America's secret plan to arm Libya's rebels
Obama asks Saudis to airlift weapons into Benghazi
By Robert Fisk, General Joe, and friends
Monday, 7 March 2011
Desperate to avoid US military involvement in Libya in the event of a prolonged struggle between the Gaddafi regime and its opponents, the Americans have asked Saudi Arabia if it can supply weapons to the rebels in Benghazi. The Saudi Kingdom, already facing a "day of rage" from its 10 per cent Shia Muslim community on Friday, with a ban on all demonstrations, has so far failed to respond to Washington's highly classified request, although King Abdullah personally loathes the Libyan leader, who tried to assassinate him just over a year ago.
Washington's request is in line with other US military co-operation with the Saudis. The royal family in Jeddah, which was deeply involved in the Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, gave immediate support to American efforts to arm guerrillas fighting the Soviet army in Afghanistan in 1980 and later – to America's chagrin – also funded and armed the Taliban.
But the Saudis remain the only US Arab ally strategically placed and capable of furnishing weapons to the guerrillas of Libya. Their assistance would allow Washington to disclaim any military involvement in the supply chain – even though the arms would be American and paid for by the Saudis.
The Saudis have been told that opponents of Gaddafi need anti-tank rockets and mortars as a first priority to hold off attacks by Gaddafi's armour, and ground-to-air missiles to shoot down his fighter-bombers.
Supplies could reach Benghazi within 48 hours but they would need to be delivered to air bases in Libya or to Benghazi airport. If the guerrillas can then go on to the offensive and assault Gaddafi's strongholds in western Libya, the political pressure on America and Nato – not least from Republican members of Congress – to establish a no-fly zone would be reduced.
US military planners have already made it clear that a zone of this kind would necessitate US air attacks on Libya's functioning, if seriously depleted, anti-aircraft missile bases, thus bringing Washington directly into the war on the side of Gaddafi's opponents.
For several days now, US Awacs surveillance aircraft have been flying around Libya, making constant contact with Malta air traffic control and requesting details of Libyan flight patterns, including journeys made in the past 48 hours by Gaddafi's private jet which flew to Jordan and back to Libya just before the weekend.
Officially, Nato will only describe the presence of American Awacs planes as part of its post-9/11 Operation Active Endeavour, which has broad reach to undertake aerial counter-terrorism measures in the Middle East region.
The data from the Awacs is streamed to all Nato countries under the mission's existing mandate. Now that Gaddafi has been reinstated as a super-terrorist in the West's lexicon, however, the Nato mission can easily be used to search for targets of opportunity in Libya if active military operations are undertaken.
Al Jazeera English television channel last night broadcast recordings made by American aircraft to Maltese air traffic control, requesting information about Libyan flights, especially that of Gaddafi's jet.
An American Awacs aircraft, tail number LX-N90442 could be heard contacting the Malta control tower on Saturday for information about a Libyan Dassault-Falcon 900 jet 5A-DCN on its way from Amman to Mitiga, Gaddafi's own VIP airport.
Nato Awacs 07 is heard to say: "Do you have information on an aircraft with the Squawk 2017 position about 85 miles east of our sic?"
Malta air traffic control replies: "Seven, that sounds to be Falcon 900- at flight level 340, with a destination Mitiga, according to flight plan."
But Saudi Arabia is already facing dangers from a co-ordinated day of protest by its own Shia Muslim citizens who, emboldened by the Shia uprising in the neighbouring island of Bahrain, have called for street protests against the ruling family of al-Saud on Friday.
After pouring troops and security police into the province of Qatif last week, the Saudis announced a nationwide ban on all public demonstrations.
Shia organisers claim that up to 20,000 protesters plan to demonstrate with women in the front rows to prevent the Saudi army from opening fire.
If the Saudi government accedes to America's request to send guns and missiles to Libyan rebels, however, it would be almost impossible for President Barack Obama to condemn the kingdom for any violence against the Shias of the north-east provinces.
Thus has the Arab awakening, the demand for democracy in North Africa, the Shia revolt and the rising against Gaddafi become entangled in the space of just a few hours with US military priorities in the region.
Taking the Cake: The Creeping Militarization of the Libyan Crisis and 3 more important notes on the Mideast
Written by Chris Floyd
Thursday, 03 March 2011 23:40
The howling hypocrisy of the American response to the uprising in Libya has been so jaw-dropping and nauseating that I've hardly been able to address it. Fortunately, Seamus Milne is on the case, and voices much of my thinking about the matter:
The same western leaders who happily armed and did business with the Gaddafi regime until a fortnight ago have now slapped sanctions on the discarded autocrat and blithely referred him to the international criminal court the United States won't recognise.
Yes, does this not, as they say, take the cake ... and the plate and the forks and the napkins too? The United States pushing through a measure to refer Libyan leaders to an international court which the United States resolutely refuses to recognize — lest its own leaders and their underlings find themselves in the dock for the most monstrous war crimes of this century? Yet even today, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate was sternly wagging his finger at Gaddafi and his underlings, telling them they "will be held accountable" for their actions before the august institutions of international justice, which weigh the whole world in the balance ... except for the Peace prize-winning drone assassin and Continuer-in-Chief of a worldwide campaign of state terror, that is. But now back to Milne:
With Colonel Gaddafi and his loyalists showing every sign of digging in, the likelihood must be of intensified conflict – with all the heightened pretexts that would offer for outside interference, from humanitarian crises to threats to oil supplies.
But any such intervention would risk disaster and be a knife at the heart of the revolutionary process now sweeping the Arab world. Military action is needed, US and British politicians claim, because Gaddafi is "killing his own people". Hundreds have certainly died, but that's hard to take seriously as the principal motivation.
When more than 300 people were killed by Hosni Mubarak's security forces in a couple of weeks, Washington initially called for "restraint on both sides". In Iraq, 50,000 US occupation troops protect a government which last Friday killed 29 peaceful demonstrators demanding reform. In Bahrain, home of the US fifth fleet, the regime has been shooting and gassing protesters with British-supplied equipment for weeks.
The "responsibility to protect" invoked by those demanding intervention in Libya is applied so selectively that the word hypocrisy doesn't do it justice. And the idea that states which are themselves responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands in illegal wars, occupations and interventions in the last decade, along with mass imprisonment without trial, torture and kidnapping, should be authorised by international institutions to prevent killings in other countries is simply preposterous.
One key point Milne makes here deserves underlining: Western military intervention would be "a knife at the heart of the revolutionary process now sweeping the Arab world." But of course, that's exactly what Peace prizeniks and Etonian schoolboys now leading the "Free World" would like to see happen. As Milne notes, the Arab Awakening is threatening some of the West's favorite dictators and tough guys, from the religious extremists in Saudi Arabia to the ever-complaisant corruptocrats in Bahrain to the client brutalists in Iraq and elsewhere.The dullards directing world affairs have been desperately casting about for a way to put the kibosh on the movement - and Libya might give them the opening they've been fumbling for. Milne again:
The reality is that the western powers which have backed authoritarian kleptocrats across the Middle East for decades now face a loss of power in the most strategically sensitive region of the world as a result of the Arab uprisings and the prospect of representative governments. They are evidently determined to appropriate the revolutionary process wherever possible, limiting it to cosmetic change that allows continued control of the region.
In Libya, the disintegration of the regime offers a crucial opening. Even more important, unlike Tunisia and Egypt, it has the strategic prize of the largest oil reserves in Africa. Of course the Gaddafi regime has moved a long way from the days when it took over the country's oil, kicked out foreign bases and funded the African National Congress at a time when the US and Britain branded Nelson Mandela a terrorist.
Along with repression, corruption and a failure to deliver to ordinary Libyans, the regime has long since bent the knee to western power, as Tony Blair and his friends were so keen to celebrate, ditching old allies and nuclear ambitions while offering privatised pickings and contracts to western banks, arms and oil corporations such as BP.
Now the prospect of the regime's fall offers the chance for much closer involvement – western intelligence has had its fingers in parts of the Libyan opposition for years – when other states seem in danger of spinning out of the imperial orbit. ... Military intervention wouldn't just be a threat to Libya and its people, but to the ownership of what has been until now an entirely organic, homegrown democratic movement across the region.
Again, that would be — will be? — the very point of any type of Western military intervention in Libya: to kill a popular, democratic movement that is at present beyond the control of the imperial militarists along the Potomac. Such an intervention would allow Gaddafi and other tyrants under threat to paint opponents to their rule as "tools of the imperialists," while rallying many who oppose them back to their side, to defend the nation against outsiders. This in turn would help "stabilize" the revolutionary situations — and the leaders, now safe once more, could then turn back to their cynical backroom deals with the West, and hoarding the blood and toil of their people in the cool vaults of Swiss banks. Hey, it's a win-win situation all around.
Events are in free, chaotic flow right now. The Libyan opposition might be able to oust Gaddafi before President Peacey and Prime Minister Fauntleroy go in with guns blazing. And events elsewhere might suddenly erupt and draw off attention and resources. But we are certainly seeing a creeping militarization in the response to the Libyan uprising — and behind the exigencies of this crisis, there is the deeper shadow that Milne discerns: the longer-range project to diffuse and destroy the Arab Awakening before it further spreads its genuine threat to the business-as-usual dominance of Western elites.
Spread quickly far and wide be4 imperialism destroys the light of Arab liberty. General Joe
Taking the Cake: The Creeping Militarization of the Libyan Crisis
By: Chris Floyd (123 reads)
06.03.2011 [01:30 ]
Libyan "protesters" are actually heavily armed insurgents ( by Egyptian Army) who obliterated entire sections of steel-reinforced concrete walls of a Benghazi army base, then seized heavy artillery and armored vehicles before shoring up armed rebels in
By: Bulov (303 reads)
Qaddafi was accused of strafing crowds of unarmed protesters from the air, storming hospitals and kidnapping injured patients, mosque massacres, and just about anything else the imaginations of the corporate owned media could conjure up. BBC did however concede that nearly all of their reports were impossible to confirm, as they were all entirely based on opposition "witness accounts."
This week, Russian military officials boldly asserted that such air strikes never took place, and even the US Department of Defense was forced to concede that such attacks could not be confirmed.
The Libyan "protesters" are actually heavily armed insurgents ( by Egyptian Army) who obliterated entire sections of steel-reinforced concrete walls of a Benghazi army base, then seized heavy artillery and armored vehicles before shoring up armed rebels in nearby towns and cities.
After Iraq, Arabs wary of Western action in Libya: analysts
Jacques Charmelot, AFP
A Libyan security guard stands the entrance to the Zawiya Oil Refinery in Zawiya, west of Tripoli. Libya, which sits on the most reserves in Africa and is a major exporter to Europe, continues to produce oil, though experts say it's unclear how much will eventually make it to international ports. Photo: Ben Curtis, PA
Arab states are reluctant for Western military intervention in Libya after being stung by the US-led invasion of Iraq, analysts say, adding that an intervention could fuel extremism.
Anti-government protests broke out against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi's 41-year rule in mid-February and quickly escalated into armed conflict.
The patchwork Libyan opposition now controls swathes of eastern and western Libya including the key eastern city of Benghazi and some oil installations, while Gaddafi remains firmly in control of the capital Tripoli.
The possibility of a Western no-fly zone to prevent Gaddafi launching air raids on his people, as well as other types of military intervention, have been raised.
"The Arabs have a special sensitivity when it comes to military intervention because of the Iraqi experience," said Ibrahim Sharqieh, the deputy director of the Brookings Doha Center, referring to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent occupation.
"The Iraqi experience was managed poorly and has resulted in the deaths of too many people," he said.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed in violence in Iraq since ruler Saddam Hussein was toppled in 2003.
The Arab League said Wednesday it would consider backing a no-fly zone over Libya to end the crackdown on anti-regime rebels, but ruled out supporting any direct foreign military intervention.
"The Arab League fears the vagueness of the terms of the military intervention," Sharqieh said.
And Libyan opposition members "fear the incompetence of the West. Those people have failed in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and they can fail again," said analyst and journalist Jamil Mroue.
Tens of thousands of US and allied troops have been bogged down fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan since 2001.
"The Libyans fear the crumbling of the revolution into a civil war and then into Islamism," Mroue said. "Local people have seen the impact of intervention in many places, and they are very protective of their ownership of the process, of their sovereignty."
Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Gulf Research Center, said it was premature to talk about military intervention.
"It is too early," Alani said. "Arab countries believe that it is premature to talk about military operations."
"The regime could fall. The countdown has started. And an intervention would only complicate things" by being counterproductive, he said.
"Gaddafi could survive," Alani said, while extremists step up attacks on Western interests. "And who wants a jihadist state in Libya? Do we want to see this scenario in Libya?"
Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, several Western countries maintained no-fly zones over the north and south of the country with the professed aim of protecting civilians from Saddam, but during which Iraqi air defences were also destroyed.
But "the no-fly zone in Iraq was justified by a human disaster. It was imposed by the scope of human tragedy. We have not seen that yet in Libya; we don't have a justification yet," Alani said.
"We won't have a solution for weeks, we are heading for the status quo. It is not clear for how long but I don't see and end game in the coming weeks," said Sharqieh.
"What we need is an Arab successful diplomatic intervention."
Karzai: In Wake of Latest Civilian Killings, US Apology ‘Not Enough’
Protests in Kabul Over Deaths of Children in Kunar Province
by Jason Ditz, March 06, 2011
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Tensions are once again rising in Afghanistan in the wake of a Tuesday incident in which US helicopters killed nine children in the Kunar Province who were gathering firewood on the side of a mountain.
The killings were quickly admitted to by officials, and Gen David Petraeus officially apologized, as did President Obama. But President Karzai, in a teleconference with Obama today, insisted that an apology was simply not good enough.
“The people of Afghanistan are fed up from these brutal incidents and apologies and condemnation cannot cure their pain,” Karzai insisted, and indeed with a number of high profile killings all coming in the past few weeks, claims that they are isolated incidents are becoming harder and harder to sell.
And the protests against the killings are spreading too, as hundreds took to the streets of Kabul today, burning an effigy of President Obama and condemning the air strikes. Previous protests against the strike had been reported in Kunar Province.
These “actions” by the US military can not be explained/excused away as “terrible, unfortunate. accidents. As was the case of the collateral murder release, the capacity of present day optics used by US pilots and gunners would have left no doubt that the human beings targeted were unarmed, often children. The US is simply engaged clearing vast areas of unwanted human populations. This is also known as imperialism. Spread widely. General Joe