Tag Archives: Libya

( Reports that opposition forces in Libya will begin exporting crude oil from areas under their control raise concerns about the transparency of oil revenues, Human Rights Watch said today. Libya’s people have a right to information about a major national resource, Human Rights Watch said.

Human Rights Watch called on the self-appointed opposition authority, the Interim Transitional National Council, to respect internationally accepted standards of transparency for all sales of crude oil and gas that it arranges. In contrast, oil and gas transactions by the Gaddafi government have been opaque and lacked accountability for many years, Human Rights Watch said.

“Any emerging Libyan authority should break with past practice in Libya and open the books on oil and gas transactions,” said Arvind Ganesan, business and human rights director at Human Rights Watch. “Failure to do so could lead to continued mismanagement and corruption. The Libyan people have a right to know what’s happening with a precious national resource.”

In particular, Human Rights Watch called on the Interim Transitional National Council, which has de facto control in eastern Libya, to provide full documentation of all future oil and gas transactions. It should also commit to publish independent auditing reports in the future of any financial transactions associated with oil and gas licensing and sales, Human Rights Watch said.

The Interim Transitional National Council announced on April 1, 2011, that it had reached a deal with Qatar to market Libyan oil. Qatar should also abide by international standards of transparency and support its Libyan interlocutors to do the same, Human Rights Watch said.

An oil tanker with a capacity of 1 million barrels reportedly arrived at the Marsa al-Hariga terminal near the port of Tobruk in eastern Libya on April 5. This would mark the first export of oil from rebel-held areas of Libya since the conflict began six weeks ago.

Prior to the conflict, Libya was Africa’s third largest oil producer, exporting 1.6m barrels a day.

The Interim Transitional National Council has said that it will work for Libya’s economy “to be used for the benefit of the Libyan people.”

“Opposition forces and Qatar should work to respect the best practices of transparency now, before problems develop.” Ganesan said.


( Even as Qaddafi gains on the battlefield, Western officials say his regime is “crumbling” from the inside. A trusted family envoy reportedly met with British officials in London this week.

Tripoli, Libya

Col. Muammar Qaddafi has gained the upper hand on the Libyan battlefield, even as British and other Western officials maintain that his regime is “crumbling” from the inside.

Benefiting from a change in tactics, Colonel Qaddafi’s forces have made significant gains against rebels with more nimble units that are harder for Western allies to target by air. Rebels, now lacking the curtain of airstrikes that paved their rapid westward advance last weekend, appear to be relinquishing their determination to battle Qaddafi’s forces all the way to Tripoli.

An opposition leader said today that rebel forces would agree to a cease-fire if the Libyan leader pulled his loyalists out of cities and allowed peaceful protests.

The condition for the cease-fire is “that the Qaddafi brigades and forces withdraw from inside and outside Libyan cities to give freedom to the Libyan people to choose and the world will see that they will choose freedom,” said Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, head of the opposition’s Benghazi-based interim governing council.

Despite the apparent offer, the rebel aim remained toppling Qaddafi, to “liberate and have sovereignty over all of Libya with its capital in Tripoli,” said Mr. Abdul-Jalil, according to the Associated Press.

Qaddafi family envoy meets with British officials

In Britain, the defection of one of Qaddafi’s closest confidantes this week and a trusted Qaddafi envoy for confidential talks in London have shifted focus from the war front to the level of support the Libyan leader still commands from his inner circle.

Mohammed Ismail, a senior aide to Qaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam, has held secret talks with British official in recent days – with speculation about negotiating a safe exit.

The report, which first appeared in the Guardian newspaper late Thursday, came as one of Qaddafi’s most senior confidantes of 30 years – former intelligence chief and foreign minister Moussa Koussa – defected late Wednesday, with more lined up to follow.

The British Foreign Office said it would not “provide a running commentary” on its contacts with senior Libyans, though a western diplomatic source told the Guardian: “There has been increasing evidence recently that the sons want a way out.”

Though subsequent reports cast doubt on Mr. Ismail’s visit, saying it was personal and not mandated by Qaddafi, news of the meeting – together with Mr. Koussa’s defection – have given weight to comments by Western officials that Qaddafi’s regime is fraying at the seams.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has said Koussa’s defection shows “fear right at the very top of the crumbling and rotten Qaddafi regime.”

“The message that was delivered to [Ismail] is that Qaddafi has to go, and that there will be accountability for crimes committed in the international criminal court,” the Guardian quoted the Foreign Office as saying.

US Navy chief: Harder to attack Qaddafi forces now

The US, France, and other allied nations have also stated clearly their desire for Qaddafi to go – even though regime change is not part of the mandate of the March 18 United Nations Security Council resolution, which calls for “all necessary means” to protect civilians.

Along the front lines, reports emerged of rebel forces attempting to mobilize anew against loyalist units, which have shifted tactics to minimize damage from coalition airstrikes. In many cases, loyalist forces have swapped their heavy armor – which is easily targetable by allied aircraft – for open-backed battlewagons and other vehicles that resemble those used by the rebels.

That change has complicated allied strikes in recent days, according to US Navy Chief of Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, who told Monitor editors in Boston on Thursday that Qaddafi’s forces had broken into smaller and more nimble units that are not easily distinguishable from the rebels.

“The coordination that is required for attacking, particularly small [loyalist] units, is not there simply because of the nature of the presence – or lack thereof – that’s on the ground,” said Admiral Roughead.

It was not clear how the presence of small teams of CIA operatives, now reported to be active in rebel-controlled territory in eastern Libya to help with targeting and identifying rebel needs, might begin to address that problem.

Rebels move heavy weapons, trained officers to front

Friday morning there were signs that the rebels – who in four days have been pushed back some 150 miles along the contested Mediterranean coastal road – were reassessing their military effort and moving more weapons toward the oil town of Brega.

Reuters quoted rebels in Ajdabiyah saying that only heavy weaponry was being allowed at the front, and that more trained officers would be using it. That decision comes after days in which television footage has showed panicked mass retreats, and exposed the rebels as disorganized, poorly equipped, and prone to fear.

“Only those who have large weapons are being allowed through. Civilians without weapons are prohibited,” volunteer rebel fighter Ahmed Zaitoun told Reuters.

“Today we have officers coming with us. Before we went alone,” Mr. Zaitoun told the news agency. He pointed to man stopped at the checkpoint: “He is a young boy and he doesn’t have a gun. What will he do up there?”


( I call on all the peoples to support us, the Egyptians, Tunisians, French, even Chinese, all the peoples of the world, we welcome their support and sympathy. – In a few hours, the UN Security Council will decide to start air strikes against Libya. France has said that it is ready to start the bombardment from tonight. – We condemn this international resolution, if it is realized. And we totally reject any foreign intervention in Libya, whatever shape it may take, especially a French one. France, that sold Qaddafi weapons worth billions, weapons that he is using today to blow up Libyans, the same France that didn’t stop such deals until 3 weeks back. — We condemn this intervention that will transform Libya into a real hell, even more than now. That intervention will also steal the revolution from the Libyans, a revolution that has cost them thousands of dead women and men so far.

An intervention that will also divide the Libyan resistance. And even if these operations do succeed and Qaddafi falls (or dies) like Saddam Hussein, it will mean that we were liberated by Americans and French, and I can assure you that they will keep reminding us of that every minute. How we can stand this later? How we can explain all these casualities to the coming generations, all those dead bodies that will be everywhere? To be liberated from Qaddafi just to become slaves to those who armed him and empowered him during all those years of authoritarian violence and repression.

After the first mistake – the militarization of the popular revolution – here we are committing our second mistake – the establishment of a new leadership of figures arising out of the remnants of the Libyan Jamahiriya regime. And our third mistake is coming inevitably, which will be to ask for help from our enemies. I only hope we will not reach the fourth one: that is, occupation and the arrival of the marines.

Sarkozy and France are our enemies; they are also enemies of the whole Third World. They don’t hide their contempt of us. All that Sarkozy cares about is to be re-elected next year. The man who organized the meeting between Sarkozy and the representatives of the interim national council is none other than Bernard-Henri Lévy, a quack philosopher, and for those who don’t know him, a French Zionist activist who concentrates all his efforts on supporting Israel and defending its interests. We saw him lately in Tahrir Square just to make sure that the revolting youth there would not chant against Israel.

What can be said while waiting for the bombs? Because bombs will not differentiate between those who are pro-Qaddafi and who are against him.

Colonialist bombs, as you know, have only one objective: to defend the interests of arms traders. They sold Qaddafi arms worth billions and then we ask them to destroy them now… Then we will buy new arms through the new government – it is an old, well-known story. But there are people who cannot learn except through committing old mistakes, made long before.

I say this very clearly: this is a very dangerous strategic mistake, one that the Libyan people will pay for, maybe for many years to come. More than the years of the rule of Qaddafi and his family. I call today, and now, just hours before the burning of Libya and before it is made into another Baghdad, I call on all Libyans, all intellectuals, artists, university graduates, everyone, those who can write and those who cannot, every female and male citizen, to reject this military intervention by the US, France and Britain, and the Arab regimes that they support. At the same time, I call on all the peoples to support us, the Egyptians, Tunisians, French, even Chinese, all the peoples of the world, we welcome their support and sympathy.

But as for governments, whatever government, we will not ask anything from them, but to leave us alone, to let us finish the problem of Qaddafi by ourselves.

Saoud Salem
Libyan anarchist


( It seems reasonable to state that the reason Washington launched its machinery of death against Libya is to insure it would have some input in that nation’s future after Gadhafi’s departure.  The claim of saving civilian lives rings as hollow as ever.  As always this claim begs the question: how does a military save civilian lives while destroying civilian lives?  History tells us that this reasoning is only for the folks watching the attacks on television, not for those in the region being subjected to them.  The Arab League, having foolishly believed that Washington and NATO truly exist to save civilian lives, is now regretting its support of military action in the wake of climbing civilian casualties.  Casualties which the US and its posse have denied are occurring.

While the US and its European cohorts would probably like to have friendly forces control the entire country of Libya, they may decide to be content with those forces in control of the part already held by the rebels in the east.  On February 28, 2011, Abdessalam Najib, a petroleum engineer at the Libyan company Agico told a Reuters reporter, “Nearly all the oilfields in Libya east of Ras Lanuf are now controlled by the people and the government has no control in this area.” This area is where a good portion of Libya’s major oil fields and related industry are.  Of course, should it start looking like Gadhafi’s forces find themselves unable to hold that territory, one can be certain Rome, London, and Washington will figure out a way to put some friendly troops in there.  In fact according to scattered press reports, some from the US may already be there.

Beyond Libya lies the greater revolt of the Arab people.  Manipulating this revolt and turning the hopes of the people in the region for genuine democracy into a US-style electoral charade seems to be the best Washington can hope for in the near future.  For those movements unwilling to settle for this, their battle will become more difficult.  It is unlikely that Washington wanted the Egyptian people to go as far as they have.  The current situation with the military in control provides some comfort to Washington, but the urgings of the people to move beyond the military has raised concerns.  Washington can hardly wait until a government more like Mubarak’s is in control.  At the same time, Washington’s fear is that there will never be another government like that in Cairo.  A pro-Western military presence in Libya, combined with  the repressive regimes in the sheikdoms and Iraq, would certainly help keep a lid on any further revolutionary stirrings.  Despite this, even Washington understands (and fears) that revolution operates on its own terms.

The pathetic displays of military hardware combined with the crowing of the Wolf Blitzer types on cable news channels are nothing new.  They shouldn’t piss me off like they do.  The strutting of that hardware accompanied by statistics about death and capabilities is reminiscent of a football locker room before a game.  But the most pathetic displays are those of liberal politicians and their supporters actually believing (for the umpteenth time in the past twenty years) that the US military is doing good.  That launching cruise missiles is defending civilians.  That Tomahawks and F-22s are something other than the weapons of mass destruction commandeered by uniformed men and women who are essentially cowards.  Regarding the other side of the aisle, let me say this.  Hearing John Boehner and other Republicans call for the White House to explain to Congress the nature of the mission is a joke.  It’s not like they have a history of opposing US military intervention or even much affinity for the Constitution.  Their cries to include Congress are as genuine as Barack Obama’s promises to close Gitmo, exit Iraq, and withdraw from Afghanistan by June. On the other hand, what does Obama have to fear by including Congress?  It’s not like there will be any effective opposition to his imperial foray.

Don’t be fooled by the stage managing of this intervention.  Just because Robert Gates or General Ham (now is that a name or what?) point to the presence of bombers from Norway, Denmark, and even (yes, even) from Qatar, the fact is this is Washington’s show.  From the halls of Pentagon City to the shores of Tripoli, the power behind the Tomahawks and bombers is all American.  And so is the hypocrisy.


( Following a United Nations Security Council resolution on 18 March 2011 to allow foreign military action against Libya, conflict still rages between al-Gaddafi’s forces, rebels based in Benghazi, and international forces attacking from the air.  Amnesty International examines some of the human rights issues at stake.

What are the obligations under international law of parties to the conflict in Libya?
There is now an international armed conflict in Libya between coalition forces and the Libyan government.

There is also a non-international armed conflict between the Libyan government and rebel fighters. It is critical that all parties involved in the conflict respect fully international humanitarian law (the laws of war) and applicable human rights law.

All parties must refrain from targeting civilians or civilian objects. They should strictly adhere to the definition of military targets and the prohibition of indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks contained in Protocol I Additional to the Geneva Conventions, which reflect customary international law.

The rules described here apply to all parties and to all situations of armed conflict (international or non-international). In particular, there should be:
(a) no direct attack on civilians or civilian objects;
(b) no indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks;
(c) all necessary precautions, including in choice of means and methods of attack, to minimize harm to civilians;
(d) no attack on the infrastructure even if used for military purposes, if the incidental short-term and long-term consequences for civilians would be disproportionate to the concrete and direct military advantage sought in the specific attack;
(e) no attack on media outlets solely because they are being used for propaganda purposes;
(f)  no attack on other civilian objects even if their destruction is deemed by the attacker to be likely to lessen the will of the enemy to fight; and
(g) humane treatment for all those not directly participating in hostilities, including fighters who have been captured, injured or have surrendered. Read More

( TRIPOLI— (UPDATE 2) The US, Britain and France pounded Libya with air strikes and Tomahawk missiles on Saturday, sparking a furious response from Moammar Gadhafi who said the Mediterranean had now become a “battlefield.”

United States and British forces fired at least 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Libya’s air defence sites, a top US military officer said, two days after a UN Security Council resolution with Arab backing authorized military action.

Libyan state media said that Western warplanes bombed civilian targets in Tripoli, causing casualties while an army spokesman said strikes also hit fuel tanks feeding the rebel-held city of Misrata, east of Tripoli.

Libyan state television said a French warplane was shot down in the Njela district of Tripoli, but the French military swiftly denied the report.

Gadhafi, in a brief audio message broadcast on state television, fiercely denounced the attacks as a “barbaric, unjustified Crusaders’ aggression.”

He vowed retaliatory strikes on military and civilian targets in the Mediterranean, which he said had been turned into a “real battlefield.”

“Now the arms depots have been opened and all the Libyan people are being armed,” to fight against Western forces, the veteran leader warned.

US President Barack Obama, on a visit to Brazil, said he had given the green light for the operation, which is codenamed “Odyssey Dawn.”

“Today, I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya,” Obama said in Brasilia.

The first missile struck at 1900 GMT following air strikes carried out earlier by French warplanes, Admiral William Gortney, director of the US joint staff, said in Washington.

“It’s a first phase of a multi-phase operation” to enforce the UN resolution and prevent the Libyan regime from using force “against its own people,” he said.

One British submarine joined with other US ships and submarines in the missile attacks, he said.

The first strikes took place near Libya’s coast, notably around Tripoli and Misrata, “because that’s where the integrated missile defence systems are.”

US and allied countries are not yet enforcing a no-fly zone with aircraft patrolling the skies, he said, but “we’re setting the conditions to be able to reach that state.”

The targets included surface-to-air missile sites but it was too early to say how effective the Tomahawk strikes were, he said.

“Because it is night over there, it will be some time before we have a complete picture of the success of these strikes,” the admiral said.

The US operation followed initial missions by French warplanes, which carried out four air strikes Saturday, destroying several armoured vehicles from Gadhafi’s forces.

State television said hundreds of people had gathered at Bab al-Aziziyah, Gadhafi’s Tripoli headquarters, and at the capital’s international airport, ahead of the widely anticipated air strikes.

“Crowds are forming around the targets identified by France,” the television reported, showing pictures of flag-waving people gathering to serve as human shields.

Last week, a highly placed French source referred to Bab al-Aziziyah, a military air base in Sirte, east of the capital, and another in Sebha in the south as likely targets of a strike.

A French official told AFP that air strikes by Britain, France and the US Libyan territory are being coordinated at a US headquarters in Germany.

Russia’s foreign ministry expressed regret over the attacks under a Security Council Resolution 1973 which was “adopted in haste,” while the African Union, which opposed military action, aims to send a delegation to Tripoli on Sunday.

But British Prime Minister David Cameron said he held Gadhafi responsible for the situation in his country and that “the time for action” by the international community had come.

“Colonel Gadhafi has made this happen. He has lied to the international community, he has promised a ceasefire, he has broken that ceasefire. He continues to brutalize his own people,” Cameron told British television.

France said the air strikes would continue through the night.

In the rebel camp, celebratory gunfire and honking of car horns broke out in Al-Marj, 100 kilometres (60 miles) from Benghazi, to welcome the start of military operations against Gadhafi, correspondents said.

Thousands earlier Saturday fled Benghazi as Gadhafi loyalists pounded the eastern city, the rebels’ stronghold, with shells and tank fire after two early morning air strikes.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was troubled by a telephone call from Libyan Prime Minister Baghdadi Mahmudi on Friday night.

“He told me that the Libyan government was fully abiding by the Security Council resolution and there will be an immediate ceasefire,” said the secretary general.

“But at the same time and overnight they were attacking Benghazi. It is very troubling; whatever they say must be verified.”

Since Friday, the Libyan government has insisted it was observing a self-declared ceasefire, shortly after the Security Council voted to authorise the use of force against Gadhafi’s troops to spare civilians.

The regime said its armed forces were under attack west of Benghazi, including by rebel aircraft, and had responded in self-defence.

But the rebels, who have been trying to overthrow the Libyan leader for more than a month, said government troops had continued to bombard cities, violating the ceasefire continuously.

In another Middle East hotspot, medics in Yemen on Saturday raised to 52 the death toll from a sniper attack on protesters in Sanaa the previous day, as thousands rallied despite a state of emergency.

The slaughter in Sanaa on Friday was the bloodiest day in weeks of unrest that have shaken the regime of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a key US ally in its war against Al-Qaeda.

And security forces in Syria fired tear gas on Saturday at mourners burying two men killed in a protest in the southern city of Daraa the previous day, wounding several, rights activists said.

The official SANA news agency said a committee was being formed to investigate the “regrettable” events in Daraa.

In Bahrain, beleaguered King Hamad pledged to bring in reforms as Shiite-led pro-democracy protesters against the Sunni monarchy said they would not give up despite being cleared by police from Pearl Square in central Manama.

By Imed Lamloum
Agence France-Presse