Saturday, August 27, 2011
Regime troops killed 53 people in a warehouse and then burnt the bodies, say local people
By David Randall and Jonathan Owen
Sunday, 28 August 2011
"The terrible price many Libyan people have paid to be free of Colonel Gaddafi is becoming plain. Yesterday, only a day after more than 120 decomposing bodies were found in a Tripoli hospital, a British television team filmed the charred remains of an estimated 53 people in a burnt-out warehouse in the south of the city.
Stuart Ramsay of Sky News was led to the building by residents who had made the discovery. Inside was a scene of mass cremation: more than four dozen corpses of what were once human beings, their ages and genders impossible to tell. Ribcages, skulls and other bones lay in a blackened mess. Local people told of how the bodies of perhaps as many as 100 others lay nearby, including those of two soldiers with their hands behind their backs who had been executed for refusing to fire on the victims of the massacre, be they regime critics, civilians, or other refusenik soldiers.
The residents said they had been alerted by shooting some days ago, but when they tried to approach they were told by regime snipers that they would be shot if they did not retreat. After the Gaddafi men left, they went inside the warehouse, which is next to a military base. They said that in the past few weeks, they had seen people digging at night and the sound of gunfire. In the morning, the holes would be filled in...."
The Observer, Sunday 28 August 2011
"Major British companies are hatching plans to relaunch their businesses in Libya – just days after news of the apparent downfall of the Gaddafi regime. Previously war-torn capitals such as Baghdad and Kabul have rapidly become targets for western capitalism, with major US and European retailers now jostling for position on shopping streets. And already FTSE 100 constituents such as engineering firm Weir Group and oil major BP are seeking to make contact with Libyan officials as companies formulate early plans to return to a country they fled in February....
However, Libya's rebels are examining allegations of corruption within the country's $65bn sovereign wealth fund, a probe that is thought to include examining, and perhaps renegotiating, any contracts that were improperly handed out to friends of Colonel Gaddafi's son, Saif. One oil industry expert says: "Even though there are these assurances [of being allowed to return], the whole history of the oil industry is of contracts being occasionally rewritten … But the Libyans will need foreign exchange, so I'd expect them to crank up [oil and gas] production pretty quickly. However, these things do take time."...."
(Click on map to enlarge)
"Libyan rebels claim to have total control over Bin Jawad.
If they are able to hold onto the city, they will have overcome a major obstacle in their advance towards Sirte, Gaddafi's hometown.
Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland reports from Bin Jawad, Libya."
"Activists say one person has been killed in Kafarsouseh, Damascus, as security forces fired on protesters and besieged a mosque.
Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh reports from the Jordanian side of the Jordan-Syria border."
"With Muammar Gaddafi on the run, many political prisoners who opposed him have been set free by Libyan rebel forces and are returning home.
At least 107 political prisoners held in the Abu Salim prison have returned home to the eastern city of Benghazi.
Many families are scanning lists of those freed from prison, anxiously looking for the names of their loved ones.
Al Jazeera's Scott Heidler reports from Benghazi."
"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.....
But just as the Americans were happy to work with Gaddafi, they will be as keen to work with his successors, who now owe their positions to foreign intervention.
The Americans must hope that the National Transitional Council (NTC) which the US has recognized as the new government will be less mercurial and even more open to “military to military,” and other kinds of ties."
26 August 2011
"Amnesty International has uncovered evidence that forces loyal to Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi have killed numerous detainees being held at two military camps in Tripoli on 23 and 24 August.
Eyewitness testimony from escaped detainees described how loyalist troops used grenades and gunfire on scores of prisoners at one camp, while guards at the other camp shot dead five detainees they were holding in solitary confinement....
Both the Khilit al-Ferjan and Qasr Ben Ghashir camps were reportedly used by the Khamis Katiba brigade, headed by Khamis al-Gaddafi, Colonel al-Gaddafi’s son."
يشار إلى أن قاسم والذي يوصف بمعارضته السلطة الفلسطينية يعد من المؤسسين في الجامعة التي يعمل بها منذ أكثر من 34 عاما.
وتعرض في مرات سابقة وكثيرة لعمليات اعتقال على أيدي أجهزة السلطة، بناء على تهم تمت تبرئته منها لاحقا، كما أحرقت سيارته وأطلقت النيران عليه، لأسباب تعود بالمجمل لمعارضته النظام السياسي الفلسطيني، ورفضه اتفاق أوسلو الذي أبرمته السلطة مع إسرائيل مطلع تسعينيات القرن الماضي. "
Friday, August 26, 2011
Charlotte Higgins, chief arts writer
guardian.co.uk, Friday 26 August 2011
""The moment that the Libyan rebels entered the Gaddafi compound was astonishing: and it was also slightly eerie. You could see bullets, but no faces. And to me this was symbolic of the Gaddafi regime, of how it has surrounded itself with appearances, and stories.
"This week has been like that moment when you surface from a nightmare and realise that though the nightmare-image is terrifying, it is also incredibly fragile."
Such was the description of recent events in Libya by one of the country's leading novelists, Hisham Matar, whose cousin Izz al Arab Matar, a member of the rebel front, was shot dead in Gaddafi's compound on Tuesday....."
THIS IS WHAT SECTARIANISM AND BEING OWNED BY IRAN DOES TO YOU.
HIZBULLAH HAS ALREADY LOST A LOT OF SUPPORT THROUGHOUT THE ARAB WORLD BECAUSE OF THIS STANCE TOWARDS THE SYRIAN REVOLUTION
I AM GLAD THAT HAMAS WAS MUCH MORE PRINCIPLED THAN HIZBULLAH IN THIS REGARD.
"دعا الأمين العام لـحزب الله حسن نصر الله مساء الجمعة إلى تسوية سلمية في سوريا التي تشهد منذ أكثر من خمسة أشهر احتجاجات مطالبة بالديمقراطية تعرضت لحملة قمع من نظام الرئيس بشار الأسد أوقعت آلاف القتلى والجرحى من المدنيين.
وقال نصر الله في كلمة بثت خلال احتفال بيوم القدس العالمي في بلدة مارون الراس في جنوب لبنان حضره آلاف من أنصار حزب الله إن على كل الذين يدّعون أنهم أصدقاء لسوريا وحريصون عليها وعلى شعبها أن يساعدوا على التوصل إلى تهدئة الوضع, وإلى حوار تسوية سلمية.
واعتبر الأمين العام لحزب الله أن الإصلاحات ينبغي أن تتم في أجواء هادئة وليس تحت الضغط, قائلا إن الكل متفق على الحاجة إلى إصلاحات كبيرة وهامة حتى تتطور سوريا, وتصبح أقوى.
ضغط لأجل التنازلات
ورأى نصر الله أن الولايات المتحدة والغرب يريدان في الواقع أن تقدم سوريا تنازلات لا القيام بإصلاحات.
كما اتهم الغرب بأنه يسعى إلى تحويل سوريا إلى لبنان ثان من خلال إثارة فتنة طائفية فيها. وتحدث في هذا السياق عن "دكتاتوريات قاسية" تحظى بدعم وتأييد وحماية أميركا وفرنسا وبريطانيا والغرب.
وقال نصر الله "يجب أن نقف جميعا مع سوريا حتى لا تتنازل فتبقى في قوتها وموقعها القومي, وحتى تتمكن من تحقيق الإصلاحات براحة وبطمأنينة
وبثقة لأنه أيضا تحت الضغط هذا يبطئ الإصلاحات".
وأضاف "لا يمكن أن يمشي أحد سريعا في إصلاحات تحت الضغط لأن هذا يدعو إلى القلق".
وحذر الأمين العام لحزب الله -الذي تتهمه المعارضة السورية بالمساهمة في قمع الاحتجاجات بسوريا- من أن أي معالجة غير سلمية للأزمة ستكون خطرا على سوريا ولبنان وفلسطين والمنطقة برمتها, معتبرا أن النظام السوري حال دون تقديم تنازلات لإسرائيل في عملية التسوية بدعمه للمقاومة.
ورأى نصر الله أنه لو ضعفت القيادة السورية لضاعت قضية فلسطين. ويتفق هذا الموقف من الإصلاحات في سوريا مع الموقف الذي عبر عنه يوم الأربعاء الرئيس الإيراني محمود أحمدي نجاد حين دعا بدوره إلى تسوية سلمية بين النظام والمحتجين.
TAKE THIS PRESENT FROM THE SYRIAN PEOPLE, Mr. NASRALLAH.
"....."This regime already used guns against the Palestinian people. In Tel al-Zatar and Shatila during the camp wars and elsewhere in Lebanon, we didn't forget what they did to us," the journalist said, referring to Palestinian camps in Lebanon that came under attack either by Syrian forces or its allies during the civil war in Lebanon from 1975-1990.
"The Syrian regime is using the issue of Palestine to kill his own people. [If it cared about Palestine] it should've opened the border [to return to Palestine] decades ago," he said. "We will not give [Bashar] the chance to use us again, and we will not help him kill his own people.""
الأرجح أنّ توقُف الدعم الإيراني لحركة حماس لم يبدأ منذ شهرين فقط، وإنما توقف عمليا منذ ستة شهور كما تشير دلائل ومعلومات كثيرة، من بينها الأزمة المالية التي تعانيها الحكومة في قطاع غزة، الأمر الذي يرتبط من دون شك بموقف الحركة الرافض لتأييد النظام السوري في معركته ضد شعبه المطالب بالحرية
عندما اندلعت الانتفاضة الشعبية في سوريا كان من الطبيعي أن يطلب النظام تأييد حركة حماس كجزء مما يراه ردا للجميل على استضافتها في سوريا منذ عقد ونيف، تحديدا منذ إبعاد قادتها من عمان نهاية التسعينيات، لكن الحركة لم يكن بوسعها أن تفعل ذلك، ليس فقط لأن التحالف مع سوريا كان ضد الكيان الصهيوني وليس ضد الشعب السوري، بل أيضا لاعتبارات الوفاء للسوريين الذين منحوها الحاضنة الدافئة، ومعها الكثير من الدعم المالي السخي من دون حسابات سياسية غير حسابات المبادئ الدينية والقومية.
ولو أخذت الحركة موقفا مؤيدا للنظام لخسرت خسارة رهيبة، ويكفي أن ندرك حجم خسارة حزب الله (رغم كونه شيعيا) في هذه المعركة لكي ندرك ما كان يمكن أن يترتب من خسائر على حركة حماس (السنية).
لقد وقفنا منذ اليوم الأول مع ثورة الشعب السوري، ولم نتردد لحظة واحدة، في ذات الوقت الذي قدرنا أيضا موقف حماس المحايد تبعا لوضعها الخاص، ورأيناه موقفا يستحق التقدير
بالنسبة لإيران، يمكن القول إن موقفها من الثورة السورية كان سيئا بكل المقاييس، هي التي أقامت الدنيا من أجل البحرين (مطالب الناس الإصلاحية فيها محقة إلى حد كبير). ولا شك أن عقابها (أعني إيران) لحماس على موقفها سيكون أكثر إثارة للشارع العربي والإسلامي، وبالطبع لما يعنيه من حسم لموقفها المذهبي، وبالتالي الكف عن مساعي كسب تعاطف واحترام سائر أبناء الأمة، الأمر الذي قد ينطبق بقدر ما على حزب الله مع الأسف الشديد، مع فارق أن إيران هي المسؤولة عن الحزب ومواقفه من الناحية العملية.
It official; Col Muammar Gaddafi is now a guest of Zimbabwean despot Robert Mugabe in Harare, but activists of the Movement for Democratic Change, the MDC Veterans Activists Association (VAA) have called on Zimbabweans to storm the house in the Gunhill suburb of Harare to effect a mass citizens' arrest.
In a statement today the VAA said Gaddafi staged a nocturnal entry into Zimbabwe aboard a Zimbabwe Air force jet that landed at Suri-Suri Airbase in Chegutu at 01:07am on Wednesday morning.
“He was quickly whisked to a sprawling mansion in Harare’s Gunhill suburb under the cover of darkness with members of MDC VAA in a secret pursuit.
“We kept a hawk’s eye on the house since Wednesday until this morning (Friday) and we don’t doubt even for a second that the fallen despot is now a ‘unique guest’ to Robert Mugabe.
The Guardian, Friday 26 August 2011
"The dramatic developments in Libya are raising comparisons with the uprising in Syria. In particular, some are asking what the role of the international community should be. Inside Syria itself, though, there has been no call for external military intervention – the people are opposed to any foreign meddling. This position is tenable because several interlinked factors – "objective" and "subjective" – make the fall of Bashar al-Assad's regime inevitable.
First, the objective factors. The uprising has entered a new phase, with the opposition and protest movement widening to include professional groups such as lawyers and doctors. This adds a new dynamic to confrontations with the regime. Doctors have organised themselves into co-ordinating committees to provide medical aid and treatment to protesters. Their logistical and humanitarian support for the injured brought to hospitals or makeshift clinics has made them targets for systematic attack and arrest....
Although these objective conditions are undermining the regime's social base, subjective factors will determine its future. These have to do with Syrians' feelings towards the regime. By publicly expressing their contempt, anger and disdain for the regime and Assad personally, Syrians are self-compelled to persist in their protest until they are rid of both.....
The public performances of the uprising have broken the people's forced silence. Their rallying cry of "Yalla Irhal Ya Bashar" ("Depart, oh Bashar") and the epithets they have attached to the president's name ("murderer", "shedder of blood") illustrate their disdain and disrespect for his person. The cumulative effect of thousands of daily public expressions of derision towards Assad binds Syrians irrevocably to the goal of removing him.....
....a number of possible scenarios emerge, all leading to Assad's inevitable downfall: increased defections in the army leading to military infighting that could spill over into civil strife; external military intervention with similar consequences; or steadfastness from Syrians in their peaceful struggle, sustained by the expansion of their movement and driven by their unyielding will to see the end of a despised authoritarian regime.
Clearly the third is the scenario that will best achieve the uprising's goals...."
guardian.co.uk, Friday 26 August 2011
"Ali Ferzat, a renowned political cartoonist whose drawings expressed Syrians' frustrated hopes for change was grabbed after he left his studio early Thursday and beaten by masked gunmen who broke his hands and dumped him on a road outside Damascus. "
Syrian cartoonist brother speaks to Al Jazeera
Thursday, August 25, 2011
"The boy, small and frail, is struggling to stay awake. His head lolls to the side, at one point slumping on to his chest. "Lift up your head! Lift it up!" shouts one of his interrogators, slapping him. But the boy by now is past caring, for he has been awake for at least 12 hours since he was separated at gunpoint from his parents at two that morning. "I wish you'd let me go," the boy whimpers, "just so I can get some sleep."
During the nearly six-hour video, 14-year-old Palestinian Islam Tamimi, exhausted and scared, is steadily broken to the point where he starts to incriminate men from his village and weave fantastic tales that he believes his tormentors want to hear.
This rarely seen footage seen by The Independent offers a glimpse into an Israeli interrogation, almost a rite of passage that hundreds of Palestinian children accused of throwing stones undergo every year....
Lawyers and activists say more than 200 Palestinian children are in Israeli jails. "You want to arrest these kids, you want to try them," Ms Lalo says. "Fine, but do it according to Israeli law. Give them their rights."...."
"Syria's most renowned political cartoonist, who recently drew a sketch comparing President Bashar al-Assad to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi [See cartoon below], had both his hands broken in an attack yesterday by masked gunmen who dragged the 60-year-old out of his car.
Ali Ferzat, whose satirical art once drew death threats from Saddam Hussein, was treated in hospital. He was attack as he left his Damascus studio at four o'clock yesterday morning.
Mr Ferzat was trailed by a 4x4 with tinted windows, said activists, and one of Mr Ferzat's relatives. Four men then dragged him out of his car, forced him into the Jeep and drove out to a highway on the outskirts of the capital. "We will break your hands so that you'll stop drawing," said the gunmen, the relative told the Associated Press news agency....."
Harriet Sherwood in Jerusalem
The Guardian, Friday 26 August 2011
"....If the bid succeeds, UN representation of the Palestinian people would shift from the global Palestinian Liberation Organisation – currently recognised as the "sole and legitimate representative" of all Palestinians around the world – to the envoy of a state based in the West Bank and Gaza. Millions of Palestinian refugees who live in the diaspora could be "accidentally disenfranchised", according to a seven-page legal opinion by Guy Goodwin-Gill.
Goodwin-Gill, a professor of international law at Oxford, concludes "the interests of the Palestinian people are at risk of prejudice and fragmentation". Palestinians in the diaspora risk losing "their entitlement to equal representation ... their ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national governance, including the formation and political identity of the state, and to exercise the right of return.".....
Goodwin-Gill says that his opinion is intended to "identify problems potentially affecting the right of Palestinian people to self-determination... [and] to flag matters requiring attention." His opinion was commissioned by Karma Nabulsi, a former PLO representative and now an Oxford professor. The document has been submitted to Palestinian officials leading the UN bid, who have acknowledged receipt but made no public comment.
Nabulsi said the opinion clarifies "red lines" in relation to the bid for statehood. "In losing the PLO as the sole legitimate representative at the UN, our people immediately lose our claim as refugees to be part of our official representation, recognised by the world.
"This is an urgent and critical issue for our whole people. We must ensure our representatives advance our rights in international forum, not weaken or endanger them."
She called for clarity from the PLO in its response to the legal opinion and for reassurances to Palestinian refugees in the diaspora that their "core rights" of representation and the right of return would remain untouched....."
Luke Harding in Tripoli
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 August 2011
"The Gaddafi regime carried out an extraordinary clandestine lobbying operation to try to stop Nato's bombardment of Libya, and believed the western allies were likely to launch a full-scale invasion in "either late September or October".
Secret documents in Tripoli seen by the Guardian reveal the desperate attempts made by the Libyan government in its final months to influence US and world opinion. It approached key international opinion formers from the US president Barack Obama downwards.
The regime tried to persuade the Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich – a well-known rebel who voted against Nato military action in Libya, and opposed the Iraq war – to visit Tripoli as part of a hastily arranged "peace mission". The Libyan government offered to pay all Kucinich's costs related to the trip, including "travel expenses and accommodation"....."
"The headquarters of Libya's intelligence services - a notorious symbol of Muammar Gaddafis 42-year rule - is now firmly in rebel hands.
Detailed reports on anyone opposing him would come directly to this building. Parts of the compound also served as a prison, with secret cells housing many Libyans that the regime would make disappear.
The building is full of confidential documents that could provide a valuable insight into what was one of the world's most secretive regimes.
But it will take weeks to sift through.
Jamal Elshayyal reports from Tripoli in this Al Jazeera Exclusive."
"Al Jazeera's correspondent James Bays visited a hospital in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where he saw the bodies of 15 men - believed to be civilians killed in a mass execution. He had this report.
[Note: this report contains images that may offend sensitive viewers]"
The US administration of President Barack Obama was even more actively involved than previously known in enforcing the siege of Gaza along Egypt’s border with the territory. And the Pentagon provided direct assistance and technology for these efforts, a newly released official document reveals.
The US Embassy cable dated 8 April 2009 and released yesterday by Wikileaks is a briefing document for US Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) – a hardline supporter of Israel – who was in Egypt to meet with officials. At the time, Lowey chaired an important congressional committee that oversees aid to Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Moreover, the cable shows that the Americans coordinated Egypt’s efforts to keep Gaza sealed from the outside world directly with Egyptian Army chief Field Marshal Muhammad Tantawi – who is currently Egypt’s military ruler. Tantawi heads the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) that has ruled Egypt since the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak last February.
"Al Jazeera's Nisreen El Shamayleh reporting from Ramtha on the border with Jordan said: "We understand that a total of 17 people have been killed since Wednesday, Deir ez-Zour is coming under heavy attack by Syrian troops that are backed by tanks.
"At least 118 tanks were stationed in Shuhail town where several protests have taken place there in the last few month.""
"....Control of the steady inflow of billions from Libya’s oil exports is a prize that will keep Libya’s many factions in confrontation and fuel the continued oil lust of the Western powers.
NATO’s overthrow of former ally Muammar Gadaffi will also set a precedent for future oil adventures in the event of turbulence in the Arabian Peninsula, Algeria, and, clearly, in Iran. Syria is at least fortunate in having little oil.
It’s very hard to see how Gadaffi can survive the collapse of his regime. The International Criminal Court in the Hague has an arrest warrant out for him and son Seif ul-Islam. Many Libyans want his head.
Gadaffi’s only hope is to flee to refuge in a friendly African nation, perhaps Zimbabwe, Angola or Mali.
"....So what was Avnery’s warning about?
The “social protest movement is gathering momentum,” wrote Avnery. “At that point, there will be a temptation – perhaps an irresistible temptation – to ‘warm up the borders’. To start a nice little war. Call on the youth of Israel, the same young people now manning…the tents, to go and defend the fatherland.”
It was an unnerving warning, not only because it came from Avnery, a veteran well-versed in his understanding of the Israel ruling class, but also because it actualized in its entirety a few days later.....
Why did Israel cut Gaza’s communication off? Was the ‘credible provocation’ being concocted then? Why did Israel fail to provide a reasonable explanation for the blackout? More, why the attempt at embarrassing, provoking and perhaps dragging Egypt into a border confrontation at a time when Egypt is attempting a transition towards democracy?
It ought to be said that “new Egypt’ was also credited for facilitating Palestinian unity, a first step towards taking Hamas out of its international isolation.
Is it not then possible that Israel’s ‘nice little war’ was a response to such a dangerous shift in Egyptian policy towards Hamas - and Palestine in general?"
"CAIRO - Egypt’s most organised political group, the Muslim Brotherhood, is tapping crowds as a new financing method for its nascent TV station and media outlets to be able to compete with well-oiled challengers in corporate and government- run media......"
"تحت عنوان "سري" كتب يوسي ميلمان في صحيفة "هآرتس" اليوم أن احتمالات أن تنجح إسرائيل في إقامة علاقات، حتى على المستوى الأدنى مع النظام الليبي الجديد الذي سيقوم في طرابلس، ليست كبيرة كما كان بالإمكان فهم ذلك من المقابلة التي أجريت يوم الثلاثاء مع معارض ليبي مقيم في لندن (أحمد شباني).
وأضافت أنه منذ تشكيل الثوار الليبيون للحكومة في بنغازي قبل نصف سنة، حاولت جهات مختلفة في إسرائيل جس النبض في ما إذا كان بالإمكان إقامة علاقة معينة معهم. وشارك في هذه المحاولات رجال أعمال يهود غالبيتهم مهاجرون من ليبيا، وقاموا بإرسال رسائل إلى وزارة الخارجية الإسرائيلية وجهات أخرى ادعوا فيها أنهم على معرفة بهذه الشخصية أو تلك في المجلس الانتقالي، وعرضوا المساعدة في إقامة علاقات.
وتابعت الصحيفة أنه تم فحص هذه الرسائل ورفضت. وأن إسرائيل اتخذت قرارا بعدم المشاركة في الحرب الدائرة في ليبيا طالما أنها في أوجها.
"From the point of view of the real Libyan war "winners", it's bye-bye to "subversive" ideas such as dumping the US dollar and the euro to create a single currency for Arab and African nations and a big hello to ultra sweet oil contracts and an array of concessions. While nothing would be sweeter for the House of Saud than a friendly new emirate in northern Africa, real control is still an open game as no one yet knows what influence Islamists will be able to wield in post-Gaddafi Libya....."
Thursday, 25 August 2011
By Robert Fisk
"Doomed always to fight the last war, we are recommitting the same old sin in Libya.
Muammar Gaddafi vanishes after promising to fight to the death. Isn't that just what Saddam Hussein did? And of course, when Saddam disappeared and US troops suffered the very first losses from the Iraqi insurgency in 2003, we were told – by the US proconsul Paul Bremer, the generals, diplomats and the decaying television "experts" – that the gunmen of the resistance were "die-hards", "dead-enders" who didn't realise that the war was over. And if Gaddafi and his egg-headed son remain at large – and if the violence does not end – how soon will we be introduced once more to the "dead-enders" who simply will not understand that the lads from Benghazi are in charge and that the war is over? Indeed, within 15 minutes – literally – of my writing the above words (2pm yesterday), a Sky News reporter had re-invented "die-hards" as a definition for Gaddafi's men. See what I mean?....
...But in his skewed, shrewd view of the Libyan world, Gaddafi would do better to survive and live – to continue a civil-tribal conflict and thus consume the West's new Libyan friends in the swamp of guerrilla warfare – and slowly sap the credibility of the new "transitional" power.
But the unpredictable nature of the Libyan war means that words rarely outlive their writing...."
AN EXCELLENT COMMENT
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 August 2011
"They don't give up. For the third time in a decade, British and US forces have played the decisive role in the overthrow of an Arab or Muslim regime. As rebel forces pressed home their advantage across Libya under continuing Nato air support , politicians in London and Paris preened themselves on their role as the midwives of a "new Libya".
It's all supposed to be different this time, of course. The lessons of the west's blood-drenched occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan are said to have been learned: no boots on the ground, UN backing, proper planning and Libyans in the lead. But the echoes of Baghdad and, even more, Kabul have been eerie – and not only in the made-for-TV images of the sacking of compounds and smashing of statues, or the street banners hailing Nato leaders.....
Since the Arab revolution despatched two western-backed dictators in quick succession at the start of the year, there has been a three-pronged drive by the west to bring it under control. In Egypt, US and Saudi money has been poured in to suborn it. In Bahrain, conservative Gulf states have been given support to crush the uprising by force. And in Libya, the western powers have attempted to hijack it, while channelling covert support to the brutally repressed opposition in Syria.
There are many in the region who now hope the fall of Gaddafi will give new momentum to the stalled Arab awakening, bringing down another autocrat, perhaps in Yemen. But the risk could instead be that it sends a message that regimes can only now be despatched with the armed support of Washington, London and Paris – available in the most select circumstances.
Nato's intervention in Libya is a threat to the Arab revolution, but the forces that have been unleashed in the region won't be turned back so easily. Many of those who have fought for power in Libya, including Islamists, clearly won't accept the dispensation that's been prepared for them. But only when Nato and its bagmen are forced to leave Libya can Libyans truly take control of their own country."
Richard Norton-Taylor and Dominic Rushe
The Guardian, Thursday 25 August 2011
"Details of the rebel uprising in Tripoli are emerging, showing weeks of careful planning by rebels and their international allies before they seized the Libyan capital.....
British military and civilian advisers, including special forces troops, along with those from France, Italy and Qatar, have spent months with rebel fighters, giving them key, up-to-date intelligence and watching out for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate the rebellion.
More details emerged yesterday of how Nato forces helped Libyan rebels storm Tripoli. "Honestly, Nato played a very big role in liberating Tripoli. They bombed all the main locations that we couldn't handle with our light weapons," said Fadlallah Haroun, a military spokesman who helped organise the operation, according to the Associated Press.
Prior to the attack, rebels smuggled weapons into Tripoli and stashed them in safe houses. Local revolutionaries were told that protests would begin after the Ramadan evening prayers on 20 August, a day that coincidentally marks the anniversary of the prophet Muhammad's liberation of Mecca.....
Covert special forces teams from Qatar, France, Britain and some east European states provided critical assistance, such as logisticians, forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as damage-assessment analysts and other experts, a diplomat at Nato's HQ in Brussels told AP.
Foreign military advisers on the ground provided real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximise their limited firepower against the enemy....
The western advisers are expected to remain in Libya, advising on how to maintain law and order on the streets, and on civil administration, following Gaddafi's downfall....."
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 25 August 2011
"Syrian security forces have beaten up a prominent Syrian political cartoonist and left him bleeding on the side of a road, in the latest episode of a campaign to quash dissent against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
Ali Ferzat, 60, is one of Syria's most famous cultural figures, and his drawings and cartoons have pushed at the boundaries of freedom of expression in Syria.
Working from a gallery in central Damascus, Ferzat has long criticised the bureaucracy and corruption of the regime and since March has turned to depicting the uprising.
In the early hours of Thursday, masked men seized Ferzat on a Damascus street and beat him up before dumping him, bleeding, on the capital's Airport Road where he was found by passersby, activists said.
Ferzat had become increasingly critical of the regime and its brutal crackdown. He recently appeared on al-Arabiya television and his drawings were avidly followed by Syrians looking for some light relief.
In a recent cartoon he critiqued the regime's offers of reforms, with a picture of an official with rosebuds in his speech bubble – and a coiled turd in his head....."
"Journalists and activists in Syria who pass on information about the country's unrest to the media face torture and other ill-treatment, Amnesty International said today, as one journalist started his second week in incommunicado detention.
'Adel Walid Kharsa was arrested by security forces in his hometown of Hama on 17 August, seemingly in connection with his news reports on the protests.
Amnesty International has information indicating that other detainees have been tortured to find out whether they have given news about events in Syria to regional and international media.
"‘Adel Walid Kharsa appears to have been arrested for his work reporting on the popular protests and the government’s brutal security crackdown in Hama,” said Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.
“If this is the case then he is a prisoner of conscience and should be released immediately and unconditionally.
“The authorities must also ensure that ‘Adel is protected from torture and other ill-treatment, allowed immediate contact with his family and a lawyer of his choice, and given any medical attention he needs.”
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
"Libyan rebels have consolidated their grip on the capital of Tripoli by capturing Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s main compound, but the whereabouts of the Libyan leader remain unknown, and he has vowed his forces would resist "the aggression with all strength" until either victory or death. Reporters in Tripoli say heavy gunfire could still be heard nearby the area of the Rixos Hotel, where dozens of international journalists guarded by heavily armed Gaddafi loyalists are unable to leave. The Arab League said on Tuesday it will meet this week to consider giving Libyan rebels the country’s seat at the League, after it was taken away a few months ago from the Gaddafi government. Today Britain’s National Security Council is meeting to discuss unfreezing Libyan assets to financially assist the National Transitional Council. We speak with Gilbert Achcar, a professor at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. "Who are the rebels? Well, this is actually the $1 billion question," says Achcar. "Even in NATO circles, you find the same questions."...."
"Protesters demonstrating at the Israeli Embassy in Cairo called on Tuesday for a million-man protest Friday to demand the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador.
Protests at the embassy began in response to an Israeli border raid Thursday that killed six Egyptian soldiers and border security officials....."
By Pepe Escobar
"North Atlantic Treaty Organization winners have eyes peeled on juicy opportunities to come; the House of Saud, in the shape of the Bin Laden Group, will likely swoop on Libya's post-Gaddafi business bonanza. It is the interests of BRIC nations - who saw through the UN-sanctioned arming of rebels as the latest chapter in the Disaster Capitalism series - that the victors want to gouge...."
(Ghazi Gheblawi is a Libyan surgeon, essayist, and poet)
"....When opposition forces began their operation to liberate Tripoli a few days ago, one of the first things I noticed, speaking to my family in the capital, was that for the first time they were publicly denouncing Gaddafi, his sons and his regime. Doing that had in itself become an act of liberation; a defiance of the pervasive, self-replicating and sometimes hysterical fear that anyone who has lived under the ever-watchful eyes of the "Brother Leader" has experienced daily.
But it wasn't only personal fear that began to dissipate inside us during the last six months. We began also actively reclaiming a nation that had been hijacked for more than four decades. The military fight has been accompanied by a liberation of the meaning of what exactly it is to be Libyan, with all the historical and cultural weight which that bears.
In just six months, a generation of young Libyans has begun to learn what it might mean to enjoy a life not ruled by the oppressive terror of falling foul of the rulers. Once they tasted this forbidden fruit, there was no going back......"
By Donald Macintyre
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
"To understand the symbolism of Libyan rebels running triumphantly through Muammar Gaddafi's Bab al-Aziziyahh compound yesterday, it's worth recalling what a totem of anti-Nato, anti-insurrection defiance it had been over the past six months, let alone over the previous decades.
Back in March, taken by regime minders to see the hundreds of Libyans who had gathered as "human shields" in the heavily fortified six square kilometre complex, we watched them sing, swaying, to a catchy African rhythm, words borrowed from the dictator's chilling 22 February speech. The one in which he promised to hunt down his enemies "Zenga zenga" – alleyway by alleyway; inch by inch; street by street, house by house...
Now, instead of being hunted down, the "rats" as Gaddafi called them, were at the compound last night; instead of the fanatical young supporters who had chanted and sang about their loyalty to the Brother Leader, it was now his opponents who clambered on top of the Libyan regime's most iconic pieces of agitprop sculpture, the huge golden fist crushing an enemy war plane, commemorating Gaddafi's survival in the face of the 1986 air strikes of Tripoli ordered by Ronald Reagan after the deadly bombing of a Berlin night club used by US servicemen. It is far from certain that all those who swore to "protect" the Libyan dictator were there voluntarily. Exiled dissidents would later say they recognised from the television pictures some of their own comrades among the crowds, men brought out of jail and forced to swell the pro-Gaddafi ranks. It will be some time before we know whether any of these were able to exact a sweet revenge by running through the compound yesterday with a now wholly unfeigned enthusiasm....."
By Kim Sengupta in Tripoli
Wednesday, 24 August 2011
"The massive green gates were blasted open after seven hours of ferocious fighting and exultant rebels poured into Bab al-Aziziya, Muammar Gaddafi's fortress and the symbol of the regime's bloody resistance in Tripoli. The fighters scoured through the complex shouting to each other that they had trapped the dictator in his lair....
As fighting continued throughout the morning, a ship arrived in Tripoli from Benghazi to disgorge hundreds of fighters, large quantities of arms and convoys of "technicals". This was in contravention of the TNC's own declaration that forces from the east would not be sent into the capital, in an effort to avoid tribal and regional enmities.....
Despite the rebel takeover of his compound, Muammar Gaddafi remained at large last night amid speculation that he has disappeared down a warren of secret tunnels. The compound is believed to be riddled with a network of underground bunkers and tunnels, big enough to hold vehicles....."
(A British-Libyan journalist)
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 August 2011
"....There are no sectarian, ethnic or ideological cleavages to be exploited to foment unrest and violence. The onus is now on the Libyan people to show restraint and respect for the rule of law in dealing with regime officials and soldiers, and to refrain from vigilantism and retributive justice. From what I've seen, Libya is a country tired of conflict and wants to return to normalcy as soon as possible. The opposition fighters, too, are aware that a cycle of retribution will serve nobody and risks unravelling their hard-fought gains....
The National Transitional Council and the local military and civilian councils, which have been set up in each free Libyan locale, provide a ready-made, representative and competent transitional body to smooth things over until election time. It is exactly the type of unifying body the Syrian and Yemeni opposition aspire to have. Those still maintaining that the west does not know "who the rebels are" have simply not been paying attention.
So, far from being on the brink of another quagmire, Libya is in fact in pole position compared with other countries in the region. When frozen assets are released and the oil starts pumping again, Libya will find itself in an enviable situation economically. Politically and socially, the routing of the old regime will ensure that a free Libya will begin its new era with a completely clean slate.
While in Tunisia and Egypt the tentacles of the old elite continue to stifle real change, Libya offers the opportunity to build from scratch, from a new constitution down to redrawing oil and construction contracts. The only thing Libyans ask is to let us be."
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 24 August 2011
August 23, 2011
"(New York) – The UN humanitarian assessment mission in Syria should demand guarantees from the government that security forces will fully respect the right to peaceful assembly in areas the UN team visits, Human Rights Watch said today.
Shortly after the UN mission left the area on August 21, 2011, security forces opened fire on protesters gathered near the Clock Tower Square in Homs. The protesters had gathered as the UN convoy drove by to draw attention to their plight by carrying banners that read “SOS” and “We will never stop until we get our freedom.” Witnesses told Human Rights Watch that security forces killed three peaceful protesters gathered near the square, and a fourth succumbed to his wounds shortly thereafter. A witness who visited some nearby private hospitals told Human Rights Watch that he knew of six wounded taken to al-Barr Hospital, four to Bab Sba` hospital, and one to `Ummali hospital.
“Syria has demonstrated with gunfire and bloodshed that its promise to allow the UN to conduct a humanitarian mission without hindrance is hollow,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The UN needs to get cast-iron guarantees that this will not happen again.”...."
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
"Fighting continues in parts of Tripoli, the capital of Libya, where rebels are reportedly battling with Muammar Gaddafi’s forces outside his heavily fortified compound. Reports by the Libyan Rebel Council that Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, had been captured were contradicted late Monday when he emerged amongst supporters in front of foreign journalists in Tripoli. The International Criminal Court had claimed he had been in the custody of anti-Gaddafi fighters for the past 24 hours. The rebels have also claimed that two of Gaddafi’s other sons were detained but have provided no evidence. Meanwhile, details have emerged that U.S. and NATO forces played a key role in the Libyan rebel push into Tripoli, carrying out 17 Predator drone strikes and 38 air strikes since August 10. Overall, the U.S. has carried out 1,210 air strikes and 101 Predator drone strikes in Libya since April 1. NATO says it will keep up pressure on Gaddafi and that its "mission is not over yet." We are joined by Phyllis Bennis, who is a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies...."
"The UN Human Rights Council in Geneva has agreed to "urgently" launch an international commission of inquiry to investigate abuses in Syria.
Thirty-three countries voted in favour of the move, including all the Arab countries on the council, whie four others - including Russia and China - voted against.
Al Jazeera's Barnaby Phillips reports from Geneva on the growing international condemnation of the Syrian government."
"Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Monday denied apologizing to Egypt [Actually it was Tantawi who apologised to Israel for "forcing" Israel to kill the five Egyptians] following the deaths of five Egyptian soldiers at the hands of Israeli forces Thursday.
"I didn't apologize to Egypt, I expressed regret," Barak said in an interview with Israel's Channel 2 News, Israel's most widely-watched TV news network....."
"Israel appears to have backed away from an even more massive assault on Gaza – for now – largely because of protests in Egypt and the broader sense that Israel “lacks legitimacy” to carry out more aggression despite assured diplomatic support from the United States. This is an enormous victory for people power, and as a result lives have undoubtedly been saved....."
By Phyllis Bennis
"....That, more than anything else, will determine whether a "new Libya" has a chance of becoming a truly new, unified and sovereign Libya, or whether it just moves from control by a small family-based autocracy to control by outside Western forces more interested in maintaining privileged access to Libya's oil and strategic location than in the human and national rights of Libya's people.
The Libyan uprising began as part of the Arab Spring, with an effort to depose one more Arab dictator. Current developments are moving towards that goal. But the complications of the Libyan Summer, and the consequences of the militarization of its struggle, leave unanswered the question of whether events so far are ultimately a victory for the Libyan people, or for NATO. Given recent models of U.S. and NATO involvement in overthrowing dictatorships, we don't have a lot of examples of how it can be both."
The new Iraq?
Yet to believe that NATO would win the war and let the "rebels" control power is a joke. Reuters has already reported that a "bridging force" of around 1,000 soldiers from Qatar, the Emirates and Jordan will arrive in Tripoli to act as police. And the Pentagon is already spinning that the US military will be on the ground to "help to secure the weapons". A nice touch that already implies who's going to be really in charge; the "humanitarian" neo-colonialists plus their Arab minions....."
By Patrick Cockburn
"...While it is clear Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has lost power, it is not certain who has gained it. The anti-regime militiamen that are now streaming into the capital were united by a common enemy, but not much else. The Transitional National Council (TNC) in Benghazi, already recognised by so many foreign states as the legitimate government of Libya, is of dubious legitimacy and authority.
There is another problem in ending the war. It has never been a straight trial of strength between two groups of Libyans because of the decisive role of Nato air strikes....
Precedents in Afghanistan and Iraq are not encouraging and serve as a warning...."
"What's next for Libya and the national council?
You mentioned Egypt and Tunisia. What do the Libyan developments mean for the Arab Spring?
What about the Western powers - notably France, Britain and the US - where does the 'success' in Libya take them?
Monday, August 22, 2011
By Robert Fisk
"The remaining Arab potentates and tyrants have spent a second sleepless night. How soon will the liberators of Tripoli metamorphose into the liberators of Damascus and Aleppo and Homs? Or of Amman? Or Jerusalem? Or of Bahrain or Riyadh? It's not the same, of course.....
And how soon, we must ask, before the people of Europe demand to know why, if Nato has been so successful in Libya – as Cameron and his mates now claim – it cannot be used against Assad's legions in Syria, using Cyprus as a territorial aircraft-carrier, devastating the regime's 8,000 tanks and armoured vehicles as they besiege the country's cities. Or must we heed the neighbours; Israel still secretly hopes (as it shamefully did in the case of Egypt) that the dictator will survive to be a friend and make an ultimate peace over Golan....
Ben Ali gone, Mubarak gone, Saleh more or less gone, Gaddafi overthrown, Assad in danger, Abdullah of Jordan still facing opposition, Bahrain's minority Sunni monarchy still suicidally hoping to rule for eternity. These are massive historical events to which the Israelis have responded with a kind of appalled, hostile apathy....
The Arab Spring is going to last for years. We better think about that. There is no "end of history". "
By Larbi Sadiki
"I was told by some friends from the National Front for the Salvation of Libya (NFSL) that Gaddafi's regime would be dead by the end of August. Today I can say they have given me the heads up, and they are right. I had some doubts - I have since the outset of Libya's uprising believed that Gaddafi's end was near, but not quite so soon.
Today Libya's epic triumph is nearly here - zero hour, as some leaders have called it. Libyans are about to breathe freedom, and Libya's sweet air as never before, without Gaddafi.
As Libyans prepare to pull the curtain back to one side, sweeping away their vile dictatorship, they will be opening up an arch of possibilities, domestically and regionally.
Tunis, Cairo and now Tripoli: the call of freedom
Green Square, Tripoli, impatiently waits to join Tahrir Square and Habib Bourguiba Boulevard in an epic call for freedom across Arab geography. Tomorrow it will be the turn of Marjah Square and Yusuf Al-Azm, Syria, as the circle gets wider, and the dance for freedom louder, drowning out and silencing the guns of brutality for good."
"As rebels fight for control of the Libyan capital of Tripoli, President Obama and other world leaders have called on Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi to step down. On Sunday, the United States officially recognized the Transitional National Council as the legitimate governing authority in Libya. Meanwhile, the whereabouts of Gaddafi remain unknown, but three of his sons are in rebel custody. Libya’s rebel chief, Mahmoud Jibril, issued a statement to Libyans in the early hours of Monday asking fighters to treat Gaddafi loyalists with dignity and respect. We are joined in Cairo by Khaled Mattawa, an acclaimed Libyan poet and scholar who just returned from Libya. We also speak Fred Abrahams, a special advisor for Human Rights Watch, who just returned from Libya last Thursday, and with Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan who has been following developments in Libya closely on his blog, "Informed Comment" at JuanCole.com. “Libya has reignited the flame of liberty in the Arab world,” says Juan Cole....."
"After a lightning fast advance by opposition fighters who poured in Tripoli with surprising ease, much of the city appears to be under rebel control although heavy fighting is underway in many areas. Al Jazeera reports that clashes are continuing in the capital, with the rebels facing off with tanks near Libyan leader Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s compound. Three of Gaddafi’s sons have reportedly been taken into rebel custody and the presidential guard has surrendered. We go to Tripoli for an update from Robin Waudo, an International Red Cross spokesperson, who is part of a small team able to come to their office amid fighting and distribute medical aid for as many as 5,000 people who have reportedly been wounded...."