Revolution in the Air: 3/22/11: Obama administration explains why Bahrain is not a tyranny


The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 110

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

“The No-Fly Zone Has Always Been a Recipe for Disaster”: Jeremy Scahill Says Libyan Strategy Has No Endgame


Headlines for March 22, 2011

The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Thursday, Day 110

from The Nation Blogs: Media Fix by Greg Mitchell

Bahrain update

A confidential source sent me this:  “There is something very strange going on in Bahrain.  Bahrain’s General Labor Union called off the general strikes today morning.  All these people started saying that the union’s head was be threatened by the government or that the information was false.  The seven opposition societies then came out and said that despite what the union said, they are calling all workers to continue the strike.  The union then comes out and denies that it was threatened and releases a clear statement calling for the strikes to end.  The seven opposition societies then come out and say that they support the unions decision and call for the end of the strikes.  The youth movement then come out and say that they are against the opposition’s decision and that the strikes should continue.  Meanwhile, although violence has subsided in some areas, there was renewed shooting in the village of Naim and fighter jets flying really low from the sky.”

US planes and helicopters in Iraq and Afghanistan are never shot down: they always experience mechanical failures

“Vince Crawley, a spokesman for the Africa Command, says the crash could have been due to a mechanical failure. “We do not believe it was shot down,” Crawley said Tuesday.” US armed forces have great weapons but they lack good mechanics, it seems.

Jeremy Scahill: As Mass Uprising Threatens the Regime, A Look at the Covert U.S. War in Yemen

Play_jeremy-use_thisThe crisis in Yemen is growing following high-level defections from the regime of U.S.-backed President Ali Abudullah Saleh. On Monday, a dozen top military leaders announced their pledge to protect the protest movement after 45 people were killed and some 350 were wounded when Yemeni forces opened fire on demonstrators in the capital of Sana’a on Friday—after two months of nationwide demonstrations. In recent years, the United States has provided hundreds of millions of dollars in military and security aid to Yemen. “The Obama administration has really escalated the covert war inside of Yemen and has dramatically increased the funding to Yemen’s military, particularly its elite counter-terrorism unit, which is trained by U.S. special operations forces,” says Democracy Now! correspondent and independent journalist Jeremy Scahill. “It could get much worse if President Saleh decides to release the U.S. trained counter-terrorism units on his own.”

“The No-Fly Zone Has Always Been a Recipe for Disaster”: Jeremy Scahill Says Libyan Strategy Has No Endgame

Jeremy-lybia-use_thisThe U.S. and allied air strikes on Libya have entered their fourth day as part of an international effort to enforce a no-fly zone. While the United States is denying it is attempting to assassinate Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi, allied forces bombed his compound for the second night in a row. “In Iraq, [the no-fly zone] resulted in the strengthening of Saddam Hussein’s regime … I think it could end up backfiring in a tremendous way and keeping Gaddafi in power even longer,” says Jeremy Scahill, Democracy Now! correspondent and independent journalist.

Rescue and…shoot the villagers (the last item is in passing, by the way)

“The other pilot was reported to be safe and in “American hands”. Six villagers were believed to have been shot by a US helicopter during his rescue.”

The War for Libya’s West: More Qaddafi Massacres

from Informed Comment by Juan

The United Nations no-fly zone over Libya so far extends only over the rebel-held east, especially Benghazi. It seems to stop at Ajdabiya, where fierce fighting is reported.

Mandy Clark of CBS reports from Benghazi: says that their correspondent in Ajdabiya, Abd al-Azim Muhammad, reports that the western quarters of the city took tank and rocket fire from pro-Qaddafi forces on Monday, with many homes destroyed.

Aljazeera English reports on Qaddafi’s forces in Ajdabiya, who are “in a strong position,” and on the UN allies’destruction of the armored brigades that had been heading to commit a massacre in Benghazi.


I take it that the no-fly zone cannot yet be extended to the West because there are still too many anti-aircraft batteries in and around Tripoli, and the planes of the UN allies would risk being downed. That is why the allies continued their bombardment of Tripoli and of other Qaddafi strongholds such as Sabha in the south. Sabha, a town of about 130,000, is a center of the Qadadfah tribe to which Qaddafi belongs.

Under cover of its anti-aircraft installations, the pro-Qaddafi military is waging a fierce battle to take as much of western Libya (traditional Tripolitania) as possible. On Monday, armored brigades launched fierce attacks on Zintan and Misrata.

Libya 3/21/11Libya 3/21/11

Eyewitnesses told Reuters that 40 pro-Qaddafi tanks had gathered at the foothills near Zintan, and were subjecting the city to bombardment. Civilian homes and a mosque minaret were destroyed. reports that Zintan is surrounded on three sides an fierce battles are ongoing between its people and the pro-Qaddafi tank corps. Late Monday, the tanks were firing on dwellings to the south of the city, destroying some of them. The tanks are positioned to prevent ambulances from making a run with the wounded to Tunisia. Many civilians are fleeing the city, some now living in nearby caves, according to Reuters Arabic. says that at the same time, rebel sources in Libya have alleged that Qaddafi’s forces heavily bombarded Misrata, which lies west of Tripoli and is Libya’s third-largest city. Jamal Salim of the Libyan Youth of Revolution told Aljazeera that Qaddafi’s brigades opened fire with live ammunition on protesters, killing or wounding “dozens.” Misrata residents told Reuters that “the residents of Misrata went into the streets and into the center of the city unarmed, in an attempt to prevent Qaddafi’s forces from entering the city, when those forces opend fire on them with rifles and artillery.” He added, “They committed a massacre and at least 9 people were killed.

Rebel sources also said that Qaddafi’s forces were rounding up civilians from villages near Misrata and herding them with the military convoys as human shields.

The following video claims to show Qaddafi forces’ attacks on Misrata on Monday but could not be verified:

Qadhdhafi’s army: they are only authorized to shoot Arabs

“Then another soldier spoke up. “One of the others said: ‘No, they’re American. We can’t shoot them,’ ” Mr. Hicks said.

The Mustafa `Abd Al-Jalil council

“The behavior of the fledgling rebel government in Benghazi so far offers few clues to the rebels’ true nature. Their governing council is composed of secular-minded professionals — lawyers, academics, businesspeople — who talk about democracy, transparency, human rights and the rule of law. But their commitment to those principles is just now being tested as they confront the specter of potential Qaddafi spies in their midst, either with rough tribal justice or a more measured legal process.

Like the Qaddafi government, the operation around the rebel council is rife with family ties. And like the chiefs of the Libyan state news media, the rebels feel no loyalty to the truth in shaping their propaganda, claiming nonexistent battlefield victories, asserting they were still fighting in a key city days after it fell to Qaddafi forces, and making vastly inflated claims of his barbaricbehavior.”  I should only add that the `Abd Al-Jalil marginalized the lawyers and professionals and secularists.

Obama administration explains why Bahrain is not a tyranny

“Administration officials say the U.S. in intervening in Libya and not Bahrain or Yemen because the scale of the repression is vastly different.  “Bahrain has been a longtime ally of the United States of America and a longtime partner,” National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Sunday in response to a question about that country’s crackdown on protesters. He added that Bahrain was attempting to work with theopposition…”

Aljazeera propaganda

This will now become a regular feature on this blog.  Today, Aljazeera kept running these words in its news banner: that its correspondent in Libya noted the “extreme accuracy” of the US and “allied” bombing.  I kid you not.  I want to know the different between “accuracy” and “extreme accuracy” and I want to know how its correspondent was able to note that or measure it.  I mean, armies usually take reconnaissance flights and satellite images to assess accuracy of bombings but the Aljazeera correspondent in Libya is able to do that with his own eyes. Very advanced indeed.

Saudi private views to US embassy during the Israeli war on Lebanon: Wikileaks

“Speaking about the violence in Israel-Lebanon, Malki mentioned that his students were disenchanted with the SAG’s handling of the situation. Noting that “they all laughed” about the July 14 statement issued by the SAG, Malki explained that the broader feeling is that Israel over-reacted in their attacks and that the Kingdom should not just pretend to be neutral when innocent Arabs are being killed. Additionally, Angawi noted his deep sadness by the current events and wished that the international community would ascribe the same value to Muslim, Christian and Jewish children. He stated that he felt that the Israeli response was disproportionate to the kidnapping of their soldiers.”

Michael Slackman

Michael Slackman is a good correspondent for the New York Times, and he wrote an excellent piece for the last Week in Review section of the Sunday Times. But I don’t understand this piece of his today: he could not find one Arab who is opposed to US and Western bombing of Libya?  Yes, Qadhdhafi is destested by Arab leaders (and that explains Arab League move, in addition to US/Saudi orders to Amr Mousa), and he has no fans among the Arab public, but to suggest that there are no Arabs opposed to the Western bombing is quite a stretch.  Personally, I don’t know of one Arab intellectual (among the leftists and Arab nationalists, in the region and outside) who is in favor of Western bombing.

Top Ten Ways that Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003

from Informed Comment by Juan
[Comment from Rick: What is missing from this posting is an analysis of what the “realist” wing of the US ruling circles expect to get out of the Libyan intervention. Without this, the posting seems unlikely to reassure those elements of the international community who oppose the intervention.]

Here are the differences between George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current United Nations action in Libya:

1. The action in Libya was authorized by the United Nations Security Council. That in Iraq was not. By the UN Charter, military action after 1945 should either come as self-defense or with UNSC authorization. Most countries in the world are signatories to the charter and bound by its provisions.

2. The Libyan people had risen up and thrown off the Qaddafi regime, with some 80-90 percent of the country having gone out of his hands before he started having tank commanders fire shells into peaceful crowds. It was this vast majority of the Libyan people that demanded the UN no-fly zone. In 2002-3 there was no similar popular movement against Saddam Hussein.

3. There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and the threat of more such massacres in Benghazi, by the Qaddafi regime, which precipitated the UNSC resolution. Although the Saddam Hussein regime had massacred people in the 1980s and early 1990s, nothing was going on in 2002-2003 that would have required international intervention.

4. The Arab League urged the UNSC to take action against the Qaddafi regime, and in many ways precipitated Resolution 1973. The Arab League met in 2002 and expressed opposition to a war on Iraq. (Reports of Arab League backtracking on Sunday were incorrect, based on a remark of outgoing Secretary-General Amr Moussa that criticized the taking out of anti-aircraft batteries. The Arab League reaffirmed Sunday and Moussa agreed Monday that the No-Fly Zone is what it wants).

5. None of the United Nations allies envisages landing troops on the ground, nor does the UNSC authorize it. Iraq was invaded by land forces.

6. No false allegations were made against the Qaddafi regime, of being in league with al-Qaeda or of having a nuclear weapons program. The charge is massacre of peaceful civilian demonstrators and an actual promise to commit more such massacres.

7. The United States did not take the lead role in urging a no-fly zone, and was dragged into this action by its Arab and European allies. President Obama pledges that the US role, mainly disabling anti-aircraft batteries and bombing runways, will last “days, not months” before being turned over to other United Nations allies.

8. There is no sectarian or ethnic dimension to the Libyan conflict, whereas the US Pentagon conspired with Shiite and Kurdish parties to overthrow the Sunni-dominated Baathist regime in Iraq, setting the stage for a prolonged and bitter civil war.

9. The US has not rewarded countries such as Norway for entering the conflict as UN allies, but rather a genuine sense of outrage at the brutal crimes against humanity being committed by Qaddafi and his forces impelled the formation of this coalition. The Bush administration’s ‘coalition of the willing’ in contrast was often brought on board by what were essentially bribes.

10. Iraq in 2002-3 no longer posed a credible threat to its neighbors. A resurgent Qaddafi in Libya with petroleum billions at his disposal would likely attempt to undermine the democratic experiments in Tunisia and Egypt, blighting the lives of millions.

Colonial return

As’ad Abu Khalil, a Lebanese-American professor of political science at California State University, warned that Western military intervention in Libya could abort democratic uprisings in the region. “Bahrain of today is the vision for Libya tomorrow, as far as the West is concerned,” he said. “The charade of overthrowing regimes and invading countries in the name of democracy was a bloody farce in the [George W.] Bush era.”  Abu Khalil, who publishes the popular Web site ‘The Angry Arab’, also cautioned against the Western powers’ “colonialist” ambitions. He claimed that Western military intervention in Libya was intended to “legitimise the return of colonial powers to our region.””
This entry was posted in Afghanistan, Background & Analysis, Bahrain, Counterinsurgency, Drug War, Events, Human Rights, Imperialism, Imperialist Interference & Views, Libya, Middle East, Military, Obama, Revolution, Saudi Arabia, US "Defense", US Foreign Policy, Yemen. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s