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The Libyan Opposition

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  • #46
    Originally posted by gunnut View Post
    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).


    • #47
      Originally posted by kato View Post
      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.
      "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.


      • #48
        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

        * Chris McGreal in Benghazi
        *, 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.
        To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


        • #49

          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.

          SHASHANK BENGALI: My pleasure.

          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.
          To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


          • #50
            Hister has arrived on the international scene! Nostradamus was right! We are all dooooomed! ;)


            • #51

              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.
              There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that "My ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."- Isaac Asimov


              • #52
                Originally posted by astralis View Post

                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.
                "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.


                • #53
                  April 10, 2011, 6:51 pm
                  Libyan Rebels Take Risks With Makeshift Arms
                  By C.J. CHIVERS
                  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.
                  To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                  • #54
                    Originally posted by gunnut View Post
                    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.

                    Originally posted by gunnut View Post
                    Better turn WMD into piles of cash rather than risk an invasion by the Americans.


                    • #55
                      Libya revolt: Libya rebel's story shows links to Taliban, Al Qaeda, NATO -

                      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
                      Last edited by troung; 17 Apr 11,, 18:51.
                      To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                      • #56
                        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

                        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 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 - ??? || (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.
                        To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                        • #57
                          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
                          By Bungalow Bill on 04/21/2011 – 4:31 am PDT -- Politics

                          ShareThisNew 0 0Reddit0Email0

                          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.
                          To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                          • #58
                            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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                            # A A A

                            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.
                            To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway


                            • #59
                              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.
                              Those who know don't speak
                              He said to them, "But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Luke 22:36


                              • #60
                                The Root: Lessons From Gadhafi's Last Defeat
                                The Root: Lessons From Gadhafi's Last Defeat : NPR
                                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.
                                text size A A A
                                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.
                                To sit down with these men and deal with them as the representatives of an enlightened and civilized people is to deride ones own dignity and to invite the disaster of their treachery - General Matthew Ridgway