Thursday, 31 March 2011

Can the CIA take out Libyan leader Gaddafi?

Can the CIA take out Gaddafi?
From: RIANOVOSTI Features & Opinion -
By RIA Novosti political commentator Andrei Fedyashin
Thursday, 31 March 2011; 21:33. Full copy:
There is little doubt that the CIA could take out Gaddafi. So why haven't they?

According to sources in the Obama administration, President Obama has signed a "presidential finding" authorizing covert support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Whispers that CIA agents will be sent to Libya to size up the rebel forces call to mind the cloak-and-dagger operations of a bygone era. The intrigue is irresistible.

To kill or not to kill?

The Company (as CIA employees refer to the agency) has everything it needs to assassinate Gaddafi. The CIA could carry out the "executive action" ("assassination" in agency lingo) through intermediaries, cover its tracks, and let the world wonder if it had a hand in Gaddafi's demise.

There's one problem with this scenario: President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order 11905 in March 1976, explicitly forbidding U.S. government employees from engaging in or conspiring to engage in political assassination.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the CIA used its license to kill to take out Lumumba in Congo and to make an attempt on Fidel Castro, for example. This caused a huge public backlash, forcing President Ford to sign the executive order.

Although presidential orders are not technically law, they are faithfully upheld, even if some people are convinced that such legal obstacles have never prevented the CIA from doing what it wants.

They are wrong. The U.S. political system is structured so that any breaches of protocol become public knowledge sooner or later. This can result in resignations, ruined careers and even time in prison. At the very least, there is the threat of having to testify before Congress's intelligence committees.

Truth will out

Such secrets cannot remain secret forever, even in an inherently secretive institution like the CIA. There will always be disgruntled employees who are willing to leak secrets. And since the presidency and the Congress are usually held by different parties in the United States (including right now), there are always plenty of people digging for the truth.

Few government officials are willing to overstep their bounds or break the law, if for no other reason than political survival.

Americans give their government extraordinary powers only during times of emergency, such as George W. Bush's post-9/11"war on terror." Bush signed an order authorizing the CIA to kill terrorists, including Osama bin Laden, several months after the deadly terrorist attacks.

But I doubt the Company has been trying very hard to kill bin Laden. He is the perfect symbol of universal evil, and a useful pretext to justify all kinds of shady, quasi-legal operations. If anything kills him, it will most likely be a 1,000-pound bomb from the sky, not CIA operatives.

As for Muammar Gaddafi, he is not on any terrorist list, and the CIA has been working with Libya's intelligence service since Libya returned to the fold of the international community in the early 2000s. CIA employees acknowledge off the record that Libya had supplied them with vital intelligence about terrorists, al-Qaeda and other Arab "bad guys" until fighting broke out in Libya in February 2011.

New cracks in Gaddafi's regime

A man who could tell us a lot about Libya's cooperation with the CIA is Musa Kusa, the 64-year old foreign minister. Kusa, one of Gaddafi's closest advisers and a former spy chief, has defected to Britain, and says he no longer represents Libya.

Considered the most influential Libyan official outside the Gaddafi family, Kusa started brokering ties with the West in the early 2000s.

Now that such a high-profile official has deserted Gaddafi, people around the colonel may start to think the colonel's days are numbered. Lower-ranking officials can be expected to follow in the foreign minister's wake.

By law, the CIA requires special permission from the president to carry out activities designed to influence foreign events. President Obama allegedly signed such an order in the past two or three weeks, and it is safe to assume that CIA agents were in Libya before the coalition started bombing on March 19.

In addition to guiding air strikes from inside the country, the CIA needs to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces in Libya. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers said: "We know what they're against. We don't really know what they're for." The congressman said they are not sure if Islamists make up 2%, 50%, or even 80% of the rebel forces.

CIA agents in Libya will likely do more than collect intelligence. Washington is arguing that it is authorized to arm the rebels under UN Security Council Resolution 1973, as it overrides Resolution 1970, which imposes an arms embargo on Libya.

This could mean that CIA agents will arm and train rebels as well as supervise, and possibly command, their military operations, although the White House has denied this. After all, only military instructors were sent to Vietnam initially.

But the Obama administration is denying the possibility so vigorously than one can't help but think of that British saying: "Never believe anything until it has been officially denied."

The views expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.
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Seen on Twitter

Twitter / EthanZ
EthanZ: @agpublic there's a sense of American superiority regarding infrastructure that disappears the moment you get off a plane in Tokyo or Dubai.

Twitter / carneross
30 March 2011 14:49
carneross: however, legality is not always primary; arms 2 #Libya rebels in my view right & UN resltns shd have been more carefully drafted to allow it

Twitter / EthanZ
30 March 2011 15:20
EthanZ: New project - - uses @Ushahidi to track bribery, corruption in Russia

Gaddafi scion was steeped in U.S. internship when crisis broke

  • "After attending a course on consciousness, he goes and leads troops," says Deepak Chopra
  • "Why was he in my course? I have no idea."
  • Khamis Gadhafi was visiting U.S. military schools and weapons makers
  • Youngest son runs elite special forces
Gadhafi scion was steeped in U.S. internship when crisis broke
From: -
Published date: Thursday, 31 March 2011 -- Updated 0952 GMT (1752 HKT). Full copy:

Photo: Gadhafi's son had a U.S. internship
(CNN) -- The athletic young man who arrived in Dr. Deepak Chopra's classroom last month for a course in leadership was impeccably dressed in a hunting jacket, polite and unassuming.

"He said he was in the investment business," the wellness guru told CNN in a telephone interview. "He did not say, 'I'm from Libya.' He said, 'I'm from North Africa,' or words to that effect."

But Chopra knew who he was and where he was from. "We had been informed by the State Department that he was going to be there, that he didn't want to use his official name and we should respect that. So, he introduced himself with his name, but he didn't use the name Gadhafi."

His name was Khamis, the 27-year-old scion of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi who was in the third week of an "internship" that took him across the country to hone his leadership skills.

Asked to list his hobbies, Khamis Gaddhafi said, "Adventure and horses."

Libyan foreign minister resigns No 'prolonged US engagement' in Libya

Someone with knowledge of his program told CNN his 36-day planned internship began in Houston on January 21, when he was to meet with officials from AECOM, the global engineering and design company that sponsored the program.

That weekend's options included a 236-mile flight to Hondo, Texas, for hunting at Lonesome Deer Ranch with a return flight arriving in Houston in time for dinner at Capital Grille, a high-end steakhouse.

The next day's classes in leadership and program management were to be followed by a visit to the Johnson Space Center, a class in traffic and emergency management and a "business dinner" at Willie G's, a steakhouse and seafood place.

The week included a visit to the Port of Houston. An official told CNN in a statement that it had granted a request to meet with Gadhafi during his internship associated with his pursuit of an MBA. "During his visit, he toured several Port Authority facilities and received briefings on trade relations," the statement said.

Visits with oil company and other business executives were scheduled around lunch at the Coronado Club, which describes itself as "a bastion of strength and financial solidity in Houston's downtown business district."

On January 29, Gadhafi was scheduled to travel to Los Angeles, where he was to receive a VIP tour of Universal Studios, meet with Silicon Valley and other business leaders there and in San Francisco and then travel to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Academy spokesman John Van Winkle told CNN that Gadhafi was given "a standard tour" during his visit on February 7.
The next morning, he was slated to fly to Chicago for more training with AECOM lawyers on such topics as "global contract management" and "foreign corrupt practices training."

It was in Chicago that he attended Chopra's three-day leadership class at the Kellogg School of Business. The author of "The Soul of Leadership," who has advised CNN management, noted to the class the turmoil faced by then-Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "We were analyzing in the class why Mubarak was going through this and why it would have a ripple effect. He (Gadhafi) was taking notes extensively."

Chopra added, "I purposely didn't mention his dad because I thought it would be impolite."

After the class, when Gadhafi and a traveling companion, also from Libya, invited their teacher to visit Libya and meet Gadhafi's father, Chopra said he was tempted to accept. "I said, 'Wow, these guys are really interested in spirituality.' "

Gadhafi next traveled to Washington, where he met with defense contractors, including representatives of Northrop Grumman. A spokesman for the company, Randy Belote, confirmed that the meetings took place.

But, citing company policy, he would not comment on them.

National War College spokesman Dave Thomas said Khamis Gadhafi visited there accompanied by a State Department representative, meeting with faculty and deans. Tactics were not discussed, though the "structure of military education" was, Thomas said.

On February 16, a day after unrest erupted in his country, Gadhafi traveled to New York for more meetings and meals with business leaders.

New York Stock Exchange spokesman Richard Adamonis confirmed that Gadhafi visited the exchange as part of a group on February 17. "Neither he nor the group in question were part of a bell ring, simply a basic tour of the trading floor for the group," Adamonis said.

But later that day, he cut short his internship -- missing out on a planned tour of West Point, his choice of the Broadway shows "Mamma Mia" or "Jersey Boys" and a final leg to Boston for meetings with professors at Harvard University.

Instead, he returned to Libya to lead the 32nd Reinforced Brigade against rebel forces.

On Tuesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the department had not approved any of the meetings. "There was nothing, in fact, for the State Department to sign off on," he told reporters. "This was a private internship. We were aware of his itinerary, but that was the extent of it. And our role was limited to meeting him upon his arrival at the airport, which is not unusual in these kinds of situations."

Paul Gennaro, the senior vice president and chief communications officer for AECOM, issued a statement saying, "The educational internship, which consisted of publicly available information, was aligned with our efforts to improve quality of life, specifically in Libya, where we were advancing public infrastructure such as access to clean water; quality housing; safe and efficient roads and bridges; reliable and affordable energy; and related projects that create jobs and opportunity."

Gennaro said the company was "shocked and outraged" to learn of the young Libyan's role in his country's crisis. "We were aware of the student's family relationship, but we were not informed of any military connection whatsoever," he said.

It was the company's understanding that Khamis was an MBA student from a university in Spain, he said.

Since 2008, AECOM has been involved in a multibillion-dollar initiative with Libya to modernize the country's infrastructure. The company withdrew its expatriate employees and their families from Libya this month. The joint project to train Libyan engineers to build and maintain homes, roads and water systems is on hold, he said.

Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Staff on Monday described the brigade led by Khamis Gadhafi as "one of the most active in terms of attacking innocent people."

Libya's state TV on Monday night broadcast live footage from Gadhafi's Tripoli compound of the former intern dressed in uniform and greeting people.

The world events soon changed Chopra's mind about visiting his former student in Libya. "I believe he is killing people. I mean, it's bizarre. The whole thing is bizarre. After attending a course on consciousness, he goes and leads troops."

He added, "Why was he in my course? I have no idea."

CNN's Pam Benson and Brian Todd contributed to this story.
Hat tip: Drima

CIA sends teams to Libya; US mulls aid for rebels - Obama says US had 'Responsibility' to prevent massacre in Libya

From: The China Post -
Thursday, 31 March 2011 1:03 pm TWN
Report by Adam Goldman and Donna Cassata, AP
CIA sends teams to Libya; US mulls aid for rebels

WASHINGTON -- The CIA has sent small teams of operatives into Libya and helped rescue a crew member of a U.S. fighter jet that crashed, and the White House said Wednesday it was assessing "all types of assistance" for rebels battling Moammar Gadhafi's troops.

Battlefield setbacks are hardening the U.S. view that the poorly equipped opposition probably is incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press.

Lawmakers, in private briefings with top Obama administration officials, asked tough questions about the cost of the military operation and expressed concern about the makeup of the rebels.

Members of Congress quoted officials as saying the U.S. military role would be limited, and heard President Barack Obama's director of national intelligence compare the rebel forces to a "pick-up basketball team."

"No decision has been made about providing arms to the opposition or to any groups in Libya," said White House press secretary Jay Carney. "We're not ruling it out or ruling it in."

The CIA's precise role in Libya is not clear. Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event Obama decided to arm them.

An American official and a former U.S. intelligence officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information, told the AP about the CIA's involvement in Libya after the agency was forced to close its station in Tripoli, the capital.

They said CIA helped safely recover the F-15E Strike Eagle's weapons specialist, who was first picked up by rebels after the crash March 21. The pilot was rescued by Marines.

They suffered only minor injuries, the military has said. Officials have declined to say what mission the F-15 was on at the time it went down. The crew ejected after the aircraft malfunctioned during a mission against a Libyan missile site.

The former intelligence officer said some CIA officers had been staging from the agency's station in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

The New York Times first reported the CIA had sent in groups of CIA operatives and that British operatives were directing airstrikes.

Obama said in a national address Monday night that U.S. troops would not be used on the ground in Libya. The statement allowed for wiggle room as the president explores options in case he decides to use covert action to ship arms to the rebels and train them. That would require a presidential finding.

In that event, the CIA would take the lead, as it has done in the past such as in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 attacks and the run-up to the Iraq invasion in 2003. In those covert action programs, CIA officers along with special operation forces were sent in, providing arms to opposition forces to help fight the Taliban in Afghanistan and Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Gadhafi's land forces outmatch the opposition by a wide margin and are capable of threatening the civilian resistance, said the senior U.S. intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Obama's director of national intelligence compared the rebel forces to a "pick-up basketball team."

Lawmakers met with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Adm. Mike Mullen, and intelligence head James Clapper

"They're absolutely committed to keeping the U.S. role limited," said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore. "Nobody is making guarantees we'll be out in two weeks."

The top NATO commander, U.S. Navy Adm. James Stavridis, has said he's seen "flickers" of al-Qaida and Hezbollah among the rebels, but no evidence of significant numbers within the political opposition group's leadership.

During the meeting, Clapper, compared the rebel forces to a "pick-up basketball team." He indicated that intelligence has identified a few questionable individuals within the rebel ranks but no significant presence, according to lawmakers.

Lawmakers expressed frustration because administration officials couldn't say when the U.S. operation might end.

Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said Clinton and Gates did not provide much information about the future in Libya.

"Do we arm the rebels? What happens if Gadhafi holds on? What is our next move?" said Smith.

Smith said arming the rebels may make sense, but added, "I think we have to figure out who exactly we would be arming. There are a lot of different rebel groups. I think we need greater intelligence on who is on the ground."

Said Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas: "The administration answered as well as they could, given the ambiguity of the situation."

The Pentagon put the cost of the Libyan operation so far at $550 million. Blumenauer said officials estimated the cost could be $40 million a month depending on the length of the operation for the U.S. "It could be higher," he said.

Lawmakers, especially Republicans, are smarting from what they consider a lack of consultation from the administration and Obama's decision not to seek congressional authorization for the use of force.

The briefings — the Senate had a separate session later Wednesday — came 12 days after the no-fly zone began. Obama did speak to congressional leaders the day before the military action began.

"I understand how evil Gadhafi is. I don't understand the unwillingness to come to Congress first," said Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore.

Republicans, however, don't speak with one voice on the issue.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Obama's 2008 presidential rival, said the president couldn't wait for Congress to take even a few days to debate the use of force "there would have been nothing left to save in Benghazi," the rebels' de-facto capital.

Stavridis told the House Armed Services Committee that "the strike part of this and the aviation combat air patrol will be filled largely by the allies" and the U.S. will focus on things such as "intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, refueling ... combat search and rescue."

Still, committee members had reservations.

"It is a mission that I'm concerned as to whether or not its goals are clear. And also I'm a little concerned and believe it's unclear as to who we are supporting in this conflict," said Rep. Michael Turner, R-Ohio.

Said freshman Rep. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., who did four Army combat tours in Iraq: "I think we have so much on the plate right now that we need to do to bring to closure with regard to Iraq and Afghanistan."

An Associated Press-GfK poll found the country split on U.S. involvement in military actions in Libya, with 48 percent approving and 50 percent disapproving.

About three-quarters say it's somewhat likely that U.S. forces will be involved in Libya for the long term. Fifty-five percent say they would favor the United States increasing its military action to remove Gadhafi from power, although only 13 percent favor U.S. ground troops, a step Obama has said he would not take.

The poll was conducted in the days leading up to the president's speech.
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From: Ben Smith -
Monday, 28 March 2011
Obama briefed columnists before speech

Before delivering his defense of the American action in Libya this evening, President Obama surprised a group of top newspaper columnists by dropping by their briefing with national security aide Denis McDonough.

The guests at the meeting included David Ignatius of the Washington Post, Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Doyle McManus of the L.A. Times, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, according to a source who asked that his name not appear.

(Obama's argument appears to have worked, at least, on Kristol.)
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Full text of Barack Obama's address on military operations in Libya
Obama Says US Had 'Responsibility' To Prevent Massacre In Libya - Dow Jones report. Click into for the full text of Barack Obama's address on military operations in Libya delivered at the National Defense University, published 1:17AM BST Tuesday, 29 March 2011.
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Some tweets seen on Twitter
The President did a good job of explaining what we're doing in Libya. He may have been lying, but at least they weren't insulting lies.
4:20 PM Mar 28th via web from Manhattan, NY
Retweeted by 7 people
Dave Winer
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If the Libyan rebels take reprisals against the civilian population in the Gaddafi heartland, does the coalition bomb them? Surely, yes.
6:29 PM Mar 28th via web
Retweeted by 4 people
Christopher Meyer
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still a bit too much merci Sarkozy if you ask me #libya
5:53 PM Mar 27th via web
Retweeted by 4 people
Rob Crilly
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NATO agrees to take over command of all aerial operations including air strikes in Libya
8:17 PM Mar 27th via SkyNews Alerts - Breaking
Retweeted by 28 people
Sky News Newsdesk
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The Pentagon says it has not received a single confirmed report of civilian casualties in Libya
10:06 PM Mar 28th via SkyNews Alerts - Breaking
Retweeted by 35 people
Sky News Newsdesk
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The Pentagon says Tomahawk strikes in Libya total 199 to date
10:22 PM Mar 28th via SkyNews Alerts - Breaking
Retweeted by 22 people
Sky News Newsdesk
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US President Obama says Nato will take charge of Libyan operations on Wednesday
2:16 AM Mar 29th via SkyNews Alerts - Breaking
Retweeted by 16 people
Sky News Newsdesk
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AFP: NATO delays its planned takeover of military command in Libya by 24 hours to 06:00 GMT on Thursday.
2:29 PM Mar 29th via SkyNews Alerts - Breaking
Retweeted by 31 people
Sky News Newsdesk
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U.S. Nato Commander: Intelligence shows "flickers" of Al Qaeda presence in Libyan opposition.
4:51 PM Mar 29th via SkyNews Alerts - Breaking
Retweeted by 47 people
Sky News Newsdesk
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Further Reading

London Conference on Libya: Chair's statement
Click into for London Conference on Libya: Chair's statement Tuesday, 29 March 2011.
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Who are Libya's rebels?
From: BBC News Online -
28 March 2011 Last updated at 21:29
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UK backs role for rebel Libyans
From: The Scotsman -
Published Date: 29 March 2011, By DAVID MADDOX. Excerpt:
Prime Minister David Cameron and French president Nicolas Sarkozy yesterday issued a joint statement supporting the interim National Transitional Council.

The statement came as a Downing Street spokesman confirmed diplomats were on the ground in Libya and had made contact with the council.
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Obama and Libya: The professor’s war
From: The Washington Post -
Published date: Thursday, 24 March 2011, 8:21 PM, By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER. Excerpt:
President Obama is proud of how he put together the Libyan operation. A model of international cooperation. All the necessary paperwork. Arab League backing. A Security Council resolution. (Everything but a resolution from the Congress of the United States, a minor inconvenience for a citizen of the world.) It’s war as designed by an Ivy League professor.
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The most troubling reports about the Libyan rebels
The opposition includes former Gadhafi loyalists and, potentially, Islamists
From: The Salon War Room -
Published date: Friday, 25 March 2011; 09:01 ET, By JUSTIN ELLIOTT. Excerpt:
There are still a lot of unanswered questions about the composition of the Libyan rebels that the U.S. and its allies are now supporting in their fight against Moammar Gadhafi. What we do know is that it is a motley group including both former regime figures as well as longtime dissidents. (The Atlantic Wire has a good rundown of the leadership of the rebels here.)

While the Obama administration has insisted that the U.S. mission does not go beyond protecting civilians, it is clear we are supporting the rebel side in Libya's civil war. So it's important to be clear-eyed about who the rebels are. And the reports so far are not all positive.
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Gaddafi regime fed names of jihadists to the CIA and to Britain
Alexi Mostrous From: The Times -
Published date: 22 March 2011 8:45AM. Excerpt:
COLONEL Muammar Gaddafi's regime secretly provided information to Britain and the US on Islamic extremists in the east of Libya, according to leaked diplomatic cables and intelligence sources.

The names of hundreds of suspects were passed to the CIA and British intelligence.

“There was a strong, shared concern between Gaddafi and the US and UK Governments about radical Sunni jihadist terrorists, including the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG),” Paul Pillar, a CIA veteran who negotiated with Libya over its nuclear program, told The Times.

Diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks paint eastern Libya as a fertile ground for radical extremism. One source told US officials in 2008 that for young men from Derna, a city east of Benghazi, “resistance against coalition forces in Iraq was an important act of 'jihad' and a last act of defiance against the Gaddafi regime”.
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Meet the Libyan Rebels the West Is Supporting
From The Atlantic Wire
Published date: Thursday, 24 March 2011, By URI FRIEDMAN
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Operation Ellamy
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Operation ELLAMY[6] is the codename for the United Kingdom participation in the 2011 military intervention in Libya.[7] The operation is part of an international coalition aimed at enforcing a Libyan no-fly zone in accordance with the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 which stipulated that "all necessary measures" shall be taken to protect civilians.[8] UK sorties are under the operational command of the United States.[9] The coalition operation is designated by the U.S. as Operation Odyssey Dawn.[10][11] The Canadian participation is Operation MOBILE[12] and the French participation is Opération Harmattan.[13]

The no-fly zone was proposed during the 2011 Libyan uprising to prevent government forces loyal to Muammar Gaddafi from carrying out air attacks on rebel forces. Several countries prepared to take immediate military action at a conference in Paris on 19 March, 2011.[14]
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State Department: Arming Libyan opposition would be 'illegal'
From" The Cable -
Published date: Tuesday, 08 March 2011; 11:29 AM

The State Department believes that supplying any arms to the Libyan opposition to support its struggle against Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi would be illegal at the current time.

"It's very simple. In the U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Libya, there is an arms embargo that affects Libya, which means it's a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya," State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said on Monday.

Crowley denied reports that the United States had asked Saudi Arabia to provide weapons to the Libyan opposition, and also denied that the United States would arm opposition groups absent explicit international authorization.

Pressed by reporters to clarify whether the Obama administration had any plans to give arms to any of the rebel groups in Libya, Crowley said no.

"It would be illegal for the United States to do that," he said. "It's not a legal option."

Crowley's blanket statement seemed to go further than comments on Monday by White House spokesman Jay Carney, who said, "On the issue of … arming, providing weapons, it is one of the range of options that is being considered."

Crowley maintained that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970, which imposed international sanctions on Libya that included an arms embargo, applied to both the Qaddafi regime and the rebel groups.

"It's not on the government of Libya: It's on Libya," he said.

Britain and France are drafting a new Security Council resolution that would authorize a no-fly zone over Libya. The United States still might support such a resolution, but U.S. Ambassador to NATO Ivo Daalder argued on Monday that a no-fly zone wouldn't likely do much to protect Libyan civilians anyway.

The United States and its international partners have been reaching out to the Libyan opposition, with some mixed results, but the State Department still has not officially withdrawn its recognition of the Qaddafi regime despite President Barack Obama's public call for him to step down.

"As we've said, we think that the Qaddafi regime, having turned its weapons on its people, has lost its legitimacy," Crowley noted. "But as I said last week, there are also legal issues involved in recognizing or de-recognizing governments."

UPDATE: Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) issued a statement Tuesday evening refuting Crowley's claim that arming the Libyan opposition is "illegal" under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1970:
Earlier today, the spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State said that, because of the arms embargo imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 1970, it would be ‘illegal' for the United States or any other country to provide military assistance to the opposition forces fighting for their survival against a brutal dictatorship in Libya. In fact, the text of the UN resolution does not impose an arms embargo on ‘Libya,' but rather on the ‘Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,' which is the self-proclaimed name of Qaddafi's regime. We believe this language should be construed narrowly in order to hold open the possibility of providing military aid to the opposition, which presumably does not consider itself part of the ‘Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.'

The President has consistently and correctly said that ‘all options are on the table' in Libya. If the State Department's statement today is correct, however, it means one of the most effective options to help the Libyan people has been taken off the table. We urge the Administration to clarify its position on this important issue.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Libyan rebels appear to take leaf from Gaddafi's playbook - Who are the rebels?

Opposition officials in Benghazi, whose wide sweeps to detain alleged Kadafi supporters have drawn criticism, take journalists on a tightly controlled tour of detention centers. Many detainees say they're immigrant workers and deny fighting for Kadafi.

From Los Angeles Times
By DAVID ZUCCHINO, Los Angeles Times
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Libyan rebels appear to take leaf from Kadafi's playbook

PHOTO: Detainees of the rebel government in Benghazi are housed at a former Kadafi regime security complex. (Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times / March 23, 2011)

Reporting from Benghazi, Libya— The rebels of eastern Libya have found much to condemn about the police state tactics of Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi: deep paranoia, mass detentions, secret prisons and tightly scripted media tours.

But some of those same tactics appear to be creeping into the efforts of the opposition here as it seeks to stamp out lingering loyalty to Kadafi. Rebel forces are detaining anyone suspected of serving or assisting the Kadafi regime, locking them up in the same prisons once used to detain and torture Kadafi's opponents.

For a month, gangs of young gunmen have roamed the city, rousting Libyan blacks and immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa from their homes and holding them for interrogation as suspected mercenaries or government spies.

Over the last several days, the opposition has begun rounding up men accused of fighting as mercenaries for Kadafi's militias as government forces pushed toward Benghazi. It has launched nightly manhunts for about 8,000 people named as government operatives in secret police files seized after internal security operatives fled in the face of the rebellion that ended Kadafi's control of eastern Libya last month.

"We know who they are," said Abdelhafed Ghoga, the chief opposition spokesman. He called them "people with bloodstained hands" and "enemies of the revolution."

Any suspected Kadafi loyalist or spy who does not surrender, Ghoga warned, will face revolutionary "justice."

Photos: A meeting with prisoners held by rebels in Libya

Rebels have also detained scores of Libyans they say were captured during battles with government forces in the last week or so.

On Wednesday, 55 terrified detainees were paraded in front of a busload of international journalists.

It was the first time the opposition's month-old transitional national council had organized such a controlled bus tour, and it featured some of the same restrictions placed on journalists taken on tours in Tripoli by the Kadafi regime: no interviews and no close-up photographs of prisoners.

Photos: U.S., allies strike targets in Libya from air, sea

Opposition officials who herded journalists on trips to two former internal security complexes said the restrictions were based on international conventions that prohibit public displays of prisoners of war.

The prisoners and detainees were hauled out of dank cells that stank of urine and rot — the same cells that once housed some of the dissidents now aligned with the rebel movement, known as the Feb. 17 Revolution.

But when a rowdy mass of photographers and reporters rushed the prisoners and began snapping photos and shouting questions, the carefully staged event collapsed in chaos. Soon opposition officials were hauling out prisoners for interviews and photos, all the while shouting down the detainees when they proclaimed their innocence.

One young man from Ghana bolted from the prisoners queue. He shouted in English at an American reporter: "I'm not a soldier! I work for a construction company in Benghazi! They took me from my house … "

A guard shoved the prisoner back toward the cells.

"Go back inside!" he ordered.

The guard turned to the reporter and said: "He lies. He's a mercenary."

The Ghanaian was one of 25 detainees from Chad, Niger, Sudan, Mali and Ghana described by opposition officials as mercenaries, though several of them insisted they were laborers. The officials declined to say what would become of them.

The opposition has acknowledged detaining an unspecified number of sub-Saharan Africans on suspicion of serving as Kadafi mercenaries. Human Rights Watch has described a concerted campaign in which thousands of men have been driven from their homes in eastern Libya and beaten or arrested.

Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director for the rights group in Libya, said he had been promised access to the detainees and prisoners put on display Wednesday.

Another 30 men who were paraded about were described as Libyan soldiers captured in the last week or so. Some were said to have served in the armored column that was demolished by allied airstrikes on the outskirts of Benghazi over the weekend.

"These are the people who came to kill us," said Col. Ahmed Omar Bani, a military spokesman for the council, gazing on the detainees with contempt.

Asked whether some of the accused might indeed be foreign construction workers, Bani replied: "We are not in paradise here. Do you think they're going to admit they are mercenaries? We know they are, of course."

Bani said nightly raids to detain men named in the internal security files had intensified in recent days and would continue "until we get them all."

One of the accused shown to journalists was Alfusainey Kambi, 53, a disheveled Gambian wearing a bloodstained sport shirt and military fatigue trousers. He said he had been dragged from his home and beaten by three armed men who he said also raped his wife. A dirty bandage covered a wound on his forehead.

Khaled Ben Ali, a volunteer with the opposition council, berated Kambi and accused him of lying. Ali said Kambi hit his head on a wall while trying to escape.

He commanded the prisoner to comment on his treatment in the detention center.

Kambi paused and considered his answer. Finally, he glanced warily up at Ali and spoke.

"Nobody beat me here," he said in a faint, weary tone. "I have no problems here."

The Muammar Gaddafi story
BBC News -
Saturday, 26 March 2011; Last updated at 01:03

Obama and Libya: The professor’s war
The Washington Post -
Thursday, 24 March 2011; 8:21 PM

The most troubling reports about the Libyan rebels
The opposition includes former Gadhafi loyalists and, potentially, Islamists
Salon War Room -
Friday, 25 March 2011; 09:01 ET

Meet the Libyan Rebels the West Is Supporting
The Atlantic Wire -
Thursday, 24 March 2011 - extract: Here is a brief overview of the top officials:

Name: Mahmoud Jibril
Position: Head of interim government
Bio: Before he was asked to lead the interim government, Jibril served as a foreign envoy for the opposition, meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris on March 10 when France diplomatically recognized the rebel government. Jibril, according to Reuters, has a degree in economics and political science from Cairo University and a doctorate in strategic planning and decision-making from the University of Pittsburgh. Qaddafi's son, Saif, asked Jibril to return from a self-imposed exile in 2009 to serve as chairman of Libya's National Economic Development Board, with the mandate to boost foreign investment and economic growth in country, the Journal says. But Jibril soon quit when he felt his proposals for reform were falling on deaf ears. Jibril also joined other intellectuals in a project known as Libyan Vision, which aimed to transform Libya into a democratic state.

Name: Mustafa Abdul Jalil
Position: Transitional council's chairman
Bio: Jalil is a former judge who often ruled against the regime. He was appointed Libya's minister of justice in 2007 during a period when Saif Qaddafi was trying "to cast himself and the regime in a more reform-minded light," the Journal explains. As justice minister, the Journal says, "he earned opposition plaudits for taking public stands against the regime." He even tried to resign in January 2010 on national television in front of Qaddafi because of the government's refusal to release political detainees, but Qaddafi rejected his resignation. When Jalil visited Benghazi on Qaddafi's orders at the start of the uprising, "and saw the violence being used against protesters, he promptly resigned," the Journal notes.

Name: Ali al-Issawi
Position: Transitional council's foreign envoy
Bio: Issawi joined Jibril to meet with Sarkozy earlier this month. A career diplomat, he previously served as Libya's trade minister and ambassador to India but resigned during the crisis. He has strong relationships with foreign companies, the Journal says.

Name: Omar Hariri
Position: Transitional council's defense minister
Bio: Hariri, a former general, was actually part of the 1969 coup that brought Qaddafi to power. But he was jailed by Qaddafi in 1975 for his role in a coup attempt, and served 15 years in prison.


Friday, 25 March 2011

Much of Libya is now ungoverned - Sudan allows overflights for Libya ops?

According to a news report from Reuters cited here below:

Sudan has quietly granted permission to use its airspace to nations enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya as U.S., French, British and other air forces try to pummel the Libyan military, envoys told Reuters.

The United Nations has said nearly a dozen countries have notified Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon they would be involved in the Libya operations to protect civilians under siege in the North African state. Only two Arab countries are on that list, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

But U.N. diplomats familiar with the coalition operations over Libya said there were a number of countries quietly cooperating with the coalition to enable the no-fly zone to happen. One of those countries, they said, was Sudan.

"Sudan has given permission to use its airspace," a diplomat told Reuters this week. Another diplomat confirmed it, adding Sudan was not alone.

It was not immediately clear what other countries were allowing the coalition to pass through their airspace.

The news of Sudan's participation comes as Western warplanes hit military targets deep inside Libya on Thursday but failed to prevent tanks re-entering the western town of Misrata and besieging its main hospital.

The airstrikes are part of a U.N.-authorized military operation to prevent forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi from attacking civilians as he attempts to crush a rebellion in eastern Libya that has split the country in two.

Sudan's U.N. ambassador, Daffa-Alla Elhag Ali Osman, neither confirmed nor denied that Khartoum had granted permission to coalition air forces.

"I cannot give you concrete information on this," he told Reuters, adding he did not believe "a final decision had been made" by his government. He did reiterate Sudan's support for the Arab League call for a no-fly zone.

Much of Libya is now ungoverned. That is particularly true of southern Libya. There has been little attention to the towns of the south, such as Sebha and Kufra, with no international correspondents there. These places are matters of great concern to neighbouring governments such as Niger, Chad and Sudan, because these towns have served as the rear base for armed rebellions in their countries, and rebel leaders still reside there. Full story below.

SOURCE: Reuters report by LOUIS CHARBONNEAU, United Nations, 24 March 2011, entitled Sudan allows overflights for Libya ops- diplomats
Date published: Thursday, 25 March 2011 9:29pm GMT
(Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball and Arshad Mohammed in Washington and Opheera McDoom in Khartoum; Editing by Peter Cooney)
- - -

From: Making Sense of Sudan -
Title: The Vortex in Southern Libya and the Threat to Africa
Published date: Friday, 25 March 2011. Full copy:
One reason why Africans worry about Libya is that they see the possibility of a protracted civil war with multiple power centres, which destabilizes the entire Sahelian region.

The civil war in Libya, and the military intervention against Colonel Muammar Gaddafi are generally portrayed as a democratic uprising against a dictator. But they are also the breakdown of a system of governance without institutions. Gaddafi deliberately refused to build institutions in Libya, reflecting both his own Bedouin background and his philosophy of people’s government.

His Africa policy was similarly pursued by through the instruments of monetary patronage and ideological solidarity, strictly on the basis of personal relations with counterparts.

Gaddafi has been erratic and mischievous, misusing Libya’s financial clout to act as the biggest buyer in a regional political marketplace. Between eleven and seventeen African countries—to be precise, African heads of state—have benefited from his largesse. Many rebel groups, especially in neighbouring countries, have also been the recipients of extraordinary Libyan giving sprees. Not only Gaddafi but his lieutenants possess large reserves of money and enormous stores of weaponry.

Much of Libya is now ungoverned. That is particularly true of southern Libya. There has been little attention to the towns of the south, such as Sebha and Kufra, with no international correspondents there. These places are matters of great concern to neighbouring governments such as Niger, Chad and Sudan, because these towns have served as the rear base for armed rebellions in their countries, and rebel leaders still reside there. Gaddafi’s opening of the Libyan arsenals to anyone ready to fight for the regime, and the collapse of authority in other places, means that such rebels have been able to acquire arms and vehicles with ease. The Sudanese defence minister visited N’djamena last week to discuss the threat.

Reporters on the coast have spoken about African mercenaries serving in the pro-Gaddafi forces, mentioning countries of origin such as Chad, Burkina Faso and Mauritania. There are also rumours that Darfurians, including members of rebel factions based in Libya, are fighting in Libya. The deal is reportedly simple: take whatever arms you can handle, and fight for me, and then those weapons and vehicles are yours for whatever use you see fit.

Mercenaries, freebooters and rebels from across the Sahel, and even beyond, are heading for Libya to take advantage of this open-entry, take all you can arms bonanza.

I spoke with one African military officer who welcomed the NATO action in Libya, saying “nothing could be worse than Gaddafi.” I suggested that he wait and see.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Al-Qaeda commander calls for Islamic rule in Libya

Al-Qaida Commander Calls For Islamic Rule In Libya
Published online by NPR -
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
(CAIRO - Sunday, 13 March 2011, 09:40 am ET) - A top Libyan al-Qaida commander has urged his countrymen to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi's regime and establish Islamic rule, expanding the terror network's attempts to capitalize on the wave of unrest sweeping the region.

Abu Yahia al-Libi, al-Qaida's Afghanistan commander, said in a video posted on a militant website that after the fall of the regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, it is now Gadhafi's turn, as rebel fighters there press a nearly monthlong campaign to oust him.

Those nation's autocratic governments — enemies of Islamic militants — practiced "the worst kind of oppression" with the backing of the West and had failed to heed the lessons of history, he said.

"Now it is the turn of Gadhafi after he made the people of Libya suffer for more than 40 years," he said, adding that it would bring shame to the Libyan people if the strongman were allowed to die a peaceful death.

A transcript of the video was provided Sunday by SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. organization that monitors militant messages.

Gadhafi has accused al-Qaida of being behind the movement seeking to end his more than 40-year rule, though the rebels have no known links to the terrorist organization. The uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia were similarly driven by widespread popular outrage at corruption, unemployment and limited outlets for political expression, rather than Islamist fervor. Nevertheless, al-Qaida has tried to make gains on the tumult, also urging formation of an Islamic government in Egypt.

Libya's Gadhafi was once demonized for sponsoring various terrorist groups and attacks like the 1988 Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland. But in the late 1990s, the Libyan leader began efforts to emerge from international pariah status and stopped sheltering terrorists.

Gadhafi also crushed his country's Muslim militants, including those who fought in Afghanistan alongside Osama bin Laden, and banned clergymen from expressing political opinions in their Friday sermons. Gadhafi has also helped the U.S. track al-Qaida and other terrorism suspects in the region.

Since then, top al-Qaida figures have routinely targeted him in their video and audio recordings.

Al-Libi said ousting Western-backed Arab regimes was "a step to reach the goal of every Muslim, which is to make the word of Allah the highest" and establish Islamic rule.

The al-Qaida commander, whose nom de guerre is Arabic for "the Libyan," rose to prominence in the terror group after escaping from the U.S. military prison at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan in 2005.

He is believed by Western and Afghan intelligence to have run training camps for suicide bombers and fighters in eastern Afghanistan along the border with Pakistan. Afghan police said at the time of his escape that his real name is Abulbakar Mohammed Hassan and that he is a Libyan.

The authenticity of his 31-minute video could not be verified, but it was produced by As-Sahab, the media wing of al-Qaida, and posted late Saturday on militant websites.

He also criticized the United States, asking how it could ultimately voice support for the uprisings after having backed the regimes they toppled.

"We have to get rid of our inferiority complex and free ourselves from the West," he said.

His message came days after a North African offshoot of al-Qaida called on Muslims to support the uprising.

Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb said in a statement posted on a militant website last month that it would do whatever it can to support the revolt against Gadhafi, calling him a "criminal tyrant," but it gave no specifics.

The group, based in neighboring Algeria, may be seeking to capitalize on the revolt to gain recruits or win support among Libyans.
Click on original report to view image from video provided by the SITE Intelligence Group showing Abu Yahya al-Libi, an official in al-Qaeda's Shariah Committee, addressing Libyans in a video speech released on jihadist forums on Saturday, 12 March 2011.
- - -

Al Qaeda Operatives Say They Really Are Trying To Co-Opt The Libyan Revolution
by Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau
Wednesday, 16 March 2011, 9:58
Reprinted at
The terror cell sees Gaddafi’s bloody civil conflict as the perfect chance to swoop in and turn the war-torn country into an Islamic state.

Exiled Libyans with connections to Al Qaeda are racing to find ways to send people home, in hope of steering the anti-Gaddafi revolt in a radical Islamist direction, according to several senior Afghan Taliban sources in contact with Al-Qaeda.

“This rebellion is the fresh breeze they’ve been waiting years for,” says an Afghan Taliban operative who helps facilitate the movement of Al Qaeda militants between the tribal area and Pakistani cities. “Some say they are ready to go back at this critical moment.”

The operative, who has just returned from Pakistan’s lawless tribal area on the Afghanistan border, adds: “They realize that if they don’t use this opportunity, it could be the end of their chances to turn Libya toward a real Islamic state, as Afghanistan once was.”

So far, Muammar Qaddafi’s clumsy efforts to blame Al Qaeda for the popular uprising against his dictatorship would be a joke, if only he weren’t using that claim as an excuse for mowing down so many Libyans. In fact, it’s been many years since Libya has seen significant numbers of radical Islamists—or any other organized opposition, for that matter.

Nearly all have been killed, locked up or chased into exile years ago by the regime’s secret police and security forces. Although the country’s most feared insurgent entity, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (known in Arabic as Al-Jama’a al-Islamiyah al-Muqatilah bi-Libya), has been seeking to topple Gaddafi since the early 1990s, it’s unlikely that more than a handful who pledge allegiance to Osama bin Laden remain inside Libya.

Seizing the moment, however, Al Qaeda’s top ranking Libyan, Abu Yahya al-Libi, the movement’s senior Islamist ideologue and bin Laden’s head of operations for Afghanistan, broke his public silence over the Libyan revolt this past weekend. He issued a call to arms to his countrymen in a 30-minute video that was posted on Al Qaeda-linked Internet sites, urging Libyans to fight on and do to Qaddafi what he has done to them over the years: kill him. "Now it is the turn of Qaddafi [to die] after he made the people of Libya suffer for more than 40 years," he said. “Retreating will mean decades of harsher oppression and greater injustices than what you have endured."

He also called for the institution of Islamic law once an Arab nation has cast off its former, Western-supported rulers. Overthrowing these Western-backed Arab regimes, he added, was "a step to reach the goal of every Muslim, which is to make the word of Allah the highest."

Several Libyans have held top roles in Al Qaeda’s leadership. Some traveled to Afghanistan in the 1980s to fight the Soviets and stayed, eventually teaming up with bin Laden after his return from Sudan in 1996. Taliban sources estimate there were some 200 Libyans with bin Laden in Afghanistan at the time of the 9/11 attacks. Since then some of bin Laden’s senior-most operational aides have been Libyans. One was Abu Faraj al-Libi, who was captured by Pakistan forces in 2005 and is now a prisoner in Guantanamo Bay; another was Abu Lais al-Libi, his replacement as Al Qaeda’s third in command, who died in a U.S. Predator attack in 2008.

Apart from his hard-line sermons and jihadist exhortations that are widely distributed on DVD and posted on jihadist Website, Yahya may be be best known for his daring escape along with four [make that three other] other Al Qaeda prisoners from the high-security lockup at the American airbase at Bagram in July 2005. Yahya, who is believed to be in his late 40s, is smarter, more charismatic, a more articulate speaker and a more learned Islamic scholar than either Faraj or Lais, according to Afghan Taliban sources.

Now he’s said to be eager to go home, like most other Libyans in the Afghan borderlands. “They desperately want to at least get a foothold in the new Libya,” the Taliban facilitator says. The long, dangerous trip from Pakistan’s tribal areas to Libya—via Afghanistan, Iran, Iraqi Kurdestan and Turkey—can take weeks if not months. Nevertheless, at least one Taliban source says Yahya made the trip two years ago and returned safely, although no one else seems able to confirm that story.

And even if he or other Al Qaeda Libyans manage to get home again, the Taliban facilitator says they know they’ll have a tough time influencing the largely prodemocracy uprising. “They know they must tread cautiously, and not push too hard, for too much, too soon,” he says. Instead, he says, they expect to take a moderate line at first, while quietly trying to persuade rebel leaders that the preservation of Libyan sovereignty against Western “colonialists” depends on taking an anti-Israeli, anti-American line. Any move toward imposing Islamic sharia law, Yahya’s specialty, will have to come later.

Still, Taliban sources say, if Yahya is successful in reaching rebel-held territory inside Libya, at least he’ll be able to operate with relative freedom, without worrying about Gaddafi’s secret police. There’s one question: will bin Laden grant leave to Al Qaeda’s senior operations man for Afghanistan to undertake such a hazardous journey? The betting among the Taliban is that he will—and he may already have a replacement in mind. “Al Qaeda will not leave this place empty,” says the facilitator.

This post originally appeared at The Daily Beast.
Sami Yousafzai is Newsweek's correspondent in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
- - -

Libyan Forces Rout Rebels as West’s Effort for No-Flight Zone Stalls
By Anthony Shadid
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
(AJDABIYA, Libya) - Behind tanks, heavy artillery and airstrikes, forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi routed a ragtag army of insurgents and would-be revolutionaries who were holding the last defensive line before the rebel capital of Benghazi on Tuesday.

Blasts of incoming fire came every few seconds at the edge of this city straddling a strategic highway intersection, where rebels have bulldozed berms and filled hundreds of sandbags around two metal green arches marking the western approaches to the city.

As the shelling intensified Tuesday, hundreds of cars packed with children, mattresses, suitcases — anything that could be grabbed and packed in — careened through the streets as residents fled. Long lines of cars could be seen on the highway heading north to Benghazi, about 100 miles away.

In Benghazi itself, though, there were no signs of preparations for a vigorous defense, and there were reports on Tuesday night that rebels may have retaken parts of Ajdabiya. Witnesses said that by evening rebel fighters seemed to be patrolling the streets, and there was speculation that loyalist soldiers may have withdrawn to the perimeter after overrunning the city, a pattern they have followed in previous battles.

Amid the conflicting reports on Tuesday night, gunfire — apparently celebratory — could be heard throughout Benghazi, where tracer bullets lit up the sky.

The barrage here offered a loud and ferocious counterpoint to stalled efforts by Western diplomats to agree on help for the retreating rebels, like a no-flight zone, even as Colonel Qaddafi warned the insurgents on Tuesday that they had only two choices: surrender or flee. With the advances made by loyalists, there is growing consensus in the Obama administration that imposing a no-flight zone over Libya would no longer make much of a difference, a senior official said. Just moving the ships and planes into place to impose an effective no-flight zone, the official said, would take until April, too late to help rebels hunkered down in Benghazi.

While administration officials said the United States would not obstruct efforts by other countries to build support for a no-flight zone in the United Nations, President Obama met with his National Security Council on Tuesday to consider a variety of other options to respond to the deteriorating situation.

Among those options are jamming Libyan government radio signals and financing the rebel forces with $32 billion in Libyan government and Qaddafi family funds frozen by the United States. That money could be used either for weapons or relief. The meeting broke without a decision, the official said.

“This is another indication of the constant exploration of different options that we have to increase the pressure on the Qaddafi regime as we go forward,” the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said Tuesday.

But in fact, the administration’s options have narrowed with the dwindling viability of a no-flight zone. The White House is considering more aggressive airstrikes, which would make targets of Colonel Qaddafi’s tanks and heavy artillery — an option sometimes referred to as a “no-drive zone.” The United States or its allies could also send military personnel to advise and train the rebels, an official said.

But given the lack of consensus behind a no-flight zone, these options are viewed as even less likely. It is also not clear that airstrikes would be more effective than a no-flight zone.

“Most of these weapons are no longer stored in ammunition depots; most of them have been dispersed into towns and cities,” said James M. Lindsay, the director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. Singling out these weapons individually, he said, greatly increases the chances of civilian casualties.

Moreover, senior officials, notably the national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, have made it clear that the United States does not view Libya as a vital strategic interest.

For the rebels, the battle was strategically critical, because Ajdabiya controls access to the highways that would permit loyalist forces to encircle and besiege Benghazi in a campaign for cities whose names evoke the World War II battles of Rommel and Montgomery.

Yet, after swearing in recent days to make a last ditch, do-or-die stand here, the rebels offered little resistance. Within an hour of the opening salvos, they began falling back from the city’s approaches as the shelling came closer to their positions.

Some still spoke valiantly about drawing a line in the desert sand, but the superior firepower and numbers of the loyalist troops suggested otherwise. The crash of heavy ordnance almost drowned out the cries of a muezzin from the minaret at a mosque on the frontline: “God is great and to God, praise.”

A billboard from the days before the uprising began in mid-February proclaimed: “Ajdabiya — land of jihad and sacrifice.” By midafternoon, the slogan had taken on an ominous new meaning.

“I swear to God I am expecting a battle in the streets. Qaddafi has already shelled us with artillery and planes, and I suspect the army is coming,” said Mohammed Abdullah, a 50-year-old resident among a group of people peering at the sky as a loyalist spotter plane circled the city, illustrating how little restraint the loyalist forces feel about deploying their unchallenged air power as diplomacy falters.

By day’s end, however, the loyalist army seemed to be in complete control, its tanks standing outside the gates and its soldiers moving through the town at will during the day. After nightfall they seemed to withdraw, and rebels reappeared to claim control that seemed tenuous.

In what might have been a lone break in the dark clouds gathering around the rebels, an opposition Web site reported that a 1970s-era MIG-23 fighter plane and a helicopter from the rebel forces hit at least one government warship as it bombarded Ajdabiya from the sea, Reuters and other news agencies reported. The accounts could not be independently confirmed.

The grim news from Ajdabiya was met with anger, anguish and tears by rebel leaders in Benghazi. On Tuesday afternoon, many of them privately acknowledged that an attack on the seat of rebel power was inevitable, if not imminent, and they again pleaded for Western intervention.

Iman Bugaighis, a professor who has become a spokeswoman for the rebels, lost her composure as she spoke about the recent death of a friend’s son, who died in battle last week. Her friend’s other son, a doctor, was still missing. Western nations, she said, had “lost any credibility.”

“I am not crying out of weakness,” she said. “I’ll stay here until the end. Libyans are brave. We will stand for what we believe in. But we will never forget the people who stood with us and the people who betrayed us.”

There were mixed signals about the prospects of Western military help. After a meeting of the Group of 8 foreign ministers in Paris, the French foreign minister, Alain Juppé, said he had been unable to secure agreement on the imposition of a no-flight zone. “If we had used military force last week to neutralize a certain number of airfields and the dozens of airplanes” available to Colonel Qaddafi, “perhaps the reversals suffered by the opposition would not have happened,” he said. “But that is the past.”

The United Nations Security Council was discussing a resolution that would authorize a no-flight zone to protect civilians, but its prospects were uncertain at best, diplomats said. In Cairo, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States stood ready to help, though she did not mention a no-flight zone.

“We understand the urgency of this,” she said at a news conference in Cairo, where she is visiting before heading on to Tunisia. “And therefore we are upping our humanitarian assistance. We are looking for ways to support the opposition.”

In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Giornale, published on Tuesday, Colonel Qaddafi expressed disappointment with his onetime European partners — particularly Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, formerly his closest Western ally — and again depicted his adversaries in Libya as terrorists steered by Al Qaeda.

Asked if he was prepared to open a dialogue with them, he replied: “Dialogue with whom? The people are on my side.”

As for the rebels, regrouping toward their eastern stronghold in Benghazi as loyalist troops claimed advances, Colonel Qaddafi said: “They have no hope. Their cause is lost. There are only possibilities: to surrender or run away.”

Reporting was contributed by Alan Cowell from London; Kareem Fahim from Benghazi, Libya; David D. Kirkpatrick from Tripoli, Libya; and Mark Landler from Washington.
- - -

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Monday, 14 March 2011

UN Security Council Update Report No.1 on Libya 14 March 2011

Source: UN Security Council -

Update Report in WordPDF

Expected Council Action
Security Council members seem likely to intensify the discussions on Libya this week.

At press time, Security Council members were meeting in informal consultations at Lebanon’s request to discuss Saturday’s Arab League statement calling on the Security Council to impose a no-fly zone. Under-Secretary-General B. Lynn Pascoe was expected to brief on the situation in Libya.

However, it was unclear whether any action would emerge.

Key Recent Developments
On 12 March the Arab League met at ministerial-level in Cairo on the situation in Libya (it had previously suspended Libya's participation on 22 February until the violence stopped). It issued a statement which noted Libyan authorities’ use of military aircraft, mortars and heavy weaponry against civilians and called on the Security Council to impose a no-fly zone. The statement rejected foreign intervention and indicated that failure to take appropriate action now to end the crisis would lead to such intervention in internal Libyan affairs. In addition the statement called for communication and cooperation with the Benghazi-led Interim Council, said the Qaddafi-regime had lost its legitimacy, urged humanitarian assistance and that the Arab League would continue coordination with the UN, the AU, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC), and the EU.

On 11 March UN Special Envoy Abdul Ilah Khatib was set to leave New York immediately for Tripoli to assess the situation on the ground accompanied by UN humanitarian officials and staff from the Department of Political Affairs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. (Khatib, a former foreign minister of Jordan, was appointed by the Secretary-General on 6 March.)

On 11 March the EU met at the heads of state level on Libya and issued a declaration calling the use of force against civilians unacceptable and that member states would explore all necessary options to protect civilians. The summit declaration called on Qaddafi to relinquish power immediately and recognised the Benghazi Interim Council as a political interlocutor. The EU also called for a summit between itself, the AU and the Arab League. (On 10 March the EU had strengthened sanctions that it had previously imposed on Libya on 28 February and 2 March.)

On 10 March NATO agreed to move additional ships to the Mediterranean to support humanitarian assistance efforts and its own surveillance and monitoring capability. Head of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, provided a further UN Security Council resolution, NATO would also be able to undertake measures to enforce the arms embargo. He also said planning for a no-fly zone would continue in case NATO was to receive a clear Security Council mandate.

Both the NATO and the EU statements underscored that actions regarding Libya would require demonstrable need, a clear legal mandate and solid regional support. Press reports indicated that US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will present plans to NATO on Tuesday for a no-fly zone.

On 10 March the AU Peace and Security Council (PSC) met at the heads of state level on Libya and issued a communiqué which condemned the indiscriminate use of force by Libya but rejected foreign military intervention. The AU decided to establish a high-level committee to facilitate dialogue among Libyan parties and engage with the Arab League, OIC, EU and UN. (Libya is a member of the AU PSC and was represented by the Qaddafi-regime’s foreign minister, Moussa Koussa.)

On 10 March the foreign ministers of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) said the Qaddafi regime had lost its legitimacy. The GCC also encouraged the Arab League to initiate contact with the Interim Council in Benghazi and call on the UN Security Council to establish a no-fly zone to protect civilians. This followed a 7 March GCC statement supporting a no-fly zone and calling for accountability.

On 8 March the Organisation of the Islamic Conference released a statement supporting a no-fly zone over Libya but excluded foreign military operations on the ground.

On 8 March Security Council members discussed possible further measures against Libya, including the option of a no-fly zone, in informal consultations following a briefing on the situation in Libya by the Department of Political Affairs head, B. Lynn Pascoe. But no action was taken.

On 7 March the Libyan mission to the UN in New York (delegates of which broke from the Qaddafi regime in February) wrote to member states urging their capitals to recognise the Interim Council. On 10 March France said it would offer recognition. Other EU members (some of whom operate on a policy that recognition should be inferred from their actions rather than by official statements) began opening dialogue with Benghazi. (In addition to France, Italy and EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton seem to have done so already. At press time, it was expected that US Secretary of State Clinton would meet with Interim Council officials in Paris on Monday, 14 March.)

On 5 March the Interim Transitional National Council in Benghazi (the recently organised political leadership of the anti-Qaddafi movement formed on 27 February) issued a statement declaring itself Libya’s sole representative. The letter called for the international community to fulfil its obligation to protect the Libyan people “without any direct military intervention on Libyan soil.” The letter affirmed that diplomats who had supported the revolution were the legitimate representatives of the Interim Council.

On 3 March, International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said that he was investigating alleged crimes against humanity committed by Libya, including by Colonel Muammar Qaddafi and his inner circle. He said the probe will look into several incidents which occurred in various towns and cities across Libya.

In a 2 March letter to the Security Council, Libya responded to resolution 1970 and called the Council’s condemnation of Libya premature. The letter requested that the resolution be suspended until the truth of the allegations against Libya could be confirmed. Concerning the ICC referral, Libya recalled that it was not a party to the Rome Statute but affirmed its preparedness to respond to the resolution on the basis of the principle of the primacy of national courts, stating it has formed an independent judicial committee to investigate allegations.

On 1 March the UN General Assembly suspended Libya from the Human Rights Council with a unanimous vote. Libya’s suspension followed the 25 February adoption of a Human Rights Council resolution on Libya which had made that recommendation.

On 26 February the Council unanimously adopted resolution 1970 demanding an immediate end to the violence in Libya and calling for steps to fulfil the legitimate demands of the people in Libya. It referred the situation in Libya since 15 February to the ICC. The resolution also implemented an arms embargo, a travel ban on members of the regime and Qaddafi family members and an asset freeze on members of the Qaddafi family. A sanctions committee (which will be chaired by Portugal) was established to monitor the implementation of these measures and is expected to brief the Council on its initial activities later this month.

Human Rights-Related Developments
On 25 February the Human Rights Council passed a resolution on Libya which condemned the recent systematic human rights violations including indiscriminate attacks on civilians, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary arrests, detention and torture of unarmed protesters, some of which may amount to crimes against humanity. The resolution called for a commission of inquiry to investigate with a view to ensuring perpetrators are held accountable. The commission’s members were appointed on 11 March and include: Cherif Bassiouni (Egypt); Asma Khader (Jordanian/Palestinian); and Philippe Kirsch (Canada). It is expected to report back to the Human Rights Council in June.

Key Issues
The key issue for the Council will be whether to take further measures to reinforce its demands in resolution 1970.

A related issue is the gap which is emerging between the Arab countries, which seem to be arguing for stronger action against the Tripoli regime and the African countries, which seem divided and seem to be arguing for more time for pursuing non-military options.

A final and crucial issue is timing given how quickly the crisis is escalating.

One option for the Council is to adopt a resolution authorising a no-fly zone over Libya or parts of Libya where the Tripoli regime is not in control.

A related option is to allow aircraft patrolling the no-fly zone to use force in defense of designated protected areas so as to prevent Qaddafi using force.

Another option is to strengthen the sanctions regime by including more entities and individuals on the list closely linked to the functioning of the Qaddafi regime, a more comprehensive travel ban, stopping financial flows to Libya, and possibly including a ban on oil exports from Qaddafi-held areas while violence continues.

Another option is to refine the arms embargo so that it is targeted exclusively against the Tripoli regime.

Another option could be demanding a ceasefire and cessation of armed activity in positions as of 14 March and use air strikes against parties who violate it.

Another option is signaling strong support for making the role of the Secretary-General’s Special Envoy to Libya more robust in both its humanitarian and political thrusts.

Another option is to wait and see, running the risk of the Council being seen as standing idly by while the situation devolves into a situation reminiscent of Bosnia in 1993-95.

Council and Wider Dynamics
Amid wide debate on the possibility of the Security Council imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, some Council members have voiced their support for such a tactic. The UK and France have made the most concrete calls in support of a no-fly zone, but insist that there must be a clear legal basis for the action and strong regional support.

The US maintains it is studying the possibility but stresses that any military action must be an international effort. The US has also warned that imposing a no-fly zone carries the risk of an escalated military operation.

Other European members are more cautious in terms of a no-fly zone but haven’t discounted it as a possibility. However, they also calculate that strengthened economic sanctions and better enforcement of the arms embargo may also be effective in isolating the Qaddafi regime and bringing about an end to the violence.

Arab countries have encouraged the Council to closely follow the lead of the region in regards to Libya. The Arab League, OIC and GCC have all endorsed a no-fly zone. The Interim Council in Benghazi has asked for a no-fly zone but has indicated ground operations would not be welcomed. The Arab League statement seemed to strike the same balance between endorsement of a no-fly zone but hesitancy toward any intervention on the ground.

Most members of the Council see regional political leadership as vital but among those with the capacity to enforce further measures there is a strong sense that regional cooperation will need to be operationally substantive as well. A strong unified international effort in both political and enforcement aspects will be crucial given the mixed messages from the region ranging from no military intervention to intervention up to a point—in the air and at sea, but not on the ground.

While China and Russia were sympathetic to African and Arab support for the sanctions imposed inresolution 1970, they seem more resistant towards any military option without any clear evidence of a trigger event such as mass atrocities—especially in light of the current and more equivocal AU position.

Other members, such as India and Brazil, seem open minded but nevertheless have serious reservations about military action and seem to feel the Security Council should focus its energy on strong implementation of resolution 1970 and more proactive use of the Council’s conflict prevention tool-box which could include calling for a ceasefire to give space for a political solution.

However, most Council members anticipate that when the US makes a clear policy formulation the issue of imposing further measures on Libya will come to a head in the Council.

UN Documents

Security Council Resolution

  • S/RES/1970 (26 February 2011) referred the situation in Libya to the ICC, imposed an arms embargo and targeted sanctions (assets freeze and travel ban).

Security Council Press Statement

  • SC/10180 (22 February 2011) condemned the use of force against civilians, called on Libya to meet its responsibility to protect civilians and stressed accountability.

Security Council Meeting Records

  • S/PV.6491 (26 February 2011) was on the adoption of resolution 1970.
  • S/PV.6490 (25 February 2011) was the Secretary-General’s briefing on Libya.
  • S/PV.6486 (22 February 2011) was an official communiqué listing the 75 member states who participated in the closed meeting on Libya.

General Assembly

  • A/RES/65/265 (1 March 2011) was a resolution suspending Libya from the Human Rights Council as requested by the Geneva-based body on 25 February—the first time a sitting member was removed.
  • GA/11050 (1 March 2011) was a press release on the suspension of Libya from the Human Rights Council.

Human Rights Council

  • A/HRC/S-15/2 (25 February 2011) condemned the systematic human rights violations in Libya, decided to dispatch a commission of inquiry and asked the General Assembly to suspend Libya from the Human Rights Council.

Useful Additional Resources