View Full Version : The Libyan Opposition

26 Mar 11,, 07:36
The Libyan Opposition
We don’t know much about them, and what we’re learning isn’t pretty.
by John Hayward

The Libyan Opposition - HUMAN EVENTS (http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=42511)

The L.A. Times ran a dismal report yesterday about the behavior of the Libyan opposition, which has been cracking down on Qaddafi loyalists, oppressing black immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, and dishing out “revolutionary justice” to “enemies of the revolution.”

Well, at least they’re not actually goofball-popping janissaries of bin Laden, according to an article in the Denver Post, which says “the U.S. intelligence community has found no organized presence of al-Qaeda among the Libyan opposition.” I hope they keep looking for organized presences, and finding none.

The resistance has been widely criticized for its lack of organization and military skill. Some of the leadership does have combat experience. Unfortunately, they earned it by fighting us in Afghanistan. The guy running things in eastern Libya, Abdul Hakim al-Hasadi, admitted to an Italian newspaper that he was “captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan, where I fought against the foreign invasion.”

By “foreign” he means “American.” We had him in custody in Islamabad for a while (apparently not in Gitmo, as has been reported in some circles) but we eventually handed him over to Qaddafi, who kept him in stir until 2008.

We really don’t know a lot about the Libyan opposition. It was not necessary to know much, to oppose their brutal extermination, marked by the deaths of countless civilians roasted in the wreckage of burning cities. In the Middle East, it’s hard to find allies with clean hands. Any crackdown we happen to oppose is bound to have some unappealing people on both the giving and receiving ends. That doesn’t make it any less imperative to speak up on behalf of the oppressed.

By letting the rebellion get pushed all the way back into a few cities, then launching a massive operation at the eleventh hour, Obama has married us to the Libyan opposition. If we’re really going to push Operation Odyssey Dawn until Libyan dissidents are forever safe from Qaddafi’s murderous tyranny, we’re going to be working very closely with them, and expending much blood and treasure on their behalf, for some time to come. In the end, we’ll either be sponsoring them as the new rulers of Libya, or supporting them against Qaddafi and/or his sons, after they cut some kind of deal to stay in power… or leaving them to die after we cut and run. It would be nice to think someone in the White House has gamed all those scenarios out, and taken a long look at who our partners in that game will be.

We’ve already had some ugly surprises from our new spouses in Libya. I wonder how many of them came as a surprise to the Administration.

John Hayward is a staff writer for HUMAN EVENTS, and author of the recently published Doctor Zero: Year One. Follow him on Twitter: Doc_0. Contact him by email at jhayward@eaglepub.com.

26 Mar 11,, 07:38
Rebel Commander in Libya Fought Against U.S. in Afghanistan
On his own admission, rebel leader Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi fought American troops in Afghanistan and recruited Libyans to fight American troops in Iraq. (And don't miss Rosenthal on "Gaddafi and Corruption: WikiLeaks vs. WikiLeaks" at the PJM Tatler.)
March 25, 2011 - by John Rosenthal
Pajamas Media » Rebel Commander in Libya Fought Against U.S. in Afghanistan (http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/rebel-commander-in-libya-fought-against-u-s-in-afghanistan/?singlepage=true)
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Shortly after unrest broke out in eastern Libya in mid-February, reports emerged that an “Islamic Emirate” had been declared in the eastern Libyan town of Darnah and that, furthermore, the alleged head of that Emirate, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, was a former detainee at the American prison camp in Guantánamo. The reports, which originated from Libyan government sources, were largely ignored or dismissed in the Western media.

Now, however, al-Hasadi has admitted in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore that he fought against American forces in Afghanistan. (Hat-tip: Thomas Joscelyn at the Weekly Standard.) Al-Hasadi says that he is the person responsible for the defense of Darnah — not the town’s “Emir.” In a previous interview with Canada’s Globe and Mail, he claimed to have a force of about 1,000 men and to have commanded rebel units in battles around the town of Bin Jawad.

“I have never been at Guantánamo,” al-Hasadi explained to Il Sole 24 Ore. “I was captured in 2002 in Peshawar in Pakistan, while I was returning from Afghanistan where I fought against the foreign invasion. I was turned over to the Americans, detained for a few months in Islamabad, then turned over to Libya and released from prison in 2008.”

Al-Hasadi’s account is largely confirmed by investigations conducted by Praveen Swami, the diplomatic editor of the British daily The Telegraph. Swami originally wrote about al-Hasadi’s background in the Afghan jihad in a March 21 column. In response to a query from the present author, Swami was able to obtain confirmation of al-Hasadi’s arrest and transfer to Libya from what he describes as a “senior source” in the Afghan government.

According to a separate UK intelligence source contacted by Swami, al-Hasadi was released by the Libyan government as part of a deal that was struck with the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIGF). The LIGF has long opposed the rule of Muammar al-Gaddafi in Libya.

On February 25, al-Hasadi had issued an ambiguous statement claiming that he had been a “political prisoner” and accusing the “Dictator Gaddafi” of spreading “lies.” Al-Jazeera provides an English translation of the statement here. (Scroll down to “12:46pm”.) A video of al-Hasadi reading his statement is available here.

In his more recent remarks to Il Sole 24 Ore, al-Hasadi admits not only to fighting against U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but also to recruiting Libyans to fight against American forces in Iraq. As noted in my earlier PJM report here, captured al-Qaeda personnel records show that al-Hasadi’s hometown of Darnah sent more foreign fighters to fight with al-Qaeda in Iraq than any other foreign city or town and “far and away the largest per capita number of fighters.” Al-Hasadi told Il Sole 24 Ore that he personally recruited “around 25” Libyans to fight in Iraq. “Some have come back and today are on the front at Ajdabiya,” al-Hasadi explained, “They are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.” “The members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader,” al-Hasadi added.

The revelations about al-Hasadi’s involvement in the anti-American jihad are particularly troubling in light of clear evidence that Western forces are coordinating their attacks on Libyan government targets with rebel forces.

Reporting from the outskirts of Ajdabiya on Wednesday, Antoine Estève of the French news channel i-Télé noted that just “minutes” after rebel positions had been hit by artillery fire from Libyan government forces, the Libyan government positions were then bombarded by coalition aircraft. (Estève’s report can be viewed here.) In a March 19 dispatch from Benghazi for the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, correspondent Lorenzo Cremonesi cites rebel leaders as saying that they were given the opportunity to provide NATO with a map indicating enemy targets that they wanted bombed.

Editor’s note: Also read “Gaddafi and Corruption: WikiLeaks vs. WikiLeaks” at the Tatler.

John Rosenthal writes regularly on European politics for such publications as The Weekly Standard, Policy Review and The Daily Caller. More of his work can be found at Transatlantic Intelligencer (http://www.trans-int.com).

Big K
26 Mar 11,, 11:29
Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8407047/Libyan-rebel-commander-admits-his-fighters-have-al-Qaeda-links.html)

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".

Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan". He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.

veery good West...veery good....go support A.Q. more...

Double Edge
26 Mar 11,, 12:21
The revelations about al-Hasadi’s involvement in the anti-American jihad are particularly troubling in light of clear evidence that Western forces are coordinating their attacks on Libyan government targets with rebel forces.
So what we have here is that one leader in the opposition fought in Afghanistan. It does not explain further how representative this is for the rest of the opposition. That question is left hanging.

Why ? are we now to believe what Gaddafi said in the early days that this was nothing more than Al-Qaida ?

The exception does not prove the rule, at least not yet. And what happens to Al-Qaida if the west supports this movement. Does it strengthen them or weaken them. If Al-Q preaches violence against the west, what good does it do them to be seen as cooperating with the west. Cuts both ways doesn't it.

Defeat the Libyan regime. And then?-The Telegraph- March 21 2011 (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/8394647/Defeat-the-Libyan-regime.-And-then.html#)
This article goes into more detail about the tribal forces at play and some historical background.

It describes one of several outcomes possible from this conflict. It's weakness i think is in failing to show that this outcome has more chances of success than not. I say that because there isn't a unified command in play here, just a motive. There's bound to be competing interests amongst the ragtag militia called the opposition.

26 Mar 11,, 13:54
al-Hasadi is supposedly the military leader of the rebels of the port town of Darnah halfway between Benghazi and Tobruk. Dernah is well-known from the Sinjar Records as being the primary source of fighters of the AQ-affiliated LIFG group. Almost 10% of all foreign fighters in Iraq identified by USSOCOM as listed in the Sinjar Records were from that town. al-Hasadi is not a member of the "national council", the representative for Darnah there is Ashour Hamed Bourashed.


The leader of the "national council" is Mustafa Abdul Jalil Fudail, until his defection in February he was Gaddafi's Minister of Justice, with a biography as a career judge. There's a bounty of 250 grand out on him btw, which is why he went underground by early march and hasn't been seen since then.

The actual military leader is nominally Abdel Fatah Junis. He was part of Gaddafi's unit in the coup in 1969, became Minister of the Interior under Gaddafi, and commanded a special forces unit for 42 years until he defected this year. Supposedly Fatah Junis managed to convince Gaddafi in telephone conferences not to simply carpet-bomb Bengasi.
The nominal "defense minister" of the "national council" is Omar al-Hariri, who attempted a failed coup d'etat against Gaddafi in 1975. He was originally sentenced to death for this, sat first on death row for 5 years, then regular prison for 10 years and was then pardoned and placed under house arrest by Gaddafi in 1990. Like Fatah Junis he was also involved in Gaddafi's original coup in 1969. His position in regard to the military is a bit unclear, especially whether he has command over Fatah Junis as he claims.

The socalled "representative of the political prisoners" in the "national council" is Zubiar Ahmed as-Sharif al-Sanussi, a cousin of the last libyan king Idris. He attempted a monarchist counter-coup immediately after the revolution, and sat in jail for it from 1970 to 2001. The council quite blatantly tries to hide the monarchist connection by calling him "al-Sharif" (al-Sanussi is the royal family tribe).

31 Mar 11,, 12:55
NATO rules out arming Libyan rebels

* From: NewsCore
* March 31, 2011 9:20PM
NATO rules out arming Libyan rebels | Herald Sun (http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/breaking-news/nato-rules-out-arming-libyan-rebels/story-e6frf7jx-1226031615419)
THE NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today the alliance was opposed to arming the Libyan rebels fighting against Muammar Gaddafi.

Rasmussen said the alliance, which formally took command of the operation in Libya today, was in the country to protect Libyans, not arm them.

"As far as NATO is concerned, and I speak on behalf of NATO, we will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo, and the clear purpose of an arms embargo is to stop the flow of weapons into the country," he said.

Both Washington and London so far refused to rule out arming the rebels, who were beaten back in the past 24 hours after failing to cement an advance on Ghadafi's hometown of Sirte.

31 Mar 11,, 12:57
March 30, 2011 6:57 PM
Al Qaeda may already be among Libya's rebels
Posted by Joshua Norman 34 comments
Al Qaeda may already be among Libya's rebels - World Watch - CBS News (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503543_162-20048982-503543.html)
A Libyan rebel on the front line outside of Bin Jawaad, 150 km east of Sirte, central Libya, Monday, March 28 2011.

Libyan freedom fighter or al Qaeda operative?
(Credit: AP Photo)

The roots of al Qaeda were famously planted in Afghanistan in the 1980s, fighting the Soviet Union. Many current al Qaeda fighters, including Osama bin Laden, were then mujaheddin rebels that benefited greatly from American arms and covert military training against a better-equipped fighting force.

Today, in Libya, a ragtag group of rebels fight a seesaw battle against Muammar Qaddafi's better-equipped forces, and a debate rages over whether to provide them arms and training.

However, whispers are growing that al Qaeda may already be among them, complicating the current debate over arming the rebels.

Qaddafi's troops push rebels further from Tripoli
Top Libyan minister defects to the U.K.
Complete coverage: Anger in the Arab World

Admiral James Stavridis, NATO supreme commander for Europe, said of Libya's rebel force: "We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al Qaeda, Hezbollah."

Former CIA officer Bruce Riedel took things a step further, telling the Hindustan Times: "There is no question that al Qaeda's Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition. It has always been Qaddafi's biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi. What is unclear is how much of the opposition is al Qaeda/Libyan Islamic Fighting Group - 2 percent or 80 percent."

For al Qaeda, Libya may represent a rare opportunity and a blank slate, as uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia seem almost certain to result in democratic governments. An Afghan Taliban operative told The Daily Beast earlier this month that, for al Qaeda, the Libya rebellion "is the fresh breeze they've been waiting years for. They realize that if they don't use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was."

Arming Libya's rebels would be a tricky gamble

At the outset of tensions, Qaddafi blamed al Qaeda for the uprising, a charge which rebel leaders have repeatedly denied.

Regardless of Qaddafi's well-documented penchant for exaggeration and distortion, his message was heard and vetted by his Western opponents. In an interview with "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill in New York Tuesday, President Barack Obama conceded that, "Among all the people who (are) opposed (to) Qaddafi, there might not be elements that are unfriendly to the United States and our interests. ... And that's why I think it's important for us not to -- jump in with both feet" with all of them.

Following that interview, reports surfaced that Obama signed an executive order allowing the CIA to open contacts with rebels, so the extent of al Qaeda's role in the Libyan rebellion may be clarified soon.

As Mr. Obama has already authorized covert support for the rebels, that answer may still not come soon enough.

31 Mar 11,, 13:18
Doesn't inspire much confidence, his only military experience is being routed by people on pick up trucks his solution to his current problems; M-16s, Javelins, and Strykers/LAVs. At least he knows enough to want foreigners to come in and do the training and leading that he should be doing.

Libyan Rebel Commander Is From Fairfax, Virginia
Gen. Khalifa Haftr Wears Pinstripe Suit Instead of Camouflage
Libyan Rebel General Is From Fairfax, Virginia - ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/libyan-rebel-general-fairfax-virginia/story?id=13256324#)
BENGHAZI, Libya March 30, 2011—

Gen. Khalifa Haftr, the self-proclaimed commander of the Free Libyan Army, does not dress for battle. On a recent day after his forces had reclaimed much of the territory they had lost, the commander was wearing a pinstripe suit and a black turtleneck sweater.

Haftr, who lived in Fairfax, Va., until recent weeks when he returned to join the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi, was appointed to lead the rebel army earlier this month. His top aides appear to be his sons.

It is difficult for the media as well as the Obama administration to determine who, if anyone, is in charge of the rebellion. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said recently, "We don't know as much as we would like to know and as much as we expect we will know. We're picking up information."

A U.S. official said, "There's still a fair amount of uncertainty here on who's who in the opposition camp."

After a surge across eastern Libya following allied aerial attacks on Gadhafi's forces, the rebel army is again in retreat from the city key oil city of Ras Lanouf, and it's not clear who is commanding them.

Haftr, a general in Gadhafi's army during the 1980s, claims to be in charge. Haftr told ABC News that he doesn't officially report to Omar Hariri, the rebels' defense minister; or to Gen. Abdel Fattah Younes, who has the title of chief of staff. Haftr spoke with ABC News earlier this week at a time the rebels were on the march behind allied air power. At the time, Haftr predicted that the rebels' advance on Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte would not be a major test for his ragtag army, and that the city would fall easily.

Instead, the rebels ran into tanks and artillery and are now fleeing for safety.

The opposition's military command structure -- what is known of it -- has some inherent problems. A U.S. official pointed out that Haftr and Younes have been on opposite sides for a long time.

When Haftr served under Gadhafi, he fought in Chad, a military debacle in which thousands of Libyan soldiers died. After being arrested in Chad, Haftr says he was sentenced to death by Gadhafi, but managed to seek asylum in the U.S. He said he returned to Libya in recent weeks and was promptly put in charge of the rebel forces.

Libyan Rebel General Lived in Virginia Until Recently

Haftr insists that he is well known in Libya and can rally and organize forces against Gadhafi.

Younes defected from Gadhafi's forces only in the last month. While his long-lasting loyalty to Gadhafi has aroused suspicion among some opposition elements, he brings with him recent military experience and knowledge of Gadhafi's forces and capabilities.

"Libyan opposition forces are a patchwork. Gen. Khalifa Haftr and Abdel Fattah Younes are two of the players. They've been on opposite sides in Libya for quite a while and are probably just beginning to build a relationship. After all, Haftr's been an opposition figure for some 20 years and Younes just left the Gadhafi regime," said the U.S. official who had asked not to be named.

Haftr says his forces need M16 rifles, anti-tank missiles, armored personnel carriers and communication equipment. The general said he would welcome foreign military trainers to whip his army into shape.

CLICK HERE to follow the ABC News Investigative Team and Brian Ross on Facebook and join in on the discussion.

He also denied that extremist Islamists are in his army, although U.S. experts told Congress this week that there was evidence that militant Muslims make up a small number of rebel fighters.

ABC News' Luis Martinez and Matthew Cole contributed to this report

Copyright © 2011 ABC News Internet Ventures

Double Edge
31 Mar 11,, 17:06
The Interim National Council Manifesto-House of Commons Library (http://www.parliament.uk/deposits/depositedpapers/2011/DEP2011-0575.pdf)

29th‘ March 2011

A Vision of a Democratic Libya

The lnterim National Council hereby presents its vision for rebuilding the democratic State of Libya. This vision responds to the needs and aspirations of our people, while incorporating the historical changes brought about by the 17th February revolution.

We have leamt from the struggles of our past during the dark days of dictatorship that there is no altemative to building a free and democratic society and ensuring the supremacy of lntemational humanitarian law and Human Rights Declarations. This can only be achieved through dialogue, tolerance, cooperation, national cohesiveness and the active participation of all citizens. As we are familiar with being ruled by the authoritarian dictatorship of one man, the political authority that we seek must represent the free will of the people, without exclusion or suppression of any voice. The lessons of our past will outline our social contract through the need to respect the interests of all groups and classes that comprise the fabric of our society and not compromise the interests of one at the expense of the other. lt is this social contract that must lead us to a civil society that recognizes intellectual and political pluralism and allows for the peaceful transfer of power through legal institutions and ballot boxes; in accordance with a national constitution crafted by the people and endorsed in a referendum.

To that end, we will outline our aspirations for a modern, free and united State, following the defeat of the illegal Gaddafi regime. The Interim National Council will be guided by the following in our continuing march to freedom, through espousing the principles of political democracy. We recognize without reservation our obligation to:

1. Draft a national constitution that clearly defines its nature, essence and purpose and establishes legal, political, civil, legislative, executive and judicial institutions. The constitution will also clarify the rights and obligations of citizens in a transparent manner, thus separating and balancing the three branches of legislative, executive and judicial powers.

2. Form political organizations and civil institutions including the foundation of political parties, popular organizations, unions, societies and other civil and peaceful associations.

3. Maintain a constitutional civil and Free State by upholding intellectual and political pluralism and the peaceful transfer of power, opening the way for genuine political participation, without discrimination.

4. Guarantee every Libyan citizen, of statutory age, the right to vote in free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as the right to run for office.

5. Guarantee and respect the freedom of expression through media, peaceful protests, demonstrations and sit-ins and other means of communication, in accordance with the constitution and its laws in a way that protects public security and social peace.

6. A State that draws strength from our strong religious beliefs in peace, truth, justice and equality.

7. Political democracy and the values of social justice, which include:
a) The nation’s economy to be used for the benefit of the Libyan people by creating effective economic institutions in order to eradicate poverty and unemployment- working towards a healthy society, a green environment and a prosperous economy.

b) The development of genuine economic partnerships between a strong and productive public sector, a free private sector and a supportive and effective civil society, which overstands corruption and waste.

c) Support the use of science and technology for the betterment of society, through investments in education, research and development, thus enabling the encouragement of an innovative culture and enhancing the spirit of creativity. Focus on emphasizing individual rights in a way that guarantees social freedoms that were denied to the Libyan people during the rule of dictatorship. In addition to building efficient public and private institutions and funds for social care, integration and solidarity, the State will guarantee the rights and empowerment of women in all legal, political, economic and cultural spheres.

d) A constitutional civil State which respects the sanctity of religious doctrine and condemns intolerance, extremism and violence that are manufactured by certain political, social or economic interests. The State to which we aspire will denounce violence, terrorism, intolerance and cultural isolation; while respecting Human Rights, rules and principles of citizenship and the rights of minorities and those most vulnerable. Every individual will enjoy the full rights of citizenship, regardless of color, gender, ethnicity or social status.

8. Build a democratic Libya whose intemational and regional relationships will be based upon:
a) The embodiment of democratic values and institutions which respects its neighbors, builds partnerships and recognizes the independence and sovereignty of other nations. The State will also seek to enhance regional integration and intemational cooperation through its participation with members of the intemational community in achieving intemational peace and security.

b) A State which will uphold the values of intemational justice, citizenship, the respect of intemational humanitarian law and Human Rights Declarations, as well as condemning authoritarian and despotic regimes. The interests and rights of foreign nationals and companies will be protected. Immigration, residency and citizenship will be managed by govemment institutions, respecting the principles and rights of political asylum and public liberties.

c) A State which will join the intemational community in rejecting and denouncing racism, discrimination and terrorism while strongly supporting peace, democracy and freedom.

Political and Intemational Affairs Committee
The Interim National Council Libya

01 Apr 11,, 05:22
Libyan rebels losing their nerve
Visions of Moammar Kadafi falling quickly to the revolution have given way to low morale and a tendency to flee.
Libya fighting: Rebel effort beginning to fray - latimes.com (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-libya-rebels-20110401,0,7570079.story)
By David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times

April 1, 2011

Reporting from Ajdabiya, Libya

The nascent rebel effort in eastern Libya, sustained for weeks by revolutionary passion and zeal, has begun to fray in the face of chaotic battlefield collapses and ineffective leadership.

Many of the idealistic young men who looted army depots of gun trucks and weapons six weeks ago believed the tyrannical 41-year reign of Col. Moammar Kadafi would quickly collapse under the weight of a mass rebellion.

Now those same volunteer fighters, most of whom had never before fired a gun, have fled a determined onslaught by Kadafi's forces, which have shown resilience after being bombarded and routed by allied airstrikes a week ago.

Some exhausted rebels capped a 200-plus mile retreat up the Libyan coast by fleeing all the way to Benghazi, the rebels' de facto capital, to rest and regroup. Others remained at thinly manned positions at the strategic crossroads city of Ajdabiya on Thursday.

Small groups of rebels stood their ground and fought Kadafi militiamen who seemed on the verge late Thursday of recapturing the oil city of Port Brega.

For many rebel fighters, the absence of competent military leadership and a tendency to flee at the first shot have contributed to sagging morale. Despite perfunctory V-for-victory signs and cries of "Allahu akbar!" (God is great), the eager volunteers acknowledge that they are in for a long, uphill fight.

"Kadafi is too strong for us, with too many heavy weapons. What can we do except fall back to protect ourselves?" said Salah Chaiky, 41, a businessman, who said he fired his assault rifle while fleeing Port Brega even though he was too far away to possibly hit the enemy.

Retreating rebels paused only to wolf down lunches provided by volunteers supporting their cause. Two in mismatched military uniforms took time out in Ajdabiya to sneak into a blown-out police post and smoke hashish.

With many rebels headed home, the 140 miles of highway between Port Brega and Benghazi was only lightly guarded Thursday. But fighters and spokesmen for the opposition movement predicted that Kadafi's forces would not chase them up the highway for fear of another pounding from allied warplanes.

Rebels surrounded by garbage and swarms of flies at a checkpoint in Ajdabiya complained that their erstwhile commanders were nowhere to be found. They griped about comrades who had fled to the relative safety of Benghazi, and about a dearth of weapons and ammunition.

They say orders are never issued, except by fellow fighters, and that those are routinely ignored. Kadafi family members who control Libya's cellphone network have cut most cell communications in the rebel-held east, leaving each gun truck to fight on its own.

A Libyan telecommunications specialist who works for the opposition said forces in Benghazi had monopolized 400 donated field radios and 400 more Thuraya and Iridium satellite phones intended for the battlefield.

Several fighters said they were now being charged one Libyan dinar (about 80 cents) per bullet because rebels had wasted thousands of precious rounds firing wildly into the air. During the panicked retreat from the desert hamlet of Bin Jawwad on Tuesday, many fighters fired randomly as they fled, sometimes just over the heads of fellow rebels.

Few, if any, T-72 tanks and BM-21 rocket launchers recovered from government forces who abandoned the weapons during Western-led airstrikes have been brought to the front. Opposition leaders, who say defecting government soldiers are qualified to supervise rebel volunteers, say those same regulars aren't trained to operate the tanks and rockets.

"These guys weren't taught anything under Kadafi," said Mustafa Gheriani, an opposition spokesman. "He made sure they didn't know how to operate these kinds of weapons" because he feared a coup.

Opposition leaders say they are struggling to bring discipline to their rudderless forces by reshuffling the military command. But rebels say commanders rarely visit the battlefield and exercise little authority because many fighters don't trust them.

Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis, Kadafi's former interior minister and ex-commander of army special forces, is viewed with suspicion by some rebels and political leaders in Benghazi. He was the nominal rebel commander until last weekend and still holds a prominent position.

: "A lot of people wonder why he joined the revolution," said Zahi Mogherbi, a retired political science professor who advises the opposition's national council. Younis' role "has delayed the integration and coordination of regular army forces," Mogherbi said.

Younis has been challenged by another former Kadafi confidant, Khalifa Hefter, a former army officer who broke with Kadafi years ago and moved to the U.S. Hefter has clashed with Younis since returning recently to Libya and replacing him as titular commander of the rebel movement.

"Both are very high commanders, very strong commanders, who need to reach an understanding on how to collaborate effectively," said Essam Gheriani, another opposition spokesman.

He said opposition leaders met late Thursday to come up with "genuine change" in the command structure.

Several rebel fighters said some Kadafi loyalists are seeking to evade airstrikes by fighting from pickups similar to the white, Chinese-made vehicles favored by rebel forces.

"They want to confuse the airplanes," said Ali Gweidy, a fighter from Benghazi. "They're terrified of those planes."

Even so, many rebels in gun trucks turned and fled Thursday, even though their heavy machine guns and antiaircraft guns seemed a match for any similar government vehicle.

"Would you stay and fight if you were getting shelled from 20 kilometers away?" Mustafa Gheriani said, referring to Grad rockets fired by government forces.

Another battlefield problem for the rebels is the scores of teenagers who have flocked to the front. They seem drawn by the idea of fighting and the spirit of revolution, but they carry no weapons.

Five friends, all age 19, piled into a battered blue Mazda in a coastal town east of Benghazi on Thursday and drove to the front near Port Brega. They watched a rocket or grenade slam into a rebel gun truck, wounding a fighter.

"We came to help, with ammunition, with the wounded, anything to be of service," said Tarik Abdel Gadar, who said he had paid about $15 for his army fatigues.

In Ajdabiya, eight teens from east of Benghazi said they had followed the rebels into battle for the last 17 days after hitching rides to the front. They sat gorging on food handouts, singing and mocking Kadafi with chants of "Forward to the front! No return!" — favorite phrases of the Libyan leader.

Essam Gheriani said rebels staffing checkpoints had been instructed to keep unarmed youths from reaching the front.

"They act like this is some kind of Rambo movie," he said. "This is a war, not a picnic."

Despite the battlefield losses and confusion, opposition spokesmen pointed to two positive developments.

The opposition has recently begun dispatching fishing boats to carry supplies and medicine from Benghazi to besieged rebels in Misurata in the west, they said. Rebels there control the city's port.

The opposition is also finalizing a deal for the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar to broker oil produced for export in rebel-controlled oil fields in eastern Libya, which accounts for 75% of Libya's production.


Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

Officer of Engineers
01 Apr 11,, 05:27
Not all rebels are useless. Mistra has yet to fall.

02 Apr 11,, 16:30

Rebels: Gaddafi using Israeli weapons

Libyan opposition forces say army is using bombs, rockets that originated in Israel, Al Jazeera reports
Rebels: Gaddafi using Israeli weapons - Israel News, Ynetnews (http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4050628,00.html)
Elior Levy
Published: 03.31.11, 22:30 / Israel News

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The Qatari news network Al Jazeera reported on Thursday that opposition forces in the Libyan city of Misrata displayed weapons that they claim originated in Israel. The weapons were allegedly siezed from the forces supporting Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

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The opposition leaders alleged that some of the confiscated rockets and bombs had Stars of David imprinted on them. The photographs that were broadcast during the report showed different explosive devices, but no Israeli symbols or serial numbers were discernable.

Weapons from Israel? (Photo from Al Jazeera)

Meanwhile, Thursday's battles focused on the region between Brega and Ajdabiya, where the opposition forces have come under heavy fire from Gaddafi's army. Earlier it was reported that Gaddafi's forces have placed several explosives around Ajdabiya. The rebel-controlled Misrata continued to be under attack as well. The superior firepower of Gaddafi's army has been damaged, but not destroyed, by Western-led air strikes.

'40 civilians killed in air strike'

About 1,000 people are believed to have been killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of Gaddafi, the British government said in a human rights report published on Thursday.

The UK's Foreign Office also said it was "appalled by widespread reports of other serious human rights violations, including the use of torture and extra-judicial executions, illegal arrests and detentions (including incommunicado detention), denial of medical assistance and humanitarian aid."

Gaddafi forces planted bombs near Ajdabiya (Photo: Reuters)

The top Vatican official in Tripoli, Bishop Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, said on Thursday that 40 civilians were killed in air strikes by Western forces on the Libyan capital, citing what he called reliable sources in close contact with residents.

"The air strikes are meant to protect civilians, but they are killing dozens of civilians," the apostolic vicar of Tripoli told Reuters by phone.

NATO said it was investigating Martinelli's report but had no confirmation of civilian casualties in Tripoli.

NATO assumed command of all air operations over Libya early Thursday, taking over from the US, which had been eager to be rid of that responsibility. NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in Stockholm that NATO's position is that "we are there to protect the Libyan people, not to arm the people."

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report

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02 Apr 11,, 19:10
April 2, 2011

Ex-Mujahedeen Help Lead Libyan Rebels
[LIBJIHAD] Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Libyans in the eastern town of Derna shout anti-Gadhafi slogans in a protest in February.

DARNA, Libya—Two former Afghan Mujahedeen and a six-year detainee at Guantanamo Bay have stepped to the fore of this city's military campaign, training new recruits for the front and to protect the city from infiltrators loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi.

The presence of Islamists like these amid the opposition has raised concerns, among some fellow rebels as well as their Western allies, that the goal of some Libyan fighters in battling Col. Gadhafi is to propagate Islamist extremism.
Regional Upheaval

Abdel Hakim al-Hasady, an influential Islamic preacher and high-school teacher who spent five years at a training camp in eastern Afghanistan, oversees the recruitment, training and deployment of about 300 rebel fighters from Darna.

Mr. Hasady's field commander on the front lines is Salah al-Barrani, a former fighter from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which was formed in the 1990s by Libyan mujahedeen returning home after helping to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan and dedicated to ousting Mr. Gadhafi from power.

Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden's holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan, is training many of the city's rebel recruits.

Both Messrs. Hasady and Ben Qumu were picked up by Pakistani authorities after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and were turned over to the U.S. Mr. Hasady was released to Libyan custody two months later. Mr. Ben Qumu spent six years at Guantanamo Bay before he was turned over to Libyan custody in 2007.

They were both released from Libyan prisons in 2008 as part of a reconciliation with Islamists in Libya.

Islamist leaders and their contingent of followers represent a relatively small minority within the rebel cause. They have served the rebels' secular leadership with little friction. Their discipline and fighting experience is badly needed by the rebels' ragtag army.

Among his followers, Mr. Hasady has the reputation of a trained warrior who stood fearlessly at the front ranks of young protesters during the first days of the uprising.

And his discourse has become dramatically more pro-American, now that he stands in alliance with the West in a battle against Col. Gadhafi.

"Our view is starting to change of the U.S.," said Mr. Hasady. "If we hated the Americans 100%, today it is less than 50%. They have started to redeem themselves for their past mistakes by helping us to preserve the blood of our children."

Mr. Hasady also offered a reconsideration of his past approach. "No Islamist revolution has ever succeeded. Only when the whole population was included did we succeed, and that means a more inclusive ideology."

Messrs. Ben Qumu and Barrani were on the front lines and couldn't be reached for comment.

Some rebel leaders are wary of their roles. "Many of us were concerned about these people's backgrounds," said Ashour Abu Rashed, one of Darna's representatives on the rebel's provisional government body, the Transitional National Council.

"Al-Hasady told me he only wants to remove Gadhafi and will serve under the authority of the local governing councils, and so far he has been true to his word."

After the uprising began in Libya, Mr. Hasady told several journalists that he had joined the fight against the Americans during his time in Afghanistan. He now says he was misquoted and that he only settled in Afghanistan because Islamists of his ilk were unwelcome everywhere else.

For the U.S., the situation recalls the problems that followed America's ill-fated alliance with the Afghan Mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s. Many went on to al Qaeda and other violent radical Islamist groups.

Adm. James Stavridis, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's supreme allied commander in Europe, pointed to this concern when he told a Senate committee on Tuesday that U.S. intelligence has picked up "flickers" of al Qaeda among rebel groups in Libya. He also said they were a minor element among the rebels.

Col. Gadhafi has gone out of his way to paint the popular uprising against his rule as an al Qaeda plot. He has singled out Mr. Hasady and the city of Darna as the capital of an alleged Islamist emirate, a baseless claim.

Local enmity for the Libyan leader runs deep. The first uprising against Col. Gadhafi's rule took place in Darna in 1970, less than a year after he seized power. The city proudly boasts that the first political prisoner killed by the Gadhafi regime was a Darna native.

Write to Charles Levinson at charles.levinson@wsj.com

Double Edge
04 Apr 11,, 16:41
Some more excerpts from Fareed's show (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/1104/03/fzgps.01.html) yesterday. He had a french intellectual credited with influencing Sarkozy with moving on the intervention.

ZAKARIA: And we are back. Joining me now, a truly terrific panel. Bernard-Henri Levy, the French intellectual who is said to have convinced President Sarkozy to presume military action against Gadhafi. Did he? I'll ask him.

You found yourself in -- you were in Egypt. You heard about what was going on in Libya. You went to Libya. You chartered a plane. You met the opposition. You then ended up taking them to see Sarkozy.

What -- at that meeting between you -- with you, the Libyan opposition leaders and Sarkozy, what happened that convinced France to take such a strong position?

BERNARD-HENRI LEVY, FRENCH INTELLECTUAL: I think that Sarkozy was convinced before, a few days before, when I called him from Benghazi, when I made him the -- when I extended to him the proposal of bringing the opponents, he said immediately yes. And when I saw him in Paris a few days after, when I proposed the idea of recognizing them as a legitimate representative of the Libyan people, again he said yes.

ZAKARIA: Why? Because this is -- France has not tended to be so active in the past.

LEVY: Many reasons. I think that Nicolas Sarkozy, a long time ago, when he was minister of Balladur, 15 years ago, he was in favor intimately, in his heart, of intervention in Bosnia. And I think that he was one of the ministers of this time who was ashamed of France doing nothing in Rwanda, and not only doing nothing, probably helping --

ZAKARIA: The wrong side.

LEVY: -- (INAUDIBLE) the wrong side.

So Sarkozy -- this is my opinion -- had this sort of guiltiness since years and years. So maybe when -- when some people, including me, came to him and told him there was an occasion here. You have defenseless people, you have a threatening blood bath, you have a political solution available, and you can help that, I think he said, of course. Why not?

ZAKARIA: You met with all of these people, these opposition leaders. One of the big questions people have is, whom are we getting in bed with? You are convinced that these people are liberals, democrats?

LEVY: I did not go in bed with them, but I propose whoever wants to come with me there, and they will see, they are not ghosts. They are not (INAUDIBLE) secret army. It is not the Cambodian Ankara (ph). They are open. Anybody can see them, and anybody, if we see them, will admit that they are secular, that they are democrats, not Churchillian democrats but wanting to make serious steps on the world of democracy, that they are Western -- West-inclined, they are in favor of links with the Western world and so on.

It's quite clear. Everybody goes as if they were a secret government, as if they were a sort of dark, secret army. No. They came to Paris. They came to London when there was this summit last week. Any journalist can -- can speak with them.

ZAKARIA: Well, one of journalists who has spoken with them is Robert Worth.

Robert, you were in Benghazi. You met with these people. Would you agree with Bernard-Henri Levy's characterization?

ROBERT WORTH, REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think there are mix. It's difficult to be really certain about who they are because I think for one thing they're all fighting on the same side of a war right now and so people with different perspectives are reluctant to talk about divisions.

There are certainly plenty of religious people. Are some of them Jihadists? Perhaps. But I think circumstances really depend a lot. I mean, I think another thing that's important is their ultimate identity is probably up for grabs, to some extent, in the sense that they're in the midst of a movement whose outcome could really help define how -- how they -- how they see themselves. And, if it goes right, I think this movement could help to undercut the power of radicalism across the whole region, not just in Libya, in way that even 100 years of drone strikes could not achieve.

So, I think, you know, I get -- at the moment, it's difficult to be sure of exactly who they are.

LEVY: Can I have one -- you know, (INAUDIBLE) Jihadists among the 11 who are known now, can you quote me? Because I was in Benghazi two weeks ago. I saw all of them. Do you have one name? Can you quote him, who is, as you said, perhaps a Jihadist?

WORTH: Well, I'm not talking about the leadership council necessarily. I mean, I've -- I spent a lot of time with a whole lot of younger people, and also with some of the fighters who went to break out the fight.

LEVY: No, but the reason --


WORTH: I'm not saying -- I'm not saying the leadership are Jihadists.

LEVY: Thank you very much.

Later, Zakaria also spoke with an ex-Jihadi from Libya

ZAKARIA: Welcome back to GPS. I'm Fareed Zakaria. Time now for the part of the show we call "What in the World." With all the allegations of al Qaeda's involvement with the Libyan rebels, we thought we'd try to separate fact from fiction. So who better to speak with than a Libyan former associate of bin Laden. Our guest, Noman Benotman, used to be a jihadist, a leader of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, an associate of al Qaeda. But he now works for the counter-extremism think tank, the Quilliam Foundation. He joins us now from London. Noman, welcome.


ZAKARIA: Let me ask you very simply. You know these people who are involved in the Libyan affiliate of al Qaeda. Does it strike you that the rebellion against Moammar Gadhafi, that the rebels, the opposition leaders in Benghazi, are they al Qaeda, al Qaeda affiliated, al Qaeda associated in any way?

BENOTMAN: Look, Zakaria, I think any claims like this, it's a baseless claim. It's the bottom line, it's clear, because the revolution or the uprising in Libya, it's -- the main force behind it, it was the Libyans themselves, you know. If you were there, you will see there's like a lot of professors, doctors, engineers, cookers, taxi drivers, unemployment coming from like different aspects of life in Libya. So it has nothing to do with al Qaeda or even any Islamist agenda as well. It's not just al Qaeda. The agenda it's just based on one concept, which is like free, democratic country. That's it.

ZAKARIA: Let me --

BENOTMAN: So it suggests I think --

ZAKARIA: Let me ask you, though. One thing that worries people is that Libya sent a large number of jihadist fighters to Iraq. By some calculations, Libya was the country that had the largest number of jihadists in Iraq. So it makes people think in Libya, there must be a large number of jihadist fighters. Is that true?

BENOTMAN: Look, it's a fact. You know, when you have like for many years, like many movements, adapted like jihadi or radical Islamic agenda, you'll still see these people.

But my point is, when you have like few hundred jihadists in Libya, the point is, are they organized based under one organization or umbrella, what's the leadership, what's their agenda? This is the most important thing. And there is one issue here as well. Should we ask them, because they have like past or some of them they are still like would be able to label as a jihadist, should we ask them just to stay home and watch while their own people and families and, you know, like, mothers, they are slaughtered by their own regime. Doesn't make any sense.

Yes, there is jihadists in Libya, of course. You know, but my point is they are insignificant and there is no way on earth they are going to be like the most powerful or dominant movement behind the revolution.

ZAKARIA: Is there--

BENOTMAN: It's 100 percent, I can assure you.

ZAKARIA: Is there a danger that as the violence goes on, Libya becomes a magnet for some of -- for jihadists for al Qaeda? Is, you know, al Qaeda seems interested in Libya. Could they move in?

BENOTMAN: Yes, of course, I agree with you. Al Qaeda is always interested in Libya, you know, like, either the al Qaeda leadership in FATA, around Afghanistan and Pakistan, including Ayman Zawahiri, or if we talk about al Qaeda like AQIM, al Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb. They are, I think for them, when there's a chaos or war, it's always a chance. And they'll do everything possible, you know, to make -- to utilize that chance.

But I can assure you until today, until today, it's very difficult for them. And I know they are working very hard, especially Al Qaeda In Islamic Maghreb, and just recently they tried to send some people across the borders, the southern border of Libya through (ph) Algeria. But I think it's very difficult for them.

Yes, myself, I'll share my concern with you if the -- if the conflict it allowed to last for long, and the escalation of violence increased. It's a war situation, and when you are in a war situation, I'm not going to lie to you, that means the uncertainty is 100 percent. That's why every day Libya, we don't have a situation. Basically, we have a flow of situations. It's like the stock market, you need to follow it every single hour.

ZAKARIA: Noman Benotman, thank you very much.

04 Apr 11,, 16:57
Britain urges Koussa to answer Lockerbie questions
31 mins ago

LONDON – Britain says it has encouraged Libyan envoy Moussa Koussa to answer questions from Scottish police and prosecutors over the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that officials have told the former Libyan foreign minister, who fled Tripoli and arrived in Britain on Wednesday, that he should cooperate fully with authorities over an inquiry into the airline bombing.

Scottish prosecutors are seeking to interview Koussa about the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 people — most of them Americans.

Hague also told legislators that Britain is considering plans to supply Libya's rebel forces with non-lethal equipment.

Like the U.S., Britain has suggested it could also supply weapons to rebel forces in some circumstances — despite a U.N. arms embargo covering Libya — but that it has not yet made a decision to do so.

Hague also said the new international contact group on Libya will meet next week in Qatar. The group was set up to provide political oversight to NATO-led airstrikes and humanitarian assistance efforts in Libya.

Copyright © 2011 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved

04 Apr 11,, 20:35
Only a few of Libya opposition’s military leaders have been identified publicly
By Walter Pincus, Friday, April , 9:34 PM

Only a handful of the Libyan opposition’s military leaders have been publicly identified by name and it is still unclear whether they are working together or in competition with each other, according to current and former intelligence officials.

Military leaders include a longtime opponent of Moammar Gaddafi who spent two decades in Northern Virginia and a former general who once helped bring the Libyan leader to power.

The CIA has dispatched operatives into Libya to quickly gather intelligence on the identity and ambitions of the rebels. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has already described the opposition’s leadership, broadly speaking, as “a very disparate, disaggregated” group.

That description appears to apply equally well to the opposition’s military leaders.

The senior defense official on the Transitional National Council, the opposition’s governing body, is listed on the group’s Web site as Omar Al-Hariri. Hariri, the former general who helped bring Gaddafi to power in 1969, was imprisoned with 300 others after a failed coup six years later and was held there until 1990, when he was placed under house arrest.

Until recently, he was still under house arrest in the city of Tobruk.

“This time, the people will be our safeguards,” the 67-year-old Hariri said in a March 2 interview with the Canadian Globe and Mail newspaper. “They will elect a new president, and he will serve for a limited time. He could be removed if he does not serve the people. And, of course, we will need a parliament and a multiparty system.”

Gen. Abdul Fattah Younis, another known military leader, spent the past two decades with the Libyan regime. Younis, who was Gaddafi’s interior minister and the commander of the Libyan special forces, broke ranks in February.

Khalifa Haftar, a former Libyan army colonel who for years commanded the Libyan National Army (LNA), an anti-Gaddafi group, joined Younis in early March in Benghazi.

Like Hariri, Haftar had been part of the 1969 coup and was rewarded with a position on Gaddafi’s Revolutionary Command Council. He later led Libyan troops in their war with neighboring Chad for seven years until his capture by Chadian forces.

In 1988, he changed sides and established the LNA, allegedly with backing from the CIA and Saudi elements. In 1996, he was reported to have been behind an alleged uprising in eastern Libya. By that time, he was already settled with his family in Falls Church.

Asked about Haftar and any connection to the CIA, a senior intelligence official said it was policy not to discuss such issues.

The British newspaper the Daily Mail described Haftar as one of the “two military stars of the revolution” who “had recently returned from exile in America to lend the rebel ground forces some tactical coherence.”

But given the uncertainty within the Libyan opposition camp and the disparate nature of military forces, it is difficult to sort out any leadership structure. Younis and Haftar, for instance, have been on opposite sides for at least 20 years, leaving it uncertain whether they have been able to align their interests.

Another self-proclaimed military leader is Abdul Hakeen al-Hasadi, who had claimed that he fought against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was captured in Pakistan and jailed, probably in Bagram, until his release in 2008.

Hasidi’s presence within the Libyan opposition has drawn the attention of members of Congress. At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Thursday, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) confronted Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg on Hasadi, asking: “Is he incarcerated? Or is he commanding rebel forces right now? Or you don’t care enough?”

Steinberg responded, “Congressman, again, I think — if we want to get into the details, I think we could have a further conversation in a closed session on this.”


Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.

© 2011 The Washington Post Company

05 Apr 11,, 17:03
Some more excerpts from Fareed's show yesterday. He had a french intellectual credited with influencing Sarkozy with moving on the intervention.

So we marched to war because of a frog media whore....

Double Edge
05 Apr 11,, 21:50
No, you marched into war because your president though it was a good idea otherwise the plan would be dead.

Why ?

05 Apr 11,, 21:58
Thinking? You give Hussein the Lesser too much credit.

At least the rebels will fight something...

Sub-Saharan Africans bear brunt of rebels’ ire
By Katrina Manson in Nairobi

Published: March 29 2011 23:57 | Last updated: March 29 2011 23:57

As rumours of black mercenaries flown and trucked into Libya in their thousands have swirled about the country, poor sub-Saharan African migrant workers have borne the brunt of rebel outrage at the claims.

Aid groups, long barred access to the country, estimate anything from 500,000 to 1.5m black Africans may be based in Libya, many of them illegally.

United Nations agencies have set up hotlines for those trapped inside the country and have so far chartered flights for 59,000 people who have managed to escape to the border.

“Even before this, black Africans in general are not liked at all, but this [mercenary] theory has made the situation tremendously worse,” one black African man, holed up at home and too worried about reprisals to be identified by name or nationality, said by telephone from Tripoli.

Like many black Africans, he speaks of rebel sympathisers in the capital Tripoli clamouring outside his door at night, warning him he will be the first to be killed when the regime falls. For a while, he fled to a farm on the outskirts of the capital with a dozen or so others, until the farm owner found them and chased them out. His job stopped with the crisis, and this week he was robbed of all his rent money at knifepoint in a bread line.

The UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said it has become a “poisonous” atmosphere for sub-Saharan Africans in Libya, noting youth gangs this week broke down the doors to threaten an Eritrean family in hiding for three weeks, and that there are unconfirmed reports of some killed.

The UN migration agency said: “So far the advice we’ve been giving is if you’re in a safe place, then stay for the time being.”

The threats mean that some among the poorest and least respected of Libyan society are now rooting for Gaddafi’s regime to prevail.

Says the man in hiding: “Some people here among the black African community tend to support the regime purely on the basis of wanting to survive. If the rebels win, they’re going to unleash their terror on black Africans.”

It is a sorry development for many who sought sanctuary in the country, fleeing war or political persecution at home. Five years ago, aged 32, the man walked across the Sahara desert, exhausted as some of his fellow travellers’ legs gave way, in the hope of reaching respite in Libya. His salary of $300 a month was three times what he might make back home, but his longed-for better life was characterised by constant racist abuse, being beaten on the streets and eventually being taken on by employers who purposefully kept his status illegal so he could not leave.


05 Apr 11,, 22:21
So we marched to war because of a frog media whore....

It's not a war. It's a "kinetic military operation."

WTF is a "kinetic military operation?" Is there a "static military operation?"

05 Apr 11,, 22:23
Thinking? You give Hussein the Lesser too much credit.

At least the rebels will fight something...

Should we bomb the rebels for "harming civilians?"

05 Apr 11,, 22:38
They aren't white, ergo they are in capable of being racist.

05 Apr 11,, 23:05
They aren't white, ergo they are in capable of being racist.

That's what I always tell others when I tell racist jokes. :biggrin:

"I can't possibly be racist. I'm not white!"

Double Edge
05 Apr 11,, 23:45
As rumours of black mercenaries flown and trucked into Libya in their thousands have swirled about the country, poor sub-Saharan African migrant workers have borne the brunt of rebel outrage at the claims.
That's what they are, just rumours.

Christopher Pincher (Tamworth) (Con): The Foreign Secretary and the shadow Foreign Secretary both acknowledged that the Gaddafi regime is at least partly propped up by murderous mercenaries who are terrorising the civilian population. Will my right hon. Friend therefore indicate what steps the Foreign Office, NATO and our allies are taking to stop the entry into Libya of mercenaries from Chad and Niger?

Mr Hague: Yes, that is one of the things attended to in the UN Security Council resolutions, which call for action against mercenaries entering the country. My hon. Friend is quite right that there is a good deal of evidence that Colonel Gaddafi has bought some of the military support that he has employed over the last few weeks. Although I cannot go into any operational details, we will take action whenever we can, and whenever we have the necessary information, against the supply of mercenaries to Libya. We have been in touch with neighbouring countries about that. People entering Libya in order to do violence to the civilian population of Libya do so at their peril.

as discussed (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm110404/debtext/110404-0002.htm) in the HOC on Apr 4 2011

05 Apr 11,, 23:49
Fighting real Chadians might be bad for one's health, so unarmed migrants will have to do...

06 Apr 11,, 00:45
It's not a war. It's a "kinetic military operation."

WTF is a "kinetic military operation?" Is there a "static military operation?"We don't have wars anymore. We have KMA's and OCO's.

It's easier that way, the president doesn't have to talk to the Congress.

06 Apr 11,, 17:19
Chad says citizens abused in rebel-held Libya
Mon Apr 4, 2011 6:17am GMT
Chad says citizens abused in rebel-held Libya | Top News | Reuters (http://af.reuters.com/article/topNews/idAFJOE73303S20110404)

N'DJAMENA (Reuters) - Chad on Sunday called on coalition forces to protect its citizens in rebel-held areas in Libya, saying dozens had been accused and executed for allegedly being mercenaries in the pay Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

When protests against Gaddafi's government led to violence in February, rebels said Gaddafi had brought in African mercenaries from countries such as Chad and Zimbabwe to help in the crackdown after Libyan troops proved unreliable.

"Since the beginning of the Libyan crisis, Chadians in Libya, especially those in areas controlled by the transitional national council, have been singled out," a statement from Chad's government spokesman Kalzeubet Pahimi Deubet said.

"Dozens of Chadians have known this sad fate," he said.

The statement said several Chadian nationals had been arrested, some were "paraded on television as mercenaries and sometimes executed" despite denials that Libya had recruited any mercenaries from its southern neighbour.

The government of Chad had said about 300,000 of its citizens resided in Libya before the crisis.

"The Chadian government is calling on international coalition forces involved in Libya and international human rights organisation to stop these abuses against Chadians and other migrant Africa workers," the statement said.

© Thomson Reuters 2011 All rights reserved

06 Apr 11,, 17:23
Do Libyan Rebels Have Al-Qaida Links?

by Rachel Martin

April 6, 2011
Listen to the Story

Do Libyan Rebels Have Al-Qaida Links? : NPR (http://www.npr.org/2011/04/06/135161637/do-libyan-rebels-have-al-qaida-links)
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April 6, 2011

The Obama administration says it hasn't yet made up its mind whether to arm Libyan rebels, in large part because there are still too many questions about who the rebels are and whether they have links to al-Qaida. The CIA has deployed covert teams to the country to try to find out more.

"We have seen flickers in the intelligence of potential al-Qaida," Adm. James Stavridis, the U.S. commander who oversees NATO forces, said on Capitol Hill last week. "But at this point, I don't have detail sufficient to say that there's a significant al-Qaida presence or any other terrorist presence in and among these folks."

But Bruce Reidel, a former CIA official now with the Saban Center for Middle East Studies at the Brookings Institution, says the U.S. needs "more than a good hunch" about al-Qaida's presence.

Walking-Around Money

He says a key part of the CIA's covert mission in Libya is understanding who the rebels are. That means gauging alliances and assessing how much real support Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi has among certain tribes. One tool the CIA uses is so-called walking-around money that the agency can use to try to persuade tribes to switch sides.
Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh speaks at a pro-regime rally in the capital, Sanaa, on April 1. U.S. counterterrorism officials fear that Saleh's ouster could provide a boost to al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula.
Trouble in Yemen Could Give Al-Qaida New Opening

The U.S. is considering resurrecting a Predator drone program to target suspected terrorists.

"This is one of the things we did in Afghanistan in 2001," Reidel says. "And if there's a tribal leader who's wavering between supporting Gadhafi or supporting the rebellion, we say, 'How much? How much will it cost for you to come over?' "

According to one counterterrorism official familiar with what's unfolding in Libya, the big problem is knowing whom to give the money to because the rebels who seem the most professional are the ones who may have received their training while fighting against the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That brings us back to the crux of the covert mission in Libya: figuring out what role Islamic extremists have in the rebellion. For more than a decade, the CIA has been tracking a terrorist organization called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which has deep ties to al-Qaida.

Reidel notes that there are Libyans in al-Qaida's senior hierarchy, and fighting with the group in Afghanistan against NATO forces.

"There is a longstanding pattern of Libyans being associated with al-Qaida and likeminded groups," he says.

Libya And Al-Qaida

Until a few weeks ago, Gadhafi was the CIA's ally in fighting this group. Now, CIA teams on the ground have to figure out for themselves how much influence the group may have in Libya's rebellion.

"There's no question that a call has gone out from al-Qaida and a number of other terrorist organizations that people should come report in in Libya and join the fight," says Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Feinstein says it has been impossible to determine exactly who is answering that call.

"No one knows. I can't tell you how many Islamic fundamentalists who want a jihad are in Libya today. I cannot tell you how many of them are on the frontlines," she says. "I don't know. We are working from a blind spot."

That blind spot is the reason Feinstein and other lawmakers say they don't want to arm the Libyan rebels. President Obama has said he is not ruling out that possibility — at least not until the CIA has come back with some answers.

06 Apr 11,, 17:35
Infighting hinders Libya rebel leadership
Opposition also stalled on battlefield
By Kareem Fahim
New York Times / April 4, 2011
Infighting hinders Libya rebel leadership - The Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/world/africa/articles/2011/04/04/infighting_hinders_libya_rebel_leadership/?page=full)

BENGHAZI, Libya — As the struggle with Moammar Khadafy threatens to settle into a stalemate, Libya’s rebel government is showing growing strains that could hurt its effort to complete a revolution and jeopardize its requests for foreign military aid and recognition.

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The divisions were evident last week, when the three men commanding the opposition forces were summoned to a series of meetings in Benghazi, the rebel capital, to discuss the sagging battlefield fortunes.

The rebel army’s nominal leader, Abdul Fattah Younes, a former interior minister and friend of Khadafy whom many rebel leaders distrusted, could offer little explanation for the recent military stumbles, two people with knowledge of the meetings said.

Making matters worse, the men could hardly stand one another. They included Khalifa Heftar, a former general who returned recently from exile in the United States and appointed himself as the rebel field commander, and Omar el-Hariri, a former political prisoner who occupied the largely ceremonial role of defense minister.

“They behaved like children,’’ said Fathi Baja, a political science professor who heads the rebel political committee.

Little was accomplished in the meetings, the participants said. When they concluded late last week, Younes was still head of the army and el-Hariri remained as defense minister. Only Heftar, who reportedly refused to work with Younes, was forced out, hinting at divisions to come.

Militarily, the rebellion appears to be locked in a stalemate. On the eastern front, near the oil town of Brega, the two sides exchanged rocket and mortar fire for several hours yesterday but the battle lines did not change. Loyalists continued to hold most of the town, with the rebel forces massed on the road to the northeast of the city.

The United States has agreed to NATO’s request for a 48-hour extension of American participation in coalition airstrikes against Libyan military targets. Air Force AC-130 gunships and A-10 Thunderbolts and Marine Corps AV-8B Harriers will continue to attack Khadafy’s troops and other sites through tonight.

In an appearance yesterday on CNN’s “State of the Union,’’ General James L. Jones, President Obama’s former national security adviser, said that the United States “is buying space for the opposition to get organized.’’

But a White House official said last week that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was reluctant to send arms to the rebels “because of the unknowns’’ about who they are, their backgrounds, and motivations.

The Benghazi meeting on the faltering military effort was a study in the struggles of an inexperienced rebel movement trying to assert its authority, hold on to its revolutionary ideals, and learn how to run a country on the job.

In a country where politics was dominated for decades by Khadafy, his family, and his loyalists, the rebels have turned for leadership to former government figures and exiles they seem to know by reputation alone, and whose motives they do not always trust.

There have been several hopeful signs. Specialists on oil and the economy have joined the rebel ranks, and a rebel spokesman prone to delusional announcements was quietly replaced. Police officers appeared on the streets of Benghazi last week, in crisp new uniforms. Despite the dismal progress on the battlefield, thousands of Libyan men volunteer to travel to the front every week.

Still, many decisions are made in secret and are leaked to Libyans piecemeal, by a few rebel leaders who seem to enjoy seeing themselves on Al-Jazeera, the satellite news channel. But with each day that Khadafy remains in power, the self-appointed leaders of the rebel movement face growing questions about their own legitimacy and choices.

The Libyan rebels have insisted on removing Khadafy and his sons from power, and said they would not negotiate with them. But an envoy of Khadafy’s government told Greece’s prime minister yesterday that the Libyan leader was seeking a way out of his country’s crisis two weeks after the start of international airstrikes, the Associated Press reported, quoting Greek officials.

Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi, a former Libyan prime minister who has served as a Khadafy envoy during the crisis, will travel next to Turkey and Malta in a sign that the regime may be softening its hard line in the face of the sustained attacks.

“From the Libyan envoy’s comments it appears that the regime is seeking a solution,’’ Greek Foreign Minister Dimitris Droutsas said after the meeting.

In a separate development, a diplomat with close ties to the Libyan government said one of Khadafy’s sons, Seif el-Islam Khadafy, is proposing a resolution to the conflict that would entail his father relinquishing power for a transition to constitutional democracy under his son’s direction.

Neither Khadafy nor the rebels seeking his ouster appear ready to accept such a proposal without more negotiation, the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity to divulge private conversations within the government. “This is the beginning position of the opposition, and this is the beginning position of the Libyan government,’’ the diplomat said. “But the bargaining has yet to commence.’’

Libyan officials have declined to comment on any talks. Speculation has swirled about a possible proposal from the Khadafy camp since Seif al-Islam el-Khadafy’s top aide, Mohamed Ismail, traveled to London for undisclosed talks with the British several days ago. The diplomat’s account is the first insight into the content of those talks and the latest sign that the Khadafy government may be feeling the pressure of the allied airstrikes.

The Libyan opposition is supposed to be represented by a national council, but it has become increasingly difficult to locate the center of the rebels’ power.

Many rebels have never met two of their most prominent leaders: Mahmoud Jibril, an exiled former government official, and Ali Essawi, the former Libyan ambassador to India.

Jibril has not returned to Libya since the uprising began, spending much of his time meeting overseas with foreign leaders. The two sit on a rebel executive council, one of several governing structures that the rebels refuse to call a government.

Calling it one, they say, might alienate opposition figures in Western Libya and promote fears about a civil war. The rebels also clearly think that Jibril, who was educated in the United States, and another executive committee member, Ali Tarhouni, who until recently taught economics at the University of Washington, will be able to help sell the rebels’ cause abroad.

Material from the Associated Press was included in this report.

Double Edge
06 Apr 11,, 20:17
The rebel army’s nominal leader, Abdul Fattah Younes, a former interior minister and friend of Khadafy whom many rebel leaders distrusted, could offer little explanation for the recent military stumbles, two people with knowledge of the meetings said.
Just being diplomatic

Think Senator McCain had a point when he said, pulling out US support just when the rebels were winning sent the wrong signal. Their reverses are due to a lack of CAS support.

Making matters worse, the men could hardly stand one another. They included Khalifa Heftar, a former general who returned recently from exile in the United States and appointed himself as the rebel field commander, and Omar el-Hariri, a former political prisoner who occupied the largely ceremonial role of defense minister.

“They behaved like children,’’ said Fathi Baja, a political science professor who heads the rebel political committee.
Victory has a thousand fathers, when things take a wrong turn nobody wants to own up.

06 Apr 11,, 21:02
Wadi Doum saw over 1200 Libyans killed for the loss of around thirty Chadians (left out of the article), they failed to conduct any recce, launch a single counter attack and during the final show down even their artillery was silent, this dude is no Rommel.

Khalifa Haftar: The man who left Virginia to lead Libya's rebels

(CNN) -- His story reads like a political thriller. Once a confidant of Moammar Gadhafi and then his sworn enemy, he led a band of Libyan exiles trying to overthrow the Libyan regime before being spirited in secrecy to the United States when things went bad. His name is Khalifa Haftar.

He has lived in Virginia for 20 years but now he's back in Libya, trying to knock the rebel force into some kind of shape.

CNN has spoken to several people who know Haftar well, and they agree on one thing: His role will be crucial, if the opposition is to mount a serious military challenge to Gadhafi.

For Haftar it's personal. He has never forgiven Gadhafi for letting him rot as a prisoner of war in neighboring Chad after a disastrous military campaign in the 1980s.

By all accounts, Haftar is a soldier's soldier -- respected by junior officers, with a good command of battlefield doctrine. Some detect his hand in the better defensive organization of rebel positions around Ajdabiya, a town critical for the defense of Benghazi but also giving access to the south.

The former Libyan ambassador in Washington, Ali Aujali, describes Haftar as "a very professional military man."

He and Gadhafi first found common cause in 1969, when Haftar, as a military cadet, supported the coup that removed King Idris. He was rewarded with a position on the Revolutionary Command Council. His subsequent ascent through the military ranks was rapid.

But unfortunately for Haftar, he was involved in the disastrous campaign against neighboring Chad in the 1980s, when Gadhafi wanted to overthrow President Hissene Habre because of his cold war alliances with France and the United States.

Haftar was captured by the Chadians at the battle of Wadi Doum in 1987, along with several hundred Libyan soldiers. Gadhafi refused to acknowledge the existence of Libyan POWs and said he knew no one called Haftar. A Libyan exile who has known Haftar for 20 years, Aly Abuzaakouk, told CNN that "Gadhafi never formally recognized there were any POWs in Chad," sending the signal that he didn't care if they were all executed.

This infuriated Haftar, according to Salem al-Hasi, another long-time opponent of Gadhafi. "He approached the Chadian government and said he wanted to work against Gadhafi and get the captured soldiers freed," al-Hasi said.

So for the next two years, Haftar and several hundred former Libyan soldiers trained at a base outside the Chadian capital, N'djamena, as the Libyan National Army -- the military wing of the opposition Libyan National Salvation Front.

Just who funded them remains shrouded in mystery, but several Libyan exiles and a former CIA officer say the United States was involved. Former Libyan envoy Aujali would not be drawn out on whether the CIA was the paymaster, but said, "The Americans knew him very, very well."

And he added: "I think working for the CIA for the sake of your national interest is nothing to be ashamed of."

At the time, the United States was keen to see the end of Gadhafi. In 1986, President Reagan had ordered airstrikes against the Libyan leader's compounds in Tripoli after U.S. intelligence had established Libyan involvement in a bomb attack on a Berlin disco frequented by U.S. service personnel. Reagan had famously described Gadhafi as a "mad dog."

The dissidents never got a chance to invade Libya because their host, President Habre, was overthrown in a coup in December 1990 by the man who has ruled Chad ever since -- Idriss Deby. And that's where Haftar's story becomes even more extraordinary. Deby wanted good relations with Gadhafi and the rapid exit of Haftar and his men. A bizarre African odyssey followed.

Derek Flood of the Jamestown Foundation, who has followed Haftar's career closely, said he and his men were flown on a U.S. plane from Chad to Nigeria and then to what was then Zaire (and is now the Democratic Republic of Congo), as Washington scrambled to find a home for the Libyan rebels. This account is supported by several Libyan sources and a former U.S. diplomat.

But Flood said a plan to funnel $5 million to the infamously corrupt Zairean regime to allow the Libyans to stay there was overturned in Congress.

The next stop was Kenya, but after relations soured between the Kenyan government and the administration of George H. W. Bush, some 300 Libyans were finally flown to the United States and resettled as political refugees at government expense. Haftar exchanged the desert expanses of the Sahara for a home in Falls Church Virginia, and his men scattered across 25 states.

For the next 20 years, Haftar lived quietly in suburban Virginia, occasionally denying rumors that he planned to return to Libya. But Abuzaakouk, who runs the Libyan Human and Political Development Forum, said that after unrest flared in February, Haftar received many calls appealing for him to return. And on March 14, he arrived in Benghazi to take charge of the rebels' chaotic military campaign.

Salem al-Hasi, who has lived in the United States since being part of an abortive attempt to kill Gadhafi in the 1980s, said Haftar can make a difference "as long as he gets the support, supplies and weapons." He said Haftar has a "sense of defining objectives and the ability to convince soldiers and officers" of his aims.

After spending two weeks in Libya, Flood said the chaotic back-and-forth of the military campaign has not allowed the rebels to train properly in rear bases.

Some have argued that Haftar and other exiles have been away from Libya for too long to relate to the younger rebels. But Aujali -- the former Libyan ambassador who split with Gadhafi -- said people such as Haftar may have been absent but "they are very well-informed; they have relatives."

Al Hasi spoke to Haftar by phone just a few days ago. "He was in high spirits, and he thinks that in the near future the forces will be organized, and the opposition will be much better than in recent weeks," he said.

There remains some doubt about the hierarchy among rebel commanders, who include Haftar, Gen. Abdul Fatah Younis and Gen. Omar al-Hariri. Abuzaakouk, who took Haftar to the airport for his journey home, said Haftar and Younis are friends and doubts they will become rivals.

He has no doubt that beyond Haftar's commitment to the rebels' cause, Haftar has a score to settle: "Haftar will fight to the death if necessary; he'll be the one to finish Gadhafi."

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Khalifa Haftar: The man who left Virginia to lead Libya's rebels - CNN.com (http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/04/04/libya.rebel.leader)

06 Apr 11,, 21:19
They want helicopters

Quarrels among rebel leadership threaten to split anti-Qaddafi opposition
Full: Quarrels among rebel leadership threaten to split anti-Qaddafi opposition - The National (http://www.thenational.ae/news/worldwide/africa/quarrels-among-rebel-leadership-threaten-to-split-anti-qaddafi-opposition?pageCount=0)
Rolla Scolari (Foreign Correspondent)

Last Updated: Apr 6, 2011

BENGHAZI // As the battle for control of the key oil town of Brega enters its sixth day, a leadership quarrel and disagreement over whether to negotiate with the Libyan government in Tripoli threaten to split the ranks of the opposition.

The military and political wings of the insurgency have laboured in recent days to impose a semblance of order in their ranks as the uprising against the 41-year rule of Col Muammar Qaddafi nears its second month.

Their envoys have dispersed across Europe to make the case for more outside aid. Libyan army veterans fighting on the rebel side have taken charge of the battlefront, replacing untrained volunteers. Meanwhile, the youth who once haphazardly led the fight have been urged to move to the rear and protect rebel gains.

Nevertheless, strains are showing. There are disagreements over who is in charge of the insurgents' military operations, Abdel Fatah Younes, a former interior minister, or Khalefa Haftar, a former army colonel who recently returned from exile. The differences pose a new challenge to a political leadership that is under great pressure to show western countries they are in control of their forces.

The lack of organisation and poor co-ordination with Nato forces, as well as the reliance on untrained youth to carry the fight to Colonel Qaddafi, came to a head last week, when 13 rebels were killed in an air strike by allied warplanes.

Abdel Hafiz Ghoka, a spokesman for the Interim Transitional National Council, called the friendly-fire incident "a tragic mistake". Major Gen Ahmed Qutrani, a rebel commander, was more blunt, however, saying the incident stemmed from military incompetence. Nato planes struck their target after young rebel fighters fired in the air in celebration, he said.

Subsequent efforts to reorganise the rebel ranks met with equally confusing, though hardly lethal, results. Colonel Masouda Mohammed learnt from a television report last week that Mr Haftar, who participated in the coup in 1969 that brought Colonel Qaddafi to power but turned against him in the 1980s and fled to the United States, was no longer her commanding officer.

At a news conference on Saturday, the Benghazi-based Interim National Transitional Council announced the creation of a "transitional crisis team" and named Mr Younes the rebel army's chief of staff, pushing aside Mr Haftar. No explanation was given.

Amember of the council's local committee in Benghazi who asked not to be named said: "Mr Haftar has a bad relationship with Mr Younes and there were disagreements between them over how to lead the battle."

While Mr Younes has an insider's knowledge of Colonel Qaddafi's military assets, supporters of Mr Haftar say he was too close to the regime in which he served in a senior post. Meanwhile, to his critics, Mr Haftar bore the stigma of exile. "He came back after more than 20 years abroad, sought the top job with arrogance, without even proving himself on the front line," the committee member said.

Anti-Qaddafi forces have hit rough spots on the diplomatic road, too.

In an interview last week with Al Jazeera, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, president of the council, appeared to call for a ceasefire. Libyan government officials turned down the offer and other rebel officials scrambled to amend Mr Jalil's conciliatory words, explaining that the president had simply reiterated previous UN declarations.

A local rebel leader in Benghazi said intense disagreements persist over the ceasefire issue, with most of the political leadership firmly opposed to any truce.

The internal friction is in some ways predictable. More than four decades of authoritarian rule by Colonel Qaddafi have fragmented the opposition and atrophied its ability to co-ordinate its activities and public message. Also, there are the inevitable tensions between Libyan opponents to Colonel Qaddafi who went into exile and those who remained at home.

There are generational clashes, too. Older Libyan army veterans who have joined the insurgency are often seen by younger rebels as part of the "institution of dictatorship," General Outrani said.

However, in a war, youthful zeal rarely outweighs a marked disadvantage in know-how and weaponry, a fact that General Abdel Fatah Younes, the rebel chief of staff, acknowledged on Monday.

"The youth were not organised, they were driven by enthusiasm," he said in an interview with The National. "Now a lot of members of the army joined the rebels, but to confront the well-trained Qaddafi forces is not an easy task."

For the rebels, there have been positive developments. On Monday, Italy became the third government to recognise the council. In addition, the British foreign secretary, William Hague, told the House of Commons that his government would provide communications equipment to the outgunned rebels in their fight against pro-Qaddafi forces.

For General Younes, however, this is still not enough.

"We need more advanced weapons - at least we need weapons that Qaddafi has," he said, specifically citing the need for helicopters. While acknowledging that rebel forces have some degree of co-ordination with Nato warplanes, he complained that co-operation left a great deal to be desired.

"When we ask them to hit a target, it takes from six to ten hours for them to strike," he said.

06 Apr 11,, 22:04
They want helicopters

They also want NATO to do more, but less, at the same time. Basically they want their air strikes whenever, wherever they please, while not have any foreign military personnel on the ground.:rolleyes:

06 Apr 11,, 22:22
Hey we owe them...

Libyan rebels to NATO: Do your job properly

The Libyan rebels said on Tuesday that NATO was too slow to act and they would ask the UN Security Council to suspend its operation unless it “did its job properly“.

“Either NATO does its work properly or we will ask the Security Council to suspend its work,” said Abdel Fattah Younes, head of the rebel forces, speaking at a news conference in Benghazi in the rebel-held east.

06 Apr 11,, 23:57
April 1, 2011
A rebellion divided: spectre of revenge killings hangs over eastern Libya
A rebellion divided: spectre of revenge killings hangs over eastern Libya - The Globe and Mail (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/africa-mideast/a-rebellion-divided-spectre-of-revenge-killings-hangs-over-eastern-libya/article1967949/page1/)

From Saturday's Globe and Mail
Near the town of Darna, a freshly dug grave marks the spot where Libyan rebels are said to have executed a group of Moammar Gadhafi's soldiers.

Libyan rebels hanged at least two suspected pro-Gadhafi fighters in the chaotic early days of the uprising, witnesses say, revealing for the first time a bitter struggle within the rebellion about how to contain the anger unleashed after decades of oppression.

The full extent of revenge killings in eastern Libya is unknown. Near the coastal city of Darna, locals say they discovered a heap of bodies in the badlands south of town, where at least a dozen men appeared to have been executed with gunshots to the head. But the circumstances of those deaths remain unclear.

Doctors at four rebel-controlled medical facilities say they struggled - and failed on at least one occasion - to prevent mobs from killing patients accused of loyalty to Colonel Moammar Gadhafi.

The arguments over the fate of suspected pro-Gadhafi prisoners, whether in the emergency wards of Al Bayda or among screaming crowds in Darna, illustrate the tension between educated leaders and fiery young people that has emerged as a defining feature of the rebellion.

The New York Times quoted anonymous U.S. officials this week saying they have cautioned the rebels against harming civilians, even suggesting that air strikes could target anti-Gadhafi forces if they fail to respect the laws of armed conflict.

The actions of those who desperately tried to save the lives of pro-Gadhafi prisoners weren't motivated merely by the fact that such revenge killings would sap the rebels' international support. More fundamentally, they felt themselves fighting for the soul of the revolution.

Abdul Karim bin Taher, a 60-year-old English teacher, stood in the shadow of a rusty pedestrian bridge in Darna where he saw revolutionaries hang a man on Feb. 23 and recalled how he tried to stop the murder, pleading with the crowd to avoid becoming like Col. Gadhafi's thugs.

"If we do the same things he did, what's the difference between them and us?" he said.

Ultimately, moderates such as Mr. bin Taher appear to have gained the upper hand after the initial burst of violence in towns along Libya's eastern coast, with most stories of revenge killings confined to the first week of the revolution.

Those captured by the rebels remain in grave danger, however. Hospitals sheltering injured pro-Gadhafi fighters must keep them hidden and guarded. At one medical facility, on a quiet floor, a handwritten sign in Arabic - "Closed for repairs" - marks the secret door leading to the prisoners.

A guard carrying two Kalashnikov rifles banged on the door, and other gunmen inside confirmed the guard's identity before removing a metal bar and allowing visitors inside. Past the barred door, a series of locked rooms contained suspected pro-Gadhafi fighters recovering from their injuries.

Now safely in the hands of rebels who appear to respect human rights, the patients said they were eating well and were being treated kindly. One of them sat in a wheelchair and seemed incapable of speaking for himself, babbling softly in confused sentences. A rebel gunman kissed him on the forehead, a gesture of affection.

"The revolutionaries tried to hang him," said a young attendant in a white doctor's coat. "The rope broke. They thought he was dead, so they put him in the freezer. He is still alive, but his brain is not working."

Medical records confirmed that the man arrived at the hospital unconscious, showing signs of strangulation, but other details of his story were unclear. A day after his first contact with journalists, rebels transferred him to another location.

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, said he is familiar with the man's case. "It's quite sensitive," he said. "He is a witness to a mass execution."

Other such incidents have occurred since the beginning of the revolution, Mr. Bouckaert said.

"There were quite a number of cases of hangings," he said. "A lot of unruly armed elements detain people on their own initiative, without proper oversight."

The two most public executions, with hundreds of witnesses, allegedly happened in the early morning of Feb. 18 in the city of Al Bayda, and on the evening of Feb. 23 in the smaller city of Darna. In both cases, witnesses say, a mob lynched a dark-skinned soldier suspected of being an African mercenary.

Paranoia about mercenaries remains strong among the rebels, despite assurances from human-rights groups that most of the fighters among the pro-Gadhafi forces are Libyan citizens. Rebels have frequently treated dark-skinned prisoners more harshly than men of Arab ancestry.

That distinction was made brutally obvious to doctors at the intensive care unit of Al Bayda's main hospital on Feb. 17 when they admitted two men - one black, the other with the local olive-skinned complexion - who stood accused of fighting the rebels. A crowd gathered outside the hospital, calling for blood. Some armed rebels pushed their way into the ward.

"They had guns and knives," said Mahmoud Anass, 27, a resident on duty that night. "It was really scary. They wanted to kill the black soldier."

Doctors managed to hold off the enraged youths until a few hours after midnight, when the rebels dragged the two patients into the street.

"An old man tried to stop them," said Faraj Khalifa, a doctor. "He said our religion does not permit the killing of unarmed men. But the youths were very, very angry. They hanged the black man in front of the hospital."

The patient with lighter skin was beaten, shot, and returned to the emergency room, Dr. Khalifa said.

A cellphone video later circulated among residents showing a Christian cross tattooed on a black man. Locals pronounced this as proof that the hanged man, whom they called "John," had been a non-Muslim outsider.

Not everybody agrees that John was lynched. A female doctor claimed that the man died of his wounds before he was hanged, although she acknowledged that she did not see the incident herself.

Rebel officials deny the story, or remain vague about it. "We had no hangings," said Uthman Suleiman, 32, who describes himself as a security chief for the rebels, sitting in a room filled with war trophies, weapons and ammunition. "No, no, no, it's all rumours."

The main spokesman for Al Bayda's rebel council, Mohammed Mabrouk, said he saw John in intensive care at the hospital but did not know what happened to him.

The rebel military says it has not killed any prisoners. "I don' know about any executions," said Ahmad Zine Al-Abedine, chief military prosecutor, while cautioning that he could speak with confidence only about the rebels' actions in Benghazi, not further up the coast in Al Bayda or Darna. "Maybe it's just a rumour," he said.

During a visit to the rebels' main jail on Monday in Benghazi, guards said they were holding about 76 prisoners suspected of involvement with pro-Gadhafi forces - with more arriving all the time, as fighting continues.

The chief prosecutor promised that all of them would receive a fair trial, with defence lawyers, after the fall of the Gadhafi regime.

Such formal systems did not exist in the turbulent early days of the uprising, however, when justice was meted out by whomever won the argument with gunmen in the street. This produced wildly different outcomes for the various pro-Gadhafi groups captured by the rebels. More than 160 of the soldiers who fought the rebellion during several days of bloody standoff at the airport south of Darna were eventually released after ceasefire talks brokered by respected elders.

Before the ceasefire, however, a group of 22 soldiers who broke through the rebels' barricades near the airport on Feb. 23 seem to have fared worse. Residents say the soldiers climbed into three pickup trucks and raced down the highway that winds down the cliffs toward Darna, blasting their way through a rebel encampment along the way. Two revolutionaries were killed.

The surviving rebels called ahead to warn the city of an impending attack. Locals say that a rebel commander named Abdul Hakim Al-Hasadi organized an ambush near the outskirts; the 45-year-old had quickly become a prominent figure among the rebels because of his expertise in guerrilla warfare, which he received at training camps in Afghanistan from 1999 to 2002. (In an earlier interview with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Al-Hasadi declined to say who operated his training camp; al-Qaeda ran camps in the same part of Afghanistan during that period.)

The rebels caught all 22 soldiers and started transporting them in pickup trucks back to Darna; although seven leapt from the back of the trucks they were recaptured the next morning in a neighbouring village. The remaining 15 arrived at the central mosque in Darna, where a large crowed gathered and called for their execution.

"We were screaming, 'Please don't do this,'" said Jamal El-Magri, 48, a veterinarian who now serves on Darna's rebel council. "My own cousin was killed at the airport, but I'm a Muslim and I must respect the prisoners of war."

Mr. El-Magri said a group of educated men tried to shelter the prisoners inside the mosque and planned to disperse them among safe houses with families in the city. Most of them were bundled into vehicles and kept away from the mob, he said, but men in the crowed snatched one of them from the back of a pickup truck. He saw them hang him with rope from a green pedestrian bridge near the mosque.

Families that sheltered the prisoners that night remain afraid to speak to the media, fearing retribution. Abdel Gadir, 29, said one of his friends took in a group of prisoners and soon found it difficult to keep them.

"His door alarm rang in the middle of the night," Mr. Gadir said. "Men with guns were in the road with covered faces. They told him, 'Give us those criminals.'"

The masked men took away the prisoners. The next day, Mr. Gadir said he returned home in the evening to his village of Makhtuba, 20 kilometres east of Darna, and found his neighbours upset. They had discovered a pile of bodies, apparently executed with gunshots, at a nearby crossroads known as Hisha.

"My friend said, 'Our revolution has taken a wrong turn,'" Mr. Gadir said. "Each of the bodies had a bullet in the head."

A local mullah organized a team of men and a backhoe to bury the corpses, he said. None of them were willing to talk about the incident on Friday, although a freshly heaped pile of earth remains at the crossroads in the barren scrubland. Graffiti scrawled on a nearby wall marks the spot as a resting place for soldiers "killed by Gadhafi," an explanation repeated by some others in Darna. They claim the executed men were killed by their own officers for disobeying orders.

No organized units of pro-Gadhafi forces existed at that location by the time of the apparent killings, however, which supports Mr. Gadir's belief that they were executed by rebels.

Whatever truths remain buried under the dusty earth, locals say the community has reacted with horror to the excesses of the revolution's initial days. During the Friday prayers after the hanging, clerics spoke out against extra-judicial killings. City leaders have recently asked Mr. Al-Hasadi, the guerrilla expert with experience in Afghanistan, to take a less prominent role in local defences.

"Now that we have freedom," Mr. Gadir said, "we don't want to make the same mistakes again."

dave lukins
07 Apr 11,, 00:40
They also want NATO to do more, but less, at the same time. Basically they want their air strikes whenever, wherever they please, while not have any foreign military personnel on the ground.:rolleyes:

They'll be sending out for pizza next :frown:

07 Apr 11,, 01:37
Even with western PR people they can't stop being douche bags.

Libyan rebels blame airstrike lull on Turkey
Ankara working on cease-fire

Libyan rebels blame airstrike lull on Turkey - Washington Times (http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2011/apr/6/libyan-rebels-blame-airstrike-lull-on-turkey/)

By Eli Lake


The Washington Times

7:55 p.m., Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Libyan rebels, angry about a lull in NATO airstrikes on dictator Moammar Gadhafi's forces, are directing their rage at Turkey, the only Muslim member of the alliance.

Earlier this week, the rebels turned back a Turkish ship carrying food and medical aid to Benghazi, and on Wednesday they physically attacked the Turkish Consulate in the eastern city.

"Turkey is blocking NATO attacks" on Col. Gadhafi's forces, Guma el-Gamaty, coordinator for the rebels' Interim National Transitional Council in Britain, told The Washington Times in a phone interview from London.

"We believe the reason why NATO attacks have come down in the last four or five days is because Turkey is vetoing a lot of them," Mr. el-Gamaty said.

However, Turkey has pursued an aggressive campaign to broker a cease-fire between the rebels and the Gadhafi regime.

On Monday, Ankara hosted meetings with NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Abdulati Obeidi, the acting foreign minister for Col. Gadhafi, who was named after his predecessor, Musa Kusa, defected to London last week.

"Change in Libya is necessary," Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said in an interview Wednesday. "We want this to be peaceful. We want civilians not to be on the receiving end of any harm. We want the natural resources of the country to be unharmed."

Mr. Arinc acknowledged that Turkey has yet to designate which Libyan officials and entities with assets it will freeze, as required by the U.N. Security Council resolutions authorizing the allies' Libyan operation. Russia, the European Union, the U.S. and Switzerland have published such assets freeze lists.

"Turkey has ongoing work on this," he said, adding that the Turkish government intends to comply with the Security Council resolutions.

Ali Aujali, the official representative of the Transitional National Council of the Libyan Republic in the United States, said Turkey's position on Libya has been inconsistent.

"The Turkish position from the beginning is not consistent," Mr. Aujali said in an interview. "We have not seen many consistent statements. But now it seems they are adopting themselves to be a kind of mediator and work with both sides. I am happy to see Turkey shift the regime from one side to the middle."

Meanwhile, Mr. el-Gamaty, the Transitional Council official in Britain, said Libyan rebels have reliable information that Turkey is selling fuel to the Gadhafi regime.

Other rebel sources said shipments of Turkish fuel had arrived in Az Zawiyah and Tripoli.

Az Zawiyah, a western city formerly controlled by the rebels but now in the regime's grip, was the scene of "unspeakable atrocities" by Col. Gadhafi's forces, according to a rebel spokesman who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern for his safety.

The relationship between the rebels and Turkey has become strained over the past week.

Over the weekend, a Turkish ship evacuated 250 people wounded in fighting in the western city of Misurata. The ship, which docked in Benghazi on its way to Turkey, was greeted by throngs of cheering Libyans.

The decision to turn away the Turkish aid ship "was seen as snub for Turkey's position against the effective support by NATO and the allied forces to equip the pro-democracy [Transitional Council] in its fight against the Gadhafi regime," a source close to the opposition council in Benghazi said on the condition of anonymity.

"The reason for Turkey's obstruction has not been understood," he added.

The command and control center of NATO's Libya operations is based in the Aegean port of Izmir.

NATO took full control of Libyan operations from a U.S.-led coalition last week.

A Turkish official dismissed the rebels' allegations as "completely false and unfounded."

"Turkey has been actively participating in a number of efforts within NATO and by itself to impose the no-fly zone, arms embargo and providing humanitarian aid," Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told The Times in an e-mail.

"Actually, Turkey is the only country at the moment that is conducting a major humanitarian aid and medical operation in Benghazi and Misurata," he added.

Last month, the government in Ankara named Omer Solendil, a former ambassador in Libya, as an envoy to the Libyan opposition in Benghazi. Turkey also is representing U.S. diplomatic interests in Tripoli.

Turkey was initially reluctant to support airstrikes in Libya, and in a speech last month Mr. Erdogan said Turkey "will never point a gun at the Libyan people."

On a visit to London last week, Mr. Erdogan had also rejected the idea of arming the rebels saying it "could be conducive to terrorism."

Anti-Gadhafi forces say they are angry about Mr. Erdogan's position.

"The protesters are saying that Erdogan disappointed them and are urging him to take his place alongside the Libyan revolutionaries," Ali Davutoglu, Turkish consul general in Benghazi, was quoted as saying by Turkey's Hurriyet newspaper.

In Washington on Wednesday, the White House acknowledged that President Obama had received a letter from Col. Gadhafi asking for a cease-fire with NATO, adding that it urged the Libyan dictator to end his attacks on civilians.

The U.S. ended close air support missions for the rebels over the weekend, prompting calls from the rebels to continue the mission.

© Copyright 2011 The Washington Times, LLC

07 Apr 11,, 02:20
Libya rebels 'pressured into Lockerbie apology'

Leaders say Libyans not to blame for Gaddafi's acts, accusing Britain of trading document for seized funds

Libya rebels 'pressured into Lockerbie apology' | World news | The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/06/libya-rebels-lockerbie-apology)
* Chris McGreal in Benghazi
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 6 April 2011 22.05 BST
* Article history

Mustafa Abdul Jalil
Mustafa Abdul Jalil, chairman of the rebels’ council, has signed an apology for the role of Muammar Gaddafi's regime in the Lockerbie bombing. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

Libya's rebel administration has said that it signed an apology for the Gaddafi regime's role in IRA attacks and the Lockerbie bombing under pressure from the British government, and that the document is the result of "misunderstanding".

After initially denying that the document existed, the revolutionaries' governing council acknowledged that its chairman, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, had indeed signed an apology on behalf of the Libyan people for Gaddafi's provision of semtex used in IRA bombings and for the blowing up of the Pan Am flight in 1988. It also promised compensation.

Amid division and confusion over the declaration, which some blamed on a translation mix-up, council officials said that the issue of the Libyan government's responsibility for attacks in the UK came up only because it was pressed on the revolutionary administration by the British.

Officials in the rebel government say the Lockerbie and IRA issues are not a priority for them given that they are fighting a military campaign to overthrow Gaddafi while trying to administer the rebel-held areas. They say that there are few Libyans who believe they are responsible for Gaddafi's acts or that they should apologise for him.

Council officials privately said that the Foreign Office pressed Jalil to invite a British lawyer, Jason McCue, head of the Libya Victims Initiative, to Benghazi. McCue arrived saying that he was seeking an "unequivocal apology" in the name of the Libyan people and $10m compensation for each death in IRA attacks. All of his demands were met by Jalil.

Council officials said that they regarded McCue as working with a team of British diplomats in Benghazi, led by the UK's ambassador to Rome, Christopher Prentice. Prentice has declined to talk to the press. A council spokesman, Essam Gheriani, said that Jalil had had little choice but to sign as part of the rebel administration's attempts to win diplomatic recognition and gain access to desperately needed funds frozen overseas.

"The whole world knows the Libyan people are not responsible for Gaddafi's acts over 40 years. An apology is not warranted for the simple reason that the Libyan people did not participate in these acts," said Gheriani. "But there is the situation in the international arena."

Britain is holding about £100m in Libyan currency seized from a ship that could be released to the rebel administration, which is needs funds to meet next month's civil service pay roll as well as for imports of food.

Asked if Jalil was pressured by Britain, Gheriani said: "It depends on how you define pressure. I request something from you when you want something from me. It could be defined as pressure."

Four countries – France, Italy, Qatar and Kuwait – have recognised the transitional council as the de facto government of Libya. Besides the British envoy, there are diplomatic missions from several other countries, including Turkey, as well as an EU delegation visiting Benghazi.

"The international arena is the most important for the time being, more important than the military front," said Gheriani. "We need those frozen assets. They will be frozen until they have a legitimate body they can be released to, so we need recognition. This is essential for us."

The rebels are also negotiating with an American envoy sent to Benghazi, Chris Stevens, who served at the US embassy in Tripoli until it was shut down. The US holds about $30bn in frozen Libyan assets. It is unlikely to offer full diplomatic recognition to the rebel administration in the short term but a state department spokesman, Mark Toner, said Washington was looking for ways to get some of that money to the revolutionary council.

"We are going to look at some ways to enable them to meet some of their financial needs and how we can help to do that through the international community, given the challenge of sanctions," he said.

But given the ever present fears among American politicians of Islamism, Stevens is seeking specific commitments on a future democratic system, respect for human rights and a commitment to the struggle against al-Qaida.

The revolutionary council's desperation to avoid even a hint of Islamism has led it to deny repeatedly that rebel-held areas have been infiltrated by followers of Osama bin Laden, most recently after an assertion by the US's Nato operations commander, Admiral James Stavridis, that "flickers" of al-Qaida and Hezbollah had been detected in the Libyan uprising.

The rebel leadership dismisses such claims but recognises that they have to be addressed. "It's taking up our time and effort replying to those fears and apprehensions, that we are not al-Qaida. But we have to say it every time," said Gheriani.

07 Apr 11,, 06:35

To be honest I find it a bit ridiculous that a request was made to the rebels to apologise for Gaddafi's actions. It would be akin to asking the Iraqi people to apologise for Sadaam or for North Koreans to apologise for Kim Jong-il. Why on earth should the Libyan rebels have to apologise and compensate victims that suffered under a dictator who oppressed them as well?

07 Apr 11,, 06:55
Besides which the victims were already - financially - compensated years ago.

Double Edge
07 Apr 11,, 07:40
And justice for his ppl for all the nonsense perpertrated over thirty years is still pending.

07 Apr 11,, 13:49
This thing smelled from the beginning and the corpse is getting riper.

To me, it looks like a coup attempt with a veneer of "popular uprising" so as to be more palatable to the international community.

07 Apr 11,, 20:06
Libya's fledgling government
Early days, early rivalries
The rebels are trying to create order very slowly out of chaos
Libya's fledgling government: Early days, early rivalries | The Economist (http://www.economist.com/node/18530535?story_id=18530535&fsrc=rss)
Apr 7th 2011 | BENGHAZI | from the print edition


THE day after Colonel Muammar Qaddafi’s forces attacked oil installations in Libya’s east, hundreds of workers converged on the Benghazi headquarters of Libya’s largest oil producer, the Arabian Gulf Oil Company, better known as Agoco, to complain about the running of the oil industry under the new order. A raucous meeting ended only when Agoco promised to keep the head of its management committee, whom the oil workers had chosen when they joined the uprising, despite objections from the transitional national council, the rebels’ fledgling government. “People don’t understand we’re in a war,” says an Agoco manager.

Such infighting, along with damage to the oil installations, is hurting a company which, under the colonel’s control, had been a rare example of professional order in an otherwise chaotic state. But bitter rivalries have surfaced, now that the strongman’s grip has been removed. “Local godfathers are trying to carve up the country as fast as foreign players,” moans an engineer recruiting members for a trade union.

The generator at Mislah, which produces some of Libya’s best-quality oil, was attacked by pro-Qaddafi forces just as the national council was preparing to sell its first tanker of oil. It pushes oil north from three of Libya’s largest fields 560km (348 miles) to the port of Tobruk. Engineers say the facility may take months to repair. With the colonel’s forces able to operate in the desert, most oil workers have fled. “We’ve shut down operations until military forces are deployed,” says the council’s new oil-corporation head, Wahid Bugaigis, back from exile in Houston.
Related topics

* Energy industry
* Fossil fuels
* Industries
* Moammar Gadhafi
* Government and politics

In Benghazi other rows have erupted, partly over sharing the spoils of office. People have begun to mutter against the council—and against Westerners for not helping enough. Some grumble that old families from the Turkish Ottoman era, such as the Bugaigis and the Gherianis, related by marriage, are getting too many of the jobs in the budding new set-up; “We won’t let them substitute one family business for another,” says a Libyan oilman.

Rivalries have also arisen in the rebel forces. Some say the overall commander is Khalifa Haftar, a general who has returned to help the rebels after many years in retirement in the United States. But Abdel Fatah Younis, Colonel Qaddafi’s former interior minister who switched sides in late February, insists that he is in charge and that General Haftar has no official post.

The rebels have virtually no institutions to hold their eastern zone together. But the vacuum is steadily being filled. Courts have started to function again. The rebels have even set up an embryonic intelligence service. The nights have become quieter since the police, back in action, started to question people wielding unlicensed weapons. After dusk volunteers man checkpoints inside Benghazi and outside its main hotels. Businessmen say that mobile telephones and the internet will be reconnected to the outside world within a week or two. Despite the no-fly zone, aircraft and even military helicopters fly in and out of Benghazi’s rebel-held airport.

Yet people are getting anxious and even angry as they fear that outsiders, including NATO, might be losing enthusiasm for the cause. “The mood on the street is changing,” says a Libyan businessman, sounding suspicious of outsiders’ motives. “Our people are being killed,” he says. “We might ask all foreigners to go away.”

As people begin to suspect that a military stalemate may last months, some are worrying that the self-appointed council may entrench itself with no accountability. It presents itself as the new Libya’s legislature, with a “crisis-management committee” as its government, alongside a plethora of lesser committees. But it is not always clear who is in charge or where lines of command are being drawn.

The council has yet to begin untangling the legal and legislative knots that have snarled up the economy for so many years. For instance, Colonel Qaddafi’s Law Number Four, which empowers the state to confiscate private property and resell it, has yet to be repealed. But doing so would set off a string of compensation claims, which the courts are not yet equipped to assess. “We want our houses back,” says Maha al-Shahumi, who helps to run a fledgling prosecution service in the council’s courthouse. “We won’t rest till we do.”

Some of the new order’s more liberal backers say the council should set up mechanisms forthwith to ensure openness. It should schedule provincial elections, start drafting a new school syllabus and promise a rapid reform of the army and security service, once the colonel has been toppled. In particular, the new council, based as it is in the east, must widen its composition and strive to persuade Tripolitanians in the west that a decent new order is being built. It must also reassure foreign governments that it can be a worthy interlocutor.

But it may be premature to tackle such issues. For one thing, the rebels still hope they will have captured Tripoli within a few months, if not sooner. And until they do, it is hard to see them starting to create a brave new world, in either the east or the west of their devastated country.

from the print edition | Middle East & Africa

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07 Apr 11,, 20:12
This is Obama's mess. We could have stayed out. Or can we somehow pin this on Bush?

07 Apr 11,, 21:51
To be honest I find it a bit ridiculous that a request was made to the rebels to apologise for Gaddafi's actions. It would be akin to asking the Iraqi people to apologise for Sadaam or for North Koreans to apologise for Kim Jong-il. Why on earth should the Libyan rebels have to apologise and compensate victims that suffered under a dictator who oppressed them as well?

Look at the considerable number of people who served him for years who now have posts in the rebel government.

07 Apr 11,, 23:42
Or can we somehow pin this on Bush?
You can pin it on Nixon ('69) and Reagan ('86) ... yeah, and Bush III for lifting the sanctions too ('03). If you want a democrat you can possibly also find some way to blame to Carter (Billygate, '79).

08 Apr 11,, 00:54
You can pin it on Nixon ('69) and Reagan ('86) ... yeah, and Bush III for lifting the sanctions too ('03). If you want a democrat you can possibly also find some way to blame to Carter (Billygate, '79).

You mean Bush II?

GW Bush lifted sanctions because Gaddahfi played ball after the invasion of Iraq. He didn't want to be the next Saddam. If anything, Bush scared Gaddahfi in line.

10 Apr 11,, 00:16
Libya rebels vent frustration on Nato and a silent leadership

Benghazi rebels feel they are being denied the promised air power and kept in the dark by revolutionary council
Libya rebels vent frustration on Nato and a silent leadership | World news | The Observer (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/09/libya-rebels-vent-frustration-on-nato)

* Chris McGreal in Benghazi
* guardian.co.uk, Saturday 9 April 2011 17.31 BST
* Article history

wounded prisoner
Libyan rebels take a wounded prisoner back to hospital for treatment. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

The chants of the demonstrators in Benghazi and among furious rebel fighters on Libya's frontline reflected the sudden shift in mood.

"Where is Nato?" demanded the same people who only days earlier were waving French flags and shouting "Viva David Cameron".

But behind the growing anger in revolutionary Libya over what is seen as a retreat by the West from air strikes against Muammar Gaddafi's forces – a fury compounded by two botched Nato raids that killed rebel fighters – there was a second question: where are our leaders?

Nato's failure to use its air power to reverse days of military setbacks for the rebels prompted a collapse in confidence in the West's intentions among Gaddafi's foes. Conspiracy theories flew. The West wants a divided Libya so it can control the oil, said some. Turkey, a Nato member, is vetoing air strikes because it supports Gaddafi, said others.

Nato denied it was scaling back attacks and explained it faced new challenges in striking Gaddafi's forces now that they have switched from relying on tanks and heavy armour in favour of smaller fighting units in pick-up trucks that are harder to hit. Not many in the liberated areas of Libya were interested. They were angry – and wanted their leaders to tell the West. But the revolution's self-appointed chiefs in the interim national council were nowhere to be seen.

Eventually it took the leader of the rebels' armed wing, Abdul Fattah Younis, to voice the anger. "Nato is moving very slowly, allowing Gaddafi forces to advance," he said. "Nato has become our problem."

The incident highlighted the virtual invisibility of the revolutionary administration to the ordinary people it claims to lead. That was not much of a problem when the uprising appeared to be advancing. But recent setbacks have shaken confidence and raised concerns that Libya might be facing an extended civil war or division, which means divided families among other things.

People in rebel-held areas want to know what the revolutionary council – a 31-person body that functions around a core of 11 people who have been publicly named and meet regularly in Benghazi – is doing about it. But they are getting few answers.

The council's two principal leaders, Mahmoud Jibril and Mustafa Abdul Jalil, are hardly visible. Both men are, in any case, regarded by those dealing directly with them as sincere and well-meaning but lacking in either charisma or authority.

One person working closely with the council's day-to-day operations was deeply frustrated at the fact that "they don't understand the need to communicate with the Libyan people.

"They don't understand that no one knows who they are. These lawyers and doctors in Benghazi who say they are a government, it's like kids playing dress-up for a lot of them. They don't understand the need to explain to the people what it is they are doing," the source said.

The council meetings themselves reflect the new-found freedoms Libyans in the rebel-held areas possess to say what they think without fear of persecution, but they are not necessarily an efficient form of governance.

"They talk a lot. It's seen to be rude to interrupt and everyone who has had to suppress his opinion all these years is enjoying expressing it," the source said. "But while they talk a lot they've slammed the brakes on making decisions on some things – the constitution, economic planning for the future – because the country is still divided and they don't want to be accused of imposing decisions on the other half of the country when Gaddafi is gone. They say there has to be a national discussion before these decisions can be made."

But even where decisions are made, few of the people affected by them are told. Domestic opinion is not the priority because of the revolutionaries' need to win international recognition and access to desperately needed Libyan financial assets frozen overseas.

"The international arena is the most important for the time being, more important than the military front," said a council spokesman, Essam Gheriani. That led to the incident last week in which Jalil, without consulting with the rest of the council, signed a document in the name of the Libyan people apologising for Gaddafi's support of IRA attacks and the Lockerbie bombing, and promising compensation.

"There's a lot of upset about that. The British got him in a room on his own and bounced him into it. The rest of the council knew nothing about it," said a source. "It is another factor in the diminishing confidence in the intentions of the West among ordinary people. No one thinks Jalil should have done that. That it was done in secret and not explained by the council has not helped."

Another source close to the council said that its advisers have pressured Jalil to be more open and to engage with the public.

The source related an incident two weeks ago in which it was agreed that Jalil would make an important speech that would address three key messages: praising young fighters for their role, but urging them to fall under the command and discipline of a military structure; offering an assurance to people in towns still under Gaddafi's control that there will be no retribution when the rebels take over; and reassuring the international community that, despite the revolutionaries having been forced to take up arms, theirs is essentially a peaceful movement that eschews political and religious extremism.

The speech was written. Plans were made for Jalil to make his address on the rebel radio station and to ensure that it got attention. But nothing happened for days. Jalil said he was too busy.

Eventually an aide was sent to read it on the radio and the speech sank without trace, to the deep frustration of those who saw it as important in building the council's credibility with Libyans. "There was no promotion. No one knew about it," said the source. "I see this every day. They're doing stuff, working day to day, decision after decision. Decrees are made.

"But it's not communicated. Things happen and no one knows that they've happened. There's a massive gap between the people and the council, and it's a problem."

That gap is being partly filled by the only revolutionary leader who appears to have any real charisma, Younis. Sources close to the council say that it pushed Younis to the fore on Nato in part because no one else wanted to criticise the West publicly but also because he is the "most dynamic and authoritative" of the revolutionary leaders.

But while the rebel military leader is good at whipping up confidence, despite repeated military setbacks, some worry at the rise to prominence of a man who just a few weeks ago was Gaddafi's minister of the interior and how he might exploit that in the future.

First, though, there still is a revolution to win.

The council members generally recognise that victory is unlikely to come on the battlefield. They are now counting on Gaddafi's own people deserting him and an implosion of the regime.

"It's a hope. Well, it's more of a prayer actually," said the source.

15 Apr 11,, 05:24
April 14, 2011
Libyan Rebel Leader With CIA Ties "Feels Abandoned"
Shashank Bengali: Khalifa Hifter thought he'd be America's man in Libya, but he claims US is ignoring his pleas for arms


PAUL JAY: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Washington. In Libya, a man who lived not far from Washington, Khalifa Hifter, was in Virginia for 24 years after leaving the Libyan army, where he'd been a commander. Of course, in Virginia he wasn't very far from CIA headquarters. He's now back in Libya in Benghazi, playing some kind of role in the rebellion army, or I should say the army of the rebellion. What is that role? Well, we're not entirely sure. But Shashank Bengali from the McClatchy Newspaper chain is in Benghazi, and he met with Hifter, and he asked what was his role, and here's what he found out. Thanks for joining us. Shashank joins us from Benghazi.


JAY: So you talked to this Hifter fellow. What did you find out?

BENGALI: Well, he has to be one of the most intriguing figures of this two-month-old rebellion in Libya. He, as you say, is a former military commander in Gaddafi's army. He broke with Gaddafi 24 years ago and spent the remainder of that time in the US, in Virginia. He is now back in Libya, serving as--what he describes as the field commander of the Libyan rebel army. He came back to Libya about one month ago to a hero's welcome in Benghazi. He's remembered by many people here as a military hero. He led a Libyan war in Chad. But he's been gone from the scene for a very long time. And it's--there's some controversy about him, because there is an existing Libyan rebel commander called Abdul Fatah Younis. And based on who you talk to, it's not clear whether Fatah Younis is in charge, Hifter is in charge, some combination. It's sort of indicative of the disarray of the rebel army that they can't even quite figure out who's running the show.

JAY: And Younis was working with Gaddafi up until just, I guess, a couple of months ago now.

BENGALI: That's right. This is sort of the--one of the two men that differ quite strongly. Younis was with Gaddafi for 42 years, all 42 years, really, of Gaddafi's rule, up until the very beginning of the uprising two months ago, when he broke with Gaddafi and brought many of the special forces soldiers that he commanded to the side of the rebellion. So although he has a long history with Gaddafi, he is respected a great deal by folks here in Benghazi. On the other hand, Hifter is someone who's been gone for a long time. He's known as an opposition figure who was in exile. Early on in the days even before the rebellion officially began, he threw his support behind the uprising from his home in Virginia. He made an online posting that was widely circulated among Libyans. And as I say, when he came back he was quite warmly greeted. Now--but there's some concern here that Hifter's long time in the US, his alleged ties to the CIA and other US officials, make him a bit of a controversial figure for Libyans, who really feel this is a homegrown uprising. They want foreign support in the forms of weapons and recognition for the Libyan opposition government. So they also want this to be not a rebellion that's overtaken by an outside force such as the CIA.

JAY: So CIA that are on the ground, we're told that they're doing training. There's some reports that the Egyptians together with the CIA are trying to bring some arms in. So what are people feeling, and at the leadership level what is the feeling about the role of the CIA in all of this?

BENGALI: Well, Hifter, before he left for Libya, he tells me in an interview we had yesterday, one of the first interviews he's done with the press since he returned to Libya, he told me that he met with CIA officials in Virginia and that he met with senior state department officials as well, and he gave them a list of--basically a wish list of weapons, including armored personnel carriers, antitank weapons, sort of a laundry list of things that he felt would help the rebel army fight Gaddafi's forces. Now, since then we've heard reports that the CIA has sent teams into Libya to basically have a look at the rebel army and try to figure out, you know, who these guys are. The US still says it doesn't have a clear picture of who the rebels are. But Hifter claims that despite meeting in the US with these officials, he has had no further contact with any American official since he came to Libya. So for a guy who sort of thought he was going to be America's man in Libya, he now feels a bit hung out to dry. He's basically at a senior position in a rebel army that still runs from the sound of gunfire. We still occasionally hear reports from the battlefield of rebels accidentally shooting one another. And, of course, even with the backing of NATO air strikes over the past several weeks, the rebels have lost a lot of territory. They're now--basically, the front line of the Gaddafi-rebel battle has moved to within 100 miles of the rebel capital of Benghazi. So all these sort of relationships that Hifter may have developed in the US among Western officials and American officials, here on the ground not much really has materialized to show for it.

JAY: Well, do you get a sense that Hifter--or Hafter, depending on how you pronounce it--but do you get a sense that he could be downplaying the relationship he's having currently with the CIA 'cause it's not so popular in Benghazi to have this kind of direct relationship? Or do you feel like he's--they don't trust him, so he's just not getting the support they may have said that he might?

BENGALI: It's really hard to know, Paul. You know, the way Hifter described it to me was he lived in the US for these 24 years. He said that he was never--he never worked for the CIA, in his words. But he did say that whenever he wanted something from the US government, whether it was protection, you know, he said he got it. He claimed that he could travel around the US, into Europe, without any fear of any reprisals from Gaddafi's side, because he had US protection. Now, I have not been able to confirm any of this independently with US officials, although I understand from sources in the US government that they confirmed that they have not met with Hifter here in Libya. And so it's not clear. Clearly there is some separation now between Hifter and the US government since he arrived in Libya. The exact reason for that--you know [incomprehensible] that the US is still trying to feel out who all these rebels are. You know, the US government has a special envoy here in Benghazi, Chris Stevens, and he's been in meetings with Libyan rebel government leaders, but he has not met with Hifter.

JAY: Part of the--some pundits or analysts [that] have been talking about this point to Hifter's involvement to kind of show that the CIA helped inspire all of this. They had their man ready to sort of parachute in, that being Hifter or Hafter, and that this was all part of a kind of prearranged plan. Do you get any sense that that might be the case?

BENGALI: I don't think so, Paul. You know, this rebellion, you know, was inspired by the rebellions in Tunisia and Egypt. You know, it sort of launched in the days right after Hosni Mubarak left power next-door in Egypt. Gaddafi, of course, is the longest-serving Arab leader. There is no shortage of reasons why Libyans would want to rise up against him. You know, it doesn't take much to see why a homegrown rebellion here would be very popular, given all that's happened in the rest of the region. The CIA certainly--you know, if we believe Hifter's story, they certainly had a man that they dealt with and seemed to know, and perhaps, you know, would have encouraged him to come out to Libya. But from friends of his in the US that McClatchy reporters have spoken to, they claim that he was already thinking about a return. Hifter told me that this is an opportunity he's wanted to seize for a very long time, to come back and try to fight to topple Gaddafi. So, you know, I don't think the CIA or any US government branch could have co-opted this rebellion, but certainly, once it was in motion, there would have been reasons to try to put in place somebody that they knew or trusted to keep it going.

JAY: So what is the controversy at the level of the leadership about Hifter's role? There seems to be several versions of what that role is.

BENGALI: That's right. So, basically, if you believe Hafter, he is now the field commander of rebel forces, meaning he's responsible for all the rebels on the ground and commanding and controlling those forces. There's, as we mentioned, the other main rebel commander, his rival, and they've clashed quite bitterly behind closed doors, Abdul Fatah Younis. These two men are sort of vying for control. In the version of events that I heard from a couple of members of the Libyan opposition governing body today, Younis is still the chief of staff, and Hifter reports to him as the commander of field forces. Now, according to another version of events that an opposition spokesman who's quite close to the leadership told me earlier today, Hifter is still a civilian, and he--as it was told to me, he is welcome, as any other Libyan, to join the rebellion under the command of General Younis. So I think what all this says is, you know, that the sort of--the disarray we're hearing among the opposition, it just sort of illustrates that even two months into this uprising, and even with the backing of coalition air strikes, weapons from Qatar, special envoys from the US, the UK, and a lot of high-powered diplomacy going into all this, the rebels are still trying to figure out just who they are. And I think we should also--I'd be remiss not to point out that we shouldn't be too hard on the rebels. After all, you know, this is a country that for 42 years has been ruled by one man. There was absolutely no opposition allowed. You know, you wouldn't even dare speak against Muammar Gaddafi if you were a Libyan. He was synonymous with the country. And so I think a lot of Libyans who are sort of defensive about the disarray the rebel movement is in would, you know, point out that they've had two months to try to resolve 42 years of dictatorship.

JAY: Now, in terms of the public opinion and at the leadership level, Benghazi is fairly devout, Islamic. Generally speaking, this is not a population that's usually very friendly to the CIA, that the history here would be very critical of Israel and US's support for Israel. How do people kind of deal with the fact that this guy claims openly to have these connections with the CIA at the same time as he wants to be their military leader?

BENGALI: Well, it's really interesting, you know. This is--I wouldn't necessarily say Benghazi is a religious place, but it's certainly a very closed one, and I think a conservative one. It's a place that, you know, for reasons of leadership, Gaddafi's rule in the last four decades, has been quite closed off to a lot of the world. And yet they're still quite sophisticated, fairly well educated, fairly middle-class population. It's a very small population. So even though Gaddafi stole a lot of money, some of it did trickle down to the sort of 5 or 7 million people who live in Libya. I think there is a skepticism and a hesitation about the CIA. But, you know, Hifter was greeted as somebody who has been in the opposition for 24 years, somebody who is seen as a war hero from his efforts in the war in Chad back in the '80s. And so he is sort of--those who have long memories here, maybe the older generation, remember him as someone who served his country, and then left, and then has basically been against Gaddafi since then.

JAY: So when the African Union delegation showed up (I guess it was in the last day or two) with a peace proposal, thousands of people from Benghazi came out and said no, no proposal that allows Gaddafi and his sons to stay in Libya will be acceptable. But all of this kind of--some might even call it bravado, because it's only really possible because they have this NATO-US air support. What do you make of--is there a debate going on about--I guess, in the end, do they want a government that comes to power because there's US-NATO air power? In other words, it becomes a Western/CIA supported venture. Is there a debate about this?

BENGALI: I don't sense a real debate about the intervention. You know, what's been amazing to me in the streets of Benghazi and all across the east where I've traveled in the last couple of weeks, I was--this is the one place in the Arab world where you will see American flags flying, French flags flying. I mean, the number of French flags flying in the streets of Benghazi is quite amazing. Nicolas Sarkozy would be elected mayor of Benghazi in a heartbeat, because he of course led the UN resolution that authorized the no-fly zone and the military intervention that basically stopped Gaddafi's army in its tracks. You know, they were about to take over Benghazi the day that the UN no-fly zone came into effect. So people realize that Gaddafi's army is much better equipped, much more powerful. They would not have survived this long without the air power. What they want now, really, is actually more rather than less NATO air strikes, and they want more help from the outside in terms of weapons. They don't necessarily want troops on the ground, but they want weapons, they want help with training, and they want air strikes to stop Gaddafi's forces from attacking civilians.

JAY: And what do you--it does not seem to be happening. Do you see signs of any arming, heavier arms entering Benghazi, or any more serious levels of training?

BENGALI: All we have heard--it's very hard to tell at the front lines, because it's so chaotic, and mostly, you know, the rebels are still running around the front lines in SUVs with AK-47s that they're, you know, more often than not shooting at each other rather than training them in the right direction.

JAY: Not only are they shooting each other, but at least once or twice NATO planes have bombed the rebels.

BENGALI: Well, exactly, and this is part of the inexperience. You know, NATO has had two friendly fire incidents where they've attacked rebel positions instead of Gaddafi's positions--killed at least 18 people in these two incidents last week alone. And NATO has quite angrily blamed the rebels, saying that the rebels didn't tell them what their positions were. You know, at one point the rebels had begun to use tanks they had rehabilitated that had sat in storage in a military facility in Benghazi for years, and the rebels rehabilitated a few of these tanks, brought them to the front line, but didn't tell NATO that they were doing so, and of course, you know, the rebels' tanks are the same as Gaddafi's tanks because they were taken from Gaddafi's military. So, yeah, there's a great deal of confusion still, and NATO is working to clean this up. And one of the things that Hifter told me yesterday was that he's trying to clean up the communication between his forces and NATO. But, you know, it's still a very fluid situation on the battlefield. And so, you know, there's still a fear about wayward NATO air strikes.

JAY: Well, a lot of analysts are saying this is sounding like it's going to end up in a partition, a divided Libya. Is that what it's looking like? And are people talking about that there?

BENGALI: Well, it's hard to know where this is going to go. You know, Gaddafi's forces certainly seem to have the upper hand, but the rebels have managed to hold on to a key flashpoint town called Ajdabiya about 100 miles from Benghazi. As long as they can hang on to that and NATO air strikes keep reducing Gaddafi's firepower, the rebels could hang on to the east. However, one thing that is clear from talking to folks in Benghazi, nobody wants a partition. There are signs all over town that say Libya is one country, Tripoli is our capital. This is a refrain you hear over and over. Nobody wants a partition. This is a country of 5 million people. They don't really have tribal issues. They are overwhelmingly Sunni Muslims. There's really, if you ask the people here, no reason for the country to split in two. It all comes down to one man, one man who won't leave power, and nobody wants to see the country divided over one man. And they also say that they don't believe the rebellion in Tripoli, in the capital, where Gaddafi is, has had the chance to come to fruition. There is just so much fear still. But people claim that there's pockets of resistance to that. We've seen on Arab television a couple of scattered, very small demonstrations, which is a very brave thing to do in Tripoli. And so if the rebellion keeps up, one hope here is that the folks in Tripoli can begin to create a bit of unrest there.

JAY: Shashank, your colleague from McClatchy, Nancy Youssef, who was in Benghazi before you, she reported that there seemed to be more popular support for Gaddafi in other parts of the country than the people in Benghazi thought there would be. They're--it took a little air out of their sails. Do you get any sense of that, like, just how the rest of the country stands on all of this?

BENGALI: It's hard to know, Paul. You know, there are folks--I was in Tunisia on the other side of the border, the western side of Libya, and tried to interview folks as they were leaving Libya from Tripoli, and basically, you know, what's thought to be Gaddafi's stronghold if he has one, which is the western part of the country. It was really very hard to get a sense from people that are very tightlipped. I think there's still a fear of speaking really anything to foreigners, to journalists, so I would really hesitate to make a call one way or the other. I mean, I think, you know, there is a great deal that Gaddafi has done for certain pockets of the population. You know, he has--there is a level of education that's pretty decent. He has brought development to certain places. At the same time, it's been quite capricious and quite inconsistent, and a lot of money has been wasted. And if you look at the size of the country and the level of oil income, you could argue Libya ought to be a lot richer than it actually is. So I would really hesitate to say whether, you know, we're underplaying or overplaying his support. It's just really hard to know what's happening in the West. We've been completely cut off. Even the journalists who are in Tripoli are so closely guarded that it's hard to get a sense of really what people actually feel.

JAY: Thanks very much for joining us, Shashank.

BENGALI: A pleasure.

JAY: And Shashank will be reporting over the next couple of weeks quite regularly from Benghazi and Libya, and we'll continue to carry his reports. Thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.

End of Transcript

DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

15 Apr 11,, 14:05
Hister has arrived on the international scene! Nostradamus was right! We are all dooooomed! ;)

15 Apr 11,, 14:12

GW Bush lifted sanctions because Gaddahfi played ball after the invasion of Iraq. He didn't want to be the next Saddam. If anything, Bush scared Gaddahfi in line

i used to think that, but less so these days. from everything i've seen, gaddafi was persuaded by his son that trading his rump nuclear/WMD program (which was never gonna get off the ground) in return for an enormous amount of western investment was a good deal.

and by most calculations he's right. the 32nd brigade and other military units which have held up the rebels benefited from a good inflow of money in the years prior, including mercs to bolster their ranks.

15 Apr 11,, 19:26

i used to think that, but less so these days. from everything i've seen, gaddafi was persuaded by his son that trading his rump nuclear/WMD program (which was never gonna get off the ground) in return for an enormous amount of western investment was a good deal.

and by most calculations he's right. the 32nd brigade and other military units which have held up the rebels benefited from a good inflow of money in the years prior, including mercs to bolster their ranks.

The profit motive was the sole motive? I don't believe so. He has money already, and power. The trick is to keep them. If he presents himself as a threat, and that's what WMD is for, he will call attention on himself. That's not wise. If the western intelligence agencies can have a concensus that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD, they can also reach a concensus that Gaddahfi has stockpiles of WMD. Bush was on a warpath in 2003. Better turn WMD into piles of cash rather than risk an invasion by the Americans.

Gaddahfi isn't as stupid as we think he is. Most dictators aren't. Otherwise they couldn't have consolidated power to rise to the positition they have.

I think Saddam wasn't stupid either. He outsmarted himself. He outsmarted the western intelligence agencies. In the end, being too smart isn't good for one's health.

15 Apr 11,, 19:54
April 10, 2011, 6:51 pm
Libyan Rebels Take Risks With Makeshift Arms
Adel Sanfad with a pod of air-to-ground rockets. In the past 10 days, several of these repurposed aviation munitions, recycled for new lives as truck-to-ground weapons systems, have appeared at the front.Bryan Denton for The New York Times Adel Sanfad with a pod of air-to-ground rockets. In the past 10 days, several of these repurposed aviation munitions, recycled for new lives as truck-to-ground weapons systems, have appeared at the front.

In cheerful and crisp English, Adel Sanfad presented his new weapon, which was mounted on a welded frame to the back of his jeep near the front lines in eastern Libya. “These used to be for airplanes,” he said. Then he added, in a flash of pride that was undercut slightly with a wince: “But we modified them.”

Behind Mr. Sanfad was a pod of air-to-ground rockets, of the sort used by attack aircraft to fire on targets below. His system was fully loaded and armed, ready to go. In the past 10 days, several of these repurposed aviation munitions, recycled for new lives as truck-to-ground weapons systems, have appeared at the front, where they have been fired repeatedly by the Forces of Free Libya, as the rebels hoping to unseat Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi call themselves. In this case, the weapon was a freshly made accoutrement to Mr. Sanfad’s life as a technical – a mobile combatant on an open truck, roaming the highways of the Libyan desert while mixing civilian and military equipment to wage a conventional war.

When it comes to mounting aviation weapons systems on pickup trucks, these kinds of weapons are, in a word, a sight. They are also a fright. They seem to spring from some post-apocalyptic dream, and in the eyes of many rebels their mere presence among otherwise lightly equipped forces suggests promise and power. But this is not quite so. In truth, the men who fire them have little idea of how far these rockets fly, a limited ability to change their elevation, and, (depending on the makeshift mount), often have no ability to traverse them left or right. Often times, those who fire them fire them this way: They point the front grill of their truck in the rough direction of the intended target, and commence launching a barrage. The result is obvious even before the first rockets whoosh into the air. Those involved can make their high-explosive rockets go up. They have only the faintest sense of where the rockets will come down.

No one can reasonably dispute that this is indiscriminate fire, and there is already a small undercurrent of anger among the rebels at some of those who fire them. The rockets have often landed near other rebels, who, in their view, face quite enough incoming munitions from Col. Qaddafi’s troops. By some credible accounts, it was an errant barrage of 57-millimeter rockets from another pod like this one that killed Dr. Salah al-Awami last week.

Dr. al-Awami, a fourth-year medical student who bravely provided first aid on the battlefield, was struck by shrapnel as he sat in ambulance returning to the front to retrieve and treat rebels wounded when a NATO aircraft mistakenly attacked a rebel convoy. The so-called Dernah Brigade, which has mounted several rocket pods designed for Mi-24 helicopter gunships on its small fleet of pickup trucks, had been firing barrages of 57-millimeter rockets recklessly in the area at the same time, witnesses said.
A rebel grieved over the body of his friend, Dr. Salah al-Awami, a fourth-year medical student who provided first aid on the battlefield and was killed when a NATO aircraft mistakenly attacked a rebel convoy.Bryan Denton for The New York Times A rebel grieved over the body of his friend, Dr. Salah al-Awami, a medical student who provided first aid on the battlefield and was killed when a NATO aircraft mistakenly attacked a rebel convoy.

Many Libyan rebels – more spirited than experienced – nonetheless approve of their rocket brigades. With their almost sci-fi aesthetic, and the tremendous noise and show they make when fired, they are a morale-booster for troops who know little of effective tactics or of how modern weapons actually work.

The rebel formations are remarkable for the social diversity, and Mr. Sanfad was of a type — an American-educated Libyan who had joined the uprising out of a sense that this was the one chance in his life to unseat the Qaddafi family, which he regards as ossified, brutal, and corrupt. He was a bright-eyed and collegial man in what he knew was a horrible business. “I would like the war to end tomorrow,” he said. “This is my hope.” He also had a sense playful sense of humor. “After the war,” he told a reporter, “I will let you play with this weapon.”

Having lived in Santa Monica, Calif., he teased a photographer from Pasadena that the people of California “smoke too much dope.”

To his credit, he seemed to grasp the mix of absurdity and desperation behind the decision to fight this way. “It is dangerous,” he said. “But we have no choice. We have to take the risk because you can see we have almost no other weapons, and Qaddafi has all the lethal weapons available in the world.”

The ground war in eastern Libya has provided many examples of the potential regional security consequences inherent to brittle nations amassing stockpiles of military arms. As has been seen in many other nations that have swiftly fractured, the weapons rush out, and can be put to uses that vary from illicit to unwise. Since the uprising began here in mid-February, and many of the Libyan government’s weapons and munitions slipped from state custody, all manner of weapons have been visible on the streets.

The New York Times and this blog has covered at some length the risks posed by the loose stockpiles of heat-seeking, shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, or Manpads, which could readily be diverted via smuggling networks to people who might turn them against civilian passenger aircraft. In the weeks since those missiles first were seen loose in the field, many other dangers have been evident – from landmines, machine guns, and from unexploded ordnance that now litters the battlefield and the roads that trace through it.

In the past days, the rebels have driven more and more of these makeshift rocket systems to the battlefield, readying them for the next effort to push westward toward Libya’s oil infrastructure, and, in many rebels’ minds, toward Sirte and Tripoli. More of the pods seem to be recycled in this way. The picture at this link shows a load of newly scrounged pods being moved to Benghazi , the rebel capital, to be fitted to trucks. With weapons such as these arriving in large numbers, the dangers to civilians and to civilian infrastructure, and of friendly-fire against rebel formations, can only rise.

Double Edge
15 Apr 11,, 23:18
The profit motive was the sole motive? I don't believe so. He has money already, and power. The trick is to keep them.
His kid have the choicest shares of any multinational franchise as anybody else. There is certainly a proft-motive from his kids to push this line.

Better turn WMD into piles of cash rather than risk an invasion by the Americans.

17 Apr 11,, 06:16
Libya revolt: Libya rebel's story shows links to Taliban, Al Qaeda, NATO - latimes.com (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-qaeda-20110417,0,4890059,full.story)

Libyan rebel's story shows links to Taliban, Al Qaeda, NATO
'We are Libyans fighting for Libya,' said the rebel fighter, whose life led him to all sides so he could continue his battle against Kadafi.

By Ned Parker, Los Angeles Times

April 17, 2011

Reporting from Ajdabiya, Libya

He once lived under the Taliban's protection, met with Osama bin Laden and helped found a group the U.S. has listed as a terrorist organization. He died in a secondhand U.S. military uniform, ambushed by Moammar Kadafi's men as he cleared a road after an airstrike by his new NATO allies.

Aides to Abdul Monem Muktar Mohammed say the Libyan rebel fighter was leading a convoy of 200 cars west of this hotly contested strategic city Friday when a bullet struck him on the right side of the chest. He opened his passenger door and jumped out. A rocket-propelled grenade exploded nearby.

"Don't wait, go," he yelled to his men. Then he got to his feet, staggered a few steps and fell.

Mohammed's final days were a mirror of his past, of a life that saw contradictions and intersections with U.S. policy, ones that could return to haunt the United States.

He arrived in Afghanistan in 1990 at the conclusion of the mujahedin's silent partnership with the United States against the Soviet-backed Afghan regime. The following decades saw him become an international pariah, operating in an underground world of armed training camps and safe houses.

But with the revolt against Kadafi that started in February, he once again found himself in an uneasy alliance with the United States.


Five days before he died, with gray in his hair and bags under his eyes, Mohammed climbed a concrete tower on the outskirts of Ajdabiya and phoned in positions to the rebel government so NATO could drop bombs on Kadafi's forces.

Putting down his Thuraya satellite phone, Mohammed waved a shiny black 9-millimeter pistol on a road filled with empty bullet casings and waited for the explosions.

A few hours later, Mohammed and his Omar Mukhtar brigade, one of the new military units officially sanctioned by the opposition government, rejoiced as blasts shook the city. A few started dancing and singing "God is great."

"I have never been Al Qaeda now or in the future," Mohammed said as he watched his men clap. "We are religious and ordinary people. We are Libyans fighting for Libya."

The onetime holy warrior boasted that he even wanted a close battlefield relationship with NATO. But he also bristled at Western double standards. Why, he grumbled, does NATO so readily bomb the Taliban in Afghanistan but hesitates against Kadafi? Still, he would take any firepower he could get. He wished he had his own direct line to NATO rather than communicating through middlemen.

He laughed and said, "Give me their number."

Rebel leaders are sensitive to criticism by some in the West that Al Qaeda "fellow travelers" are deeply involved in the fight against Kadafi. With some defensiveness, they say Afghan veterans such as Mohammed, 41, were pushed to extremes by Kadafi's authoritarian rule, and that with freedom, the danger of a homegrown militant extremist threat has faded.

But there are many unanswered questions about Libya's anti-Kadafi forces, with at least 20 former Islamic militant leaders in battlefield roles, according to the rebel army, and hundreds of Islamists participating or watching from the sidelines. All speak of unity and brotherhood, but in the new state, will they be tempted by a once-in-a-lifetime chance to overpower Libya with a conservative Islamist vision?

The fighters themselves might not even know their answer, caught up in the moment's revolutionary fervor and vacillating between a longing for peace and their dreams of achieving an Islamic state.


Mohammed's journey started at age 20, when he left his home in western Libya and traveled across the border to Algeria, flew to Frankfurt, Germany, then to Pakistan, and made his way with four Libyan friends to Afghanistan in early 1990. The year before, more than a 1,000 Islamists had been jailed in Libya, and Mohammed decided it was better to leave and try to follow a righteous path.

He fell in love with the mountains and the Afghans' fighting prowess. With the fall of the old Soviet-backed Afghan regime in 1992, he and a group of other Libyan fighters decided to return home.

They slipped across the borders. The veteran mujahedin called themselves the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, and vowed to kill Kadafi, declaring their ambition to form an Islamic state. Mohammed lived in the southern city of Sabha under an assumed name. He didn't dare contact his family. He hated Kadafi for detaining hundreds of Islamists and remembered the yearly public executions of political detainees and students.

"Hitler was a good man compared to Kadafi," he said.

A first assassination plot, in 1994, involved planting bombs at a celebration for Kadafi, but the explosives failed to go off. Two years later, he was involved in another botched plot when a man hurled a dud grenade at Kadafi. Mohammed acknowledged without a hint of embarrassment that he picked the bomber and the weapon.

Mohammed escaped, first to Tunis, the Tunisian capital, and then to Turkey. He married an Algerian woman; they set up a home in Istanbul and had their first child. But when a colleague was detained and handed by the Turkish authorities to Libya, Mohammed fooled them with a fake Tunisian passport and fled.

On the run, he learned that his family was paying the price for his failed plot against Kadafi. One of his brothers, whom he had met secretly for 30 minutes in 1996, had been jailed and would be locked up for eight years.

There was only one place for Mohammed to go: back to Afghanistan, under the protection of the Taliban. He spent time studying in military camp, and in classes on politics and Islam. About 100 members of the LIFG congregated in Kabul, the capital, longing for the day when they could kill Kadafi and rule Libya in accordance with Islam.

Here Mohammed would have his encounter with the two men who shaped the future of radical Islam: Bin Laden and his chief lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri.

In 2000, he said, he met the two men twice, once at a funeral and another time at a guesthouse. They exchanged pleasantries and nothing more, he said. Bin Laden later sent an emissary requesting that the LIFG join Al Qaeda, but Mohammed said the Libyan group refused.

"Before 9/11, Bin Laden wasn't infamous. Everyone had their own projects and people. He was a wealthy man. Our project was to kill Kadafi. They offered for our group to join, but we were focused on Libya."

Mohammed remembered a brief meeting when the group debated whether to join Al Qaeda. He said they disagreed with Bin Laden's theory that if the United States was weakened, its Arab allies would fall.

"We were concerned with Libya and nothing else. We didn't believe in killing civilians or fighting the United States," he told The Times on Tuesday.

But there are disputes about whether the group ever did, in fact, pledge allegiance to Al Qaeda. In November 2007, Zawahiri and a senior Libyan Al Qaeda member with close ties to the LIFG said the group was joining the terrorist network. The LIFG followed with a strong denial.

Mohammed insisted that the Libyan insurgents knew Bin Laden's 9/11 attack was a disaster for them. He was sure Kadafi would use the assault on the U.S. to hunt them down and woo Washington to his effort.

"Sept. 11 caused a big problem for us," he said. "We rejected Sept. 11. It hurt our group. Kadafi was so happy."

Within two days, the Libyans sent their wives to Pakistan and followed soon after. Mohammed left for Pakistan and then sneaked across the border to Iran. But instead of giving him a warm welcome, the Iranians imprisoned him for 7 1/2 years. At the time, Iranians were suspected of detaining Al Qaeda members for use as bargaining chips with the Americans.

Other leaders were captured by the Americans in Thailand, he said, and then sent to Kadafi's jails in Libya. After his release, he lived quietly in Iran. The humiliation caused his voice to rise. "Don't ask me about this period," he said.

When the Libyan revolt started in February, Mohammed came back almost immediately.

After arriving in Benghazi, the rebels' stronghold, he met with heads of the rebel council and was made the leader of his own fighting brigade. The council issued him an ID badge proclaiming him "a general of the revolutionaries" and head of the Omar Muktar brigade, which he said had 150 members.

Members of Mohammed's group, the LIFG, are scattered throughout the new volunteer army. Its leaders keep a low profile but met shortly after the uprising began to rename themselves the Islamic Movement for Change.

On a recent day, Mohammed sat in an empty villa in Ajdabiya, on a residential street decorated with a pink flower hedge. He had just come back from manning battle positions. Three fighters slept on a couch, cradling their rifles. He fiddled with his phone and wolfed down some boiled chicken and pasta.

He said that, when the fighting is done, he dreamed of returning to his birthplace and being left alone.

"I want to hand in my gun and be with my children," he said. Then he walked to his olive-green pickup, followed by his men.


Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times

21 Apr 11,, 23:49
The War in Libya: Race, "Humanitarianism," and the Media
Posted: 2011/04/21
From: Mathaba Share on TwitterFacebook
The War in Libya: Race, "Humanitarianism," and the Media (http://mathaba.net/news/?x=626505)

Finally, an in-depth analysis of the racist source of the "Libyan uprising"... bear in mind too that these fake Twitter accounts, with commercially produced avatars, are part of a new software for the purpose. Twitter knows very well the accounts are fake. The CIA, white Americans, likely crafted the majority of "tweets".

by Maximilian Forte

Firing for Media Effect: Setting the "African" Agenda

"We left behind our friends from Chad. We left behind their bodies. We had 70 or 80 people from Chad working for our company. They cut them dead with pruning shears and axes, attacking them, saying you're providing troops for Gadhafi. The Sudanese, the Chadians were massacred. We saw it ourselves." (A Turkish oilfield worker who fled Libya, speaking to the BBC and quoted in NPR's "In Libya, African Migrants Say They Face Hostility," 25 February 2011)

"I am a worker, not a fighter. They took me from my house and [raped] my wife," he said, gesturing with his hands. Before he could say much more, a pair of guards told him to shut up and hustled him through the steel doors of a cell block, which quickly slammed behind them. Several reporters protested and the man was eventually brought back out. He spoke in broken, heavily accented English and it was hard to hear and understand him amid the scrum of scribes pushing closer. He said his name was Alfusainey Kambi, and again professed innocence before being confronted by an opposition official, who produced two Gambian passports. One was old and tattered and the other new. And for some reason, the official said the documents were proof positive that Kambi was a Kadafi operative. . . . All I know is that the Geneva Convention explicitly prohibits prisoners of war from being paraded and questioned before cameras of any kind. But that's exactly what happened today. The whole incident just gave me a really bad vibe, and thank God it finally ended . . . . [O]ur interpreter, a Libyan national, asked [LA Times reported David] Zucchino: "So what do you think? Should we just go ahead and kill them?" (Luis Sinco, "Journalists Visit Prisoners Held by Rebels in Libya," Los Angeles Times, 23 March 2011)

To what extent is the revolt in Libya a continuation of earlier race riots against the presence of migrant workers from Sub-Saharan Africa? Where do members of the Gaddafi regime, some of whom were apparently responsible for setting security forces against those migrants, fit in with the current rebel leadership? How does the calculated cultivation of racial fear and racially selective xenophobia tie in with calls for foreign military ("humanitarian") intervention? How might intervening powers be providing cover for another massacre, one that is color-coded and rendered invisible? How do the mass media, social media, and government pronouncements from NATO members feed off each other? When both sides in a war have killed civilians, by what definition of "humanitarianism" do we intercede on one side in an armed conflict?

One of the interesting and very neglected features of the current "humanitarian intervention" in Libya is the extent to which it implicitly buys into racialized nationalist myths produced on the ground in Libya, adopting them without question and thus without concern for context, with little in the way of a critical examination of the media manipulation and calculated spread of racial fear by the leadership of "the rebels." It is not a simple matter of the Libyan opposition showing signs of xenophobia -- if that were true, it would resent the involvement of North Americans and Europeans. Instead, this is a racially selective xenophobia, with a preferential option for Western (i.e., U.S. and European) intervention, and against the presence of "Africans" (code for Sub-Saharan, black Africans). It reminds me of an old racial saying I learned in the Caribbean, truncated here: "If you're white, you're alright . . . and if you're black, go back." The point here is to explore and critique an issue that thus far exists only on the margins of media coverage and human rights discourse around Libya, that being the extent to which racism, and specifically the demonization of Sub-Saharan Africans, provides the unifying logic that bridged local revolt with imperial intervention.

In a situation where we have been told so little, and so many blind spots have been calculatingly put in place, what is apparent?

First, it was right from the intended start of the national protests (that is, Feb. 17 -- although protests in fact began two days earlier) that several opposition spokesmen, anonymous "Libyan" Twitter accounts, and other persons who would become associated with the insurgents' "Transitional National Council" (TNC) produced the paradox of racial/racist hysteria and humanitarian intervention. This was a double-barreled rhetoric: one barrel firing off accusations about foreign/black/African mercenaries engaged in "massacres" against Libyans, and the other barrel firing off demands for immediate Western intervention in the form of a no-fly zone -- the latter to help protect against the former. The two went together -- that is not an adventurous conclusion, as the two came together.

This merits repetition: those Libyans who called for foreign military intervention did so weeks before any supposed "impending massacre" in Benghazi, and did so just as the protests began. In addition, in making those calls, the black specter of African mercenaries was used as a tool to impress urgency on those who would intervene. The no-fly zone may or may not have averted a supposed "massacre" in Benghazi -- and there is good reason to dispute that one was in the works; but what it did not avert is the bloody and often lethal persecution of a whole other group of civilians, that is, African migrant workers targeted because of the color of their skin.

Second, the myth of the African mercenary, as it has been played out, suggests that Gaddafi is totally isolated: it is just him, versus all of the "united" Libyans. Nationalist drama requires a useful myth: "the people united against the dictator." In this case, "Gaddafi is going to kill all the Libyan people" or "the whole of Benghazi" is among the statements that were seized upon by those who would then invoke the "responsibility to protect" (R2P). The sometimes explicitly stated premise is that "no Libyans could do this" (suppress a Libyan revolt with such ferocity). That too is a myth: no dictatorial regime, not even that which you might consider to be the worst in history, has ever lacked a core of support, with supporters often continuing to exist long past the end of the regime itself, sometimes acting to restore it in one form or another. Of course Libyans can "do this," and the only available evidence is that they are. The wider point is that "the nation," in a deeply divided society, is being reinvented around unity, a unity that excludes Gaddafi and "his Africans."

It also bears repeating, and will be substantiated below: no incontrovertible evidence exists that "African mercenaries" have conducted any kind of mass slaughter in Libya, or that they have played any role in the suppression of protests. But evidence does exist of racially-motivated crimes against humanity committed by the insurgents and their supporters against African migrant workers, which thus far have been held beyond the call for investigation and accountability by the "international community." One has to wonder how the results might have been different, had all Libyans been black, and the targeted foreign workers white.

Race Riots in Libya, Pre-2011, a Split in the Regime, and a Preview of the Present Crisis

PLANELOADS of bodies, dead and alive, flew back to West Africa from Tripoli this week. . . . Emeka Nwanko, a 26-year-old Nigerian welder, was one of hundreds of thousands of black victims of the Libyan mob. He fled as gangs trashed his workshop. His friend was blinded, as Libyan gangs wielding machetes roamed the African townships. Bodies were hacked and dumped on motorways. A Chadian diplomat was lynched and Niger's embassy put to the torch. . . . Some of Libya's indigenous 1m black citizens were mistaken for migrants, and dragged from taxis. In parts of Benghazi, blacks were barred from public transport and hospitals. Pitched battles erupted in Zawiya, a town near Tripoli that is ringed with migrant shantytowns. Diplomats said that at least 150 people were killed, 16 of them Libyans. . . . Anti-black violence had been simmering for months, fired by an economic crisis. Colonel Qaddafi heads Africa's richest state in terms of income per person. This year oil will earn him $11 billion. But Libyans, feeding their families on monthly salaries of $170, see the money squandered on foreign adventures, the latest of which is the colonel's pan-Africa policy. As billions flowed out in aid, and visa-less migrants flowed in, Libyans feared they were being turned into a minority in their own land. Church attendance soared in this Muslim state. . . . Black-bashing has become a popular afternoon sport for Libya's unemployed youths. The rumour that a Nigerian had raped a Libyan girl in Zawiya was enough to spark a spree of ethnic cleansing. . . . In their rampage on migrant workers, the Libyan mob spared Arabs, including the 750,000 Egyptians. (The Economist, "Pogrom," 14 October 2000)

"It was not easy, because being a black man [in Libya], you can't live there simply," said George Auther, 26, who returned here in October after spending two years in the predominantly Arab nation as a builder's apprentice. "You can't move around freely. The problem is, the Libyans don't like blacks." (Ann Simmons, "Migrant Workers from Ghana Who Fled Libya Cite Racism," Los Angeles Times, 16 December 2000).

What is lacking in much of what passes for "informed commentary" on Libya is historical depth and context. Everything seems structured to explain the events of the day, without relation to previous days, let alone previous years, and the wider social and economic context. In 2000 violence against migrant workers from sub-Saharan African nations broke out across Libya, after the government ordered a crackdown against illegal immigrants. Violence that scapegoats Africans and blames them for all of the most important local problems is not new in Libya, and there is little justification for treating the post-February 15 violence as some sort of aberration.

As reported in the New African ("Who's Spoiling Gaddafi's Dream?" November 2000, p. 12), Gaddafi addressed then Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings about "hidden hostile hands" behind the attacks on Africans in Libya, in a radio broadcast apologizing for the violence against the migrants. Rawlings himself flew to Libya to personally rescue a few hundred of the thousands of Ghanaians caught up in the violence. Gaddafi fired two of his ministers, including the justice minister. Gaddafi said that internal enemies were trying to thwart his plans for Libya's deeper integration with the African continent. That article claimed that 2.5 million African immigrants lived in Libya and that, of its population of 5.4 million, 1.4 million were Libyan blacks, according to the then deputy information secretary, Boukari Houda.

Suggestive of an early split in the regime, there is evidence of proclamations by Gaddafi, and actions by others, that do not correspond. Gaddafi "attempted to distance himself from the ethnic attacks. He blamed the violence on enemies of African unity determined to scuttle his project to create 'the Union of African States', citing 'hidden hands,' presumably from the West" -- but we need not presume that, as Gaddafi never mentioned the West. We were told that in interviews "those fleeing the ethnic attacks say that they were carried out by gangs of youths with the complicity if not direct involvement of state forces," so that at least one segment of the regime was actively engaged in the violence. Is it the same segment that would later defect from the regime during this year's protests, and join to form the opposition Transitional National Council?

At the time of the race riots, the then Minister of Economy, Trade, and Investment -- one Ali Abd-al-Aziz al-Isawi -- stated about the African presence: "it is a burden"; and then he added this: "They are a burden on health care, they spread disease, crime. They are illegal."

Racial Scapegoating: The Leadership of the "Transitional National Council of Libya" (TNC)

Re-enter Ali Abd-al-Aziz al-Isawi who previously served as Secretary of the General People's Committee of Libya (GPCO) for Economy, Trade, and Investment -- now responsible for "foreign affairs" and "international liaison" as the third-ranked member of the TNC. Now he has been sending the media, in his new role, a similar message that denigrates and scapegoats black Africans:

"They [the mercenaries] are from Africa, and speak French and other languages." He said their presence had prompted some army troops to switch sides to the opposition. "They are Libyans and they cannot see foreigners killing Libyans so they moved beside the people." In a separate interview, Essawi told al-Jazeera: "People say they are black Africans and they don't speak Arabic. They are doing terrible things, going to houses and killing women and children."

Was al-Isawi one of Gaddafi's "hostile hidden hands" in the attacks on migrant workers back in 2000? While Gaddafi denounced the violence in 2000, members of the state's own security forces reportedly took part in some of the attacks. The UN also noted that over the years members of the state security forces have been complicit in attacking African migrants. One would like to know if they did so, spontaneously, on their own initiative, or were ordered to do so from higher ups. We should note that the former Libyan Interior Minister, and a former Minister of Public Security, Abdul Fatah Younis, is now a rebel military commander.

Top officials in the Libyan TNC are thus on the record, both now and when they served in the regime, for producing various accusations against black Africans. For those of us who have studied nationalism, both the instrumental objectification of otherness and the primordialism of racial belonging can be powerful strategies and resources used by ethnic elites in mobilizing supporters. That there may be this deeper agenda of scraping off the stain of "Black Africa" seems convincing; the copy-and-paste manifesto of the rebels' commitment to liberal democracy, not so much.

Racial Fear and Airports:
The Opposition's Calls for Foreign Military Intervention

Racial fear and xenophobia lie at the very crux of the first public emergence of calls for Western intervention, and the first utterance of "no-fly zone." Those in the West who backed the interventionist impulse (for many more reasons of their own) latched onto these calls. The former Libyan deputy ambassador to the United Nations, Ibrahim Dabbashi, alleged that Gaddafi was employing "African mercenaries" to protect the regime. This is how TIME supports his claims: "The nationalities of the soldiers are not known, though some unconfirmed reports indicate some soldiers may be French-speaking. The numbers of soldiers is also unknown, although witnesses in Libya claim to have seen several planes land at different airports across the country and disgorge hundreds of fighters -- an intervention of sufficient size to suggest a foreign government's complicity in their departure for Libya, if not actual support" (emphases added). Right there we see the link between racial fear and airports, and hence the calls for a no-fly zone, which were originally tied to "protecting" Libya from incoming black mercenaries. Only subsequently were justifications for a NFZ widened to include suppression of Gaddafi's air force and targeting his ground forces.

The coupling of fear of African (read "black") mercenaries and the use of airports was affirmed by others in the mainstream Western media. Abdel Bari Zouay told the media:

"We call on the United Nations and all those who have a conscience to help the city Ajdabiya. The regime has sent African forces into the city but we are here waiting in the square of the martyrs. Everyone here is ready to defend the city against the mercenaries. We've discovered that these African mercenaries are going to land at Zouitina airport. I can assure you that everybody here is ready to fight against these traitors and African mercenaries."

While a spokesman for the TNC alleged that a whole army of 3,500 fighters from Chad was responsible for the slaughter of "thousands" of opposition fighters and their withdrawal from frontline cities between Benghazi and Tripoli, actual footage obtained from Al Jazeera, showing government forces moving through one such frontline area, shows absolutely no evidence of this Chadian army or of any apparent mercenaries. As far as I know, TNC spokespersons have remained silent on this.

Issaka Souare, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in Johannesburg, commenting on the allegations that target Sub-Saharan Africans, noted: "There seems to be this idea that if people are supporting Qaddafi, it must be mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa, because it could not be the work of Libyans. It must be these savage Africans."

In response to a recent delegation from the African Union, seeking to pursue a peaceful resolution that would end the violence, we are told this by TIME magazine, reaffirming the role of anti-African sentiment: "Benghazi residents are equally suspicious of the Union, having watched Gaddafi hand over their oil wealth to their poorer neighbors rather than invest it in modernizing their country. 'All these countries are good for is taking our money,' lamented Khalid al-Atti, 28."

Social Media Folklore:
Creating the Legend of "African Mercenaries"

One of the most fertile sites for the international production of myths of savage African mercenaries has been Twitter, among other social network sites, in ways that bring back to mind the manner in which Twitter was used to spread misinformation at the time of the June 2009 Iran election protests. The problem is not that the site is an outlet for creative imaginations, but that some of the mainstream media source Twitter for their reports, in the absence of correspondents on the ground. The Independent's Michael Mumisa observed that "foreign media outlets have had to rely mostly on unverified reports posted on social network websites and on phone calls from Libyans terrified of Gaddafi's 'savage African mercenaries who are going door-to-door raping our women and attacking our children'," and he speaks of "a Twitter user based in Saudi Arabia," who "wrote how Gaddafi is 'ordering african (sic) mercenaries to break into homes in Benghazi to RAPE (sic) Libyan women in order to detract (sic) men protesters!'" The New York Times' David Kirkpatrick, in one of the few sober pieces analyzing the Libyan opposition, noted that "like the chiefs of the Libyan state news media, the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaric behavior."

Twitter is useful, however, not as a source of incontestable information about Gaddafi's atrocities, but as a guide to how the opposition prepared the narrative cover for attacking Sub-Saharan Africans. The mass of passive repeaters (retweeters), comprising diverse individuals and some journalists, helped from early on to inseminate the fear of African terror: "Afro-mercs" landing at the nearest airport and fanning out to murder Libyans. The myth was useful to the opposition, possessing a structure that made it cohere and appeal on a very basic level: 1) all vs. one -- the Libyan people united against the dictator; 2) male vs. female -- African mercenaries specifically targeting Libyan women; and, 3) local vs. foreign -- proud nationals combating savage intruders. Some of the tweeted statements are classics of colonial racial propaganda, especially when they revolve around protecting local Libyan women, a useful trope also in both classic and contemporary imperial narratives linking the status of native women with progress and liberation.

Let's look at some of the tweets that gained early notice, and let's pay attention to the ideas and images that they combine as well as the sheer misinformation, while we also note that some are recycled by journalists, such as Mona El-Tahaway, omnipresent TV pundit of the Arab revolutions and supporter of U.S./NATO air strikes against Libya, and Al Jazeera's Dima Khatib. The dates are also important. (Note, I myself retweeted these so that they would appear in my Twitter feed, where I first began this discussion.) Key elements of the messages appear in bold font:

LibyanThinker URGENT!!! From contact in the Army: So far, 1300African Mercenaries have arrived in #Libya to date. Cant' the World hear our cries??? Sat Feb 19 2011 23:21:00 (Eastern Standard Time) via TweetDeck Retweeted by you and 84 others

monaeltahawy 2 mercenaries caught Bayda. From Chad, claimed 2 b part of Khamees [Qaddafi's son] Military Unit. Said were promised $12,000/ #Libyan killed. Sat Feb 19 2011 20:32:50 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 100+ others

Tripolitanian I URGE THE LIBYAN ARMY TO SIDE WITH THE LIBYAN PEOPLE - don't let these African mercs kill your family! #Libya #Feb17 Sat Feb 19 2011 20:23:04 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 54 others

Dima_Khatib Witness tells AlJazeera.net: a plane full of mercenaries leaves Harare Airport in Zimbabwe headed to #Libya #feb17 Sat Feb 19 2011 20:15:06 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 100+ others [later proved to be entirely false]

LibyanThinker NEW! #Gaddafi has given the African Mercenaries full freedom in raping Libyan women. #Libya Sat Feb 19 2011 19:57:04 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 20 others

LibyanThinker @streamsWL they were attacked earlier by the khmis battalion and Afro-Mercs are still moving around the city. Sat Feb 19 2011 07:46:24 (Eastern Standard Time) via TweetDeck in reply to streamsWL Retweeted by you

LibyanThinker URGENT!!!! African Mercenaries are massacring the people of #Bayda #Libya Sat Feb 19 2011 04:45:01 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 3 others

LibyanThinker RT: A massacre against the civilians is going on in #Libya The international community & UN must intervene to stop the massacre @AJEnglish Fri Feb 18 2011 01:42:14 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 4 others [this message was directed to all readers of #Libya news, and Al Jazeera English, merely three days after the protest had begun, and long before any alleged threat of a final massacre in Benghazi late in March]

LibyanThinker URGENT!!! African Mercenaries danced around and desecrated the bodies of #Benghazi martyrs according to witnesses. #Libya #feb17 Thu Feb 17 2011 20:44:45 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 34 others [a story is made to sound true if one adds "according to witnesses" -- a key ingredient to all folklore is the tool, "some people say" -- adding "urgent" and "confirmed" is meant to impress that this is "a true story"]

LibyanThinker Mercenaries operating in #Libya have been confirmed to be #French speaking Africans from CHAD. #feb17#Tripoli #Benghazi Thu Feb 17 2011 18:53:19 (Eastern Standard Time) via webRetweeted by you and 26 others

[Incidentally, LibyanThinker's Twitter account does not go back further than February 16, meaning that it was created, by an anonymous person -- claiming to be in Canada -- just to produce tweets that spread the opposition's media message.]

AliLePointe 100% CONFIRMED: MERCENARIES IN BADYHAMASSACRING PEOPLE! @AJELive @andersoncooper @CNNBRK@CNN @Cyrenaican #feb17 #libya Sat Feb 19 2011 04:42:41 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 35 others [note the distribution list: all readers of #Libya and #Feb17 news, and CNN and Al Jazeera]

AliLePointe CONFIRMED: QADDAFI'S PAID AFRICAN MERCENARIES ARE IN BENGHAZI ATTEMPTING TO KILL EVERYBODY. #libya #feb17 Fri Feb 18 2011 19:33:30 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 28 others [note what is "confirmed," an outrageous allegation that the total annihilation of Benghazi was in progress, and the sole culprits were Africans]

IbnOmar2005 People of #Libya to #Gaddafi: leave! leave to (subsaharan) Africa since you love them so much! (referring to mercenaries killing libyans) Fri Feb 18 2011 18:54:27 (Eastern Standard Time) via TweetDeck Retweeted by you and 8 others

AliLePointe Mercenaries in #Benghazi #Libya going in homes and attacking women while men are in the streets Spread the word PROTECT OUR WOMEN! #feb17 Fri Feb 18 2011 18:45:22 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 20 others

ShababLibya more messages being received now of mercenaries entering homes in benghazi... intimidating women while men out guarding #Libya #Feb17 Fri Feb 18 2011 18:38:04 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 43 others

ShababLibya again from fellow tweeter: mercenaries are entering homes of libyans while males are out #Libya #Feb17 (as expected city is now lawless) Fri Feb 18 2011 17:48:39 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 50 others

ShababLibya A fellow tweeter contacts his family: benghaziwomen(protests)said to be in trouble, mercenaries still in the city #Libya #Feb17 Fri Feb 18 2011 17:46:26 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 35 others

AliLePointe Contact in Jdabiya: the mercenaries we didnt kick out we killed Dont be scared for us, we did the same in #Benghazi #Libya #feb17 mash'Allah Fri Feb 18 2011 17:13:12 (Eastern Standard Time) via Twitter for iPhone Retweeted by you and 6 others [an interesting admission to the mass slaughter of Africans, but which "we" are intended to celebrate as heroism]

ShababLibya according to @almanaralibya confirmed African Mercenaries in Western Libya also, the world must investigate this immediately #Libya #Feb17 Thu Feb 17 2011 18:07:46 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 20 others

ShababLibya Confirmed, Mercenaries killing protesters across Libya DO NOT speak Libyan, and are from subsaharan Africa speaking french #Libya #Feb17 Thu Feb 17 2011 18:03:32 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 84 others

AlmanaraMedia Latest News - All People Of Bayda have gone out to support the Protesters after they heard foreign mercenaries are in the city Thu Feb 17 2011 14:08:13 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 2 others

AlmanaraMedia URGENT: Gaddafi uses African mercenaries to kill the demonstrators from the sons of the Libyan people Thu Feb 17 2011 13:46:11 (Eastern Standard Time) via web Retweeted by you and 10 others

AliLePointe African mercenaries now in #Benghazi #Libya sources in Libya say they're chasing and killing people with knives and swords. We only fear God Thu Feb 17 2011 10:26:32 (Eastern Standard Time) via Twitter for iPhone Retweeted by you and 43 others

ShababLibya Abdallah: yes there are pro gaddafi protests: but they are not Libyan, they are Africans they are killing everybody #Libya #Feb17 Thu Feb 17 2011 10:24:02 (Eastern Standard Time) via webRetweeted by you and 26 others

AliLePointe @saminauk because in #Libya those who dont speak Arabic are few and far btwn and, in these times, the only one who dont are mercenaries. Sat Feb 19 2011 10:41:03 (Eastern Standard Time) via Twitter for iPhone in reply to saminauk [note the "standard of proof" here: if you do not speak Arabic, you are a mercenary]

Afro-mercs, desecrating bodies, wildly dancing, raping women, breaking into homes, the only supporters of Gaddafi, just landed at a nearby airport, they don't speak Arabic so they are mercs, the international community needs to act -- what a gruesome set of tales have been spun and accepted by most of the mainstream media and used by political leaders in NATO states. To think that calls for "humanitarian intervention" and invocations of the "responsibility to protect" were premised in part on such drivel, it ought to make those people turn red with shame.

But it is not just tweets. We also have those widely reproduced photos such as these: 1) some of the Libyan soldiers have black faces -- assumption: they must be mercenaries, as if there were no black Libyans or naturalized immigrants in the military; 2) a darkened photo taken from a distance -- assumption: it's dark because the soldiers must be dark, hence African, hence mercenaries; 3) a foreign ID document, from the Republic of Guinea -- assumption: citizen of a Sub-Saharan nation, therefore must be a mercenary; 4) another African ID, must also be a merc, except that this one first appeared on Flickr, where we are told it was taken on January 9, 2006, and which one site suggests may have been altered.

Regarding one of the videos made by the opposition to show the capture of a supposed "foreign African mercenary," a black Libyan viewer recognized one of the captives, as a fellow Libyan: "I am very sorry to see these clips. One of the guys in the seen is black Libyan 'not from other African countries' His family lives in EL Mansoura village in Elwadi shatty district. about 200 KM from Borack Ashhati. ( Borack AL Shatty is about 700KM south of Tripoli). I have not got permission to put his name here. Hope his family will see this and they will clarify."

While the New York Times spoke of supposed "African mercenaries" appearing in yellow construction helmets -- not, as far as I know, the internationally recognized uniform for mercenaries, but rather, for construction workers -- it conceded that, yes, many appeared to be foreign workers. Indeed, these "mercenaries" in safety hats appeared in one video to be wielding nothing more than pieces of wood. But, for the UK's Mirror newspaper, that is damning enough: "In bizarre scenes, plain-clothed security men -- wearing bright yellow construction helmets so they could identify each other -- charged demonstrators." The scenes are not what were bizarre here: what is bizarre is the Mirror producing such a ridiculous account -- these Africans needed the yellow helmets to recognize each other. However, some might say, this was all captured on video. Was it?

In this instant classic of cable news media, posted on YouTube, we see some of these "yellow hat" mercenaries at work (except that we also see uniformed security forces, and that did not receive any comment). Why is this video so effective and why was it replayed on the major cable news networks? Because it is highly suggestive and has certain dramatic effects, such as incessant and very shrill screams from the women who move their cell phone cameras around rapidly, creating a sense of extreme chaos and alarm. What are the problems? 1) It is very short: there is no context -- no before, no after, no sense of what led to what we see. What if I said these African workers were trying to defend themselves, and security forces came to their rescue? Note how the video cannot disprove that, just as it cannot prove anything else; 2) Another woman's hand and cell phone often intrude in the view, blocking scenes of the action -- we never got to see her video on YouTube, just the one from the camera she blocked; 3) Where is the massacre? Indeed, where are the protesters here? Did you hear any gunfire? No, but the women screaming . . . that tells you it is something "important" and that you ought to feel their fear, at the mere sight of these Africans, who kill no one in the video. In short, the video is garbage.

We also have video recordings of supposed "mercenaries" put on display (against international humanitarian law), and the only thing showing is their skin color -- see this one for example. In another, we are shown a black man, dead and mutilated, wearing a soldier's uniform, casually handled and put on display for us. This site claims to show a video of "African mercenaries" firing on civilians, and shows nobody doing any firing, just protesters running, and the original video on YouTube makes no reference to mercenaries at all.

Remember we are being shown these, because we are the intended audience, not the Libyans, most of whom find access to the Internet blocked and only 5% of whom use Twitter. And those producing these allegations share both their racial fears with us, but also assume that we will understand them: that we will naturally recoil at the sight of a black man.

He's Got a Yellow Hat! Quick, Kill Him!

More about those yellow hats. In a very unique first-hand report, published by the Los Angeles Times, we are shown this confrontation, involving a Ghanaian construction worker held captive in Benghazi and paraded for the cameras (a violation of the Geneva Convention) -- he was not supposed to talk, but did:

One young man from Ghana bolted from the prisoners queue. He shouted in English at an American reporter: "I'm not a soldier! I work for a construction company in Benghazi! They took me from my house . . ." A guard shoved the prisoner back toward the cells. "Go back inside!" he ordered. The guard turned to the reporter and said: "He lies. He's a mercenary."

A mercenary indeed: he's black, and he probably had a yellow safety hat in his possession.

But mercenaries can be tricky, because they never admit to being mercenaries, which probably means that anyone who denies being a mercenary probably is one:

"These are the people who came to kill us," said Col. Ahmed Omar Bani, a military spokesman for the council, gazing on the detainees with contempt.

Asked whether some of the accused might indeed be foreign construction workers, Bani replied: "We are not in paradise here. Do you think they're going to admit they are mercenaries? We know they are, of course."

The rebels have captive an unspecified number of such men from sub-Saharan Africa, and we do not know what becomes of them. Human Rights Watch has also described "a concerted campaign in which thousands of men have been driven from their homes in eastern Libya and beaten or arrested." Indeed, after research conducted in eastern Libya, Human Rights Watch concluded that there was no evidence of mercenaries. Nonetheless, Kenneth Roth, Executive Director of HRW, has spoken out in support of foreign military intervention.

The Role of Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and Other Mass Media

Amidst the high emotions of the horrifying violence meted out by Gaddafi's loyalists against demonstrators, the desire on the part of social media and social network groups to claim yet another dictator's scalp, and the haste by traditional media to be the first to break a story, the vilification of black Africans in Libya has proliferated unchecked. We can only imagine the impact that this will have on Libya's own black African tribes and other minorities after the dust has settled. Surely we are not ready for another Darfur. (Michael Mumisa, "Is Al-Jazeera TV Complicit in the Latest Vilification of Libya's Blacks?" The Independent, 24 February 2011)

"Unconfirmed" quickly becomes "confirmed"; "according to an eyewitness"; "some people say" -- these are the methods by which "news" about Libya is often made. Yet, as media anthropologist Elizabeth Bird warns, this is what makes news almost analytically indistinguishable from folklore. One of the anonymous "Feb17" websites that has become a steady presence in distributing opposition propaganda first sends an allegation to the mass media, and then when it is repeated by the media the website in turn recirculates what was originally its own allegation, as if it were now "confirmed," simply by virtue of media repetition. One example of this is the allegation of 4,000 African mercenaries arriving in Libya on February 14.

Starting on February 17 itself, Al Jazeera picked up and ran with many of the allegations that "African mercenaries" were at work in "massacring" Libyans. On February 18 Al Jazeera broadcast this report, featuring someone in Benghazi speaking by telephone, who asserted (without any actual evidence provided) that African invaders were killing civilians. In addition, that speaker asked in an impassioned voice: "Where is Obama? Where is the rest of the world?" The marriage between rumor, racial scapegoating, media, and foreign intervention was thus hastily conceived.

It would not be true to say that Al Jazeera has spoken only about "African mercenaries," and completely neglected how opposition forces have targeted African migrants, living and working as unarmed, noncombatant civilians. In one report, we hear Jacky Rowland: "What we are looking at here, is the ugly face of the revolution" -- but as Monthly Review's Yoshie Furuhashi says: "Al Jazeera reports on this 'ugly face' as if the channel had nothing to do with its emergence, chalking it up to 'racism' that 'when law and order break down . . . can rise to the surface'. However, it is none other than Al Jazeera (together with Western corporate media) that, by conveying Libyan rebel testimonies without independently verifying their accuracy, has been spreading the very rumors that it now pretends to deplore." As Furuhashi adds, "if Al Jazeera now sees an ugly face in Libya, it is only looking at the face of a monster for whose birth it served as chief midwife."

On occasion, some interesting facts creep through. Though meant to shore up rebel claims about African "mercenaries," if we understand that many of those "mercenaries" are in fact innocent civilians, it should sound alarm bells to encounter passages such as the following. As quoted by the Guardian, Amer Saad, a political activist from Derna, told Al Jazeera:

The protesters in al-Bayda have been able to seize control of the military airbase in the city and have executed 50 African mercenaries and two Libyan conspirators. Even in Derna today, a number of conspirators were executed. They were locked up in the holding cells of a police station because they resisted, and some died burning inside the building.

In the same article, dealing with Gaddafi's supposed genocide, in contrast to the 50 Africans massacred by the opposition, we are told that Human Rights Watch estimated a grand total of 24 protesters killed in the first three days of the protests.

For the most part, however, we see Al Jazeera at work circulating rumor as if it were fact, as in its Libya Live Blog for February 17. Here are some sample entries dealing with "African mercenaries" coupled again with very early calls for U.S. intervention:

12:01am: Online reports say Darnah city now under attack from "mercenaries".

10:25pm: More on the resignation of the two diplomats from the embassy in Washington DC. Counsels Saleh Ali Al Majbari and Jumaa Faris denounced Gaddafi, saying he "bears responsibility for genocide against the Libyan people in which he has used mercenaries".

They said they had nothing to do with the events and they no longer represent Gaddafi's regime -- but that they represent the Libyan people. The pair also called on Barack Obama to "work urgently with the international community to press for an immediate cessation of the massacres of the Libyan people", and they are asking the United Nations to impose a no-fly zone imposed on Libya to prevent the arrival of mercenaries to Libya.

9:46pm: Confirmed -- Ali al-Essawi, ambassador to India, has resigned. He has accused the government of deploying foreign mercenaries against Libyan citizens. We're hoping to get him live on Al Jazeera English. You can watch our TV feed by clicking here.

10:00 pm: As fresh violence grips Libya -- there are claims that some of those cracking down on anti-government demonstrators are foreign mercenaries.

Like Qatar's Al Jazeera, Saudi Arabia's Al Arabiya has produced much the same. In a report posted on February 19, "Gaddafi Recruits 'African Mercenaries' to Quell Protests," it states in a matter-of-fact manner:

Libya recruited hundreds of mercenaries from Sub-Saharan Africa . . . [a] witness told Al Arabiya from the eastern city of Benghazi on Sunday. The witnesses said protesters in Benghazi caught some "African mercenaries" who spoke French and who admitted that they were ordered by Muammar Gaddafi's son, Khamis Gaddafi, to fire live ammunition at demonstrators. The witnesses, who refused to be named for security reasons, added that they saw four airplanes carrying "African mercenaries" land in Benina International Airport near the city of Benghazi, the second largest city in the country.

The report then quotes, not a source on the ground, but "UK-based Libyan website || Jeel Media - ??? || (http://www.jeel-libya.net) (Libya's generation)" and says that it "reported" that "a number of airplanes carrying 'African mercenaries' had landed in Mitiga military airport, 11 km east of the capital Tripoli, and they were dressed in Libyan army uniform."

Airports, blacks, mercenaries -- repeated over and over again, just as the very first calls for a no-fly zone were made.

TIME magazine, for its part, breathlessly recited almost all of the allegations stemming from racial hysteria in one swift paragraph, whose primary source is "YouTube and other websites." Wildest of them all, The Telegraph "reported" scores of civilians jumping from bridges in Benghazi, fleeing "battle-hardened mercenaries" and quoted local officials regarding "tanks full of mercenaries" firing heavy weapons at protesters. UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, picking up on the story, dutifully denounces the reported violence as "horrifying." Mission accomplished. Even when expressing some doubts about unconfirmed speculation, the Guardian did its own heavy lifting in circulating the rumors and accusations, by dressing them with expert opinion that is merely suggestive of the possibility of "African mercenaries" being used to quell protests.

Humanitarian Disaster: Averted or Cloaked?

Hein de Haas asks, "Who cares about African migrants in Libya? . . . [W]hy is nobody concerned about the plight of sub-Saharan African migrants in Libya?" Is it accurate to say that nobody cares, or is it that only we nobodies care? He says that "there is a huge danger that there will soon be a day of reckoning for African migrants, and the arbitrary violence has possibly started already." In fact, apart from exceptions in the Western media such as the Los Angeles Times, one has to go to African news sites to get a different perspective, not necessarily a more reliable one, but certainly one that should compel us to ask some basic questions. An Ethiopian news site states that most Ethiopians living in eastern Libya, the insurgent stronghold, are "hiding in their houses because it is dangerous for blacks to come out because they are considered by most Libyans as mercenaries" and speaks of those "dragged from their apartments beaten up and showed to the world as mercenaries. We also heard many Ethiopians killed by angry mob in Benghazi." An article in the Somaliland Press tells us that, "in areas where forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi has been forced out, many angry mobs are targeting black Africans after reports that the government was using 'African mercenaries' to repress the revolt was transmitted by Western media." In that same report, the chief spokesperson for the UN High Commission for Refugees reveals: "One journalist passed information to us from Somalis in Tripoli who said they were being hunted on suspicion of being mercenaries." The UNHCR's only concern here was that people seeking to leave Libya should not face any obstacles in doing so. Only recently has it produced a mild statement of concern for the fate of migrant workers in Libya, from sub-Saharan African nations, without any calls for active intervention.

Saad Jabbar (Deputy Director, North Africa Center at Cambridge University) told NPR: "I tell you, these people, because of their skin, they will be slaughtered in Libya," fearing that what will come is "a genocide against anyone who has black skin and who doesn't speak perfect Arabic." Other experts interviewed have also suggested that "a violent backlash by anti-Gaddafi forces in Libya who link black skin with the regime could lead to a massive genocide once the long-time leader is ousted."

Heightening alarm among those not simply content to follow along with the mainstream reporting are events such as these: on both February 18 in Al Bayda, and February 23 in Darna, mobs attacked and lynched "darker-skinned" soldiers, and Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, spoke of public mass executions by the opposition. In fact, "darker-skinned" soldiers, taken captive, are treated very differently from their "lighter-skinned" counterparts, according to local doctors, speaking of reprisal killings that began as early February 17, at the start of the protests.

The government of Chad has publicly complained that dozens of Chadians in rebel-controlled areas had been accused of being mercenaries and executed. In an official statement, the Chadian government said it "is calling on international coalition forces involved in Libya and international human rights organization to stop these abuses against Chadians and other migrant Africa workers." Whether Western "humanitarian interventionists" ever hear such pleas is very doubtful, or if they do, they have developed "defense" mechanisms for blocking out information that is inconsistent with their preconceptions, which in some cases attest to an unspoken racial bias. When Hillary Clinton, and others in the U.S. government, speak of "private security contractors," they mean what the rest of us call mercenaries. They tend to be white and American. When Clinton finally uses the word "mercenaries" she is, consciously or not, speaking in racial code: she means black Africans.

"The Liberal Democratic Ideal" of R2P?

The liberal democratic ideal of R2P can be so easily raped by cynical manipulations that it has become pregnant with irony after irony, resulting in miscarriage. This is the Libyan war's biggest ideological victim. It will be impossible for R2P advocates, who labored to produce stories of "genocide" in Libya, while turning a blind eye to reports of atrocities against civilians from Sub-Saharan Africa, to ever again invoke their doctrine without facing even greater hostility from those who will learn the lessons of the current debacle. As 24 "human rights groups" jointly invoked R2P and called for foreign intervention, not one of them mentioned, even once, the plight of African migrant workers targeted and killed by the Libyan opposition. Even if one rejects every single other argument made against "humanitarian intervention" in Libya, this fact alone, this racial blindness that effectively places Africans beyond the scope of "human rights," is a damning enough indictment by itself.

We have been repeatedly instructed that the opposition leadership consists of "academics, lawyers, businessmen, professionals" and because of this list of members of an elite class it seems that the assumption is that "we" not only actually know something about what these people stand for, but because merely of their membership in a professional club "we" should sympathize with them. Yet, it is also a way of getting us to think white -- these are not "rag tag" black migrants and mercenaries, these are the respectable people, the forces of progress, deserving of human rights . . . as much as they deny them to others, as much as we ignore these others except as bearers of evil.

22 Apr 11,, 00:07
Link has videos of freedom fighters acting like extras in an AQ video...

Obama’s New Friends the Libyan Rebels Killing Black African Captives: Hope and Change?
Obama’s New Friends the Libyan Rebels Killing Black African Captives: Hope and Change? | FavStocks (http://www.favstocks.com/obamas-new-friends-the-libyan-rebels-killing-black-african-captives-hope-and-change/2148034/)
By Bungalow Bill on 04/21/2011 – 4:31 am PDT -- Politics

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Isn’t it ironic that the first black POTUS seems content with supporting the Libyan rebels with ties to Al Qaeda who are now viciously killing black captives in Libya? It’s true.

Libyan rebels who Obama supports to overthrow Qaddafi are engaged in beheading and lynching blacks as they yell “Allahu Akbar!”

Pajamas Media reports:

What is probably the most harrowing of the clips depicts a public beheading. A man with a long knife can be seen alternately sawing and hacking at the neck of a man who has been suspended upside-down. The victim’s inert body is soaked in blood. The beheading takes place in front of a burnt-out building in what appears to be a public square. The Dutch public broadcaster NOS has identified the location as the main square of the rebel capital of Benghazi.

A crowd numbering at least in the hundreds cheers on the assailants. At one point, a man begins chanting “Libya Hurra!”: “Free Libya!” According to the NOS translation, someone can be heard saying, “He looks like an African.” As the principal assailant begins to saw at the victim’s neck, members of the crowd yell “Allahu Akbar!” Dozens of members of the crowd can be seen filming the proceedings with digital cameras or cell phones.

22 Apr 11,, 17:14
Libyan Rebels Terrorize Black Africans
Posted by Stephen Brown on Apr 22nd, 2011 and filed under Daily Mailer, FrontPage. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
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One of the least known aspects of the current Libyan conflict is its brutal, racial component. Media reports claim Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is using black African mercenaries in his war against the rebels. In retaliation, the insurgents have targeted in violent attacks African immigrant workers living in Libya, from whom, the rebels believe, Gaddafi is recruiting his mercenaries. Before the uprising began, an estimated 1.5 million Africans resided in Libya, many as low-paid labourers, but the violence has caused a large number to flee the country or to go into hiding.

Beatings, kidnappings, robbery and even executions are among the crimes the rebels are accused of committing against immigrant Africans and suspected black mercenaries. Videos have emerged showing the rebels’ irrational and inhuman cruelty towards Africans. One is of a beheading in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold, of a blood-covered man “suspended upside-down.” Hundreds of onlookers are cheering and filming the savagery to shouts of “Allahu Akbar.” One is heard commenting on the victim’s African looks. Another video shows an alleged African mercenary being mercilessly beaten.

“Thousands of Africans have come under attack and lost their homes and possessions during the recent fighting,” a human rights official told the Los Angeles Times. “A lot of Africans have been caught up in this mercenary hysteria.”

But another, more sinister motive lurks behind the current rebel “African hunt” than just Gaddafi’s disturbing use of African mercenaries to put down the rebellion. The ferocious animosity Libyan rebels are showing toward black Africans is actually rooted in a deeply embedded, centuries-old Arab racism the war has inflamed.

This racism has its roots in the institution of Islamic slavery. From the seventh century to the twentieth, it is estimated 14 million black Africans were violently enslaved and transported under harsh conditions to countries around the Islamic world. Due to the blackness of the slave’s skin combined with his menial work and chattel status, Africans became synonymous in Arab eyes with inferiority and even something less than human. And since the Islamic world experienced no abolition movement, let alone a civil war like America’s, that attempted to establish the black slave’s humanity, he continued to remain sub-human in the Arab world view — as Africans today often point out.

One of these Africans is Dutch-Somali writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali. In her highly acclaimed book, Infidel, Ali experienced the Arabs’ persistent and dehumanizing racist attitude toward black Africans and its Islamic slavery base when attending school in Saudi Arabia. Her Egyptian teacher, Ali recounts, would always hit her, the only African child in the class, with a ruler, calling her “aswad abda,” black slave-girl. Ali writes: “To be a foreigner (in Saudi Arabia), and moreover a black foreigner, meant, you were scarcely human, unprotected: fair game.”

Even the word Arabs use today for black Africans, both Muslim and non-Muslim, is ‘abeed’, or slave. Besides serving as an Arab insult for Africans, this derogatory term reflects the thinking on the part of some Arabs that blacks are still fit only for slavery.

The treatment of Africans in other Arab countries besides Saudi Arabia almost corresponds to that of an “abeed.” African columnist Naiwu Osahon writes: “In Algeria, Arabs throw stones at black people, including diplomats, in market places.”

“In Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Eritrea, Mauritania and the rest of the Arab world, Africans are treated like scum,” Osahon continues. “…Blacks in those countries cannot aspire to positions of respect or authority. There are hardly any Africans in high government positions in Arab governed countries…It is simply a way of life that’s all. Blacks do not really exist or at best are not human.”

But Arab racism today takes its strongest and cruelest form towards Africans in the form of the slave trade. In Mauritania, for example, slavery has been abolished about six times, but everything stays the same. An estimated 500,000 Africans still remain the property of Arab masters. Sudan also saw several hundred thousand black Africans enslaved in southern Sudan by northern Arabs during the jihad that lasted from 1989 until President Bush negotiated a peace agreement in 2005.

One of these “abeed,” Francis Bok, was captured as a seven-year-old boy in a slave raid. Bok served a brutal Arab master for ten years before escaping and eventually making his way to freedom in the United States.

“They (the Arabs) attacked villages of the south with the kind of ferocity and cruelty that only religion can inspire, enslaving and killing people like me and my family as if we were not human,” Bok wrote in his memoir, Escape From Slavery.

Yemen and Mali also have slave trades. In northern Mali, the Berber-descended Touareg tribe has black slaves it has inherited “from one generation to the next.” In Yemen’s interior, tribes there also possess African slaves. Again, some are descendants of “abeed” bought generations ago, while others are recent arrivals. In Mali, the government has signed international agreements on slavery but with little obvious effect.

And this abomination of Islamic slavery, upon which Arab racism rests, will be difficult to eradicate. It is an ingrained, centuries-old institution that is also legal under sharia law and, according to historian Bernard Lewis, “elaborately regulated.” The case of Cairo University professor Dr. Abu Zayd, an Islamic theologian, indicates the dangers and complications of challenging sharia law’s slavery provisions. When Zayd contended that “keeping slave girls and taxing non-Muslims” was contrary to Islam, he was declared an apostate and a sharia court forcibly divorced him from his wife. He later fled to Europe to escape Islamic extremists who now wanted to kill him because of his apostate status.

The current “mercenary hysteria” does not represent the first outburst of Arab racism resulting in the deaths of Africans in Libya. In 2000, blamed by officials for the high crime rate, dozens of Africans “were targeted during street killings.” In response to the killings, the Libyan government was censured by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination over “Libya’s practices of racial discrimination against dark-skinned migrants and refugees.”

Although he is using black Africans to stay in power, Gaddafi has himself treated Africans appallingly in the past. At one time, he had 200 Nigerians on death row in his prisons. When he was chairman of the African Union, Gadaffi was also accused of the extra-judicial executions of 40 other Nigerians. The victims apparently were not tried in a proper court and were subjected to torture. In Benghazi, the rebels’ home base, guards in a Libyan prison were accused in 2009 of opening fire on Somali prisoners, killing 20.

The latest horrific persecution of black Africans in Libya will most likely cause a loss of sympathy for the rebels in sub-Saharan Africa despite the African Union’s silence. There is already a dislike among Africans for Arabs due to Islamic slavery’s cruel past and present-day Arab racism. An irony is the black mercenaries the rebels are persecuting may not even be foreigners but rather dark-skinned Libyans from southern Libya. But that probably wouldn’t make any difference, since the kind of savagery the rebels are visiting on black Africans is not based on politics but rather on an irrational and bestial racist hatred for a category people that have been dehumanized.

Even worse for the rebels, present and past Libyan racism may cause some Africans still in Libya to heed Gaddafi’s hiring call for mercenaries, if they haven’t already, and pick up a gun both for both personal gain and revenge. Beaten, robbed and humiliated, their hatred for the Arab Libyan would make them just the kind of people Gaddafi wants to deal with the rebels. They will need no urging to return cruelty for cruelty.

22 Apr 11,, 19:30
What we have here is another proof that we should let people sort their own war.The remarcable thing is not the attack on blacks,but the fact that it's mentioned in a moment and a context when the ground intervention is considered.The attacks per se were observed since the very beginning of the conflict but were conveniently swept under the rug.
The modern slavery thing is not practiced only by the arabs,but also by blacks themselves.Also in Sudan quite a few of the slavers are arabized black tribes.
So,anyone intends to save the blacks slaves?Btw,please use your own time,money and blood.IMO we've got to deal with slavery practiced by the organized crime in Europe itself before,before launching crusades,I mean liberation campaigns.

25 Apr 11,, 23:05
The Root: Lessons From Gadhafi's Last Defeat
The Root: Lessons From Gadhafi's Last Defeat : NPR (http://www.npr.org/2011/04/25/135703254/the-root-lessons-from-gadhafis-last-defeat)
by Greg Beals
A Libyan rebel flashes the V-sign for victory at the western gate of Ajdabiya, on April 19, 2011. On Monday NATO airstrikes targeted Moammar Gadhafi's Bab al-Azizya compound.
Enlarge Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images

A Libyan rebel flashes the V-sign for victory at the western gate of Ajdabiya, on April 19, 2011. On Monday NATO airstrikes targeted Moammar Gadhafi's Bab al-Azizya compound.
A Libyan rebel flashes the V-sign for victory at the western gate of Ajdabiya, on April 19, 2011. On Monday NATO airstrikes targeted Moammar Gadhafi's Bab al-Azizya compound.
Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images

A Libyan rebel flashes the V-sign for victory at the western gate of Ajdabiya, on April 19, 2011. On Monday NATO airstrikes targeted Moammar Gadhafi's Bab al-Azizya compound.
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April 25, 2011

Greg Beals, a frequent contributor to The Root, is the founder of Arabica News Intelligence, a site devoted to better understanding of Middle East developments.

The spirited assortment of mostly inexperienced fighters who make up the Libyan resistance have a lot to learn before they can defeat the regime in Tripoli. Even with all the Western training they're getting, they've yet to become anywhere near a credible fighting force. What they could use are a few lessons from their African neighbors. They can start by examining the last war that Gadhafi lost.

During the 1987 Chad-Libya "Toyota War," the Chadians essentially demolished the Libyan army and didn't need a no-fly zone to do it. The conflict represents a useful model not only for how to win on the battlefield but also for what kind of learning curve the rebels should expect, the importance of political alliances and, most of all, patience. Throughout 1987, Chadian President Hissene Habre's troops used speed, their understanding of the local terrain and their new French MILAN anti-tank missiles to destroy Gadhafi's armored columns.

The war effectively ended in September of the same year, when 2,000 Chadian troops sprinted into southern Libya aboard four-wheel-drive Toyota pickups mounted with machine guns and took the Libyan air base of Maaten al-Sarra completely by surprise. Nearly 2,000 of Gadhafi's soldiers were killed, and 26 aircraft and 70 tanks were destroyed.

Libya was so demoralized by the Maaten al-Sarra defeat that the French had to arrange a ceasefire between the two forces in order to prevent the Chadians from taking even more territory. The battle signaled a shift in which a lightly armed mobile force with one or two high-tech weapons could attack and destroy a much more heavily armed modern adversary.

Col. Khalifa Haftar, the so-called commander in chief of the Benghazi rebel forces — the rebels manage to bicker constantly about who actually makes up their military leadership — should know these lessons well. Haftar was in charge of Libya's failed expeditionary army during the Chad conflict and was taken captive and held for seven months.

One would think that such an experience in failure would be embedded forever in his memory. But so far the rebels aren't doing much of anything other than ask for increasing doses of Western military intervention. Meanwhile, they've lost the most precious assets they have: the perception that they are a cohesive political and military force and that their victory is inevitable. Coalition talk about a quick Gadhafi fall has evaporated into wishful thinking.

The rebels should be mimicking the behavior of their African compatriots of an earlier generation. Instead they have managed to take territory only when following in the backwash of NATO-led airstrikes. Beyond that, their forces — one cannot truly call them an army — have been seen doing little more than drive up and down a highway, losing virtually every confrontation with Gadhafi's men when not supported by NATO. By contrast, Gadhafi's men have adapted. Like the Chadians in the 1980s, they have discarded their tanks for Toyotas and have used superior tactical and technical skills to rout their adversaries.

The rebels complain that they lack high-tech weapons. This isn't exactly true. Their warehouses are packed to the brim with North Korean rocket launchers, wire-guided anti-tank weapons and even shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles. They'll soon get more arms from Qatar and other coalition members. And if by some stroke of luck they manage to win and hold on to any territory at all, they will have the ability to sell oil, which will enable them to buy even more weapons.

Many of the weapons in their poorly guarded stockpiles are more technologically advanced than the French-made weapons that Habre's forces used to beat Gadhafi's armor. But for the most part, these arms represent more of a liability than an asset. Sophisticated weapons fired in the wrong direction get your forces killed. Rebels have managed to shoot down their own aircraft and have been killed after firing on coalition warplanes.

More important, in the wrong hands, shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles (the rebels have no need for them) are capable of downing a civilian jetliner. The very existence of such weapons tends to attract the wrong kinds of people. And already, from Mali to Chad to Algeria, there are reports of increased al-Qaida activity and attempted sales of these deadly arms.

Photos of rebel storage areas indicate that many of the weapons are simply lying around. The British, French and Italian special forces that are arriving with greater frequency in Benghazi should be welcomed by the international community, if only to ensure that deadly assets in the rebel-held stockpiles do not fall into the wrong hands.

The longer the rebels bicker over their leadership, and the longer they suffer defeat after defeat, the more likely hardened terrorist organizations will be to enter their ranks. Surface-to-air missiles are a precious commodity for al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, and it will only be a matter of time before they attempt to get these arms into their hands. "This kind of conflict is the fuel of international terrorism," Micah Zenko, a political military analyst with the Council on Foreign Relations, told The Root. "The notion that this war will go on without the eventual involvement of international terrorism is a fallacy."

The problem is that only recently have the rebels and the coalition that effectively backs them realized how desperately the rebels need to learn rudimentary lessons about warfare. "The rebels will need basic training," one veteran trainer from the Libyan conflict told The Root. "They'll need to learn tactics and how to work as a unit. It's at minimum a one-year effort." While the West would like to see a quick victory by the rebels, it is desperately unrealistic to think that this is even remotely possible.

Without direct intervention from an outside power, it's more realistic to think of rebel victory coming in the next five years. The transition from a protest movement to a genuine military takes time; the Chad conflict ended after nearly 14 years of violence. Chadian fighters received extensive training from the French, and satellite intelligence from the U.S. Even then, their soldiers fought for years before developing the requisite toughness on the battlefield.

Habre also knew the value of creating the political coalitions necessary to defeat Gadhafi. By the time the Toyota war drew to a close, Libyan troops were demoralized and isolated in their desert outposts in northern Chad. By contrast, the rebels appear to have lost political support despite the fact that the largest tribes in Libya would like to see Gadhafi gone.

Two of those tribes, the Warfallah and Tarhuna, which initially supported the protests against Gadhafi, have yet to come out to provide material support to the Benghazi-based rebels. "I don't think the Gadhafi tribe will change," said Libyan historian and rebel supporter Faraj Najem. "But we need to do more diplomacy to get the other tribes to support the rebels." Perhaps the rebels could ask some Chadian political and military advisers to get them started.