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Libya

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MENA (Middle East/North Africa) is on fire. The diffuse rage - even if manifested by a tiny minority - is distinctly anti-American. Protests in Cairo have reached Sanaa in Yemen and even Bangladesh. The administration of US President Barack Obama is perplexed beyond belief. There will be revenge. What's really going on? It does not... Read More
"Daddy, what is blowback?" Here's a fable to tell our children, by the fire, in a not so-distant post-apocalyptic, dystopian future. Once upon a time, during George "Dubya" Bush's "war on terra", the Forces of Good in Afghanistan captured - and duly tortured - one evil terrorist, Abu Yahya al-Libi. Abu Yahya al-Libi was, of... Read More
“Daddy, what is blowback?” Here’s a fable to tell our children, by the fire, in a not so-distant post-apocalyptic, dystopian future. Once upon a time, during George “Dubya” Bush’s “war on terra”, the Forces of Good in Afghanistan captured – and duly tortured – one evil terrorist, Abu Yahya al-Libi. Abu Yahya al-Libi was, of... Read More
NEW YORK - In David Cronenberg's awesome Cosmopolis (France/Canada, 2012), based on the homonymous novel by Don DeLillo, young billionaire Eric Packer (Robert Pattison) slowly cruises New York in his white limo, installed in a cushy leather throne with incrusted screens. He feels … nothing; he essentially sucks up the world into his own inertia.... Read More
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is running out of rhetorical ammunition in the US’s Holy War against Syria. Perhaps it’s the strain of launching a NATO war bypassing the UN Security Council. Perhaps it’s the strain of being eaten for breakfast routinely by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Hillary has just called on “Western... Read More
A Legacy of Hatred
Libyans voted in their first democratic election yesterday to choose an interim national assembly to rule the country after the overthrow of Mu'ammer Gaddafi. International interest in this crucial election has been sparse compared to the wall-to-wall coverage by the foreign media during the eight-month war. Throughout the Libyan crisis, human rights organisations have on... Read More
So the anthem now goes something like this: C'mon, baby don't you wanna go/back to that same old place/sweet home ring of steel Chicago. Robert Johnson must be spitting fire in his bluesy grave because the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), for its 25th summit, is occupying Chicago like it was Kabul - with Americans... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
If you want a sense of what could well lie in store for Syria, go no further than Anthony Shadid’s report from Libya in the New York Times for February 9. Shadid, a good reporter, describes a dismembered country, rent by banditry: One martial enterprise of some of these Misuratan militias is to attack a... Read More
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CounterPunch Diary
The last time we met Michael Bérubé on this site was back in 2007, and he was up to his neck in a rubbish dump, where I’d placed him, in the company of other promoters of the 2003 war on Iraq: where, I asked, are those parlor warriors now? Had any of them reconsidered their... Read More
“This was always a civil war, and the victors are not merciful”
The detention of 7,000 people in prisons and camps by the anti-Gaddafi forces is not surprising. The conflict in Libya was always much more of a civil war between Libyans than foreign governments pretended or the foreign media reported. The winning anti-Gaddafi militia are not proving merciful. Often they have had relatives killed in the... Read More
The Killing of Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi
I first met Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi in Tripoli last August about seven weeks before he was killed in one of the last battles of the Libyan war. I was staying in the Radisson Blu, a large hotel that overlooks the harbor and overfilled with journalists who had poured into the Libyan capital after the rebels... Read More
Macbeth knew what would be coming to him once his domestic enemies had the upper hand. He decided to go down fighting. The Roman dictator Sejanus was not given that opportunity. Sejanus had taken power in Rome when Tiberius, the official emperor, decided that playing with his tiddlers in Capri was more fun than ruling.... Read More
“What’s going on, what’s happening,” a wounded, dazed Muammar Gadaffi reportedly asked just before he was murdered in Sert, Libya. The “Brother Leader” had once asked me something similar. A year after the US sought to assassinate him by dropping a 2,000-pound bomb on his bedroom in Tripoli’s Baba al-Azizya barracks, Gaddafi took me by... Read More
“What’s going on, what’s happening,” a wounded, dazed Muammar Gadaffi reportedly asked just before he was murdered in Sirte, Libya. The “Brother Leader” had once asked me something similar. A year after the US sought to assassinate him by dropping a 2,000lb bomb on his bedroom at Tripoli’s Baba al-Azizya barracks, Gadaffi took me by... Read More
They are fighting over the carcass as vultures. The French Ministry of Defense said they got him with a Rafale fighter jet firing over his convoy. The Pentagon said they got him with a Predator firing a Hellfire missile. After a wounded Colonel Muammar Gaddafi sought refuge in a filthy drain underneath a highway -... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
Denied post mortem imagery of Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki, the world now has at its disposal photographs of Muammar Qaddafi, dispatched with a bullet to the head after being wounded by NATO’s ground troops outside Sirte. Did the terminal command, Finish Him Off, come via cell phone from the US State Department whose... Read More
The crisis peaking in Britain is of a Caribbean-sea-pirate type: long time no trophies, while lifestyle has to be maintained. Neoliberal policies have undermined the toughest folk on earth, hard-working, prudent, obedient, stiff-upper-lipped red-faced Brits, the people who managed India, burned down the White House and withstood Hitler. Their backbone – Yorkshire miners and Sheffield... Read More
One of my favorite actors, Michael Caine (Zulu, The Italian Job, Man Who Would Be King, The Ipcress File, The Quiet American) said, "Be like a duck. Calm on the surface, but always paddling like the dickens underneath." That quote comes to mind when I consider the West’s efforts to keep a lid on things... Read More
Move over, Lawrence of Arabia. The Great Gallic Liberator of Libya (and any other gullible Arab in sight), neo-Napoleonic French President Nicolas Sarkozy, along with his sidekick British Prime Minister David of Arabia Cameron, gallantly strode into a cordoned off military airport in Tripoli to sing La Vie en Rose by the Mediterranean, thus celebrating... Read More
To the victors go the spOILs
David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy were careful during their first visit to Libya since the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi to avoid anything evoking comparisons with President Bush's "Mission Accomplished" rhetoric after the occupation of Iraq. They know how his imperial arrogance and premature declaration of victory came back to haunt him. Their caution is sensible... Read More
Who Grieves for the Fallen Heroes?
The conquest and occupation of Libyan is first and foremost a military victory for NATO. Every aspect of the military offensive was spearheaded and directed by NATO air, sea and ground forces. The NATO invasion of Libya was basically a response to the “Arab spring” : the popular uprisings which spread from North Africa to... Read More
Enough about The Big G's downfall. Now comes the real nitty-gritty; Afghanistan 2.0, Iraq 2.0, or a mix of both. The "NATO rebels" have always made sure they don't want foreign occupation. But the North Atlantic Treaty Organization - which made the victory possible - can't control Libya without boots on the ground. So multiple... Read More
The Post-Victory Question in Tripoli
Tripoli In Libya effective rebel military control is visibly outfacing the establishment of political stability. There are checkpoints everywhere in Tripoli and along the coast road east and west. Security is surprisingly good, given that the war in these heavily populated areas has only just ended. Even the rattle of gunfire from jubilant rebels shooting... Read More
The winners of that "kinetic" thing in northern Africa (the Barack Obama administration swears it's not a war) - collectively described as Friends of Libya (FOL) - were all in a jolly mood as they gathered in Paris on Thursday, with no air-conditioning but potent odors of runny Brie and Roquefort, to gloat about their... Read More
Surveying the Libyan wasteland out of a cozy room crammed with wafer-thin LCDs in a Pyongyang palace, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's Dear Leader, Kim Jong-il, must have been stunned as he contemplated Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's predicament. "What a fool," the Dear Leader predictably murmurs. No wonder. He knows how The Big G virtually... Read More
Signs of Trouble Ahead
Tripoli Rebel militiamen, many of them former prisoners of Muammar Gaddafi, have an iron grip on Tripoli, but wonder who will hold long-term power in Libya. Issam, a bearded Islamist who controls a district of the revolutionary stronghold of Souq al-Jumaa, holds permits which allow him to field 70 local militiamen with arms. "We do... Read More
Better Not Be Black
Tripoli. Yassin Bahr, a tall thin Senegalese in torn blue jeans, volubly denies that he was ever a mercenary or fought for Muammar Gaddafi. Speaking in quick nervous sentences, Mr Bahr tries to convince a suspicious local militia leader in charge of the police station in the Faraj district of Tripoli, that he is a... Read More
His name is Abdelhakim Belhaj. Some in the Middle East might have, but few in the West and across the world would have heard of him. Time to catch up. Because the story of how an al-Qaeda asset turned out to be the top Libyan military commander in still war-torn Tripoli is bound to shatter... Read More
Watching rebel gunmen rampage through Col. Muammar Gadaffi's Bab al-Aziziya compound — once Tripoli's Forbidden City of Tripoli — was a strange experience for me. I spent an evening there with Gadaffi in 1987, a year after it was bombed by US warplanes. Libya's "Brother Leader" talked about the Mideast, Palestine, North Africa. He led... Read More
"Can You Vacate Your Room?"
Tripoli. The new rulers of Libya, the Transitional National Council (TNC), have arrived in town. I know this because they just kicked me out of my painfully acquired hotel room when they took over the whole of the eighth floor of the Radisson Blu Hotel where I am staying. My eviction did not elicit much... Read More
The white man’s burden doesn’t allow asking Africans what they think about the current Western/monarchical Arab onslaught on the northern shores of their continent. At least some are not beating around the bush. Over 200 African leaders and intellectuals released a letter in Johannesburg, South Africa, stressing the “misuse of the United Nations Security Council... Read More
So Who’s In Charge Here?
Tripoli Freedom from fear has not yet reached the people of Tripoli. Streets are empty and shops shuttered. For miles there is nobody to be seen in the city, aside from militiamen dressed in T-shirts, shorts and an occasional item of uniform, manning barricades made out of old chairs, assorted rubbish and shrubs in pots... Read More
Royals dancing in palace corridors have been spotted in Riyadh. The heir to the Libyan throne, Prince al-Senussi, a nephew of King Idriss who was deposed by Muammar Gaddafi and others in a bloodless 1969 military coup, has embarked on a busy self-promotion campaign, saying he's ready to go back to Libya and even "lead... Read More
Think of the new Libya as the latest spectacular chapter in the Disaster Capitalism series. Instead of weapons of mass destruction, we had R2P ("responsibility to protect"). Instead of neo-conservatives, we had humanitarian imperialists. But the target is the same: regime change. And the project is the same: to completely dismantle and privatize a nation... Read More
The Big Gaddafi has barely left the building - the Bab-al-Aziziyah compound - and the Western vultures are already circling overhead; the scramble is on to seize the "big prize" - Libya's oil and gas wealth. [1] Libya is as much a pawn in a serious ideological, geopolitical, geo-economic and geostrategic chessboard as a pedestrian... Read More
Now What in Libya?
The civil war in Libya went on longer than expected, but the fall of Tripoli came faster than was forecast. As in Kabul in 2001 and Baghdad in 2003, there was no last-ditch stand by the defeated regime, whose supporters appear to have melted away once they saw that defeat was inevitable. While it is... Read More
After 43 years of eccentric, zany, or comical rule, underscored by Western charges of terrorism, it appears the era of Libya's Col. Muammar Gadaffi, once called by Ronald Reagan, "the mad dog of the Middle East," is over. Col. Gadaffi has been the longest-ruling Arab leader. His sons, who were positioned to succeed him, are... Read More
Many Militiamen Say They Will Not Take Orders From Transitional National Council
The end of Muammar Gaddafi's 41 years in power appears to be in hand as the rebels close in on Tripoli, though it is not clear if the old regime will collapse without a fight for the capital. It still has the men and the material to draw out the conflict, but its supporters may... Read More
It's late night in Tripoli and The Big Gaddafi is sipping a White Russian, smoking some prime Maghreb produce and tuning in to a bank of plasma TVs in his tent at the Bab al-Aziziyah fortress. No luscious Ukrainian nurse could possibly appease his restless soul. He stares in disbelief at the narrative unrolling in... Read More
Dubious Allies
Rebels, from the Wars of the Roses up to the present civil war in Libya, usually try to postpone splitting into factions and murdering each other until after they have seized power and are in full control. However deep their divisions, they keep them secret from the outside world. Not so the Libyan rebels. Members... Read More
Follow the Oil and the Money
In keeping with the British Government's well-established record of comical ineptitude in dealing with Libya, foreign secretary William Hague chose to recognize the rebel leaders in Benghazi as the legitimate government of the country at the very moment some of them may have been shooting or torturing to death their chief military commander. The exact... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
It is surely one of the great strategic screw-ups in the history of war and intelligence analysis. In March, after the second UN Security Council resolution used by NATO to launch its bombing campaign, the predictions were that Tripoli and thus Ghadafi would fall within two or three weeks. Right and left alike, though not... Read More
NATO in Libya
Air strikes are becoming the main Western means of controlling the Middle East and South Asia without putting soldiers on the ground where they might suffer politically damaging casualties. Britain, France and the US have used only airpower to wage war in Libya over the last four months. The US is also stepping up its... Read More
Getting It Wrong, Again and Again
The horrible Foreign Office clich?, used for decades by diplomats and politicians to justify Britain's military alliance with the US, claims that "it enables Britain to punch above her weight internationally". A moment's reflection on this dictum should lead to the conclusion that a boxer who persists in getting into the ring with bigger opponents... Read More
CounterPunch Diary
After three and a half months of bombing and arms supply to various rebel factions, NATO's failure in its efforts to promote "regime change" in Libya is now glaring. Obviously NATO's commanders are still hoping that a lucky bomb may kill Gaddafi, but to date the staying power has been with the Libyan leader, whereas... Read More
14,931 NATO Sorties and for What?
Pro-Gaddafi forces ambushed rebels advancing towards the capital Tripoli yesterday and recaptured lost territory, undermining US intelligence claims that the rebels are gaining the upper hand in the fighting. Rebel units, backed by NATO airstrikes, had seized the village of Al-Qawalish and were hoping to use it as a springboard to take Garyan, a town... Read More
We interrupt the global fascination with the non-stop psycho drama of the DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) case - Was he "a perv?" Was she "a hooker"? Was there a conspiracy? - to inform how a post-modern "kinetic military action" is won; in the public relations arena, where else. This implies that the DSK powerful white male/poor... Read More
Way beyond the impenetrable fog of war, the ongoing tragedy in Libya is morphing into a war of acronyms that graphically depicts the tortuous "birth pangs" of a possibly new world order. On one side there's NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and AL (the Arab League; on the other side, the African Union (AU)... Read More
Don't Believe Everything You See and Read
In the first months of the Arab Spring, foreign journalists got well-merited credit for helping to foment and publicize popular uprisings against the region's despots. Satellite TV stations such as Al Jazeera Arabic, in particular, struck at the roots of power in Arab police states, by making official censorship irrelevant and by competing successfully against... Read More
NATO's Pretexts Take a Beating
Human rights organizations have cast doubt on claims of mass rape and other abuses perpetrated by forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, which have been widely used to justify Nato's war in Libya. Nato leaders, opposition groups and the media have produced a stream of stories since the start of the insurrection on February 15,... Read More
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