Tag Archives: Libya

( British firms are arming themselves for a scramble to win up to £200billion worth of contracts in Libya, as the North African nation looks to its reconstruction.

UK Trade & Investment, the government department that promotes UK plc abroad, said British firms had ‘a strong commitment to helping the National Transitional Council and any future government in Libya to rebuild’.

UKTI estimates that Libyan contracts, in sectors from oil and gas to education and construction, could be worth £200billion over the next decade.

( The US administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were set on developing deep “military to military” ties with the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, classified US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks on 24 August reveal.

The United States was keen to integrate Libya as much as possible into “AFRICOM,” the American military command for Africa which seeks to establish bases and station military forces permanently on the continent.

“We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi,” Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind.-CT) said during an August 2009 meeting, which also included Senators John McCain and Susan Collins.

The records confirm that McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, strongly supported US arms sales to Libya and personally pledged to Muammar Gaddafi (also spelled “al-Qadhafi”) and his son Muatassim that he would push to get such transfers approved by Congress. McCain also revealed that the United States was training officers in Gaddafi’s army.

While the Americans pursued the relationship vigorously, they met with a cautious and sometimes “mercurial” response from the Libyans. In particular, the mistrustful Libyans wanted security guarantees that the Americans appeared reluctant to give.

“We can get [equipment] from Russia or China,” Muatassim told the visiting senators, “but we want to get it from you as a symbol of faith from the United States.”

In hindsight, given the US support for the NATO war against the Gaddafi regime, it is not difficult to understand why the Libyans wanted these guarantees.

Nevertheless, Gaddafi received high praise for his “counterterrorism” credentials from US officials.

The documents also reveal that the United States was keen to court Gaddafi’s sons, flying them to the United States for high level visits.

And, notably, none of the cables regarding high level meetings quoted in this post made any mention of American concerns about “human rights” in Libya. The issue never appeared on the bilateral agenda.

Does the removal of the Gaddafi regime now clear the way for the United States to pursue the plans for integrating Libya into AFRICOM under what the Americans must hope will be a pliable regime?

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(Shabab Libya) Libyan Freedom Fighters continue their struggle against Muammer Gaddafi loyalists; for the rebels it is a matter of life or death.
“You rats, you sons of rats, we are coming to get you.” The voice of the regime loyalist crackled on the rebel radio.

Under the pine trees behind a sand barrier defence on Misurata’s western front line, the boys of the Martyr brigade laughed, and returned a torrent of insults. The group’s anti-aircraft gun was pointed outwards to the open expanse of fields where the loyalist troops roam.

The bonds between the young men were forged in the urban battles that raged for months on Misurata’s Tripoli Street. Now they are to learning adapt to the front line of open war.

For more than a month, the fighters have been stationed at the end of a dirt track that delineates the western front line at Dafniya. Long range shelling; pounding mortars, BM21 ‘Grad’ missiles, and katyusha rockets define their new war.

“Before we were street fighters, you slept on one road, whilst the enemy slept next door. Kalashnikovs were useful. Here we are fighting in open fields, we need bigger weapons and new tactics,” said fighter Hazem Abu Zeid, 29.

Life and death

They lack heavy munitions, with Grad rocket launchers being few and far between. The weapons they do have are captured by running incursions into enemy ground. “This is the good weapon!” said Salah Mabrook, spying a rusty antiquated anti-aircraft gun on a green leopard print painted Toyota pickup that they took in battle.

Every Friday forces loyal to Colonel Muammer Gaddafi have launched massive offensives on their position. Friday in mid-June, a day that still sends shivers down their spines, was second bloodiest day for the rebel fighters since the battled moved to the city; over 30 of their comrades were killed, and 150 injured.

A crater of splattered shrapnel marks in the road beside the fighters’. Mattresses marks where one of the rockets exploded. A fighter plucked a piece of shrapnel beside a pillow. “This is the piece of rocket killed our friend Ali Seck. We feel such sorrow for our friends, a lot of them have died beside me, just shot in the head,” said Zeid.

Every Thursday, Misurata braces herself for attack. Rebels clean and load their Kalashnikovs, medical staff organise emergency room teams and prepare surgical instrument sets. The elderly and their children scurry to buy provisions so that they won’t have to go outdoors on Friday. Housewives cook meals for the rebels on the front lines.

Rebels gathered on the beach, running, and diving into the crashing waves. As the sun sank on the horizon silence fell on the group as they contemplated what tomorrow would bring. “Maybe tomorrow I will be dead,” said a young fighter nicknamed ‘Ronaldo’ for his love of football.

But as members of the Misurata council declared that their fighters could not again suffer such an attack, on the front line rebel youths stand determined to fight.

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( Fighting, particularly in Misratah, has interrupted the supply lines that provide Libya with food, fuel, and other essentials. Meanwhile, Tripoli sees heaviest bombings in weeks.

he United Nations aid chief has called for a pause in fighting in Libya to provide a window of time to address dire supply shortages.

The shortages, which could soon create a humanitarian crisis, are partly a result of sanctions that have disrupted the country’s supply lines as well as “paralyzing” fighting, said Valerie Amos, the UN aid chief. Libya’s food supply will only last a couple more months, BBC reports.

Meanwhile, NATO bombed Tripoli Tuesday morning in its heaviest air campaign against the capital city in weeks. The strikes hit at least four sites in Tripoli, possibly including the compound where the family of leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi lives, according to the Associated Press.

One of the buildings hit was used by the military intelligence agency, according to local residents, and another was used by parliament members as a research library.

Action has also escalated in the country’s rebel-held east, where fighting has been stalled for several weeks. Rebels have unsuccessfully attempted to push on from outside Ajdabiya to Brega, a town slightly farther west. On Monday, there were reports of fighting outside Ajdabiya. Rebels withdrew from the front line later that day on NATO’s orders because NATO was planning to stage airstrikes on Colonel Qaddafi’s forces, according to the AP.

A skirmish south of Ajdabiya during the weekend and relative quiet in the east has rebels worried that Qaddafi’s troops are moving south now, only to surprise rebels from the east again later near the Egyptian border, Reuters reports.

Amid accusations that NATO has allowed Libya’s conflict to stall, NATO Sec. Gen. Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance was “making progress” and that it had eliminated much of Qadaffi’s military power. But he told CNN “it’s hard to imagine an end to the violence as long as Qaddafi remains in power.”

General Rasmussen said Qaddafi and his regime “have no future,” although NATO still insists that the goal of the NATO operation in Libya is not regime change.

The stalemate is at least partially a result of mismatched technological capabilities. The use of NATO planes has “created a tactical stalemate: The rebels have inadequate ground capabilities but can count on some of the planet’s most technologically advanced air weapons systems, while Qaddafi’s men boast superior ground troops but have no air resources,” the Los Angeles Times notes.

Ms. Amos told the UN Security Council that eastern Libya has only about two months left of food, medicine, and other crucial commodities and western Libya has only three month’s worth, CNN reported. Desalination plants may soon run out of the fuel.

The siege on the port city of Misratah in western Libya has been at the center of supply concerns, Amos said. The fighting has prevented aid ships from docking in the city, and at least 150 Libyans are waiting to be evacuated.

The AP reported that an aid ship carrying medical supplies and baby food was able to dock on Monday in Misratah’s port, the first since Wednesday, although shelling on certain parts of the city continued Monday. The ship that docked Wednesday was fired on with rockets. A rocket attack Saturday set fire to the city’s main fuel depot, a key supply point for vehicles, ships, and generators.

“We are in dire need for humanitarian and medical supplies. We also need arms and ammunition for self-defense,” said one Misratah resident. “We have no way to get this as long as the port is not secure.”

By Ariel Zirulnick


( Children as young as eight are being raped in front of their families by Gaddafi’s forces in Libya, according to a leading charity.
Aid workers described horrific stories of widespread sexual abuse, including one incident in which a group of girls was abducted and held hostage for four days.
When they were finally released, they were too traumatized to speak.
Other children have described being forced to watch as their fathers were murdered and their mothers raped.
They told Save The Children that they themselves were then brutally beaten before being released.
Harrowing stories of sexual assaults against women and children have emerged from those who have fled the besieged cities of Misrata, Ajdabia and Rus-Lanuf.
Many families are now in temporary refugee camps in Benghazi, where they talked to Save The Children staff.
Michael Mahrt, the charity’s child protection adviser, said: ‘The reports of sexual violence against children are unconfirmed but they are consistent and were repeated across the four camps we visited.
‘Children told us they have witnessed horrendous scenes. Some said they saw their fathers murdered and mothers raped.
‘They described things happening to other children but they may have actually happened to them and they are just too upset to talk about it – it’s a typical coping mechanism used by children who have suffered such abuse.
‘What is most worrying is that we have only been able to speak to a limited number of children – what else is happening to those who are trapped in Misrata and other parts of the country who do not have a voice?’.
Mr Mahrt said that some children are showing signs of physical and emotional distress; they are withdrawn, refuse to play and wake up crying in the night.
He added: ‘Whenever some children hear a gun being fired they re-live the terrible ordeal they have been through. It is clear that for many of them, their suffering is far from over.’
There have been numerous reports of Gaddafi’s troops – some fuelled by Viagra – using rape as a weapon of war.
In the most notorious example, 28-year-old Iman al-Obeidi claimed she was assaulted for two days by 15 men after being abducted at a checkpoint.
She was arrested after trying to tell her story to foreign journalists and has subsequently been charged with slander.
Doctors in Misrata have also treated patients who have been sexually assaulted.
But in a conservative society where rape is heavily stigmatised, many women will not tell even their close family what has happened to them.
Rebel spokesman Abdelbaset Abumzirig, who is based in Misrata, said that there has been a string of horrific assaults in Benghazi Street – parallel to Tripoli Street where a armor battle for the city was fought.
‘The Gaddafi forces took control of Benghazi Street before we managed to push them out,’ he told Al Jazeera.
‘They have been ordered to rape because this means they are insulting Misrata itself.’
He said that some families had spoken to human rights organizations about the assaults
‘Some have spoken, some others, you know the old traditions, they didn’t speak, but it’s not a shame,’ he added.
In an interview with the Sunday Times, Dr Khalifa al-Sharkassi described how two sisters, aged 16 and 20, had been assaulted by African mercenaries after their brothers had joined the rebels.
The girls’ mother was locked in another room while they were raped.
‘Four or five Africans took turns raping both girls,’ he said. ‘(Now) one of them just sits and cries and looks lost.’
He said another victim had tried to clean herself with bleach after being attacked.
One of his patients had given herself an injection of chlorine in the belief that this would stop herself becoming pregnant.



( “We are there to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas” – William Hague

“I was watching ABC News last night and, lo and behold, there was a DU impact. It burned and burned and burned.”
 Doug Rokke, ex-director of the Pentagon’s Depleted Uranium Project commenting on Libya attack.

“Depleted uranium tipped missiles fit the description of a dirty bomb in every way… I would say that it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people.”
– Marion Falk, chemical physicist (retd), Lawrence Livermore Lab, California, USA

To date depleted uranium’s deathly dust has traveled its horrible route from Iraq (The first Gulf War in 1990/91) to the Balkans (with the NATO attack on Serbia in 1999) to Afghanistan (2001-) and back to Iraq (2003-)  Now we have the attack on Libya and I raise the question as to whether DU is being used once again in this latest “war”; whether this “nuclear waste with wings” continues its journey bringing with it short- and long-term death. Read More

(Media Lens) One can hardly fail to be impressed by the corporate media’s faith in humanity. Or at least that part of humanity with its finger on the cruise missile button. Last week, the Independent’s Patrick Cockburn predicted that ‘Western nations will soon be engaged in a war in Libya with the noble aim of protecting civilians.’

At the opposite end of the alleged media spectrum, former Spectator editor and current London Mayor, Boris Johnson, agreed in the Telegraph:

‘The cause is noble and right, and we are surely bound by our common humanity to help the people of Benghazi.’

So is the aim of the latest war a noble one? How do Cockburn and Johnson know?

Perhaps they have considered evidence from the recent historical record. Economist Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the US Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, wrote in his memoir:

‘I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.’ (Leader, ‘Power, not oil, Mr Greenspan,’ Sunday Times, September 16, 2007)

If this seems heroic, Greenspan’s bewildered response to the resulting controversy suggests otherwise:

‘From a rational point of view, I cannot understand why we don’t name what is evident and indeed a wholly defensible pre-emptive position.’ (Quoted, Richard Adams, ‘Invasion of Iraq was driven by oil, says Greenspan,’ The Guardian, September 17, 2007)

Certainly it is ‘defensible’, if we accept that the world’s premier power should do as it pleases in pursuit of oil. Greenspan had made his ‘pre-emptive’ economic case for war to White House officials, who responded: ‘Well, unfortunately, we can’t talk about oil.’ (Quoted, Bob Woodward, ‘Greenspan: Ouster Of Hussein Crucial For Oil Security,’ Washington Post, September 17, 2007)

Across flak so thick you could walk on it, Greenspan backtracked as he ‘clarified’ that, in identifying oil as the obvious key concern he, of course, ‘was not saying that that’s the administration’s motive’. (Ibid.)

Or consider Nato’s air assault on Serbia in 1999. John Norris, director of communications during the war for deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, wrote in his memoir, Collision Course: ‘it was Yugoslavia’s resistance to the broader trends of political and economic reform – not the plight of Kosovar Albanians – that best explains NATO’s war’. (Norris, Collision Course: NATO, Russia, and Kosovo, Praeger, 2005, p.xiii)

Norris, again, later claimed he had been quoted ‘both selectively and out of context to advance [a] polemic’. But his words mean what they say: that the plight of civilians was not the prime motive for war, thus contradicting a mountain of propaganda.