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Obama scored in Libya. Just one problem: He was running in the wrong direction

Friday, January 20, 2012 0:44
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By Hugh Iwanicki and Dave Bailey

Al Qaeda flag flown above Benghazi courthouse;
New authorities fail to curb violence against black people;
Rival militias hoard weapons;
NEW civil war looms 


Have you noticed that, unlike Iraq, Libya almost completely disappeared from American news shortly after we led the charge to overthrow the dictator?  I’ve been waiting for just one article to appear in MSNBC News for over a month, but to no avail.  So today I began a search, and found this summary recently published in the New York Times, buried in the international section, far from where headline-only readers would see it.  Here is a summary of this article’s major points:

  • Noting reports of sporadic clashes between militias as well as vigilante revenge killings, many civilian leaders, along with some fighters, say the militias’ shift from merely dragging their feet about surrendering weapons to actively asserting a continuing political role poses a stark challenge to the council’s fragile authority.
  • The transitional government is already struggling with little success to persuade various local militias around the country to surrender their arms and submit to a central authority. The local chiefs are holding on to their weapons in part to ensure that their local interests do not lose out in the formation of a new government.
  • Fighters based in Tripoli engaged in an hourlong shootout with a militia from Misurata along one of the capital’s busiest streets; two fighters died in the clashes. The leader of the National Transitional Council, Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, warned in a speech that Libya could descend into civil war if its militias are not brought under control.
  • NATO’s seven-month airstrike campaign came with an unrecognized toll: scores of civilian casualties the alliance had long refused to acknowledge or investigate. An on-the-ground examination by The New York Times of airstrike sites across Libya — including interviews with survivors, doctors and witnesses, and the collection of munitions remnants, medical reports, death certificates and photographs — found credible accounts of dozens of civilians killed by NATO in many distinct attacks. The victims, including at least 29 women or children, often had been asleep in homes when the ordnance hit. In all, at least 40 civilians, and perhaps more than 70, were killed by NATO at these sites, evidence suggests.
  • The appointment came as the prime minister named a new cabinet after weeks of bargaining among the competing cities, tribes and militias that formed the loose coalition that overthrew the Qaddafi government but now are struggling to share power.
  • (Historical recap:) security forces loyal to Colonel Qaddafi used gunfire to try to disperse thousands of protesters who streamed out of mosques after prayers to mount their first major challenge to the government’s crackdown in Tripoli.(This is significant because it illustrates the political role of mosques; a characteristic feature of Islamic violence is that it starts right after Friday’s mosque services.  How do I know?  Because I had rockets launched in my direction right after Friday mosque services when I was at the U.S. Embassy In Baghdad. — Hugh)
  • In a nationally televised speech March 28, President Obama defended the American-led military assault, emphasizing that it would be limited and insisting that America had the responsibility and the international backing to stop what he characterized as a looming genocide.(How limited is US involvement when it plays the deciding role in overthrowing a ruler?  Does this give the United States license to just walk away afterwards and toss Libya down the memory hole?  Didn’t we already do that in Afghanistan in the 1980s?  How’d that turn out again?  Also…”Genocide”?  If this is our criterion, then how is it that we went after Qaddafi but continue to leave Sudan’s President Bashir alone?  In fact, Qaddafi hadn’t actually done anything that came close to the definition of “genocide,” particularly in comparison to Sudan, which has still not been formally accused of it by either the UN or a US president. — Hugh)
  • In a cellphone video that went viral on the Internet, the deposed Libyan leader was seen splayed on the hood of a truck and then stumbling amid a frenzied crowd, seemingly begging for mercy. He is next seen on the ground, with fighters grabbing his hair. Blood pours down his head, drenching his brown khakis, as the crowd shouts, “God is great!”  Colonel Qaddafi’s body was shown in later photographs, with bullet holes apparently fired into his head at what forensic experts said was close range, raising the possibility that he was executed by anti-Qaddafi fighters…Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, the head of the Transitional National Council, announced the creation of a formal committee of inquiry to examine the circumstances surrounding the death of Colonel Qaddafi while in the custody of his captors, but days later, no one from Libya’s new government was investigating evidence of one of the worst massacres of the eight-month conflict, in Surt.
  • As the former rebels in Libya try to assemble a government to replace the toppled Qaddafi government, the quiet hoarding of weapons and detainees illustrates the fissures of regional rivalry and mutual distrust that continue to impede progress.
  • Negotiations are deadlocked, council members say, over how to divide power among groups from different regions. Leaders from Benghazi, Misurata, Zintan and other cities all argue that their suffering or their contributions during the revolt entitle them to a greater voice.
  • The new authorities have presided over their own divisive policies, failing to curb harassment and violence against black people in the territory they control or to rein in their militiamen, some of whom have looted or burned loyalist homes and mimicked the techniques of the former government by detaining suspects arbitrarily and torturing prisoners.
  • The fighting has given the country a martial character, marked by men in fatigues, religious battle cries and the suspicions nurtured by war.

Of course, as dire as this New York Times article is, it’s still the rose-colored version of events.  Nowhere does it mention the major role that al Qaeda plays in the new Libya, which you can read about in Britain’s Telegraph.  I won’t include the whole article, but here’s it’s headline and photo:

Libya: Al Qaeda flag flown above Benghazi courthouse

The black flag of Al Qaeda has been spotted flying over a public building in Libya, raising concerns that the country could lurch towards Muslim extremism.

The flag was said to be flying over the building and above the Libyan national flag

In other words, Libya’s turning into something even more disastrous than post-Saddam Iraq, thanks to the Obama-led U.S. intervention.  Our intervention, followed by abandonment, has created a vacuum that is being filled by organizations like al Qaeda.  It turns out that killing Osama bin Laden, whom no one had heard from for years anyway, wasn’t enough.  Who’d’ve thunk it?

And now comes the latest great idea from the Obama administration: Hand Afghanistan back to the Taliban!  I mean, we were never really at war with them anyway because we were fighting al Qaeda and we won…right?  VP Joe Biden said so himself!

Given the Obama Administration’s completely incoherent and bizarre policies toward the Islamic world, it’s no wonder that America’s mainstream media is being so quiet about their darling, particularly because this is an election year.  All of the reasons why the media declared Bush a failure are now multiplied in the Obama Administration, and what do we hear?  Crickets.

Read more at Politics Arizona



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