now, after the violence against peaceful protesters, the crowds increasingly are calling for the overthrow of the Khalifa family. Many would accept a British-style constitutional monarchy in which King Hamad, one of the Khalifas, would reign without power. But an increasing number are calling for the ouster of the king himself.

King Hamad gave a speech regretting the deaths of demonstrators, and he temporarily called off the police. By dispatching the riot police early Thursday morning, King Hamad underscored his vulnerability and his moral bankruptcy.

All of this puts the United States in a bind. Bahrain is a critical United States ally because it is home to the American Navy’s Fifth Fleet, and Washington has close relations with the Khalifa family. What’s more, in some ways Bahrain was a model for the region. It gives women and minorities a far greater role than Saudi Arabia next door, it has achieved near universal literacy for women as well as men, and it has introduced some genuine democratic reforms. Of the 40 members of the (not powerful) Lower House of Parliament, 18 belong to an opposition party.

Somewhat cruelly, on Wednesday I asked the foreign minister, Sheik Khalid Ahmed al-Khalifa, if he doesn’t owe his position to his family. He acknowledged the point but noted that Bahrain is changing and added that some day the country will have a foreign minister who is not a Khalifa. “It’s an evolving process,” he insisted, and he emphasized that Bahrain should be seen through the prism of its regional peer group. “Bahrain is in the Arabian gulf,” he noted. “It’s not in Lake Erie.”

The problem is that Bahrain has educated its people and created a middle class that isn’t content to settle for crumbs beneath a paternalistic Arab potentate — and this country is inherently unstable as a predominately Shiite country ruled by a Sunni royal family. That’s one reason Bahrain’s upheavals are sending a tremor through other gulf autocracies that oppress Shiites, not least Saudi Arabia.

Bahrain’s leaders may whisper to American officials that the democracy protesters are fundamentalists inspired by Iran. That’s ridiculous. There’s no anti-Americanism in the protests — and if we favor “people power” in Iran, we should favor it in Bahrain as well.

Walk with protesters here, and their grievances seem eminently reasonable. One woman, Howra, beseeched me to write about her brother, Yasser Khalil, who she said was arrested in September at the age of 15 for vague political offenses. She showed me photos of Yasser injured by what she described as beatings by police.

Another woman, Hayat, said that she had been shot with rubber bullets twice this week. After hospitalization (which others confirmed), she painfully returned to the streets to continue to demand more democracy. “I will sacrifice my life if necessary so my children can have a better life,” she said.

America has important interests at stake in Bahrain — and important values. I hope that our cozy relations with those in power won’t dull our appreciation that history is more likely to side with protesters being shot with rubber bullets than with the regimes doing the shooting.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 03:45:20 PM »

Unrest in the Middle East: A Special Report
February 17, 2011 | 1949 GMT

STRATFORRelated Special Topic Page
The Egypt Unrest: Full Coverage
Footage of self-immolations in Algeria, clashes between police and protesters in Yemen and Bahrain, government reshufflings in Jordan and fledgling street demonstrations in Iran could lead to the impression of a domino effect under way in the Middle East in which aging autocrats are on the verge of being uprooted by Tunisia-inspired revolutionary fervor. A careful review of  unrest in the Middle East and North Africa , however, exposes a very different picture.

Many of the protests sprouting up in these countries have a common thread, and that alone is cause for concern for many of the region’s regimes. High youth unemployment, a lack of political representation, repressive police states, a lack of housing and rising commodity prices are among the more common complaints voiced by protesters across the region. Social media has been used both as an organizing tool for protesters and a surveillance enabler by regimes. More generally, the region is witnessing a broad, public reaction to the layers of corruption that have become entrenched around these regimes over the past several decades.

Regime responses to those complaints also have been relatively consistent, including subsidy handouts; changes to the government, in many cases cosmetic; promises of job growth, electoral reform, and a repeal of emergency rule; and in the case of Egypt, Yemen and Algeria, public dismissal of illegitimate succession plans. Anti-regime protesters in many of these countries have faced off with mostly for-hire pro-regime supporters tasked with breaking up the demonstrations, the camel cavalry in Egypt being the most vivid example of this tactic.



(click here to enlarge image)
While the circumstances at first glance appear dire for most of the regimes, each of these states also has unique circumstances. While Tunisia can be considered a largely organic, successful uprising, for most of these states, the regimes retain the tools to suppress dissent, divide the opposition and maintain power. In others, those engaging in the civil unrest are pawns in behind-the-scenes power struggles. In all, the assumed impenetrability of the internal security apparatus and the loyalties and intentions of the army remain decisive factors in determining the direction of the unrest.


Egypt: The Military’s ‘Revolution’

In the past several days Egypt has not witnessed a popular revolution but a carefully managed succession by the military. The demonstrations, numbering around 200,000 to 300,000 at their peak, were genuinely inspired by the regime turnover in Tunisia, pent-up socio-economic frustrations (youth unemployment in Egypt stands out around 25 percent) and extreme disillusionment with former President Hosni Mubarak’s regime.

It must be recognized that the succession crisis in Egypt was playing out between the country’s military elite and Mubarak well before protests began in Egypt on Jan. 25. The demonstrators, encouraged by both internal and external pro-democracy groups, were in fact a critical tool the military used to maneuver Mubarak out while preserving the regime. So far, the Egyptian military has maintained the appearance of being receptive to opposition demands. Over time, however, the gap between opposition and military elite interests will grow, as the latter works to maintain its clout in the political affairs of the state while also containing a perceived Islamist threat.


Tunisia: Not Over Yet

Though Tunisia had some domestic pro-democracy groups before unrest began in December 2010, Tunisia saw one of the region’s more organic uprisings. Years of frustration with corruption and the political and business monopoly of former President President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s regime, high youth unemployment (estimated at around 30 percent in the 15-29 age group), and rising commodity prices fueled the unrest. The self-immolation of an educated young man who was trying to sell fruits and vegetables started the unrest, helping break down the fear that Tunisia’s internal security apparatus had maintained for decades.

The ouster of Ben Ali and his family and a reshuffling of the government for now have calmed most of the unrest. A sense of normalcy is gradually returning as Tunisians look ahead to as-yet unscheduled elections due sometime in 2011. Since Tunisia won its independence from France in 1956, the Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party — which served as Ben Ali’s main political vehicle — has dominated the country. This leaves opposition groups with little to no experience in managing political, much less business affairs. RCD politicians have been quick to seek to disassociate themselves from the Ben Ali name in hopes of retaining their wealth and political clout while the opposition remains unorganized and divided. Unlike Egypt, the Islamist opposition, led by the formerly exiled leadership of the Ennahda party, remains largely marginal. In all likelihood, Tunisia will end up with another government dominated by many of the former Ben Ali elites, albeit with a democratic face.

This creates the potential for another wave of unrest, raising the question of the Tunisian army’s motives. The military dropped its support for Ben Ali less than a month after the uprising began, and only three days after Ben Ali called for the army to maintain order in the streets of the capital. The Tunisian army is likely looking to the Egypt model, in which the military is now standing at the helm and benefiting from a number of political and economic perks as a result. Ultimately, the situation in Tunisia remains in flux, and an army intervention down the line should not be ruled out.


Algeria: The Power Struggle Behind the Protests

Many of the same socioeconomic factors afflicting its North African neighbors like Tunisia and Egypt have fueled Algeria’s protests. (Youth unemployment in Algeria is around 20 percent, and high food prices were causing riots even before the regional unrest began.) Thus far, the major protests have averaged in the hundreds as the internal security apparatus has resorted to increasingly forceful measures to restrict demonstrations in Algiers and to the east in the Kabylie region’s Bejaia province.

Thousands of riot police have been deployed ahead of mass demonstrations planned for Feb. 18 and Feb. 25. The protests are primarily youth-driven, and are being organized through channels like Facebook in defiance of the country’s ban on demonstrations in the capital. The Rally for Culture and Democracy party led by Said Sadi, the National Coordination for Change and Democracy and Algeria’s League for Human Rights have coordinated the protests. Critically, a number of the country’s most powerful trade unions are taking part. The banned Islamic Salvation Front (FIS) has also reportedly called on Algerians to take part in the march to demand “regime change,” prompting Algerian authorities on Feb. 11 to arrest hardliner FIS second-in-command Ali Belhadj.

While the civil unrest will continue to capture the cameras’ attention, the real struggle in Algeria is not playing out in the streets. A power struggle has long been under way between the country’s increasingly embattled president, Abdel Aziz Bouteflika, and the head of the Military Directorate of Intelligence and Security (DRS), Gen. Mohamed “Toufik” Mediene. After ending a bloody civil war with radical Islamists led by the FIS, Bouteflika came to power in 1999 as a civilian leader. He relied on a combination of accommodation and force to stabilize the country. Widely regarded as the chief power broker in Algerian politics, Mediene has held his post since 1990 and consequently lays claim to a wide network of political, security business and trade union connections. Bouteflika relied heavily on Mediene to both contain the Islamist threat and also to reduce the clout of the army in Algerian politics. The president then started running into serious trouble when he attempted to expand his own influence at the expense of Mediene and his allies.

The power struggle between the two has intensified in recent years, with state-owned energy firm Sonatrach even getting caught in the fray. Bouteflika, age 73, won a third term in 2009 after abolishing Algeria’s two-term limit. His current term is set to expire in 2014. Numerous hints have been dropped that the aging president either would hand power to his younger brother or to the prime minister, plans that Mediene strongly opposes.

Not by coincidence, one of the main organizers of the demonstrations, Saeed Saidi (a Berber) is known to be on excellent terms with Mediene, also a Berber. The call for Berber rights — Berbers make up roughly one-third of the Algerian population — has been one of the leading drivers of the demonstrations thus far. A large portion of Algeria’s majority Arab population, however, has yet to show an interest in taking to the streets in protest against the regime. The country’s powerful trade unions, which have strong political connections and a proven ability to twist Bouteflika’s arm through crippling strikes demanding more limits on foreign investment and better wages, are a critical element to the demonstrations.

Overall, while the roots of Algeria’s civil unrest are like those in Tunisia and Egypt, the youth demonstrators are not the decisive factor in determining the course of events in the country. The timing appears ripe for Mediene to lay pressure on Bouteflika to meet his demands on the coming succession. How far Mediene goes in undercutting (and perhaps attempting to remove Bouteflika) remains to be seen.

The Algerian military must also be watched closely in the coming weeks. Bouteflika has a number of close allies in the military elite to counter Mediene, but there are also a number of disaffected soldiers in lower ranks who have seen the military’s profile decline under Bouteflika’s rule. Bouteflika has attempted to pacify the opposition with subsidies (aided by the current high price of oil) a vow to lift emergency rule by the end of February and promises of (limited) political reforms. But the president is likely to rely more heavily on force against protesters and quiet concessions to trade unions while trying to cope with the bigger threat posed by the country’s intelligence chief.


Morocco: Regime Confident Amid the Strife

Morocco has been quiet during the recent wave of unrest. Though it has yet to experience any mass demonstrations, small protests have occurred and at least four cases of self-immolations have been reported since the first incident in Tunisia on Dec. 17, 2010. Now, however, a recently-created Facebook group known as “Moroccans for Change” has called for a nationwide protest Feb. 20, something the government of King Mohammed VI has responded to by meeting with opposition parties and promising to speed up the pace of economic, social and political reforms.

Just as in Egypt, there are many strands in the Moroccan opposition, from secular pro-democracy groups to Islamists. Those planning the Feb. 20 protests are not seen as having much in common with the Islamist Justice and Development Party or the largest opposition force and main Islamist group in the country, the banned Justice and Charity party — which is believed to have a membership of roughly 200,000. Where Morocco differs from Egypt, however, is in the fact that the opposition is not calling for regime change, but rather a greater say in the political system, i.e., from within the constitutional monarchy.

In one of its main demands, the opposition has called for a new constitution that would strip power from the monarchy and from the network of state and business elites known as the Makhzen. Demands for higher wages and state-subsidized housing are also opposition priorities, along with calls for less police brutality, a common source of animosity toward governments in the Arab world.

In a sign of the Moroccan government’s confidence in managing the situation, the government has given its formal approval to the Feb. 20 protest march. Moroccan Foreign Minister Taieb Fassi Fihri has meanwhile expressed fears that Algeria may seek to take advantage of the current state of upheaval in the Arab world to stir up unrest in Western Sahara, a buffer territory bordering Morocco, Algeria and Mauritania held by rebel group opposed to Moroccan control of the region, known as the Polisario Front. The Polisario Front has long been supported by Algeria, Morocco’s neighbor and rival. Raising the threat of Algerian meddling could also be a way for Morocco to justify a strong security presence in containing potential unrest.

In sum, the planned demonstrations in Morocco are illustrations of opportunism as opposed to a serious potential popular uprising — much less regime change.


Jordan: The Accommodationist Approach

The Jordanian opposition, led by the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, was quick to seize on the Tunisian and Egyptian unrest and organize peaceful sit-in demonstrations in their ongoing  push for electoral reform and fresh parliamentary elections . The Hashemite monarchy, however, has had much more experience in accommodating its Islamist opposition. The political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic Action Front (IAF), is allowed political representation, albeit not at a level they deem sufficient. King Abdullah II acted quickly to pre-empt major civil unrest in the country by handing out millions of dollars in subsidies and by forming a new government.

While making concessions, Abdullah has worked to avoid giving in too much to Islamist demands, making clear that there are limits to what he will do. Former general and now Prime Minister Marouf al-Bakhit heads the new government. His Cabinet, sworn in Feb. 9, includes some figures with an Islamist background. Even though the IAF announced that it would not participate in the new government and called for fresh elections, it also said it would wait before judging the new government’s sincerity about reform plans, and would continue to hold peaceful demonstrations. In other words, the IAF understands its limits and is not attempting a regime overthrow, meaning the situation is very much contained. Meanwhile, opportunistic tribal leaders, who traditionally support the Jordanian regime, recently decided to voice complaints against regime corruption to extract concessions while the situation was still tense. The Jordanian government quickly dealt with the situation through quiet concessions to the main tribal leaders.

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« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 03:55:57 PM »

The common thread is the MB and other jihadists slithering around, ready to pounce.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 on: February 17, 2011, 03:57:42 PM »

Bahrain: A Sunni-Shiite Struggle with Geopolitical Implications

Long-running sectarian strife between Bahrain’s Shiite majority and ruling Sunni al-Khalifa monarchy is the driving force behind civil unrest in Bahrain. Bahrain was the first among Persian Gulf countries to witness significant demonstrations, and protesters clashed with riot police early on. After two days of demonstrations led by Shiite opposition groups, a heavy crackdown was launched on Pearl Square in the heart of Manama late Feb. 16 on mostly Shiite protesters who were camping overnight.

Most of the protesters’ demands initially centered on political reform, the demands of some (though not all) gradually escalated to the removal of the prime minister and then the king. Pearl Square, the focal point of the protests, has been cleared and is being held by Bahraini security forces. (Roughly 90 percent of Bahrain’s security apparatus is Sunni.) Even after this show of force, the potential for further sectarian strife between Shiite protesters and security forces remains, especially as funeral processions are likely to add to the current unrest.

The ruling Sunni family may be a minority in the Shiite-majority country, but some 54 percent of the population is made up of foreign guest workers, who are notably not taking part in the demonstrations. Energized by the crackdown, seven opposition groups, including both Shia and Sunnis, reportedly are forming a committee to unify their position with the aim of getting at least 50,000 people to the streets Feb. 19. Young, enraged men may feel the compulsion to face off against security forces again, but they are unlikely to be able to mobilize enough people to overwhelm the security apparatus.

The al-Khalifa family is no stranger to communal strife, and appears capable of putting down the unrest, but the events of the past few days will make the task of managing the tiny country’s demographic imbalance that much more difficult for the regime.

Sectarian tensions in Bahrain bear close watching, as the country is a significant proxy battleground in the broader geopolitical struggle between Saudi Arabia and the United States on one side and Iran on the other. Bahrain is home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, while for its part, Saudi Arabia fears that a regime turnover to the Shia in Bahrain would encourage the Shiite minority in Saudi Arabia’s eastern province to follow suit. Iranian media and STRATFOR Iranian diplomatic sources appear to be making a concerted effort to spread stories of Saudi special operations forces deploying to Bahrain to help crack down on Shiite protesters. Such stories could enable Iran to justify assistance to the Bahraini Shia, particularly to Al Wefaq, Bahrain’s main Shiite opposition group, turning the country into a more overt proxy battleground between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Iran may be attempting to amplify the Sunni-Shiite conflict at a time when the United States is already particularly stressed in the region to boost its negotiating position, but Iran is also facing problems of its own at home.


Iran: Standard Operating Procedure

Following the 2009 post-election uprising and subsequent crackdown, Iranian opposition groups are using the unrest in the Arab world to fuel an attempted comeback against the clerical regime. Protests Feb. 14 numbered in the thousands and remained concentrated in Tehran (smaller protests also were reportedly in Esfahan and Shiraz), with embattled opposition leaders Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi encouraging protesters to mobilize. The regime used the deaths of two student protesters to call for the hanging of Mousavi and Karroubi for inciting the unrest that led to the protesters’ deaths. More unrest is expected during the protesters’ funeral processions and on Feb. 18 following Friday prayers, but Iran’s experienced security apparatus and Basij militiamen have resorted to their usual, effective tactics of breaking up the demonstrations and intimidating the opposition.

Poor socio-economic conditions, high youth unemployment (around 26 percent) and disillusionment with the regime are all notable factors in the development of Iran’s opposition movement, but as STRATFOR stressed in 2009, the primarily youth-driven, middle- and upper-class opposition in Tehran is not representative of the wider population, a significant portion of which is supportive of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The more apathetic observers have yet to demonstrate a willingness to put their lives and their families’ lives at risk by opposing the government. Rather than posing an existential threat to the Ahmadinejad government, the Iranian opposition largely remains an irritant to the regime.


Libya: Crowd Control, Gadhafi-Style

Demonstrators in Libya planned a “Day of Rage” on Feb. 17 as a rare show of protest against the regime of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Media coverage in Libya is severely limited, but reports and eyewitness videos trickled out showing deadly clashes between protesters and security forces in the cities of Benghazi and Al Bayda. In Tripoli, meanwhile, footage of Gadhafi blowing kisses and towering above a crowd of his supporters dominated Libyan state television. Violent clashes between protesters and police earlier broke out late Feb. 15 in Benghazi, where demonstrators demanded the release of human rights activist and lawyer Fathi Turbil.

Libya’s youth unemployment is the highest in North Africa, averaging somewhere between 40 and 50 percent. This is compounded by the regime’s gross mismanagement of efforts to develop the non-oil sector economy. Calls for jobs, basic access to services, housing and media and political freedoms have been made by fledgling opposition groups with leaders based abroad, groups that have nudged demonstrators on via social media.

Public demonstrations in a police state like Libya are notable, but the Gadhafi regime is also extremely adept at putting down dissent in the sparsely populated desert country. While the regime will rely on its iron fist to contain the unrest, it has also made limited concessions in releasing Turbil while promising further prison releases. Pro-government demonstrators have been unleashed, subsidies are likely to be doled out, and security forces are cracking down hard while Gadhafi is doing an effective job in making a mockery of the unrest by taking part in his own pro-government demonstrations. Most important, the Gadhafi regime has had success in pardoning and re-integrating members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group to guard against the Islamist militant threat and has maintained a close relationship between the army and the country’s main tribes.

The civil unrest in Libya is unlikely to pose a meaningful threat to the regime, but it could impact the country’s ongoing power-struggle between Gadhafi’s two sons. The younger and reform-minded son, Seif al Islam (along with his ally, National Oil Corporation chairman Shukri Ghanem), has been put on the defensive of late by his brother, Motasem, who is Libya’s national security adviser and has the support of many within the political and military old guard. Seif al-Islam has sought to distinguish himself from old guard politics and to build his credibility in the country, even going so far as having his charity organization publish a report on Libyan human rights abuses that harshly criticized the regime. The old guard has since pushed back on Seif al-Islam, but the current unrest could strengthen his case that limited reforms to the system are required for the long-term viability of the Gadhafi regime.


Yemen: No Relief for Sanaa

Even before the current spate of opposition unrest, Yemen already faced immense challenges in creating jobs (youth unemployment is roughly 35 percent and unemployment overall is estimated around 16 percent), developing the economy without the petrodollar cushion its neighbors enjoy, containing a secessionist movement in the south and the al-Houthi rebellion in the north, and fighting Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a threat exacerbated by the fact that jihadist sympathizers have penetrated Yemen’s intelligence and security apparatus.

After taking a gamble in recent months in making limited political concessions to the main opposition coalition Joint Meetings Party (JMP) led by the Islamist party Islah, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh now faces daily protests in the capital city of Sanaa and Aden. Over the past month, most of the demonstrations have numbered in the hundreds and on a couple occasions in the low thousands. The protests started out peacefully, but have turned more violent in recent days as protesters and security forces have clashed. (One young protester was reportedly shot dead Feb. 16.)

In attempt to take the steam out of the political opposition, Saleh has announced that he will not run for re-election in 2013, and that he would do away with pending amendments that would have abolished presidential term limits. Those moves helped stymie complaints that Saleh would try to hand the presidency to his eldest son, Ahmed Saleh, who currently commands the Republican Guard, the elite military force that serves as the president’s first line of defense. Saleh has also called on the main opposition parties to form a unity government and has been offering a number of political concessions behind the scenes. Those moves, while making Saleh appear weak and politically vulnerable, appeared to be working Feb. 13, when the JMP announced it would drop out of the demonstrations and resume dialogue with the government. The JMP has since reversed its decision, feeling that there is no better time to pressure Saleh into making concessions than now.

The multitude of threats the Saleh regime faces put Yemen at higher risk than most of the other countries experiencing unrest. Saleh’s ability to survive depends on two key factors: the tribes and the army. Saleh has long been effective at co-opting the country’s main tribes and in keeping the military elite loyal. The army still stands behind the president, but STRATFOR sources in Yemen have indicated that the regime is growing increasingly nervous about tribal loyalties.

The demonstrators on the streets meanwhile remain relatively limited in number. That dynamic could change if the situation further deteriorates and people start recalculating their estimates of Saleh’s ability to survive. Should Saleh become too big of a liability, a contingency plan is in place for Vice President Abd Rabbo Mansour al-Hadi, who has been the main interlocutor between the regime and the opposition, to take over. Saleh for now has some staying power, but his grip is showing increasingly serious signs of slipping.


Syria: Maintaining the Iron Fist

Soon after the unrest in Egypt broke out, Syrian opposition youth activists (most of whom are based outside the country) attempted to organize their own “Day of Rage” via social media to challenge the al Assad regime. Like Bahrain, Syria’s ruling elite faces a demographic dilemma: It is an Alawite regime in a Sunni-majority country. Fortunately for the regime, the demonstrations scheduled for Feb. 4-5 in the cities of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Al-Qamishli quickly fell flat. The demonstrations were sorely lacking in numbers and interest. Even the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, likely reflecting on the violent consequences of the 1982 Hama insurrection, stuck to issuing statements with their demands instead of risking participation in the demonstrations. Syrian plainclothes police promptly harassed the dozen or so who did show up.

Nonetheless, the Syrian regime appears to be taking the threat of regional unrest seriously, and has moved quickly to build up its security presence and dole out subsidies to keep a check on further protest attempts. In a rare interview, Syrian President Bashar al Assad indicated to The Wall Street Journal that he also would implement political and media reforms with an aim to hold municipal elections this year. While social media tools like Facebook have been widely celebrated as the catalyst for revolution, the Syrian case illustrates how such tools act as enablers of the regime. Confident in its ability to put down protests, the Syrian government lifted a five-year ban on Facebook and YouTube in February, thereby facilitating its ability to track any opposition plans in the works.

Though Syria got a scare early on in the wave of Mideast unrest, it appears to have all the tools in place to maintain the regime’s grip on power.


Saudi Arabia: House of Saud is Safe, for Now

Virtually any spark of unrest in the Middle East will turn heads toward Saudi Arabia, where the global price of oil hangs precariously on the stability of the House of Saud. Though feeble opposition groups have called for greater political and press freedoms, no demonstrations have erupted in the oil kingdom. Saudi petrodollars continue to go a long way in keeping the population pacified, and the regime under Saudi King Abdullah in particular has spent recent years engaging in various social reforms that, while limited, are highly notable for Saudi Arabia’s religiously conservative society.

Critically, the House of Saud has had success since 9/11, and particularly since 2004, in co-opting the religious establishment, which has enabled the regime to contain dissent while also keeping tabs on AQAP activity bubbling up from Yemen. The main cause for concern in Saudi Arabia is centered on the succession issue, as the kingdom’s aging leadership will eventually give way to a younger and more fractious group of royals. Saudi Arabia will offer assistance where it can to contain unrest in key neighbors like Bahrain and Yemen, but for now is largely immune from the issues afflicting much of the region.

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« Reply #5 on: February 17, 2011, 05:30:14 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2011/02/17/wonderful-muslim-brotherhoods-spiritual-leader-to-preach-in-tahrir-square-tomorrow/

**What could go wrong?
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« Reply #6 on: February 17, 2011, 05:32:19 PM »

Thread discipline please!  That belongs either in the Egypt thread or the Islam Theocracy thread.

============
Analyst Kamran Bokhari explains how the sectarian-driven civil unrest in Bahrain could serve as a proxy battle between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

After Egypt, Bahrain has become the most significant place where street agitation is taking place in the Middle East. Bahrain is significant because it is the only wealthy Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) country where we are seeing mass protests and a government crackdown. The country being a proxy battleground for Saudi Arabia and Iran makes it even more significant.

Pro-democracy street agitation is not a stranger to Bahrain. There have been such protests, going as far back as the early 1990s, with the opposition forces demanding that the monarchy make room for a more constitutional framework and a much more democratic polity. So, what is happening is not entirely new. What makes this significant — this latest round of unrest — is that it comes in the context of the overall regional unrest that started in Tunisia and moved to Egypt (in both Tunisia and Egypt we saw the fall of the sitting presidents). What makes this even more significant is that in Bahrain you have a sectarian dynamic; the country is ruled by a Sunni monarchy that presides of an overwhelmingly large Shiite population, estimated to be about 70 percent of the country’s total population.

It’s not just the sectarian dynamic that makes the protests significant in Bahrain. There is also a wider geopolitical contest between Saudi Arabia and Iran that has been going on for several decades and, more recently, since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in Iraq. Since then, Saudi Arabia has been very worried about Iranian attempts to project power across the Persian Gulf into the Arabian Peninsula. And with Bahrain having a heavy Shiite population, this is a cause for concern in Saudi Arabia, as Saudi Arabia is neighbors with Bahrain and has its own 20 percent Shiite population.

From the point of view of the United States, Bahrain is also significant because it is home to the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. The 5th Fleet is one of the key levers that serve as a counter to Iran, or any movement on the part of Iran. It is not clear at this point to what degree Iran is involved in the uprising Bahrain. There are linkages, but to what degree Iran is playing those linkages is not clear at this point. Nonetheless, it is one of those flashpoints between Shiite Iran and the largely Sunni Arab world, and Bahrain is going to be very interesting in terms of how both sides battle it out in the form of a proxy contest.

Should Bahrain succumb to unrest and the monarchy has to concede to the demands of the protesters at some point in the future, this becomes a huge concern for the security of countries like Saudi Arabia, particularly where there is a 20 percent Shiite population that has been keeping quiet for the most part, but could be emboldened, based on what they have seen in Egypt and now what they are looking at in terms of Bahrain.



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« Reply #7 on: February 17, 2011, 05:49:18 PM »

By TAHANI KARRAR-LEWSLEY And CHIP CUMMINS
Local media and human-rights groups monitoring Libya reported at least four protesters killed in recent clashes with security forces and regime supporters, as Col. Moammar Gadhafi mobilized large pro-government demonstrations across the North African country on Thursday.

Anti-Gadhafi groups reported on social-media sites late Thursday that Libyan protesters took to the streets in four cities Thursday afternoon.

 
Farnaz Fassihi has the latest on the military crackdown in Bahrain following three days of protests. Plus, unrest continues in Libya, Yemen and Iraq. Also, Egypt says Iran has asked for permission to allow its warships to pass through the Suez Canal.

It was impossible to verify the accounts, but videos circulated on Facebook showed demonstrators burning a security detention center Wednesday night and hundreds of protesters marching Thursday afternoon on a main road in Benghazi chanting anti-Gadhafi slogans. Protests were also reported in Zentan, Rijban, and Shahat.

The violence in Libya, one of the Arab world's most repressive regimes, has ratcheted up pressure on a dictator whose hold on power had seemed more secure than other leaders in the region just a few days ago. Expatriate human-rights groups and opposition activists had called for demonstrations on Thursday against Col. Gadhafi, amid Arab revolts in neighbor Tunisia and Egypt, and unrest across much of the Arab world.

The violence in Libya is still relatively limited, and a clear picture of the extent of the clashes may not emerge for days, with local media closely circumscribed and foreign reporters all but barred from entering the country. But some analysts had expected Col. Gadhafi to better weather the regional unrest.

Government supporters shout slogans and hold portraits of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during a pro-government gathering in Tripoli on Thursday.
 
Demonstrators demand the release of a detained human rights campaigners in a rare show of unrest in the eastern city of Benghazi. Video courtesy of Reuters.

Libya has a number of advantages that leaders elsewhere in North Africa don't: A very small population—about 6.5 million—and brimming coffers, thanks to recently high oil prices.

Col. Gadhafi has ruled Libya since taking power in a bloodless coup in 1969, keeping the peace through a heavy-handed security force that tolerates very little dissent. He has also allowed the country's tribal leaders a measure of self-governance, and has been generous doling out oil revenues to win allegiances.

Significant unrest could further shake oil markets, already jittery about deadly protests in Bahrain, in the oil-rich Persian Gulf; unrest in Algeria, another big oil producer; and the revolution in Egypt, through which a large share of global supply passes on its way to world markets.

Libya, a member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, pumps just under 2 million barrels of oil a day, making it one of the world's largest producers.

"If the situation continues to grow worse and gains more momentum, and the regime loses ground, prices will be impacted," said Riad Kahwaji, at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, a Dubai-based think tank.

Tawfiq Alghazwani, a Dublin-based member of the National Congress of Libyan Opposition, said that during protests this week one protester was killed in central Benghazi and two more in an eastern part of the city. Another death was reported in a village near the capital, Tripoli, he said.

The online edition of the Benghazi-based Quryna newspaper, which is pro-Gadhafi, confirmed two of those deaths, reporting two youths were shot by security forces on Wednesday in the eastern regions of the city. It also said the regional security chief had been fired for his handling of the unrest there, citing security sources.

Benghazi, Libya's second city, with a population of about a million, has long been a hotbed of anti-Gadhafi activism. It has been the site of several crackdowns on dissident, including the execution of a group of young Libyans accused of treason in 1987 and the violent suppression of a riot outside the Italian consulate in 2006.

Human Rights Watch, the U.S.-based group, said it had confirmed the death in central Benghazi and accused Libyan security forces of rounding up activists ahead of demonstrations planned for Thursday, the anniversary of the 1987 and 2006 crackdowns.

A small protest in Benghazi Tuesday night, calling for the release of a human-rights lawyer, flared into an anti-Gadhafi demonstration that was violently ended by police and government supporters, according to local media reports and a human-rights group monitoring the event.

Libyan government spokesman Abdulmajeed Eldursi said Thursday he had seen reports of the four deaths, but couldn't confirm them. He denied security forces used violence.

"There is no use of violence (by the authorities) or anything that is not justified," he said. "When there is a crowd, the security will try to disperse them but there is no excessive use of violence at all."

Mr. Eldursi said Benghazi was quiet Thursday, and that pro-government rallies were taking place across the country.

Thousands of pro-Gadhafi loyalists spent the night camping in tents in the main sports stadium in Benghazi, said Mr. Alghazwani, of the opposition group.
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« Reply #8 on: February 17, 2011, 05:49:49 PM »

GM's post moved over to the Islam theocracy thread.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2011, 02:36:43 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2011, 02:00:12 PM »

If the Saudis are scared now, wait until tomorrow when Qaradawi leads the region-wide democracy parade.[/b] Exit question: There’s no way the U.S. wants this guy seizing the moment in Egypt, especially with our “friends” in Riyadh getting nervous. Is this the best proof yet of how little leverage we have left over the Egyptian military?

I'm wondering why the US has anything to do with having "leverage" over any foreign military. If we don't like them, occupy them and change the name of the country. I know that people think that it sounds wacky, but I actually prefer the days when it was still acceptable to go take over a rival, without being politically correct for the UN, as though the same things don't already go on. Just do it and be upfront about it.

In a perfect world...
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« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2011, 07:13:09 PM »

**Good thing Pres. Bush (W) ended the Libyan nuke program, eh?

http://hotair.com/archives/2011/02/20/libya-in-flames-soldiers-defecting-as-qaddadi-wages-war-on-protesters/

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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2011, 07:28:39 PM »

Amen to that!

Also worth noting that the Libyan case would seem to refute the notion that what is going on throughout the region is all a reaction to the US.  Ditto Iran.
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2011, 10:38:53 AM »

Clashes In Tripoli
February 21, 2011 | 1118 GMT
Emerging reports early Feb. 21 indicate the unrest in Libya might have spread from eastern Libya to the capital of Tripoli. According to initial reports, heavy gunfire was heard in central Tripoli and in other districts with Al Jazeera reporting 61 people killed in Tripoli on Feb. 21. Other unconfirmed reports say that protesters attacked the headquarters of Al-Jamahiriya Two television and Al-Shababia as well as other government buildings in Tripoli overnight. According to Saudi-owned al-Arabiya, the government-owned People’s Conference Centre where the General People’s Congress (parliament) meets when it is in session in Tripoli was set on fire. U.K. energy firm British Petroleum reportedly said it would evacuate its personnel from Libya and suspend its activities due to massive unrest. Spain’s Foreign Minister Trinidad Jimenez said on Feb. 21 that the EU member states are coordinating possible evacuations of European nationals from Libya. A Turkish Airlines flight was arranged to evacuate Turkish citizens from Benghazi but was denied the opportunity to land by Libyan authorities and returned to Turkey.

Details are sketchy as to the number of protesters and severity of the clashes in Tripoli. Clashes have been going on between the protesters and security forces in mostly eastern cities of the country and in Benghazi in particular, where opposition against Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is concentrated. Signs of protests spreading to Tripoli emerged late Feb. 20 and apparently intensified following a speech made by Ghaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam In that speech, Seif al-Islam was attempting to present himself as the new and untarnished face of the regime, reiterating the political, social and economic reforms that he has long advocated were needed to hold Libya’s tribal society together. Though in his speech Seif al-Islam carefully distanced himself from old-regime tactics, protesters in Tripoli reportedly rejected the young Libyan leader and began chanting slogans against Seif al-Islam’s address.

Critically, Seif al-Islam implied in his speech that he had the the approval of his father and elements within the military, and that the army and national guard would be relied on to crack down on “seditious elements” spreading unrest. However, unconfirmed reports of army defections in Benghazi and Baida in eastern Libya from Feb. 20 and now spreading unrest to Tripoli Feb. 21 is casting some doubt on the regime’s ability to count on the full loyalty and ability of the army to contain the situation.

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« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2011, 10:40:24 AM »

Here's hoping that Saddam and his sons soon have company in hell.
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« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2011, 11:17:47 AM »

By MARC CHAMPION
Five people died as a result of looting that accompanied demonstrations demanding changes to the constitution in Morocco, the country's interior minister said Monday, as the thousand year old North African monarchy became the latest government subject to demands for greater democracy that are sweeping the region.

The protests attracted 37,000 people around the country Sunday and were generally peaceful, Interior Minister M. Taieb Cherqaoui said at a press conference. He said looters had damaged more than 100 buildings, including a bank in the port town of Al Hoceima, where five people died in a fire. He also said 128 people were wounded, mostly police. It wasn't possible to verify those figures independently Monday.

Several thousand people rallied in Moroccan cities on Sunday demanding political reform and limits on the powers of King Mohammed VI, the latest protests demanding change that have rocked the region. Video courtesy of AFP.

In Rabat, the capital, a crowd of as many as 10,000 people marched through the streets Sunday chanting: "Down with autocracy" and "The people want to change the constitution," as well as slogans against the government, corruption and state television.

Smaller crowds also gathered in Casablanca, the nation's business center. Video clips uploaded to Youtube overnight showed what purported to be protesters in Tangier, Fes, Marrakesh and other cities. A clip from Al Hoceima, a port in northern Morocco, showed a building gutted by fire and young men milling around among broken glass from the blown-out windows. A clip from Sefrou, near Tangier, showed a group of police severely beating one protester with clubs.

Morocco is one of the last of the so-called Maghreb countries of Northern Africa where protesters have taken to the streets in the wake of the fall of Tunisia's president this year, and many analysts had predicted it would prove an exception.

Indeed, as protests began Sunday, there was virtually no visible uniformed police presence in Rabat. By 4 p.m., there was no sign of the state violence witnessed in Egypt, Libya, Bahrain or Iran, and the crowd had dwindled to around 1,000.

Stores were largely unshuttered and cafés open along the protesters' route toward the parliament, as patrons watched from their sidewalk tables sipping café au lait in the partly Francophone capital.

Yet Sunday's demonstrations, triggered as in Egypt by a Facebook campaign, underscore the potential for political tension. Morocco has seen some steps toward democracy over the past decade, including two elections that international observers declared largely free and fair, but most powers remain with the king and his appointees.

A crowd that included Islamists, leftists carrying Che Guevara banners and the apolitical uniformly stopped short of calling for the removal of King Mohammed VI. The king, who took the throne in 1999 and dramatically improved Morocco's once notorious record on torture, as well as on women's rights and some other areas, is widely popular. There were similar protests Sunday in Casablanca, Morocco's much larger business center.

Protesters march during a protest and wave the Moroccan flag in Rabat, Morocco Sunday Feb. 20, 2011. At least 2,000 people are marching in Morocco's capital to demand a new constitution that would bring greater democracy in the North African kingdom.
But as elsewhere in the Middle East and the Maghreb, a younger generation is demanding systemic change. If granted, it would transform the distribution of power in this nation of 32 million, stripping influence from what a U.S. diplomat described as Morocco's "monarchical autocracy" in a 2008 U.S. State Department cable published by WikiLeaks.

"People don't take part in elections in Morocco, they are meaningless. We want a monarchy, but like in Spain or England," said Aharahi Fawzi, a 30-year-old IT specialist with a university degree, who has been unemployed for three years—a common complaint in Morocco. Spain and England both have largely ceremonial monarchs who have limited powers.

Bystanders, generally older, looked on with disapproval. "This king works for the people. He has done a lot for the poor," said a 67-year-old who said he was a landscape artist and gave his name only as Mohammed. "I don't know what these young people want, we who are older have seen a lot."

Protest organizers put out a video to promote the demonstrations, in which a group of young people, one after the other, say in a single sentence why they want to take part. The reasons include "so that I can get a job without bribing," and "so we can hold accountable those who ruined this country."

The government's main spokesman had said it looked on the prospect of demonstrations with "serenity." Protests in Morocco are relatively common.

But the government appears to have been rattled. Several government ministers sought to taint protest leaders as foreign agents, homosexuals or other claims in public comments; Twitter campaigns sprang up apparently spontaneously to persuade young people not to attend; and an online rumor was spread that the protests had been canceled. Protest organizers put out a second video to counter that rumor.

Many diplomats and analysts, as well as ratings agencies, have predicted that Morocco would prove the least susceptible country in the region to unrest, a prediction still supported by Sunday's light police presence. They cited the comparative tolerance of a regime where thousands of nonprofit organizations operate freely, and where there have been relatively free elections over the past decade.

"This just isn't the same country as 10-15 years ago," said Robert M. Holley, a retired U.S. diplomat and executive director of the American Moroccan Center for Policy, a lobby in Washington, D.C. "The point is that if people want to change the government in Morocco, they just have to wait a couple of years until elections and do it."

Morocco scores the highest of all countries in the region on Freedom House's indexes of political representation and civil liberties. At the same time it scores among the lowest on economic indicators, ranking 114th in the 2010 United Nations Human Development Report, compared with Egypt at 101st, and Bahrain at 39th. Morocco's gross national income per capita of $2,770 and literacy rate 56%, according to World Bank data, are particularly low. Libya, Iran, Jordan and Bahrain have GNI per capita ranging from $4,000 to $25,000, and all have literacy rates above 80%.

There is growing frustration at the slow, and some say slowing, pace of political reform in Morocco. Though parliaments are elected, the king appoints the prime minister, as well as the ministers of justice, foreign affairs, defense, interior and religious affairs, as well as all regional governors. He also has the right to block laws.

As a result, election turnouts have fallen steadily, dropping to 37% at the 2007 parliamentary elections, from 58% 10 years earlier. Similarly the PJD, an Islamist party that chose to participate in the democratic process and didn't take part in Sunday's demonstrations, has lost support to the harder-line Justice & Charity movement.

"People in the U.S. and Europe always say Morocco is free. But if you look here, it isn't true. We want real elections where the people get to choose what they want," said Nabil, a 24-year-old protester and supporter of Justice & Charity, who declined to give his surname. He said he feared reprisal.

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« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2011, 04:31:52 PM »

 
   
Dispatch: Crisis in Libya
February 21, 2011 | 1856 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Analyst Reva Bhalla examines Libya’s spreading unrest and the threat of civil war.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Libya is facing its biggest internal crisis to date with reports trickling out of the country indicating that unrest is now spreading to the capital of Tripoli. Government buildings are being attacked, prisons are being broken into and energy firms like BP are evacuating their personnel.

The ability of the Libyan regime to hold itself together depends on two key factors: the loyalty of the tribes and the loyalty the army to the regime. Now those are the two factors that are the most in flux and the threat of civil war is thus very real.

Late last night, one of Gadhafi sons Seif al-Islam gave a long, rambling and impromptu speech in which he said that Libya is not another Egypt or Tunisia and that his father Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled the country for more than four decades, is not another Ben Ali are Mubarak. In other words, Seif al-Islam was saying that the military is not about to drop the regime’s leader and Gadhafi was not about to flee the country. But Seif al-Islam has long been at odds with the military old guard of the regime and thus he can’t be seen as the one to necessarily hold the army together. Saif al-Islam has long avoided the political spotlight preferring to use his charity organization to push for ideas on political, social and economic reforms, which he saw as the key to the long-term survivability of the regime.

For a long time, however, Seif al-Islam and his allies like the National Oil Company Chairman Shokri Ghanem have been pushed against a wall by the military old guard, which is led by his brother Mutassim, the national security advisor who has the trust of many within the army elite. Now with the country in crisis, Seif al-Islam is trying to present himself as the untarnished face of the regime, but with reports of unrest now spreading to the capitol of Tripoli, it seems as though many Libyans just view Seif al-Islam as another Gadhafi that needs to be ousted.

The problem with that scenario is that there is no real alternative to the Gadhafi regime that has ruled for more than four decades. This is not a situation like Egypt or even Tunisia where the Army as an institution is in a position to step in and seize control of the situation. In fact there are already signs of the Army splitting, with reports of army defections in the East, where the regime has had a lot of trouble holding onto support in the past and with reports of even the army chief being placed under house arrest. If the regime can not pull the loyalty the army, then power in the country falls to the tribes, many of which have already reportedly been turning on the regime in the past couple days. Seif al-Islam specifically warned in his speech that the fall of the regime could lead to civil war. Given how serious the situation has become and given the signs of the army splitting, that is a threat should be taken very seriously.

 
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« Reply #16 on: February 22, 2011, 09:11:11 AM »

What a pathetic statement yesterday from Secy Clinton on Libya-- in contrast to BO et al on Mubarak, she simply denounced "violence" as Kadaffy Duck starts gunning his people down.
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« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2011, 03:15:29 PM »

Analyst Reva Bhalla discusses a group of army officers’ reported plans to oust Gadhafi, and explains why the situation in Libya is a far cry from that of Egypt. 

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

After a brief and bizarre TV appearance late last night, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi appeared again on state TV to reaffirm that he is not leaving the country and that he will die as a martyr in Libya.

Gadhafi’s speech doesn’t really surprise us — he is after all a very proud leader who came to power in a military coup more than four decades ago as a mere junior officer in the army. His personality, his life, is enmeshed in this country, in other words he’s no Ben Ali. This is a leader that is not likely to flee, but that does not mean that Gadhafi will necessarily be able to hold onto power. Over the course of the past two days, three major red flags have been raised in Libya. The first is that the regime has lost control of the eastern part of the country where a lot of Libya’s oil wealth is located. The second is that a number of prominent tribes in Libya have reportedly turned on the regime. And the third and most critical is that the army is splintering. Without the support of the tribes, without the support of the army and without control of the East it’s very difficult to see how Gadhafi is going to be able to project military power into the east to retake control of the country and ultimately save his regime.

In looking at what lies ahead for Libya, STRATFOR has been hearing about plans in the works by a group of army officers planning to oust Gadhafi, move into Tripoli and reinvent a Revolutionary Command Council to take authority over the country. Now the names that are being thrown around to lead this Revolutionary Command Council include many of the original free officers that helped bring Gadhafi to power in the 1969 military coup. This group is currently lobbying for the U.N. Security Council which is currently in session to approve a no-fly zone that can be enforced by the United States. The army officers trying to lead this coup want to ensure that Gadhafi can’t rely on remaining loyal air force units to bombard them as they make their way into Tripoli. Now Gadhafi is likely betting that global concerns over energy cutoffs from Libya and fears over regime collapse in Libya leading to civil war will likely deter any such plans for a no-fly zone to be enforced by the United States. Still, the opposition, including many of these army officers, appear willing to call that bluff.

One thing to remember is that the Libya situation is very different from the military managed secession that we saw play out in Egypt. For one thing the military in Egypt was actually welcomed by the populace and the opposition demonstrations were used by the Egyptian military to ease Mubarak out. In Libya, by contrast, the military is strongly disliked by the populace and would not have that kind of support.

Now, the situation is still very opaque but we are seeing some very serious signs of the army splintering. Without a strong regime at the helm to hold the army together the loyalties of many army officers will fall to their respective tribes, and at that point the threat of civil war in Libya considerably increases.

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« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2011, 10:33:31 AM »

I felt so proud yesterday that our President, having cleverly said nothing during days of mass killing by the serial terrorist killer Kadaffy and the loyal portion of his armed forces, came out with the forthright warning shot across the bow that he was sending Secretary of State Hillary "Atilla the Hen" Clinton to Geneva to meet with the UN Human Rights Council there , , , including Council member Libya.  How shrewd of him to have reversed President Bush's policy of not participating in the HRC because of the presence of states such as Syria and Libya!  But for that, maybe they would not be deigning to talk with Secretary Clinton right now!

How shrewd of him to have not responded to the events in Tunisia and Egypt by not ordering a US aircraft carrier into the Mediterranean!  Had he done so we now would be capable of imposing a no-fly zone so that the Libyan airforce would not be able to continue strafing its people as requested by defecting military and diplomats and wouldn't that be terrible!  Had he done so, Iran would have had to think twice about sending its navy ships through the Suez Canal-- and we wouldn't want that! My heart beats with pride at his eloquent denunciation of "violence" while subtly not mentioning its perpetrator (sp?) by name!  After all, we wouldn't want to make He Who Shall Not Be Named mad the way Reagan did when Reagan tried killing him, or Bush 2 did when our overthrow of Hussein in Iraq intimidated him into giving up his secret nuke program.  This subtle hammering Mubarak, our ally of 30 years, while not naming He Who Must Not Be Named, will make our President's positions "perfectly clear" to one and all.  After all, in troubled times, it can be so very important to not be mistaken for being weak. 

Otherwise someone might think to try us and serious wars can get started that way.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2011, 11:36:21 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #19 on: February 24, 2011, 10:40:17 AM »

Yup.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/flashback-louis-farrakhan-jeremiah-wright-foster-gaddafi-alliance/

Flashback: Louis Farrakhan, Jeremiah Wright Foster Gaddafi Alliance

    * Posted on February 24, 2011 at 8:04am by Meredith Jessup Meredith Jessup
 
During the 2008 presidential race, then-Sen. Barack Obama worked to distance himself from his old pastor, Chicago‘s Trinity United Church of Christ’s Rev. Jeremiah Wright. The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen wrote at the time how Wright had granted a lifetime achievement award to radical Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

    …[Farrakhan] has vilified whites and singled out Jews to blame for crimes large and small, either committed by others as well or not at all. (A dominant role in the slave trade, for instance.) He has talked of Jewish conspiracies to set a media line for the whole nation. He has reviled Jews in a manner that brings Hitler to mind.

And yet, as Cohen noted at the time, Obama’s pastor and spiritual adviser “heaped praise” on Farrakhan in awarding him the Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeteer Award, claiming Farrakhan had “truly epitomized greatness.”

In response, Obama was forced to release this statement:

    I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan. I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree.

But Wright’s relationship with the controversial Farrakhan extended far beyond an award.  In 1984, Wright personally accompanied Farrakhan to Libya to meet with Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli. In 2008, Wright even predicted his association with Farrakhan and Gaddafi may cause political headaches for Obama’s presidential aspirations: “When [Obama's] enemies find out that in 1984 I went to Tripoli to visit [Gadhafi] with Farrakhan, a lot of his Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in hell,” he said.
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« Reply #20 on: February 24, 2011, 07:52:47 PM »

If you translate "Tony Montana" into arabic, does it come our as "Moammar Gadhafi"?
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« Reply #21 on: February 24, 2011, 11:50:31 PM »

Libya's Split Between Cyrenaica and Tripolitania
Compared to the past few days in Libya that were marked by aerial bombardments on opposition strongholds, bizarre speeches by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and deadly clashes between protesters and African mercenaries, Wednesday was eerily quiet in the North African country.

The reason behind this apparent sense of quietude is because Libya is currently stuck in a historical east-west stalemate, with the threat of civil war looming.

The Gadhafi regime has effectively lost control of the east, where opposition forces are concentrated in and around the cities of Benghazi and Al Baida. The opposition is also encroaching on Libya’s dividing line, the energy-critical Gulf of Sidra, with the directors of several subsidiaries of the state-owned National Oil Corporation announcing they were splitting from Gadhafi and joining the people.

To the west, Gadhafi and his remaining allies appear to be digging in for a fight. Residents in Tripoli, many of whom turned on Gadhafi after witnessing the gratuitous violence used on protesters, are reportedly stockpiling arms, unsure of what will come next, but expecting the worst.

“Without a clear alternative, and with Libya fundamentally divided, there is no Plan B for the Gadhafi regime that generates much enthusiasm.”
A swath of nearly 500 miles of desert lies between the opposition and Gadhafi strongholds. And herein lies the historical challenge in ruling Libya: the split between ancient Tripolitania and Cyrenaica. The Cyrenaica region has a long and rich history, dating back to the 7th Century B.C. This is a region that has seen many rulers, including Greeks, Romans, Persians, Egyptians, Ottomans, Italians and British, and has long been at odds with the rival power base of Tripolitania, founded by the Phoenicians. At the time of Libya’s independence and through the reign of King Idris I (whose base of power was Cyrenaica), Libya was ruled by two capitals, Tripoli in the west and Benghazi in the east. For most Cyrenaics, Benghazi — and not Tripoli — is seen as their true capital.

It was not until Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 1969 military coup that overthrew the monarchy that the Tripolitanians could truly claim dominance over the fledgling Libyan state. But in a country divided by myriad dialects, tribes and ancient histories, Tripolitanian power could only be held through a complex alliance of tribes, the army’s loyalty and an iron fist.

Gadhafi thus finds himself in a serious dilemma, with what appears to be a winnowing number of army units and tribes remaining loyal to him in Tripoli and Sirte, his tribal homeland located on the western edge of the Gulf of Sidra. Under such circumstances, it is difficult to see how Gadhafi will be able to project power militarily to the east to retake the resource-rich territory and ultimately save his regime. It is equally difficult at the moment to imagine a contingent of opposition forces from the east charging across the desert and successfully retaking Tripoli. Even if a coup is attempted by Tripolitanians in the west against Gadhafi, the successor will face an extraordinary challenge in trying to exert control over the rest of the country to resolve the east-west split. When it comes to the Tripolitania-Cyrenaica divide, neither side is likely to make a move until they feel confident about their ability to co-opt or destroy enough forces on the enemy side.

A period of negotiations must first take place, as the Cyrenaica-based opposition forces attempt to reach a political understanding with forces already in Tripoli, who may already have ideas of their own on how to eliminate Gadhafi. That way, if they do move forces, they will at least have prior arrangements that they are not going to be challenged and ideally can be logistically supported from stocks in Tripoli. This explains the current quietude, as each side maneuvers in negotiations and conserves forces.

Whether those negotiations actually lead somewhere is another question. Gadhafi may be losing more credibility by the day, but he appears to be gambling on two things: that he can retain enough military and tribal support to make the cost of invading Tripoli too high for the opposition to attempt, and that the foreign bystanders to this conflict will be too fearful of the consequences of his regime collapsing.

The fear of the unknown is what is keeping the main external stakeholders in this conflict in limbo at the moment. From the U.S. president to the CEO of Italian energy firm ENI, nobody appears willing to rush a regime collapse that could very well result in civil war. This may explain the notably vague statements coming out of Tuesday’s U.N. Security Council meetings that focused on condemning the violence and not much else, as well as U.S. President Barack Obama’s statement on Wednesday, in which he said, “I have asked my administration to prepare a full range of options. This includes unilateral options, those with partners and those with international organizations.”

It is no coincidence that to this day, not a single leading opposition figure in Libya can be named. This is a testament to Gadhafi’s strategy of consolidating power: to prevent the creation of alternative bases of power and keep the institutions around him, including the army, deliberately weak. Without a clear alternative, and with Libya fundamentally divided, there is no Plan B for the Gadhafi regime that generates much enthusiasm.

And so we wait. Opposition forces in the east will conduct quiet negotiations in the west to determine who will defect and who will resist; the United States and Italy will be lobbied endlessly by the opposition to enforce a no-fly zone over the country; the external powers will continue to deliberate among a severely limited number of bad options; and Gadhafi and his remaining allies will dig in for the fight.

If neither side can acquire the force strength to make a move, Libya will return to its historic split between Tripolitania and Cyrenaica with separate bases of power. If one side takes a gamble and makes a move, civil war is likely to ensue. Sometimes it really is that simple.

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« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2011, 08:44:35 AM »

BENGHAZI, Libya — The rebels here said they caught a spy in the court building, the nerve center of the uprising, recording insurgent plans on a cellphone camera. The response was swift. Prosecutors interrogated the man on Thursday, and the rebels said they planned to detain him, for now.


“We want to know if he’s alone,” said Fathi Terbil, the lawyer whose detention set off Libya’s rebellion and who is now one if its leaders.
In the city where the Libyan uprising began, lawyers, prosecutors, judges and average citizens who oppose the rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi are adjusting to unfamiliar roles: they are keepers both of an evolving rebellion, as well as law and order in Libya’s second largest city.

And they fret that their gains will be reversed, by people and groups sympathetic to Colonel Qaddafi, who still maintain a presence.

Since Sunday, when government forces withdrew and Benghazi became the first major city to fall under rebel control, residents and rebels here have been left to hammer out a new way of life and governance.

On Thursday, the fruits of that effort were beginning to take a rough shape. A judge, still wearing his robes, wandered through traffic, ordering drivers to put on their seat belts. At another intersection, three young men helped an elderly police officer direct a traffic jam.

Dozens of banks opened for business, and by late afternoon, stores shuttered for days had started to open as well.

In Benghazi’s new order, the court building overlooking the Mediterranean has become both a seat of rebel power and the town hall.

A battery of newly formed committees meet there to discuss security, negotiate with the army and sort out how to get people back to work. “We needed something temporary, to manage the day-to-day life,” said Imam Bugaighis, an orthodontist who has become a spokeswoman for the caretaker administration.

She said her sister, a lawyer, is also an organizer of the effort, whose leadership remains very loose. Lawyers and judges were at the vanguard of the uprising.

“They are in charge,” Dr. Bugaighis said. Then she added, “Nobody is in charge.”

After Libya’s revolt began here on Feb. 15, there was intense fighting for several days. The local hospital is still coping with the influx of those who survived. At the height of the uprising, about a hundred people a day were admitted with bullet wounds and other injuries, according to the chief surgeon, who gave his name only as Dr. Abdullah because the government’s agents were still lurking. “We’ve been under threats for 40 years,” he said.

Badly wounded men lay in the hospital’s intensive care unit, and doctors confided privately that they did not expect them to live. They included a 30-year-old man whose chest was filled with bullet fragments. “He’s deeply comatose,” Dr. Abdullah said.

Dr. Abdullah said that 140 people died during the unrest here, while local rebel leaders said the number could be as high as 300. The doctors said many patients arrived with bullet wounds to the chest and the head. Many of them are paralyzed.

In the morgue, nine green bags contained charred remains. Dr. Abdullah said that they had been recovered from the local military base, and that he was told they were soldiers who were executed and then burned by their commanders after they refused to fire on civilians. But he could not be sure.

“It was chaos,” he said.

The chaos had started with the detention of Mr. Terbil, a lawyer who represents families of those killed in a massacre of more than 1,000 inmates in Abu Slim prison in Tripoli in 1996. The families planned to be part of a protest on Feb. 17, and Mr. Terbil said that the authorities detained him on Feb. 15, hoping to head off the demonstrations.

During an interview in a second-floor office in the court building on Thursday, Mr. Terbil said his interrogation stretched out over two days, as his supporters protested outside the security building where he was detained. Using carrots and sticks, the authorities told him to find a way to end the demonstrations.

“I told them it’s already on Facebook and Twitter,” he said he told the officer interrogating him. “We can’t stop it. We can make it peaceful.”

The interrogator’s response, Mr. Terbil said, was: “We cannot allow protests like that to take place. Blood will be shed.”
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« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2011, 09:48:36 AM »

Intuitively this makes sense to me:

www.newsrealblog.com/2011/02/26/nrbs-ryan-mauro-on-fox-news-u-s-should-help-finish-off-qaddafi/

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« Reply #24 on: February 27, 2011, 09:55:42 AM »

Makes sense to me. I'm sure we have US operators more than happy to go in and do the job. But what of Obama's spiritual leader of 20+ years? Will he approve of his friend getting whacked by US forces?
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« Reply #25 on: March 06, 2011, 08:40:28 AM »

http://www.foxnews.com/world/2011/03/05/rebels-capture-oil-port-pro-qaddafi-forces-defending-opposition-held-city/

Further developments:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8364373/Libya-SAS-soldiers-held-by-Libyan-rebels.html
« Last Edit: March 06, 2011, 09:23:48 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #26 on: March 06, 2011, 06:17:41 PM »



http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/mar/06/sas-diplomatic-mission-in-libya



A British diplomatic effort to reach out to Libyan rebels has ended in humiliation as a team of British special forces and intelligence agents left Benghazi after being briefly detained.

The six SAS troops and two MI6 officers were seized by Libyan rebels in the eastern part of the country after arriving by helicopter four days ago. They left on HMS Cumberland, the frigate that had docked in Benghazi to evacuate British and other EU nationals as Libya lurched deeper into conflict. The diplomatic team's departure marked a perfunctory end to a bizarre and botched venture.

"I can confirm that a small British diplomatic team has been in Benghazi," said William Hague, the foreign secretary. "The team went to Libya to initiate contacts with the opposition. They experienced difficulties, which have now been satisfactorily resolved. They have now left Libya."

Audio of a telephone conversation between the UK's ambassador to Libya, Richard Northern, and a senior rebel leader was later leaked.

Northern suggested in the call that the SAS team had been detained due to a misunderstanding.

The rebel leader responded: "They made a big mistake, coming with a helicopter in an open area."

Northern said: "I didn't know how they were coming."

Despite the failure of the mission, Hague indicated that Britain would continue to try to make contact with the opposition.

"We intend, in consultation with the opposition, to send a further team to strengthen our dialogue in due course," he said. "This diplomatic effort is part of the UK's wider work on Libya, including our ongoing humanitarian support. We continue to press for Gaddafi to step down and we will work with the international community to support the legitimate ambitions of the Libyan people."

According to Guardian sources, the British intelligence and special forces unit were caught near the al-Khadra Farm Company, 18 miles (30km) south-west of Benghazi. A senior member of Benghazi's revolutionary council said: "They were carrying espionage equipment, reconnaissance equipment, multiple passports and weapons. This is no way to conduct yourself during an uprising.

"Gaddafi is bringing in thousands of mercenaries to kill us, most are using foreign passports and how do we know who these people are?

"They say they're British nationals and some of the passports they have are British. But the Israelis used British passports to kill that man in Dubai last year."

Rebel leaders said claimed the captives had been treated well and would be released as soon as the British government vouched for their identity with the rebel command.

The news follows Sunday Times claims that an SAS unit was being held by rebel forces it had approached in an attempt to open up diplomatic channels to opponents of Muammar Gaddafi.

Whitehall sources said on Friday it needed to learn more about the leadership of the anti-Gaddafi forces and find out what logistical support they needed, but would not give arms to the rebels, as an international arms embargo was in place.

British officials during the day declined to comment on reports that special forces were being held but defended the objective of the mission.

The defence secretary, Liam Fox said: "It is a very difficult situation to be able to understand in detail. There are a number of different opposition groups to Colonel Gaddafi in Libya who do seem relatively disparate. We want to clearly understand what the dynamic is here because we want to be able to work with them to ensure the demise of the Gaddafi regime, to see a transition to greater stability in Libya and ultimately to more representative government.

"So getting a picture of that is relatively difficult, as is widely reported. Communications are being interrupted, there are difficulties with mobile phones, with the internet potentially being interfered with.

"So we are trying to build a picture – it's essential that the government does that and it's essential that all western governments do that so we are able to get a clearer idea of what we are able to do in terms of helping the people of Libya."

David Cameron, speaking at the Tory party spring conference in Cardiff, repeated his call for "Gaddafi to go". "On Libya, our strategy is clear," he said. "We will continue to intensify pressure on the regime. We will continue to state clearly that international justice has a long reach and a long memory, and that those who commit crimes against humanity will not go unpunished. We will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to those affected by this crisis, and continue to demand access for aid agencies to reach those in need.

And we will continue to plan, with our allies, for every eventuality. "

The Sunday Times reported Libyan and British sources confirming the SAS unit had been detained by rebel forces it had approached to secure a meeting with a junior diplomat to offer help in their fight against Gaddafi. The mission backfired when rebel leaders in Benghazi objected to foreign interference from governments which had not yet formally recognised them as Libya's legitimate rulers, it said.
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« Reply #27 on: March 08, 2011, 01:23:22 PM »

How a Libyan No-fly Zone Could Backfire
March 8, 2011 | 1550 GMT

JOHN MOORE/Getty Images
Libyan rebels on March 7 load an anti-aircraft gun near oil facilities in Ras LanufBy George Friedman

Calls are growing for a no-fly zone over Libya, but a power or coalition of powers willing to enforce one remains elusive.

In evaluating such calls, it is useful to remember that in war, Murphy’s Law always lurks. What can go wrong will go wrong, in Libya as in Iraq or Afghanistan.


Complications to Airstrikes

It has been pointed out that a no-fly zone is not an antiseptic act. In order to protect the aircraft enforcing the no-fly zone, one must begin by suppressing enemy air defenses. This in turn poses an intelligence problem. Precisely what are Libyan air defenses and where are they located? It is possible to assert that Libya has no effective air defenses and that an SEAD (suppression of enemy air defenses) attack is therefore unnecessary. But that makes assumptions that cannot be demonstrated without testing, and the test is dangerous. At the same time, collecting definitive intelligence on air defenses is not as easy as it might appear — particularly as the opposition and thieves alike have managed to capture heavy weapons and armored vehicles, meaning that air defense assets are on the move and under uncertain control.

Therefore, a no-fly zone would begin with airstrikes on known air defense sites. But it would likely continue with sustained patrols by SEAD aircraft armed with anti-radiation missiles poised to rapidly confront any subsequent threat that pops up. Keeping those aircraft on station for an extended period of time would be necessary, along with an unknown number of strikes. It is uncertain where the radars and missiles are located, and those airstrikes would not be without error. When search radars and especially targeting radars are turned on, the response must be instantaneous, while the radar is radiating (and therefore vulnerable) and before it can engage. That means there will be no opportunity to determine whether the sites are located in residential areas or close to public facilities such as schools or hospitals.

Previous regimes, hoping to garner international support, have deliberately placed their systems near such facilities to force what the international media would consider an atrocity. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi does not seem like someone who would hesitate to cause civilian casualties for political advantage. Thus, the imposition of a no-fly zone could rapidly deteriorate into condemnations for killing civilians of those enforcing the zone ostensibly for humanitarian purposes. Indeed, attacks on air defenses could cause substantial casualties, turning a humanitarian action into one of considerable consequence in both humanitarian and political terms.


Airstrikes vs. Ground Operations

The more important question is what exactly a no-fly zone would achieve. Certainly, it would ground Gadhafi’s air force, but it would not come close to ending the fighting nor erode Gadhafi’s other substantial advantages. His forces appear to be better organized and trained than his opponents, who are politically divided and far less organized. Not long ago, Gadhafi largely was written off, but he has more than held his own — and he has held his own through the employment of ground combat forces. What remains of his air force has been used for limited harassment, so the imposition of a no-fly zone would not change the military situation on the ground. Even with a no-fly zone, Gadhafi would still be difficult for the rebels to defeat, and Gadhafi might still defeat the rebels.

The attractiveness of the no-fly zone in Iraq was that it provided the political illusion that steps were being taken, without creating substantial risks, or for that matter, actually doing substantial damage to Saddam Hussein’s control over Iraq. The no-fly zone remained in place for about 12 years without forcing change in Saddam’s policies, let alone regime change. The same is likely to be true in Libya. The no-fly zone is a low-risk action with little ability to change the military reality that creates an impression of decisive action. It does, as we argue, have a substantial downside, in that it entails costs and risks — including a high likelihood of at least some civilian casualties — without clear benefit or meaningful impact. The magnitude of the potential civilian toll is unknown, but its likelihood, oddly, is not in the hands of those imposing the no-fly zone, but in the hands of Gadhafi. Add to this human error and other failures inherent in war, and the outcome becomes unclear.

A more significant action would be intervention on the ground, an invasion of Libya designed to destroy Gadhafi’s military and force regime change. This would require a substantial force — and it should be remembered from Iraq that it would require a substantial occupation force to stabilize and build a new regime to govern Libya. Unlike in Egypt, Gadhafi is the regime, and sectarian elements that have been kept in check under his regime already are coming to the fore. The ability of the country to provide and administer basic government functions is also unknown. And it must also be borne in mind that Gadhafi clearly has substantial support as well as opposition. His supporters will not go without a fight and could choose to wage some form of post-invasion resistance, as in Iraq. Thus, while the initial costs in terms of casualties might be low, the long-term costs might be much higher.

It should also be remembered that the same international community that condemned Saddam Hussein as a brutal dictator quite easily turned to condemn the United States both for deposing him and for the steps its military took in trying to deal with the subsequent insurgency. It is not difficult to imagine a situation where there is extended Libyan resistance to the occupying force followed by international condemnation of the counterinsurgency effort.

Having toppled a regime, it is difficult to simply leave. The idea that this would be a quick, surgical and short-term invasion is certainly one scenario, but it is neither certain nor even the most likely scenario. In the same sense, the casualties caused by the no-fly zone would be unknown. The difference is that while a no-fly zone could be terminated easily, it is unlikely that it would have any impact on ground operations. An invasion would certainly have a substantial impact but would not be terminable.

Stopping a civil war is viable if it can be done without increasing casualties beyond what they might be if the war ran its course. The no-fly zone likely does that, without ending the civil war. If properly resourced, the invasion option could end the civil war, but it opens the door to extended low-intensity conflict.


The National Interest

It is difficult to perceive the U.S. national interest in Libya. The interests of some European countries, like Italy, are more substantial, but it is not clear that they are prepared to undertake the burden without the United States.

We would argue that war as a humanitarian action should be undertaken only with the clear understanding that in the end it might cause more suffering than the civil war. It should also be undertaken with the clear understanding that the inhabitants might prove less than grateful, and the rest of the world would not applaud nearly as much as might be liked — and would be faster to condemn the occupier when things went wrong. Indeed, the recently formed opposition council based out of Benghazi — the same group that is leading the calls from eastern Libya for foreign airstrikes against Gadhafi’s air force — has explicitly warned against any military intervention involving troops on the ground.

In the end, the use of force must have the national interest in mind. And the historical record of armed humanitarian interventions is mixed at best.

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« Reply #28 on: March 10, 2011, 02:34:32 PM »

Reason,
is they have their own illegal immigration problems.  From the Economist:

****Fear of foreigners

The Italian government worries about a huge influx from north Africa
Mar 3rd 2011 | ROME

 All washed up and ready to goNOWHERE has the Libyan uprising caused greater anguish than inside Silvio Berlusconi’s Italian government. Distress at the death of so many protesters? Sympathy for the prime minister’s friend and erstwhile ally, Muammar Qaddafi? Neither, really. What has prompted reactions ranging from alarm to hysteria is the prospect of a sharp increase in immigration from the Maghreb. The foreign minister, Franco Frattini, feared “an exodus of Biblical proportions”. It would bring Italy “to its knees”, said the interior minister, Roberto Maroni. Mr Frattini talked of 200,000-300,000 arrivals, creating a future that was “impossible to imagine”.

The government has good reason to worry. The achievement of which it is perhaps proudest is a sharp cut in the flow of illegal migrants across the Mediterranean (from 36,951 in 2008 to only 4,406 in 2010). It managed this by striking deals with Libya in 2008 and Tunisia in 2009 under which both countries were paid to clamp down on human trafficking. The danger is that these agreements will be rendered null by the chaos. On February 26th Italy declared that its friendship treaty with Libya was “de facto no longer in operation” (though that was probably to free it from an obligation not to use force against its former colony: as later became clear, Italy supports a no-fly zone).

The earliest tear in the diplomatic membrane shielding Italy came after the uprising in Tunisia. More than 5,000 people fled to the little Italian island of Lampedusa, which is closer to north Africa than to Sicily. The Italians elicited an outraged response from Tunis when they suggested intervening militarily to block the boats. But the Tunisians seem to have tightened their grip and this, assisted by bad weather, stopped the landfalls until March 1st, when the first of 413 people, mostly Tunisians, arrived on Lampedusa and a nearly island. Unsurprisingly Mr Maroni failed to convince his European colleagues in Brussels on February 24th that Italy was facing a “catastrophic humanitarian crisis”.

His real worry is Libya. The total estimated foreign population there is put as high as 1.5m. There have been reports of sub-Saharan Africans being attacked and even killed by anti-Qaddafi protesters who mistook them for mercenaries. Yet it would be absurd to claim that all foreigners in Libya will go to Italy; most would prefer to return home. There is little evidence of their fleeing northward so far. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees says that, of 55,000 people who crossed into Egypt between February 10th and 28th, all but 6,900 were Egyptians or Libyans. Most others were Asian.

The Italian government’s fear is that hundreds of thousands may yet take advantage of the disorder to embark for Europe. But the disruption may affect people smugglers as much as anyone. For the moment, the numbers seem bearable in a country of 60m. Germany’s outgoing interior minister, Thomas de Maizière, noted that Sweden, with a population of only 9m, took 30,000 asylum-seekers last year.

Where there is a real and immediate humanitarian emergency is on Tunisia’s border with Libya. On March 1st, in an abrupt and welcome change of tack, the Italian government announced that it was putting some money into a humanitarian mission to the area. Mr Maroni said it would provide food and shelter for 10,000 people, “but also stop them from leaving”.****

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« Reply #29 on: March 10, 2011, 04:05:51 PM »

Stratfor
The French government said on March 10 that it would recognize the Libyan National Transitional Council as the sole representative of the Libyan people. It will soon move its ambassador to Benghazi from Tripoli. This comes as French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he would call for airstrikes against Libyan forces at the March 11 EU Council meeting.

France has been one of the most vociferous supporters of a no-fly zone in Libya. However, the issue for French involvement is the capacity of Paris to enforce such a zone on its own. The French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle is the only aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean Sea at the moment. However, its (around) 35 aircraft alone would be insufficient to set up the initial zone. Therefore, the question is: To what extent can France enforce the zone on its own?

The logic for the call to an intervention is largely a domestic one for Paris. Initially, France took a lot of criticism for how it responded to the wave of protests in Tunisia and Egypt. France’s then-Foreign Minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, took a lot of criticism not only for vacationing in Tunisia by flying in a private jet of a businessman close to the regime, but also for offering the regime help from French security forces in repressing its protesters three days before the Tunisian president fled the country. Sarkozy ultimately had to replace Alliot-Marie with veteran Alain Juppe. The replacement was a considerable embarrassment for Sarkozy and for the French government. Therefore, one aspect of the logic for France’s support of a no-fly zone is the compensatory for the earlier lack of clarity on French policy toward change in the Middle East.

Another reason for the support of the no-fly zone is, of course, the French role in EU affairs. With Germany’s rising clout in economic and political policy of the eurozone and the wider European Union, Paris wants to maintain its leadership in foreign affairs and any military initiatives of the Europeans. Therefore, leadership on this issue is very important for Paris. Furthermore, what aids Paris in its diplomatic push for a no-fly zone is an actual lack of interest in Libya.

That is not to say France has no interest in the country; it does import 10 percent of its oil from Libya. However, it has nowhere near the level of interest in Libya as its Mediterranean neighbor, Italy, has, which imports about 20-25 percent of its oil from the North African state. Therefore, France has less of a need to hedge its policy toward the Gadhafi regime. It can be far more forceful in supporting an intervention because it is not as worried as Italy about its energy assets and investments in Libya.

Ultimately, Paris understands that no one is going to ask France to enforce a no-fly zone on its own. It is comforted by the fact Germany and Italy are very carefully considering their steps, and France knows that it can essentially support an aggressive interventionist approach without being called to do it on its own. This gives France considerable liberty in how its treats the Libyan situation, and it allows Sarkozy to gain political points at home.

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« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2011, 06:28:39 PM »

http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2011/03/13/what-if-qaddafi-wins/

What if Qaddafi Wins?
Michael J. Totten 03.13.2011 - 6:51 AM

If something doesn’t change soon, Muammar Qaddafi will kill his way back into power over all Libya’s territory. His forces are retaking rebel positions. The opposition is crumbling. And it looks like the United States and Europe will stand back and just let it happen.

This isn’t the first time an Arab tyrant has made a startling comeback after an uprising nearly swept him away. Saddam Hussein lost control of most of Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War, but tens of thousands of dead bodies later, he was firmly and ruthlessly back in the saddle.

There are good arguments against getting involved. Not even the most hawkish interventionist would have chosen a war against Qaddafi a month ago. There aren’t many worse human-rights abusers out there, though there are some. And there are certainly countries where the West has more national interests at stake, the most obvious being Iran. But let’s not pretend there won’t be consequences beyond the shores of Tripoli if Qaddafi butchers his way back to Benghazi.

He’ll emerge meaner and more isolated than ever and hell-bent on revenge. We can forget about going back to the status quo ante when his relations with others were more or less “normal.” Whatever reluctance he felt against acting out will be eroded, if not lost entirely, now that he knows the West has little appetite to move against him, even when he is cornered and at his most vulnerable.

If the only Arab rulers to be deposed by revolution are the nominally pro-American “moderates,” while the mass-murdering state sponsors of terrorism hang on, change indeed will be coming to the Middle East and North Africa, but it won’t be the change we were hoping for. One thing, however, will not have changed an iota: the Middle East will be governed by violence just as it always has.

If the Caligula of North Africa survives by fighting to the death and prevailing, he will surely inspire the other hard rulers to take the same strategy, especially after the humiliating and mostly nonviolent defeats of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Ben Ali. The killers of the resistance bloc — Iran’s Islamic Republic, Bashar al-Assad’s Baath Party in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, and Hamas in Gaza — won’t likely be overthrown by peaceful demonstrations but by massive internally  or externally driven wars.
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« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2011, 08:06:29 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2011/03/15/days-after-it-might-have-done-some-good-un-finally-introduces-resolution-on-no-fly-zone-in-libya/

Days after it might have done some good, UN finally introduces resolution on no-fly zone in Libya

posted at 7:52 pm on March 15, 2011 by Allahpundit


How pathetic is this? The foreign minister of France, which was spearheading the push for a NFZ initially, flatly admitted today that it’s probably too late now. Qaddafi rolled over the rebels in Ajdabiya last night and is poised to utterly devastate the last rebel fortress in Benghazi, so by the time the Security Council passes a resolution and NATO scrambles to begin operations against Libyan air defenses, the entire country may be back in Qaddafi’s hands. (So quickly are the regime’s troops advancing that when Newsweek published this piece last night about a “decisive” battle to come, that battle was already basically over. Already the news has shifted to Benghazi’s defenders “bracing for death.”) Even the rebels know it’s too late for a NFZ: Yesterday they expanded their requests from a no-flight zone to include airstrikes against Qaddafi’s compound in Tripoli. They’re not strong enough anymore to take him out so they’re begging us to do it for them.

Essentially, rather than tell them flat out that intervening in Libya is too much risk for too little reward, Obama and the EU have spent two weeks jerking them around with stern words about how Qaddafi must go while evidently intending all along to do nothing militarily to help. It’s good domestic politics — the public may like anti-Qaddafi rhetoric but they’re awfully chilly about bombing Libyan air defenses, a necessary precondition to a NFZ — but it’s amazingly cynical.

    “It may prove to be too little too late,” says Robert Danin, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It could be of some assistance in creating humanitarian sanctuaries, but if the goal is to roll back Qaddafi’s forces, it is likely to have little military effect, especially with the rebel stronghold of Benghazi on the brink of falling.”

    Even though the U.S. is now backing the draft Libya resolution, Danin believes the Obama administration should have pushed harder for action much earlier. “Obama should not have called for Qaddafi to step down if the U.S. was not willing to back up that call with a real sense of an ‘or else’ … consequences for failing to step down.”

    The resolution comes amid criticism of the Security Council’s failure to react more forcefully. French U.N. Ambassador Gerard Araud said he is “deeply distressed” by the Security Council’s failure to act and is pushing for the resolution’s passage. But Western diplomats tell Fox News they expect tough negotiations over the days ahead.

France and Britain lobbied diplomats at today’s meeting of the G-8 to at least include a passage about Libya in their final statement — to no avail. (Your quote of the day: “Col Gaddafi, in an interview, said Germany, Russia and China would now be rewarded with business deals and oil contracts.”) Libyan rebels met with Hillary last night in Paris and begged her for airstrikes — to no avail, just three days after The One surreally claimed that we were “tightening the noose” on Qaddafi. I understand the interventionist argument, I understand the noninterventionist argument, but what I don’t understand is the tactic of talking tough while fully intending to let this cretin steamroll his opponents. What does it amount to if not an admission of western paralysis? As Larry Diamond puts it at TNR, “If Barack Obama cannot face down a modest thug who is hated by most of his own people and by every neighboring government, who can he confront anywhere?”

That said, and contrary to those on the interventionist side, I don’t think any “lessons” will be drawn from this in, say, Riyadh about how to deal with protesters that weren’t already learned long ago. After watching Khamenei consolidate power two years ago by crushing demonstrators and then watching Mubarak sent into exile after the Egyptian army refused to fire, every autocracy in the region knows how to deal now with its own dispossessed. Letting Qaddafi win reinforces the lesson, but even had we acted against him, there’s no chance of NATO intervention against Saudi Arabia or Yemen or Bahrain or any other friendly regime. If there’s any “lesson” to be learned here, it’s that official U.S. rhetoric on Middle Eastern uprisings is farcically meaningless. We already knew that too, actually, from the White House’s rolling embarrassments during the Egyptian revolution, but in case there was any doubt, this should clear it up. Don’t trust a thing we say about whether X should go or Y should stay or there should be an “orderly transition” from X to Y over the span of blah blah blah. We don’t mean a word of it. We’re simply following events and trying to pander simultaneously to the democracy and “stability” factions in the region.
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« Reply #32 on: March 17, 2011, 03:33:47 PM »

Military Analyst Nathan Hughes discusses Libyan rebel forces’ inability to mount a meaningful resistance against loyalist forces, as well as the effect this has on the international community’s options for dealing with Libya.


Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Gadhafi’s forces are rolling back rebel positions in sustained military operations, simultaneously consolidating control over former rebel strongholds along the western coast while advancing eastward along the Gulf of Sidra.

At the beginning of the month, signs of indecisive skirmishes and a potential stalemate began to emerge between Gadhafi’s forces in the west and opposition forces in the east. Since then, loyalist forces have begun to seize the initiative and gain momentum in their operations pushing eastward. As Gadhafi’s forces have advanced eastward through Ras Lanuf and to Marsa el Brega, while simultaneously consolidating control over Zawiya, and closing on Misurata in the west. There has been little sign of meaningful military resistance from the rebels. What initially appeared like indecisive thrusts and raids into rebel-held territory are increasingly looking like sustained and decisive assaults backed by armored artillery.

What isn’t exactly clear right now is what sort of resistance these forces have faced. Clearly, the rebels have not produced sustained resistance or slowed the advance of Gadhafi’s forces. However, it’s not clear how much fighting there has been, compared to how much Gadhafi’s forces are merely continuing to move eastward and consolidating a route where there has been little resistance at all.

The place to watch right now is the town of Ajdabiya. From there, nothing stands between loyalist forces and the rebel capitol of Benghazi. From here, the road actually splits, running directly to Benghazi, and, also, the rebel-held stronghold at Tobruk. This is the last energy export facility still decisively in rebel hands. It also complicates the battle problem for the rebels, whereas Gadhafi’s forces have been advancing eastward on a single axis: the road along the coast. This now gives the loyalist forces the opportunity to advance on two separate axes, and it very seriously complicates the rebel’s defensive problem.

Even if Gadhafi does pacify the cities in the east — and that alone could well take months — the rebels retain the opportunity of turning to an insurgency, especially now that they’ve become well-armed with Libyan military supplies. Meanwhile, the international response has gotten more vocal, but the incentive remains to talk big and act small. It’s far from clear what military intervention of any sort, or military support of any sort, might actually achieve in Libya. The situation is rapidly evolving, and the rebel defensive lines have already collapsed in many cases. So it’s not clear what’s to be gained from any sort of actual involvement at this point.

The problem for the international community is that at the beginning of the month, they were beginning to see a split stalemate scenario between east and west or even post-Gadhafi scenarios. The reverse is becoming increasingly possible, where Gadhafi may again return to power and control of the entire Libyan state. And so, the challenge may now be for the international community to backtrack, if they want to be able to deal with the consolidated Libya controlled by Gadhafi once more.

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« Reply #33 on: March 18, 2011, 12:41:03 AM »

Libya and the U.N. No-Fly Zone

The U.N. Security Council voted on Thursday to authorize “all necessary measures … to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory.” The resolution banned “all flights in the airspace of the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya in order to help protect civilians,” essentially setting up a no-fly zone. The resolution — and specifically the U.S. administration — are calling for the participation of Arab League members, with diplomatic sources telling AFP hours before the resolution passed that Qatar and the United Arab Emirates might take part. Five Security Council members abstained from the resolution: Russia and China (both permanent members holding veto power) joined by Germany, India and Brazil.

The Security Council resolution clearly invites concerned member states to take the initiative and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya. The most vociferous supporters of the resolution — France and the United Kingdom from the start and the United States in the last week — will now try to build a coalition with which to enforce such a zone. Including members of the Arab League appears important to all involved to give the mission greater legitimacy — and to keep the intervention from appearing like another Western-initiated war in the Muslim world.

As U.S. defense officials have repeatedly stated — and as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reiterated on Thursday while in Tunisia — enforcement of the no-fly zone will require more than just combat air patrol flights and will have to include taking out Libyan air defenses on the ground. With the nearest U.S. aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, still in the Red Sea and the French carrier Charles de Gaulle in port in Toulon — both some two days from Libya — French forces in southern France and potentially select air assets using Italian NATO bases, as well as six Marine Harriers aboard the Kearsarge (LHD-3), would have to make any initial strikes if actual military action is to happen soon. Italy has reversed course from its ambiguity on whether it would allow its air bases for enforcement of the no-fly zone, making available the U.S. Naval Air Station at Sigonella, Sicily, and the U.S. Air Base at Aviano. The U.N. support for airstrikes has made it difficult for Italy to keep hedging its policy on Libya.

“A hastily assembled no-fly zone with a clear limit to its mandate might simply push Gadhafi into a more aggressive posture toward the rebels and sow the seeds for long-term conflict in Libya.”
The question now is how quickly the United States, France and the United Kingdom can array their air forces in the region to make a meaningful impact on the ground in Libya. An anonymous French government official told AFP earlier on Thursday that bombing missions could begin within hours of the resolution’s passage. Whether this actually will be the case remains unclear, however. Gadhafi loyalists apparently are closing in on Benghazi and Tripoli has offered the international community a deal under which it would not engage rebels in Benghazi militarily, but instead would move police and counterterrorist forces into the town to disarm the rebels “peacefully.” Considering that Gadhafi’s forces have crossed the long stretch of desert between Tripoli and Benghazi and are threatening the rebel’s de facto capital, it is not clear how quickly any potential array of forces might rapidly assemble to change the situation on the ground from the air alone.

In fact, a hastily assembled no-fly zone with a clear limit to its mandate — no boots on the ground — might simply push Gadhafi into a more aggressive posture toward the rebels and sow the seeds for a more aggressive or long-term conflict in Libya. The rebels’ defensive lines have crumbled in the face of the loyalist onslaught, so the prospect of taking the already fractured rebels and forming a coherent offensive force from them is questionable at best. Even arming them better (and arms are not their primary problem) might well not change anything. If the no-fly zone and airstrikes fail to push Gadhafi’s forces back (and the prospects of that are also questionable), any alliance of air forces will have to begin targeting Gadhafi’s armored and infantry units directly, rather than just limiting themselves to striking air assets and air defense installations if there is to be any meaningful impact on the ground. This could rapidly draw the West deeper into the conflict, which could easily spur Gadhafi into a more violent approach against the rebels in Libya’s east. The no-fly zone thus might prevent Gadhafi from winning but not unseat him either, potentially drawing the conflict into a longer and deadlier affair. With the coalition, the mission and the degree of commitment by each contributor still so far unclear, there is also the real problem of how far each individual member wants to take this.

Another open question relates to Western unity on the decision. While France and the United Kingdom have been eager for such a step throughout, Italy and Germany have not.

For Italy, the situation is particularly complex. Rome has built a very strong relationship with Gadhafi over the past eight years. The relationship has been based on two fundamental principles, namely, that Italy would invest in Libyan energy infrastructure and that Tripoli would cooperate with Rome to ensure migrants from North and sub-Saharan Africa do not flood across the Mediterranean toward Italy. When it seemed as if Gadhafi’s days were numbered, Rome offered the use of its air bases for any potential no-fly zone. Italy was hedging to protect its considerable energy assets in Libya in case Gadhafi was overthrown and a new government formed by the Benghazi-based rebels took power. But as Gadhafi’s forces scored several successes over the past week, Rome, before the vote at the United Nations, had returned to its initial tacit support for the legitimacy of the Tripoli regime while still condemning human rights violations so as not to be ostracized by its NATO and EU allies. That Italian energy major ENI continues to pump natural gas to — as the company has alleged — provide the Libyan people with electricity, highlights this careful hedging. Now that Rome has thrown its support for the U.S.-French intervention, the stakes will be high for Italy. Gadhafi will have to be removed, as his continued presence in the country would put Rome’s considerable interests in Libya at risk.

For Germany, the issue is simple. Three German state elections are coming up in the next 10 days, with another three later in the year. German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing an electoral fiasco, with a number of issues — from resignations of high-profile allies to mounting opposition over the government’s nuclear policy — weighing down on her government. With German participation in Afghanistan highly unpopular, it makes sense for Berlin to be cool toward any intervention in Libya. Germany abstained from the resolution, and its ambassador to the United Nations reiterated Berlin’s line, refusing to participate in the operations and calling any military operation folly that may go beyond airstrikes. This creates a sense that Europe itself is not entirely on the same page in Libya. Considering that the sinews that hold the NATO alliance together have begun to fray, it is not clear that a French-American intervention without clear support from Berlin is the best thing for the alliance at the moment.

Furthermore, it is not clear that Tripoli really needs an air force to reach the rebels, nor that Gadhafi’s forces are sufficiently exposed, enabling surgical airstrikes to cripple them. Airstrikes are not a tool with which one can resolve urban warfare, and Gadhafi may very well decide to precipitate such warfare now that the West is bearing down on him. This may mean that for the U.S.-French intervention to work, the West would have to become far more involved.

Now that the West has decided to square off with Gadhafi, it may not be able to disengage until he is defeated. A Libya — or even only Western Libya or even just Gadhafi stewing in his Tripoli fortress — ruled by a Gadhafi spurned by his former “friends” in Western Europe could be quite an unstable entity only few hundred miles from European shores. Gadhafi already has threatened to turn the Mediterranean into a zone of instability for Western military and civilian assets if foreign forces attack him. He has a history of using asymmetrical warfare — i.e., supporting terrorism throughout the 1980s — as a strategic tool. A belligerent Gadhafi looking to strike across the Mediterranean is not something Europe can permit. The decision to enforce the no-fly zone may therefore very quickly devolve into a need to remove Gadhafi from power via more direct means.

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« Reply #34 on: March 18, 2011, 08:18:26 AM »

Following up on the preceding piece, I'm not saying I agree or disagree, but here's this from Roger Cohen, usually a reliable useful idiot for Pravdad on the Hudson, in a rare lucid moment:

LONDON — For years I watched a “no-fly zone” in Bosnia. I watched Bosnian Muslims being slaughtered as NATO patrolled the skies. The no-fly zone was created by the United Nations Security Council in October 1992. The Srebrenica massacre took place in July 1995. Enough said.

The Bosnian no-fly zone was an attempt to assuage Western consciences after the Serb killing spree against Muslims in the first six month of the war. It was not about saving lives: Lifting the grotesque arms embargo on Bosnia might have achieved that. It was about allowing politicians in Washington and Paris to feel they’d done something, however feeble, about genocide.

Having witnessed hypocrisy most foul in Bosnia — the West, in Margaret Thatcher’s words, became “accomplice to a massacre” — I refuse to will similar hypocrisy on the brave resistance fighters of Benghazi who face Muammar el-Qaddafi’s superior tanks, now moving relentlessly eastward. No-fly zones are for the birds.

The real question must be put up-front if the West’s Bosnian shame, its smokescreen of useless agitation, is not to get a Libyan re-run: Should President Barack Obama lead a coordinated, Arab League-backed Western military intervention in Libya to stop Qaddafi?

That’s a tough question. I would have found it easy right after Bosnia, when — like Leon Wieseltier of the The New Republic, but unlike him now — I was a passionate interventionist. I don’t today.

Life must be lived forward but can only be understood backward, as Kierkegaard noted. He might have added: “And if not, you’re in trouble.” Iraq and Afghanistan have provided powerful lessons in the cost of facile planning (or none), the ease of going in, the agony of getting out, and the limits of Western firepower.

But there’s another historical lesson. Rwanda paid the price for the botched U.S. intervention in Somalia. The 1994 Rwandan genocide took place as America did nothing in part because the fiasco of Somalia disinclined the United States to intervene. Can we then allow the fiasco of Iraq to prevent a Western intervention in Libya as the Qaddafi clan delivers “rivers of blood”?

It’s a prosaic exercise, but let’s set forth arguments for and against a Western military intervention:

Against:

1) The riveting moral power of the Arab Spring comes from its homegrown quality. This is about Arabs overcoming fear to become agents of their own transformation and liberation. Nothing would more quickly poison this movement at its wellspring than Western colonialism in new form (that’s how Qaddafi will portray it, and he will have an audience.)

2) U.S. intervention in Libya will reinforce the old argument that America only gets involved in the Middle East to secure its oil interests. It will end up hardening regional anti-Americanism.

3) The United States cannot afford a third war in a Muslim country. The very talk of Western intervention betrays a profound misunderstanding of the West’s declining power. When the Bosnian war broke out, major Western nations accounted for about 70 percent of the global economy. Now that figure is just over 50 percent — and falling. The “white man’s burden” is not history; it is ancient history.

4) Intervention will turn into a long military stalemate that will distract the West from what must be its core strategic objective: A decent democratic outcome in Egypt that, with more than 13 times the population of Libya, is the pivot of the Arab awakening.

5) The legality of any intervention may be dubious.

For:

1) Obama and other Western leaders cannot declare the objective of removing Qaddafi and then sit idly by as people rising to oust him get massacred. That’s as criminal as encouraging the Shiites of Iraq to resistance in 1991 and then watching them be slaughtered by Saddam.

2) Obama’s repeated pledges that he stands for universal human rights will be shredded if Qaddafi prevails. Just as the bombarded people of Sarajevo deserved American-backed firepower — which finally proved decisive in 1995 — so do the people of Benghazi.

3) Qaddafi, like Milosevic, is a weak bully. He’s fighting along a narrow strip of coastline. His support is shallow. Crater coast roads from warships in the Mediterranean, jam his communications, provide weapons and money and training to the ragtag resistance, and he will quickly crumble.

4) The Arab Spring across North Africa will be undercut at a critical juncture if Qaddafi is allowed to recover. Wounded, a cornered beast, he may then do his worst.

5) Qaddafi is a mass murderer who brought down Pan Am 103 (270 people aboard) and UTA 772 (170 aboard), crimes now reconfirmed by his justice minister. He has slaughtered thousands of his own people over decades. There could scarcely be a more powerful moral case for the elimination of a leader.

What’s clear to me is that there is no halfway house. Spurn conscience-salving gestures. The case against going in prevails unless the West, backed and joined by the Arab League, decides it will, ruthlessly, stop, defeat, remove and, if necessary, kill Qaddafi in short order. I’m skeptical that determination can be forged. Only if it can be does intervention make sense.

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« Reply #35 on: March 18, 2011, 08:48:25 AM »


1) Obama and other Western leaders cannot declare the objective of removing Qaddafi and then sit idly by as people rising to oust him get massacred. That’s as criminal as encouraging the Shiites of Iraq to resistance in 1991 and then watching them be slaughtered by Saddam.

If anyone is dumb enough to take Obama seriously at this point, you deserve what comes to you.
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« Reply #36 on: March 18, 2011, 12:27:20 PM »



Libya’s government announced an immediate cease-fire on March 18, a day after the U.N. Security Council approved a no-fly zone over the North African country. The move complicates European efforts to spearhead a campaign against Libyan government troops. Assuming Tripoli follows through on its declaration, the affect on operations against the Libyan rebels remains in question.

Libyan Deputy Foreign Minister Khaled Kaim said March 18 that Libya would positively respond to the U.N. Security Council resolution calling for a no-fly zone over Libya. The statement was soon followed by a declaration by Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa of an immediate unilateral cease-fire and halt to all military operations. Tripoli added that it was ready to open “all dialogue channels with everyone interested in the territorial unity of Libya,” that it wanted to protect Libyan civilians, and that it was inviting the international community to send government and nongovernmental organization representatives “to check the facts on the ground by sending fact-finding missions so that they can take the right decision.”

The Libyan declaration comes as members of the NATO military alliance were ramping up for airstrikes authorized by the United Nations against troops loyal to Moammar Gadhafi. French diplomatic sources have been quoted as saying airstrikes could start “within hours.” Libya’s move potentially throws a wrench in plans to establish and enforce a no-fly zone — and take additional military action — against the Gadhafi government.

France and the United Kingdom have led the international community in its push to intervene in Libya. Washington had signaled that it would let the European nations lead. Italy, formerly a strong Gadhafi supporter, announced March 18 that it would consider supplying aircraft to the intervention, as did Norway, Denmark and Belgium.

By offering a cease-fire and inviting nongovernmental groups to conduct fact-finding missions, however, Gadhafi is betting that the European nations will lose the political justification for an attack and that political disagreements over military action within European nations can further weaken their already weak resolve. Europeans in general are war-weary from their involvement in NATO’s operations in Afghanistan. They only will support an intervention in Libya if Gadhafi clearly is committing gross violations of human rights. It will be difficult for Paris and London to prove that Gadhafi is indeed committing such acts or to ignore the cease-fire announcement or the invitation to verify it. The immediate reply from France was that it would deal with the cease-fire declaration with caution and that the threat on the ground was unchanged. But the backlash at home against an intervention in light of Gadhafi’s comments is not something European governments can overlook easily, especially since the most powerful EU member state, Germany, already has buckled under the domestic political strain and expressed skepticism toward a military operation.

Assuming Gadhafi follows through with the cease-fire, how it will affect his operations against the rebels remains in question. Gadhafi may feel the rebels have been suppressed such that he can mop up the remainder through police actions in urban settings. Alternatively, he may feel the rebels are so thoroughly entrenched in their stronghold of Benghazi that he cannot dislodge them under the threat of Western airstrikes — and is therefore cutting his losses and preserving the integrity of his forces from potential Franco-British-American air attacks. Ultimately, the cease-fire could be a delaying action while Gadhafi builds a stronger position around Benghazi. This would not be without risks, however, as it will give French and British air assets time to deploy in air bases in the Mediterranean, better positioning them to enforce a no-fly zone.

That said, the Security Council has authorized a no-fly zone, which means that while assaulting Gadhafi’s ground forces directly may be stalled by the cease-fire statement, establishing a no-fly zone is not. It is also likely that Europeans will respond to the statement with further demands on Gadhafi, such as that he must resign as leader of the country or that he must withdraw his troops from eastern Libya and possibly even other cities in the west that have seen fierce resistance, like Misurata and Zawiya. Both of these demands would be difficult for Gadhafi to accept. The establishment and enforcement of the no-fly zone may still go ahead, but attacking Gadhafi’s forces directly will become difficult in the immediate term.



Read more: Libya Crisis: Implications of the Cease-Fire | STRATFOR
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« Reply #37 on: March 18, 2011, 12:52:12 PM »

Maybe not a real cease-fire, just a head-fake.

Gaddafi forces shell west Libya's Misrata, 25 dead

 
By Tarek Amara and Mariam Karouny

TUNIS | Fri Mar 18, 2011 2:46pm GMT

TUNIS (Reuters) - Forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi bombarded the rebel-held city of Misrata on Friday with tanks and heavy artillery, killing at least 25 people, residents said.

"Gaddafi's forces are bombing the city with artillery shells and tanks. We now have 25 people dead at the hospital, including several little girls," Dr Khaled Abou Selha told Reuters by satellite phone.

"They are even bombing ambulances. I saw one little girl with half of her head blown off," he said, crying.

The doctor and another resident, Mohamed, said the city was still being heavily shelled despite a rebel claim that the attack had been defeated and the announcement at around 1230 GMT by the foreign minister of a ceasefire.

"There are 20 tanks in the city, they are killing everybody because they want to recapture the city by this evening," Mohamed said. The sound of heavy artillery could be heard in the background.
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« Reply #38 on: March 19, 2011, 08:41:03 AM »

An interesting report from Pravda on the Hudson:

WASHINGTON — In a Paris hotel room on Monday night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found herself juggling the inconsistencies of American foreign policy in a turbulent Middle East. She criticized the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates for sending troops to quash protests in Bahrain even as she pressed him to send planes to intervene in Libya.

Only the day before, Mrs. Clinton — along with her boss, President Obama — was a skeptic on whether the United States should take military action in Libya. But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention.

Within hours, Mrs. Clinton and the aides had convinced Mr. Obama that the United States had to act, and the president ordered up military plans, which Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, hand-delivered to the White House the next day. On Thursday, during an hour-and-a -half meeting, Mr. Obama signed off on allowing American pilots to join Europeans and Arabs in military strikes against the Libyan government.

The president had a caveat, though. The American involvement in military action in Libya should be limited — no ground troops — and finite. “Days, not weeks,” a senior White House official recalled him saying.

The shift in the administration’s position — from strong words against Libya to action — was forced largely by the events beyond its control: the crumbling of the uprising raised the prospect that Colonel Qaddafi would remain in power to kill “many thousands,” as Mr. Obama said at the White House on Friday.

The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action, according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights advocate; Ms. Rice was an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the United States failed to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide, which Mr. Clinton has called his biggest regret.

Now, the three women were pushing for American intervention to stop a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Libya.

Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, one of the early advocates for military action in Libya, described the debate within the administration as “healthy.” He said that “the memory of Rwanda, alongside Iraq in ’91, made it clear” that the United States needed to act but needed international support.

In joining Ms. Rice and Ms. Power, Mrs. Clinton made an unusual break with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who, along with the national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and the counterterrorism chief, John O. Brennan, had urged caution. Libya was not vital to American national security interests, the men argued, and Mr. Brennan worried that the Libyan rebels remained largely unknown to American officials, and could have ties to Al Qaeda.

The administration’s shift also became possible only after the United States won not just the support of Arab countries but their active participation in military operations against one of their own.

“Hillary and Susan Rice were key parts of this story because Hillary got the Arab buy-in and Susan worked the U.N. to get a 10-to-5 vote, which is no easy thing,” said Brian Katulis, a national security expert with the Center for American Progress, a liberal group with close ties to the administration. This “puts the United States in a much stronger position because they’ve got the international support that makes this more like the 1991 gulf war than the 2003 Iraq war.”

Ever since the democracy protests in the region began three months ago, the Obama administration has struggled to balance America’s national security interests against support for democratic principles, a struggle that has left Mr. Obama subject to criticism from all sides of the political spectrum. And by taking a case-by-case approach — quickly embracing protesters in Tunisia, eventually coming around to fully endorse their cause in Egypt, but backing the rulers in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen — the administration at times has appeared inconsistent. While calling for Colonel Qaddafi’s ouster, administration officials indicated Mr. Obama was more concerned with unfolding events in Yemen, Bahrain and Egypt than with removing the Libyan leader.

There was high drama right up to the surprising Security Council vote on Thursday night, when the ambassador for South Africa, viewed as critical to getting the nine votes needed to pass the resolution, failed to show up for the final vote, causing Ms. Rice to rush from the chamber in search of him.

South Africa and Nigeria — along with Brazil and India — had all initially balked at authorizing force, but administration officials believed they had brought the Africans around. Mr. Obama had already been on the phone pressing President Jacob Zuma of South Africa to support the resolution, White House officials said. Eventually, the South African representative showed up to vote yes, as did the Nigerian representative, giving the United States one vote more than required. Brazil and India, meanwhile, joined Russia, China and Germany in abstaining.

The pivotal decision for Mr. Obama came on Tuesday though, after Mrs. Clinton had called from Paris with news that the Arab governments were willing to participate in military action. That would solve one of Mr. Gates’s concerns, that the United States not be viewed on the Arab street as going to war against another Muslim country.

Mrs. Clinton “had the proof,” one senior administration official said, “that not only was the Arab League in favor, but that the Emirates were serious about participating.”

=============

During a meeting with Mr. Obama and his top national security aides — Ms. Rice was on video teleconference from New York; Mrs. Clinton from Paris — Ms. Rice sought to allay Mr. Gates’s concern that a no-fly zone by itself would not be enough to halt Colonel Qaddafi’s progress, recalled officials attending the meeting.

“Susan basically said that it was possible to get a tougher resolution” that would authorize a fuller range of options, including the ability to bomb Libyan government tanks on the road to Benghazi, the rebel stronghold in the east, administration official said.
“That was the turning point” for Mr. Obama, the official said. The president was scheduled to go to a dinner with military veterans that night; he told his aides to draw up military plans. And he instructed Ms. Rice to move forward with a broader resolution at the Security Council.

She already had one ready — drawn up the week before, just in case, officials said. Besides asking for an expanded military campaign, Ms. Rice loaded up the resolution with other items on the American wish list, including the authorization to use force to back an arms embargo against Libya. “We knew it would be a heavy lift to get any resolution through; our view was we might as well get as much as we could,” Ms. Rice said in a telephone interview.

On Wednesday at the Security Council, Russia put forward a competing resolution, calling for a cease-fire — well short of what the United States wanted. But the French, who had been trying to get a straight no-fly resolution through, switched to back the tougher American wording. And they “put it in blue” ink — U.N. code for calling for a vote.

“It was a brilliant tactical move,” an American official said. “They hijacked the text, which means it could be called to a vote at any time.”

On Thursday, the South Africans, Nigerians, Portuguese and Bosnians — all of them question marks — said they would support the tougher resolution.

Even after getting the Security Council endorsement, Mr. Obama made clear that the military action would be an international effort.

“The change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power,” the president told reporters at the White House on Friday. “Ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the Arab world.”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #39 on: March 19, 2011, 08:48:15 AM »

WASHINGTON — President Obama on Friday ordered Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to carry out an immediate cease-fire, withdraw his forces from rebel-held cities and stop all attacks on Libyan civilians or face military action from the United States and its allies in Europe and the Arab world.

“Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable,” Mr. Obama said from the East Room of the White House. Those terms, particularly lifting the siege of opposition-held territories, would give the rebels a reprieve, if not a military advantage.
Libya had pledged a cease-fire hours before. But reports from rebel-held territory indicated that the attacks by Qaddafi militias continued unabated in the east and west.

Government forces continued to advance on Benghazi, the rebel’s capital in the east, and people fleeing nearby Ajdabiya said troops were shelling and conducting assaults in the afternoon. The western city of Misurata was under siege, its electricity and water cut by the government, and doctors reported that at least 25 people were killed, including 16 unarmed civilians. In Tripoli, the repression of peaceful protests continued, and gunfire was heard late in the evening.

President Obama said he was sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to a meeting in Paris on Saturday to consult with France, Britain and members of the Arab League on further action. An allied military strike on Libya did not appear imminent on Friday night.

Mr. Obama spoke 18 hours after the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution authorizing military action against Colonel Qaddafi, and as violence raged across the Middle East. In Yemen, security forces and government supporters shot and killed at least 45 protesters. In Bahrain, the government tore down the monument adopted by the country’s rebel movement, the pearl in the middle of Pearl Square in Manama. In Syria, a police state where protest is rare, large demonstrations broke out in four cities.

In contrast to the military intervention in Libya, the administration has restricted itself in those countries to statements condemning the violence and urging restraint.

Mr. Obama used tough language that was at times reminiscent of President George W. Bush before the war in Iraq.

“If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action,” Mr. Obama said, laying out a policy decision made after several weeks in which the administration sent conflicting signals about its willingness to use force to aid the rebels at a time of upheaval throughout the Arab world.

But unlike Mr. Bush, Mr. Obama cast the United States in a supporting, almost reluctant role, reflecting the clear desire of the Pentagon, which has been strongly resistant to another American war in the Middle East. He said that Britain, France and Arab nations would take the lead, and that United States ground forces would not enter Libya.

The White House and the Pentagon offered no other details on what the precise role of the United States military would be in any strikes against Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, but an administration official said late Friday that the United States might take the lead in an attempt to destroy Libya’s air defenses at the beginning of operations.

“We may do the shaping on the front end,” the administration official said. The official was referring to the ability of American forces, greater than that of the allies, to strike targets precisely from long distances, whether by missiles launched from submarines, surface warships or attack jets.

The official said that the goal was to limit American military involvement to the initial stages of any action, and that it was the administration’s expectation that the allies could control the skies over Libya once Colonel Qaddafi’s air defenses are destroyed.

Mr. Obama’s remarks at the White House capped a day of diplomacy mixed with military threats in Washington, London and Paris, where the allies forged a united front against Colonel Qaddafi. Britain, France and then the United States responded with almost identically worded skepticism after Moussa Koussa, the Libyan foreign minister, announced a cease-fire, his hands shaking, and European officials indicated that they were prepared to move quickly if a decision was made to take military action.

“We will judge him by his actions, not his words,” Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain told the BBC in London.

================

Page 2 of 2)



A few hours later, Mrs. Clinton said in Washington that the United States would be “not responsive or impressed by words.” She said that the allies would “have to see actions on the ground, and that is not yet at all clear.”

(Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa's hands shook as he announced the cease-fire.)

In Paris, the French Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bernard Valero, said that Colonel Qaddafi “begins to be afraid, but on the ground, the threat hasn’t changed.”
Obama administration officials said that action against Libya had to include the Arab countries, and they were insistent, as one senior official put it, that the “red, green and black” of Arab flags be prominent in military operations. As of Thursday night, the United States said that it had commitments from Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to contribute fighter jets, and that Jordan had also agreed to take part, although the extent of its participation was not clear on Friday.

Conditions on the ground remained confused and tense in Libya on Friday night. Several hours after Mr. Moussa had declared a cease-fire, explosions could be heard about 30 miles away from Ajdabiya. Residents who left the city after the cease-fire declaration said the announcement of an end to hostilities had in fact caused no break in the fighting.

Two doctors in the city of Misurata said that 25 people were killed on Friday, including 16 civilians.

“What cease-fire?” said Mohamed, a spokesman for the rebels in Misurata. “What lies, what murder!” After watching Mr. Obama’s speech on a generator-powered television at the Misurata medical center, he said, “We are very heartened by Mr. Obama’s words. We feel that he finally grasped the situation and grasped the urgency.”

A spokeswoman for the rebel ruling council, Iman Bugaighis, said on Friday that Colonel Qaddafi’s troops were moving toward Benghazi. “They are using their grenades to shoot up to 30 kilometers,” she said.

But Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said emphatically, “We have no intention of entering the city of Benghazi.”

On Friday, residents of Ajdabiya described a vicious battle for their city that had lasted days, killed scores of people and wrecked neighborhoods, including large parts of an area called Seventh of October. They said that Colonel Qaddafi’s loyalists attacked Tuesday from a ring around the city’s outskirts with tanks, missiles and other heavy artillery.

“The houses were shaking,” said a woman named Fatima, who fled with her family on Friday. “We thought it would stop but it didn’t.”

On Wednesday doctors at the hospital in Ajdabiya said 38 people had died in the fighting. By Friday, residents guessed at a far higher number, saying they saw bodies in the streets. Moussa al-Dulaimi, a police officer who fled the city on Friday, said seven neighbors died in the fighting.

The residents described intense shelling around the post office, and especially in the north of the city. Residents were shot at checkpoints and by snipers, they said.

Thousands of refugees have settled about twenty minutes outside of Ajdabiya, on the road to the eastern city of Tobruk, in tents and abandoned homes in the desert. Volunteers from Tobruk bring food, water and fuel to the refugees, who cook on campfires or share small power generators. “The situation is very dangerous. Nobody is going back to the city,” said Khaled Gabally, who left Ajdabiya on Thursday.

By Friday, government tanks were posted most of the city’s entrances, residents said. As people left, soldiers checked for guns and cellphone videos of the violence. A few residents said the soldiers made them repeat an oath: “Only Muammar, God and Libya.”

By early Saturday morning, the Qaddafi government appeared to be laying the groundwork for a potential strike against the rebels in the name of self-defense.

Khalid Kaim, the deputy foreign minister, said government intelligence showed tanks, artillery and weapons from Benghazi attacking a town in the east. Government forces, he said, were holding back to observe the cease-fire.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #40 on: March 19, 2011, 09:12:34 AM »

third post

By NEIL KING JR. and NAFTALI BENDAVID
WASHINGTON—President Barack Obama has toughened his stance on Libya and threatened military action, but some of his potential Republican 2012 challengers said Friday he had waited too long to confront Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, making it harder to topple him.

The sharp reaction from some 2012 hopefuls contrasted with that of prominent GOP leaders in Congress, who have been more reticent on the administration's response to the conflict in Libya.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers praised the administration for winning what he called "unprecedented" international cooperation in going after Libya. "We're doing it exactly the right way," said the Michigan Republican.

Republicans eyeing a presidential run were much tougher in their response. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is exploring a 2012 run, suggested Friday that the president had spent more time completing his NCAA basketball bracket than on focusing on Libya.

"We posture, we talk, we have diplomatic meetings. …This is very weak," Mr. Gingrich said of the president's approach. Speaking on television Thursday night, he accused Mr. Obama of being "spectator in chief instead of commander in chief."

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, another likely GOP contender, said in an interview Friday that Mr. Obama had "played this about as badly as you can. You either stay out and let events move forward as they will, or you get in decisively and lead. Obama has done neither...We have missed our opportunity."

Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty and Mitt Romney—the former governors of Alaska, Minnesota and Massachusetts, respectively—have also criticized the president for his handling of Middle East crises this year. Nearly all of the potential 2012 challengers have called for a no-flight zone over Libya, and several have singled out what Mr. Santorum called Mr. Obama's "deference to international organizations."

Mr. Obama discussed his administration's actions in public remarks Friday, saying the U.S. had worked with European and Arab partners to increase pressure on the Libyan regime and eventually to craft "a strong international response." He praised Thursday's United Nations resolution, which authorized military action against Libya's security forces.

Not all the potential 2012 contenders have urged quicker or sterner action against Libya. In a speech in Iowa this week, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour essentially sided with Mr. Obama, saying the U.S. had "to be cautious about being quick on the trigger."

GOP congressional leaders have also trodden softly on the subject. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) participated by phone in a White House meeting on Libya that Mr. Obama hosted with a bipartisan group of lawmakers Friday. But he didn't speak during the meeting, people familiar with the events said, and made no statement afterward.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.), who also took part by phone, has said several times that foreign policy is the president's responsibility.

Democrats have their own divisions. Lawmakers advocating strong U.S. action in Libya applauded Mr. Obama's statement.

"If Gadhafi does not comply with the requirements of the U.N. resolution, we must be prepared to take robust action with our NATO partners and the Arab League to enforce it," Sen. John Kerry (D., Mass.), who leads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after Mr. Obama's Friday appearance.

But the Democratic Party also includes a contingent wary of overseas military entanglements. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D., N.Y.) warned that Mr. Obama must get Congress's approval for any military action in Libya.

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prentice crawford
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« Reply #41 on: March 19, 2011, 04:51:27 PM »

Woof,
 Now the question is are we in it to win it?

  www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42164455/ns/world_news-mideastn_africa/?gt1=43001

           P.C.
« Last Edit: March 19, 2011, 04:55:41 PM by prentice crawford » Logged

G M
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« Reply #42 on: March 19, 2011, 05:00:50 PM »

Libya or March Madness?
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #43 on: March 19, 2011, 05:08:37 PM »

 cheesy
 And speaking of March Madness, Morehead State's team, from a small town of 6,000 just up the road from me, beat Louisville in the first round and are playing Richmond right now. The place is nuts around here!
                   P.C.
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G M
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« Reply #44 on: March 19, 2011, 05:14:27 PM »

"No blood for oil!"

Oh, wait. A democrat is in office. Nevermind!


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prentice crawford
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« Reply #45 on: March 19, 2011, 05:34:40 PM »

Woof,
 Bush is dancing in front of a mirror saying, "Who's your daddy?"
                    P.C. cheesy
« Last Edit: March 19, 2011, 05:36:11 PM by prentice crawford » Logged

G M
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« Reply #46 on: March 19, 2011, 05:41:43 PM »

See, the left isn't upset as those weren't "Bushchenyhaliburton" warmongering missiles. Those were missiles of peace, built by GLBT collectives in the Bay area, using only recycled, vegan friendly components.

Totally different scenario.
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G M
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« Reply #47 on: March 19, 2011, 06:02:19 PM »

http://www.hapblog.com/2011/03/who-hell-do-you-think-your-are.html

OH-oh, Buraq is pissing off Louis Farrakhan with this aggression. I hope Bill Ayers stays the course!
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G M
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« Reply #48 on: March 19, 2011, 06:57:14 PM »

From Drudge:


MARCH 19, 2011
OBAMA: 'Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world'...

MARCH 19, 2003
BUSH: 'American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger...
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #49 on: March 19, 2011, 07:17:57 PM »

By George Friedman

The Libyan war has now begun. It pits a coalition of European powers plus the United States, a handful of Arab states and rebels in Libya against the Libyan government. The long-term goal, unspoken but well understood, is regime change — displacing the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around the rebels.

The mission is clearer than the strategy, and that strategy can’t be figured out from the first moves. The strategy might be the imposition of a no-fly zone, the imposition of a no-fly zone and attacks against Libya’s command-and-control centers, or these two plus direct ground attacks on Gadhafi’s forces. These could also be combined with an invasion and occupation of Libya.

The question, therefore, is not the mission but the strategy to be pursued. How far is the coalition, or at least some of its members, prepared to go to effect regime change and manage the consequences following regime change? How many resources are they prepared to provide and how long are they prepared to fight? It should be remembered that in Iraq and Afghanistan the occupation became the heart of the war, and regime change was merely the opening act. It is possible that the coalition partners haven’t decided on the strategy yet, or may not be in agreement. Let’s therefore consider the first phases of the war, regardless of how far they are prepared to go in pursuit of the mission.

Like previous wars since 1991, this war began with a very public buildup in which the coalition partners negotiated the basic framework, sought international support and authorization from multinational organizations and mobilized forces. This was done quite publicly because the cost of secrecy (time and possible failure) was not worth what was to be gained: surprise. Surprise matters when the enemy can mobilize resistance. Gadhafi was trapped and has limited military capabilities, so secrecy was unnecessary.

While all this was going on and before final decisions were made, special operations forces were inserted in Libya on two missions. First, to make contact with insurgent forces to prepare them for coming events, create channels of communications and logistics and create a post-war political framework. The second purpose was to identify targets for attack and conduct reconnaissance of those targets that provided as up-to-date information as possible. This, combined with air and space reconnaissance, served as the foundations of the war. We know British SAS operators were in Libya and suspect other countries’ special operations forces and intelligence services were also operating there.

War commences with two sets of attacks. The first attacks are decapitation attacks designed to destroy or isolate the national command structure. These may also include strikes designed to kill leaders such as Gadhafi and his sons or other senior leaders. These attacks depend on specific intelligence on facilities, including communications, planning and so on along with detailed information on the location of the leadership. Attacks on buildings are carried out from the air but not particularly with cruise missile because they are especially accurate if the targets are slow, and buildings aren’t going anywhere. At the same time, aircraft are orbiting out of range of air defenses awaiting information on more mobile targets and if such is forthcoming, they come into range and fire appropriate munitions at the target. The type of aircraft used depends on the robustness of the air defenses, the time available prior to attack and the munitions needed. They can range from conventional fighters or stealth strategic aircraft like the U.S. B-2 bomber (if the United States authorized its use). Special operations forces might be on the ground painting the target for laser-guided munitions, which are highly accurate but require illumination.



(click here to enlarge image)
At the same time these attacks are under way, attacks on airfields, fuel storage depots and the like are being targeted to ground the Libyan air force. Air or cruise missile attacks are also being carried out on radars of large and immobile surface-to-air (SAM) missile sites. Simultaneously, “wild weasel” aircraft — aircraft configured for the suppression of enemy air defenses — will be on patrol for more mobile SAM systems to locate and destroy. This becomes a critical part of the conflict. Being mobile, detecting these weapons systems on the ground is complex. They engage when they want to, depending on visual perception of opportunities. Therefore the total elimination of anti-missile systems is in part up to the Libyans. Between mobile systems and man-portable air-defense missiles, the threat to allied aircraft can persist for quite a while even if Gadhafi’s forces might have difficulty shooting anything down.

This is the part that the United States in particular and the West in general is extremely good at. But it is the beginning of the war. Gadhafi’s primary capabilities are conventional armor and particularly artillery. Destroying his air force and isolating his forces will not by itself win the war. The war is on the ground. The question is the motivation of his troops: If they perceive that surrender is unacceptable or personally catastrophic, they may continue to fight. At that point the coalition must decide if it intends to engage and destroy Gadhafi’s ground forces from the air. This can be done, but it is never a foregone conclusion that it will work. Moreover, this is the phase at which civilian casualties begin to mount. It is a paradox of warfare instigated to end human suffering that the means of achieving this can sometimes impose substantial human suffering itself. This is not merely a theoretical statement. It is at this point at which supporters of the war who want to end suffering may turn on the political leaders for not ending suffering without cost. It should be remembered that Saddam Hussein was loathed universally but those who loathed him were frequently not willing to impose the price of overthrowing him. The Europeans in particular are sensitive to this issue.

The question then becomes the extent to which this remains an air operation, as Kosovo was, or becomes a ground operation. Kosovo is the ideal, but Gadhafi is not Slobodan Milosevic and he may not feel he has anywhere to go if he surrenders. For him the fight may be existential, whereas for Milosevic it was not. He and his followers may resist. This is the great unknown. The choice here is to maintain air operations for an extended period of time without clear results, or invade. This raises the question of whose troops would invade. Egypt appears ready but there is long animosity between the two countries, and its actions might not be viewed as liberation. The Europeans could do so. It is difficult to imagine Obama adopting a third war in Muslim world as his own. This is where the coalition is really tested.

If there is an invasion, it is likely to succeed. The question then becomes whether Gadhafi’s forces move into opposition and insurgency. This again depends on morale but also on behavior. The Americans forced an insurgency in Iraq by putting the Baathists into an untenable position. In Afghanistan the Taliban gave up formal power without having been decisively defeated. They regrouped, reformed and returned. It is not known to us what Gadhafi can do or not do. It is clear that it is the major unknown.

The problem in Iraq was not the special operations forces. It was not in the decapitation strikes or suppression of enemy air defenses. It was not in the defeat of the Iraqi army on the ground. It was in the occupation, when the enemy reformed and imposed an insurgency on the United States that it found extraordinarily difficult to deal with.

Therefore the successes of the coming day will tell us nothing. Even if Gadhafi surrenders or is killed, even if no invasion is necessary save a small occupation force to aid the insurgents, the possibility of an insurgency is there. We will not know if there will be an insurgency until after it begins. Therefore, the only thing that would be surprising about this phase of the operation is if it failed.

The decision has been made that the mission is regime change in Libya. The strategic sequence is the routine buildup to war since 1991, this time with a heavier European component. The early days will go extremely well but will not define whether or not the war is successful. The test will come if a war designed to stop human suffering begins to inflict human suffering. That is when the difficult political decisions have to be made and when we will find out whether the strategy, the mission and the political will fully match up.

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