Revolution Is In the Air: 3/20/2011: Medical doctors under seige in Bahrain

INDEX

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 110

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell
EVENTS
IMPERIALISM IN WORD & DEED

Hillary was key to decision to take military action in Libya

Good autocrats and bad autocrats

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)

The puppets want the US occupation forces to stay

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Headlines for March 17, 2011

from Democracy Now! | Healthcare Reform by mail@democracynow.org (Democracy Now!)

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The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 110

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell
EVENTS

Protests in Saudi Arabia

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Several protesters were arrested in Saudi Arabia on Sunday at a demonstration demanding the release of thousands of prisoners, held captive for years without trial.  They were among dozens of men and women who tried to push their way into Riyadh’s interior ministry building, which was fortified with up to 2,000 special forces and 200 police vehicles, according to the Associated Press news agency.

Arab League protests Libya air-strikes; charges of war crimes traded

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

The international operation to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya “has been successful,” top US military commander Michael Mullen said March 20. “They are no longer marching on Benghazi,” Mullen, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told ABC News. Meanwhile, the Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, protested the air-strikes against Libya, saying he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention. “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone,” he said. “And what we want is the protection of civilians and not the shelling of more civilians.” (Middle East OnlineWP, March 20)

read more

 

 

State of emergency in Yemen; more deadly repression in Syria

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

As the West intervenes in Libya, protest and repression continue to escalate throughout the Arab world. On March 20, lawmakers in Bahrain called on King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa to declare a state of emergency and invoke martial law after 5,000 protesters marched to demand an end to the monarchy. In Yemen, President Ali Abdullah Saleh declared a state of emergency throughout the country March 18—one day after a massacre of protesters in the capital, Sanaa. The state of emergency will last 30 days and gives security forces greater powers to maintain order. Saleh stated that a “committee of neutral bodies” will investigate the massacre and called those killed during the protest “martyrs of democracy.” (Jurist, March 19)

read more

 

 

Medical doctors under seige in Bahrain

The US made this lousy friendship and they’re going to have to change it as well. What the government of Bahrain is doing is not much different from what Gaddafi has done. The Hague ought to be opening up a file for review with Bahrain as well. The Guardian:

Bahrain’s two main hospitals remain surrounded by masked soldiers despite demands from America that the kingdom must ease its violent crackdown on demonstrators and the medical workers treating them.

Soldiers also continue to patrol all main roads in the capital Manama and have cordoned off access to the former hub of the protest movement, Pearl Roundabout, which was destroyed under government orders on Friday, denying the restive demonstrators a focal point.

The tiny Gulf state has the feel of a nation under siege as it approaches a second week of martial law imposed for three months by its besieged rulers. In addition to the troop presence, neighbourhoods remain largely empty; large, glitzy shopping malls have been virtually abandoned and helicopters regularly buzz over the debris-strewn scenes of recent street clashes.



 

 

UN Allies Bombard Libya to protect Protesters

from Informed Comment by Juan

United Nations allies France, Britain and the United States took the lead Saturday evening in imposing a no-fly zone on Libya. French and British fighter jets flew dangerous missions, given that the anti-aircraft batteries of the pro-Qaddafi forces had not yet been knocked out. Then the United States launched a barrage of 110 Tomahawk cruise missiles, targeting Qaddafi’s anti-aircraft installations. Apparently this role of taking out Qaddafi’s air defenses is the primary one envisaged for the US, after which it will fade into the background and allow other UN allies to take the lead. In Paris, the Qatari foreign minister announced that Qatari jets would join the mission, but did not say when.

In international law,there are few constraints on the UN Security Council, and it certainly was within its rights to pass the no-fly resolution and to lobby for it to bear fruit. In some ways, the stated mission, of protecting civilians in Libya, resembles the Genocide convention. It wasn’t invoked, but it could have been. This protection mission also implicitly authorizes the UN alliance to go beyond establishing a no fly zone to other sorts of military action

Aljazeera English reports

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Reuters Arabic reports that in rebel-held Misrata, which is besieged by pro-Qaddafi forces, Western fighter-jets on Saturday targeted a nearby airbase used by pro-Qaddafi forces. Two eyewitnesses in the city told the wire service that Qaddafi’s forces had fallen back from the city after the airstrike. They denied that the Western bombardment had aimed at civilian areas or fuel storage facilities.

One Abdel Basit, who resides in Misrata, told Reuters by telephone that “international forces attacked Qaddafi’s brigades in the Air Force Academy, but some of the forces fled a little before the assault.”

The air base lies 7 km from Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city, which is a major rebel stronghold. Another resident, Sami, said that he heard the sound of a powerful explosion coming from the airbase. He said, “Qaddafi’s forces that had surrounded the city started to move, but I do not know to where.” Inhabitants of the city are on their third day without water and many have no electricity. Lack of drugs and anesthesia makes it difficult to operate on the wounded. Qaddafi’s forces have been intensively bombarding Misrata since the no-fly resolution was passed on Friday.

France sent five aircraft right away to establish a ‘no-drive’ zone south of the rebel center of Benghazi which had been besieged on Friday and Saturday. French fighter jets destroyed tanks and armored vehicles belonging to pro-Qaddafi forces, which were being used to advance on Benghazi.

If Qaddafi’s forces can take Benghazi before the UN allies can assemble their air forces, he would be buying himself a lot of time and it is not impossible that he could thwart the intent of the no-fly zone altogether. The French military has clearly figured all this out, which is why its pilots are taking the risk of flying missions at a time and in places where there could still be anti-aircraft defenses.

Arwa Damon of CNN (@arwaCNN) tweeted around 5 am Sunday Libyan time that she could still hear jets overhead: “…hearing fighter jets over #benghazi right now. sounds like #gadhafi forces will not be able to attack as easily as before.”

Although the Qaddafi regime alleged that the strikes killed civilians and damaged a hospital, the precise numbers in such claims should be treated cautiously in the absence of good proof. Some of the ‘news’ coming out of Tripoli, just as that coming out of Western capitals, will be part of an information psycho-war. Qaddafi has already made it clear that he will try to depict the UNO action against him as a neo-colonial campaign, or new ‘crusade.’

Ironically, actual anti-colonial movements such as Algeria’s FLN or National Liberation Front back in the late 1950s and early 1960s often attempted to elicit the intervention of the United Nations. In that regard, the elation of the Benghazi crowds at the UNSC resolution authorizing a no-fly zone stands in a long tradition of seeking succor from oppression from the international community.

Moreover, the impetus for the no-fly zone came from the Arab League, full of what used to be called Third World states. It was tabled at the UNSC by Lebanon and supported by Bosnia, Nigeria, Colombia and South Africa. As for ‘crusades,’ it is not an accusation that can plausibly be launched against the Arab League, full of Muslim states, or, indeed, against Bosnia or the current Lebanese government or religiously plural Nigeria.

 

US and Britain join air-strikes against Libya; Congress to approve action?

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

Following opening French air-strikes near Benghazi, US and British warships launched more than 110 Tomahawk missiles at defense facilities along the Libyan coast. The strikes targeted specifically surface-to-air missile sites and radar detectors that are part of the Libyan military’s air defense infrastructure, said Vice Admiral William E. Gortney, commander of US Naval Forces Central Command. The campaign, code-named Operation Odyssey Dawn is being co-ordinated at a US headquarters in Germany. In a brief statement, Qaddafi pledged resistance to the “colonial crusader” attacks. (LATBBC News, March 19)

read more

 

France bombs Libya as battle for Benghazi begins

from World War 4 Report blogs by WW4 Report

France has launched military strikes on Libyan tanks advancing on rebel-held Benghazi, Paris announced March 19. After an international meeting on the situation in Libya at Elysee Palace, President Nicolas Sarkozy said: “At unity with our partners our air forces will counteract any attacks from Col. Qaddafi planes on the residents of Benghazi. Other French aircraft are ready to countervail against armored vehicles which may threaten civilians.” The French air-strikes on Qaddafi’s forces came just as Qaddafi’s planes carried out their first air-strikes on Benghazi, sending thousands of residents fleeing the city. The highway to al-Bayda, the next town to the east, is reported to be clogged with cars packed with families fleeing Benghazi. (APABBC NewsAPAGI, March 19)

read more

 

French Jets Defend Benghazi

from Informed Comment by Juan

Aljazeera English is reporting that French fighter jets have destroyed 4 tanks on the outskirts of Benghazi, the center of the provisional government opposing dictator Muammar Qaddafi. The tanks were involved in a concerted attack on Benghazi launched by Qaddafi’s military Friday and Saturday.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy surprised observers by announcing that French fighter jets were patrolling Libya’s skies already. The deployment was expected later on Saturday or on Sunday, in the wake of the meeting of a 22-nation spontaneous alliance formed to meet the UN Security Council’s mandate to protect Libyan civilians from Qaddafi loyalists’ military attacks on them.

Aljazeera Arabic interviewed Brigadier Gen. Safwat El Zayat (rtd.), an Egyptian military analyst and supporter of the Egyptian revolution, on the military situation in Libya. He was asked about the report that French fighter jets had taken out 4 Libyan tanks near Benghazi. Zayat said that pro-Qaddafi armor had moved up from Ajdabiya toward Benghazi in two columns, with the intent of breaching the rebel stronghold’s defenses and occupying the city center. The 32nd Special Forces Brigade, supported by tanks and led by Qaddafi’s son, Khamis, attacked on Friday and Saturday from the southwest. Another brigade, supported by tanks and heavy artillery and led by another Qaddafi son, Saadi, attacked from the southeast.

The French were attempting to deprive these elite brigades of their armored support and so level the playing ground for the rebel defenders of Benghazi. Given this air intervention, Gen. Zayat said, the strategy pursued by Qaddafi’s military in the past week could turn out to have been an enormous error. The pro-Qaddafi forces are stretched out over hundreds of miles, far from their supply lines, and are vulnerable to aerial bombardment because they are exposed in the desert. He said that French Mirage jets could fire infrared-seeking air-to-ground missiles that would detect Libyan armor because its temperature signature differed from its desert surroundings, and so could zero in on it.

Zayat expects that the struggle could well evolve rapidly from a no-fly zone enforcement to a push to deprive Qaddafi of his armored assets on the ground. He expected pro-Qaddafi forces to beat a retreat to Sirt now that the environment is turning negative for them in the east, but points out that they are hundreds of miles away and won’t be able to retreat quickly, remaining exposed along the way. The general points out that the mission is stated as protecting civilians from military attack, and that it could become a wideranging one. What, he asked, is the difference between protecting citizens in Benghazi from the 32nd Brigade or protecting those in Misrata closer to the capital? And then how is Zintan in the western desert different from Misrata?

Given the good performance turned in by the rebels two weeks ago before Qaddafi’s sons and officers decided to riposte with armor and air strikes and to punish civilian quarters for their support of the uprising, it seems likely that if Qaddafi is deprived by the UN-backed coalition of his advantage in planes and tanks, the rebels will again advance west. Once the rebels have the momentum on their side I can only imagine that the rest of the Libyan officer corps will throw the Qaddafis under the bus and switch sides.

 

Egyptian referendum result

from Jonathan Wright by Jonathan
All the signs point to a substantial majority in favour of the constitutional amendments on which Egyptians voted on Saturday, with an astonishing turnout of over 60 percent. See ahramonline for the latest details, with preliminary figures from many provinces. I was clearly misled about overall sentiment by my personal exposure to so many ‘no’ voters. It will be interesting to compare the figures from individual areas but it’s not clear how much detail the authorities will provide on that, beyond the numbers for provinces as a whole. For a change we can safely assume that the figures are roughly authentic, despite some reports of abuses here and there.YouTube has footage that apparently shows a clerk filling in the ‘yes’ circle on blank ballot papers but I’ve no idea if it is genuine or how widespread such activities might have been or who might have instigated it. From my brief tour of polling stations on Saturday and from media coverage, I concluded that social conservatives and uneducated people in rural areas were most likely to vote ‘yes’, while educated urban liberals tended to vote ‘no’.  The latter are a relatively small demographic group, so the outcome is not in fact surprising. For those who have not been following the debate, the difference between ‘yes’ and ‘no’ was not that great, making the referendum an easy start for Egyptian democracy in action. A ‘yes’ majority means presidential and parliamentary elections will take place within six months and the newly elected parliament will appoint a large committee to rewrite the constitution from scratch. A ‘no’ majority would have meant that a new constitution would have to be written before elections, but it was never too clear how that process would proceed. One major argument of the ‘no’ camp was that the new political forces need more time to organise before elections, otherwise the well-established forces – the Muslim Brotherhood and local strongmen associated with the old ruling party – will define the country’s future. But that argument smacked of elitism and scaremongering about the Brotherhood.

 

 

IMPERIALISM IN WORD & DEED

Hillary was key to decision to take military action in Libya

Interestingly, it was three women who convinced the President to take military action – and number of the guys were against it.

The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action, according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights advocate; Ms. Rice was an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the United States failed to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide, which Mr. Clinton has called his biggest regret.

In joining Ms. Rice and Ms. Power, Mrs. Clinton made an unusual break with Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, who, along with the national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, and the counterterrorism chief, John O. Brennan, had urged caution.



Good autocrats and bad autocrats

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has demonstrated one lesson learned from the course of pro-democracy uprisings across the Middle East: The world may cheer when autocrats resign, but it picks carefully which autocrats to punish for opening fire on their citizens.  That cynical bit of realpolitik seems to have led the king to send troops last week over the causeway from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain, where they backed up a violent crackdown on unarmed protesters by Bahrain’s own security forces.

Hillary Speak out on Bahrain

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“and we deplore the use of force by demonstrators” in Bahrain.  I wonder, who has used more violence, Bahraini protesters or Libyan protesters, and this without commenting on whether such use is legitimate or not.

US has officially supported the Saudi invasion of Bahrain

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
““It’s a priority for the US administration to work with partners in the Gulf region against the concern over the behavior of Iran,” she said.  Commenting on the deployment of troops from the Peninsula Shield Force in the Kingdom of Bahrain in the wake of violent protests, Clinton said it was a sovereign right for Bahrain to seek help from GCC member states under the joint defense treaty they had signed.

Official US lies

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“The United States government was informed about Saudi Arabia’s military intervention in Bahrain before it happened, a senior US administration official said.  “We received word that they were planning to head into Bahrain, but not with a significant amount of lead time,” the US official said, asking to remain anonymous.  Earlier, the Pentagon had said that it had received no warning that Saudi troops and others were being deployed to keep a lid on violent protests in the Gulf kingdom.”

Sen. John Kerry on Saudi military intervention in Bahrain

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
““They are not looking for violence in the streets,” the senator said of the Saudi troops moving into Bahrain. “They would like to encourage the king and others to engage in reforms and a dialogue.”  Time quickly proved him wrong. The violence started the next day, and it was not only Iran that blamed Washington. “Where are the Americans, where are the Americans, why are they allowing this, they are killing us with heavy guns, where are the Americans?” shrieked Hussein Muhammad, 37, a bookstore owner and political activist, in a breathless phone call Wednesday from Manama.”

Obama on Libya

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
So Obama said:  “But we can’t stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.””  In fact, one of the most cruel and threatening speech was delivered two days ago by the Saudi King although it was ignored by the Western press.  He made clear and categorical threats and even warned against criticizing the clerics.  And when Saudi foreign minister threatened to “cut off any finger that extends to the kingdom” there was not one response from any Western capital.

GCC goals

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“An official from the UAE put it even more bluntly: “We and the Saudis will not accept a Shi’ite government in Bahrain.”  In other words, as far as the GCC countries are concerned, democracy or majority rule can never be allowed there.

Aljazeera and US foreign policy

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
US foreign policy toward the Middle East was clarified two weeks ago when the New York Times carried a front-page story in which US officials “predicted” that monarchies will survive through the turmoil in the region.  I don’t think that the article was based on a prediction as it was based on a strong US stance in support of the monarchies.  The only republican exception is Yemen: the US will stand by Salih no matter what, as long as he can stand on his feet.  Pretty much, Aljazeera is following in US footsteps with the exception of Yemen: Aljazeera is covering extensively turmoil and dissent in Arab republics and staying silent about the monarchies (Morocco included) with the exception of Yemen, which is critically covered by the network.  But Jordan is barely covered while Syria is covered.

Zionists really heart Arab tyrants

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“”We should admit those moderate autocrats in the Arab world were extremely responsible regarding the peace process and stability and relationship with the West,” he said.  “You cannot expect the same responsibility and common sense from the public, the popular vote.”

Popularity of the US in the Middle East

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
““No, No to America! No, no to Israel! No, no to the occupier!” the preacher, Sayid Muhanad al-Moussawi, exhorted his followers. Sheik Maytham al-Jumairi, a member of the Bahraini opposition, took part in the Sadr City demonstrations, saying, “there are real massacres in Bahrain, it is a bath of blood.””

Qatar contributes troops and Aljazeera to preserve the Bahraini tyrant

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“”The duty of the Qatari force participating in the Peninsula Shield force is to contribute in restoring order and security” in Bahrain, Qatar news agency QNA quoted Colonel Abdullah Al-Hajri as saying late Thursday.

The Arab League as a tool of the US

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Beyond that, the diplomat said that officials in Britain, France and the United States were all adamant that Arab League forces take part in the military actions and help pay for the operations, and that it not be led by NATO, to avoid the appearance that the West was attacking another Muslim country.”

The puppets want the US occupation forces to stay

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“most diplomats and security officials on both sides agree that Iraq will still need American forces for training and advising well beyond 2011″.  Both sides? Which sides? Iraqis? The people?

unspecified steps

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Mr. Brennan acknowledged that the political turmoil in the Middle East in the past three months had breached or weakened counterterrorism cooperation among some Arab countries. But he added that the United States had taken unspecified steps in recent months to offset its losses in that area. Among those steps may be more electronic eavesdropping, spy satellite coverage and more informants on the ground, independent intelligence specialists said.”

stability of the tyrannical regime, they meant to say

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
“Although the United States has voiced sympathy for pro-democracy protesters here and elsewhere in the Arab world, it has special concerns about the stability of Yemen…”

They may have ruined the democratic change process in Libya

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
Whatever outcome in Libya, the new regime (most likely led by the idiot and charlatan, Mustafa `Abd-Al-Jalil) will be indebted to the Western governments and to the Saudi-led Arab counter-revolution.  That should give you an idea about the direction of the new regime.

Arab League

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
I have never heard such praise for Arab League as I have in recent days and weeks.  Just because the Arab League served as a tool for Western governments, it saw it fortune grew in Western eyes. Normally, American diplomats have only disdain for Arab League and for Amr Mousa.  Read the last books by James Baker, Martin Indyk, and Dennis Ross.  They all mocked the Arab League and its secretary-general, Amr Mousa.  The eager-beaver campaign for US and Western military intervention in Libya should be read as part of his presidential campaign.  He knows full well that he is disliked in Washington, DC (Indyk in his book complains that Mousa is too sensitive to Arab public opinion–notice that it is only a crime to be sensitive to public opinion if the public happens to be Arab) and he wants to earn some US support for his presidential aspirations.
HISTORY & ANALYSIS

Bush Doctrine Revised: Obama puts his stamp

from The Angry Arab News Service/وكالة أنباء العربي الغاضب by noreply@blogger.com (As’ad AbuKhalil)
The Western/Saudi/Qatari military intervention in Libya sets a dangerous precedent.  The charade of overthrowing regimes and invading countries in the name of democracy was a bloody farce in the case of Bush era.  They now don’t need to do that.  They can just jump on the case where they see a potential for a real democratic change and then guarantee the installation of a puppet regime without having “boots on the ground”, as Obama kept warning in White House meetings.  They bomb and kill and manage to maintain a high tone of moral uprightness while the puppet Arab League puts its ugly stamp to make it look like an Arab affair.  A useful idiot is needed, of course, and Mustafa `Abdul-Al-Jalil is perfect for the role and he has been so chummy with Saudi propaganda as of late.  Obama has modified Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: not only maintaining the occupations but guaranteeing long-term presence in both countries.  He has also started a war in Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen where the US is a major force in the war there.  Western enthusiasm for intervention in Libya has never even been explained: why the hundreds of deaths in Egypt or Tunisia did not warrant any condemnation (the State Department did manage to condemn the protesters in Egypt, lest we forget too soon)?  Israel manages to kill far more than Qadhdhafi and in shorter periods of time, and we never encounter the “humanitarian” impulse of Western governments there.  Western military intervention in Libya is far more dangerous: it is intended to legitimize the return of colonial powers to our region and 2) perhaps as importantly to abort democratic uprisings all over the region.  Bahrain of today is the vision for Libya of tomorrow, as far as the West is concerned.

How the No Fly Zone Can Succeed

from Informed Comment by Juan

The United Nations no-fly zone over Libya is risky but it can have a good outcome under certain conditions. Above all, it should look more like Kosovo than like Iraq.

[I should clarify that I think US participation in this effort should have been conditional on a vote of the US Congress. However, likely the Europeans and Arab League would have pursued the policy even in the absence of US involvement. In any case, my question as an analyst is where things might go from here.]

1. It should not be open-ended, but rather should have an expiration date. The no-fly zone is a response to a specific humanitarian crisis (the Qaddafi regime was firing tank and artillery shells at urban crowds protesting it). That crisis must not draw the UN allies into a years-long quagmire. (Such a situation developed in Iraq in the 1990s and contributed to the ultimate destruction of that country).

2. It should be a no-fly zone, not a war on the Qaddafi regime. Qaddafi tank columns should be interdicted from moving on Benghazi or Tobruk. But tanks just sitting around in Tripoli should not be targeted.

3. Once the no-fly zone is in place and Benghazi and points east are protected from reprisals, brokers should intervene to negotiate a diplomatic solution.

4. Officers who committed war crimes, as with ordering live fire on civilian crowds, must be prosecuted, but not everyone in the Libyan military should be tarred with that brush.

5. Amnesty might be offered to pro-Qaddafi officers and politicians provided they break with the dictator and send him into exile, as happened in Egypt and Tunisia. It is desirable that there be some continuity between the old regime and the new one, and that tribal factionalism and feuds and reprisals be avoided.

6. Countries opposed to or lukewarm toward the no-fly zone, but which are themselves democracies, such as India, Algeria and Russia, could be enlisted to meet with the officer corps in Tripoli and impress on them the need for a transition to parliamentary elections.

It is not impossible that there will be an outcome the world can live with, as happened in Bosnia and in Kosovo. In both places, local forces took the lead on the ground. Kosovo as a state originated in an externally enforced no fly zone.

That the world community has intervened in Libya but not in say, Yemen and Bahrain, has raised cries of hypocrisy. These charges are largely deserved. It is worth noting, however, that nowhere else in the Arab world where there have been widespread protests has the regime consistently responded with such massive brutality as in Libya. Yemen, with the sniper massacre of crowds on Friday, is moving in that direction, but Qaddafi has likely killed thousands since February 17, not just dozens.

From February 17, a peaceful protest movement broke out throughout Libya. Civilian crowds gathered without violence downtown, in Benghazi, Tobruk, Dirna, Zawiya, Zuara and even in the outskirts of Tripoli as in the working class town of Tajoura. City notables and military men in the east of the country formed a provisional government. Many diplomats declared for the provisional government, as did many officers and even cabinet members.

The Qaddafi regime responded with brutal violence to these non-violent protests. Early on, live fire was used against protesters in Tripoli itself. Last week, convoys of tanks rolled into Zawiya, supported by heavy artillery, firing on civilian crowds and on civilian apartment buildings. The tanks occupied the city center, and there are reports of a mass grave of the protesters. They were just protesters. They were easily defeated because they did not know, and most of them still do not know, how to handle a weapon. There were large numbers of self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the rebel ranks.

reporter on the scene in Zawiya spoke of ‘large numbers of deaths’ and a ‘massacre.’

 

The Zawiya scenario was repeated, in Zuara to its west, and in Misrata to its east (Misrata, a city of 600,000 and Libya’s third largest, appears to have fallen to Qaddafi this weekend, with his tanks occupying the city center in a dreary repetition of the death and destruction at Zawiya earlier).

Libya began as a protest. Some of the protesters (apparently only a few thousand) were turned into armed rebels as they sought to defend themselves. Qaddafi responded to the protest movement by firing tank and artillery shells at the protesters and at infrastructure in the rebel cities. Many are without water and electricity, creating a humanitarian crisis.

NATO military forces flying in response to the UNSC resolution must seek to replicate the successes in Kosovo and not the failures in Iraq.

 

 

 

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This entry was posted in Background & Analysis, Bahrain, Egypt, Events, Imperialism, Imperialist Interference & Views, Libya, Middle East, Military, Saudi Arabia, US Foreign Policy, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

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