Tag Archives: Libya

( “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.



( 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?”