Entries Tagged as 'Qaddafi'

Justice Now for the Lockerbie Bomber

August 31st, 2011 at 1:59 pm 27 Comments

It’s not necessary to have a conspiratorial mind, order to be suspicious or cynical about Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the convicted Lockerbie bomber, still being alive–albeit not thriving–in Libya.

The guy was supposed to be dead within three months of being released to Libya and Moammar Qaddafi in 2009 from a life sentence in Scotland on curious compassionate grounds.

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Don’t Expect Democracy in Libya

August 25th, 2011 at 12:12 pm 19 Comments

From the widespread reaction, you’d think the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya was a World War II-type victory.

In fact it took six months of U.S., Canadian, British, French and NATO air strikes–most of the target practice with no return fire–before the “rebels”  broke through to Tripoli.

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The Freedom Agenda Gets Vindicated

August 23rd, 2011 at 8:50 am 112 Comments

George W. Bush’s place in the pantheon of celebrated American presidents is far from secure. Nevertheless, the collapse of Muammar Qaddafi’s regime in Libya sheds new light on President Bush’s vigorous support for democratic values across the entire Middle East.

An Obama administration starved of good news will likely seek and receive credit for helping topple the dictatorship, but his predecessor deserves substantial credit for envisioning and perhaps even helping instigate the Arab Spring – of which the events in Libya constitute only the latest chapter – as a whole.

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Arrest Warrant Won’t Make Qaddafi Budge

May 31st, 2011 at 8:05 am 3 Comments

By issuing an arrest warrant for his war crimes, pharmacy the chief prosecutor for the International Criminal Court is guaranteeing that Libya’s Muammar Qaddafi won’t go quietly.

The arrest by Serbian police of Ratko Mladic, Butcher of Srebrenica, should not be confused with the rhetoric over Qaddafi. Mladic was out of power, sick, frail and on the run, and was responsible for the slaughter of thousands of hepless Muslims.

By taking aim at Gadhafi, Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo seems intent on ensuring that no tyrant leaves his post quietly.

Might as well hold on and fight to the end, rather than wind up at the kangaroo court at the Hague, that countries like China, India, the U.S., Israel and others don’t recognize, and see as a potential pawn to settle scores.

Moreno-Ocampo radiates sanctimony and arrogance – an unpleasant combination. His reason for wanting Qaddafi put on trial is, he says, because “he shot at demonstrators using live ammunition, using heavy weaponry against funeral processions.”

Goodness gracious! Imagine that?

Qaddafi has been oppressing Libyans for over 30 years. He’s also been sending out assassins and encouraging terrorists. He’s sabotaged airliners, blown up discos, tried to acquire nuclear weapons, and done what he can to subvert neighbors.

During all that mischief, the ICC didn’t see fit to issue warrant for his arrest. Instead, leaders of democratic countries competed to shake his hand. He was appointed to the UN Human Rights Commission, made the president of the African Union, won accolades from countries that sought to share his oil wealth.

It was only when the Libyan people rebelled against his repressiveness, that the “free” world took note and said “for shame.” Until then, President Barack Obama was silent and, if not approving of Qaddafi, tolerated his tyranny.

Obama’s predecessors also tolerated Qaddafi — with the notable exception of Ronald Reagan who tried to kill him in an air strike in retaliation for the bombing of a German disco that killed U.S. soldiers.

Although he supports British, French and Canadian air attacks on Qaddafi, Obama insists he’s not trying to kill him or force a regime change.

The hypocrisy is stunning.

As for the shooting of demonstrators, why is Moreno-Ocampo not issuing warrants for the arrest of Syria’s Bashir Assad, whose troops at this very moment are probably shooting someone? How about killings in Yemen, Bahrain, Sudan, Nigeria, Ivory Coast and across the Arab world and Africa?

All these incipient rebellions stress democracy – yet none of these countries has ever lived under democratic rule, much less practiced it.

Hypocrisy and double-standards echo around the world.

The ICC serves little purpose. It has no way of enforcing its warrants, and its effect is to harden the resistance of tyrants who don’t want to end up like Mladic.

International bodies are prone to be taken over by those whose agenda is far from altruistic, witness how every time there’s a crisis in the Middle East, Israel is blamed at the UN. Even Israel’s allies show support by abstaining in votes—some friendship!

Israel is often wrong, but is the only country in the area that wants peace, but is not allowed to have it with security.

As for Qaddafi, it’s unlikely he’ll ever leave Libya, and will die there, rather than surrender. Meanwhile, Luis Moreno-Ocampo will wait until Syria’s homicidal leader is on the run before railing against him.

Sen. McCain: Share What You Know About Libya

David Frum April 22nd, 2011 at 4:06 pm 22 Comments

Sen. John McCain in Libya urges recognition of the anti-Qaddafi rebels as the country’s legitimate government. I assume he has had more extensive discussions with the rebels than most of us. It would be a real service if he would sit down for a detailed interview with somebody knowledgeable to tell what he knows about the rebels and detail the reasons for his confidence that the rebels are not inspired by or beholden to radical Islamism.

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The West’s Next Libyan Headache?

April 1st, 2011 at 3:40 pm 1 Comment

The defection to Britain of Muammar Qaddafi foreign minister and intelligence and security chief, the comically-named Moussa Koussa, is devastating to the Libyan dictator.

It’s also going to be a problem for the British and Americans – especially when the Libyan “problem” is eventually resolved.

Moussa Koussa is undoubtedly intelligent, probably knows all there is to know about Muammar Qaddafi, yet he’s about as trustworthy as a rattlesnake. On second thought, that’s probably unfair to rattlesnakes.

When Libya ceases to be a problem, Moussa Koussa will become one.

Probably he should be put on trial for crimes against humanity. As Qaddafi’s intelligence honcho, he undoubtedly was deeply involved in the planning of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people as well as the 1989 sabotage of a French airliner in Africa that killed 107.

When Libya was involved in terror acts in other countries – including the assassination of Libyan dissidents – Moussa Koussa would almost certainly have been involved.

Complications in how to treat him, or what to do with him, may hinge on how vital he was as an intelligence source after 9/11 for the British and Americans. That is, assuming reports are accurate that after 9/11 he volunteered information on al-Qaeda to the West.

Koussa also sought to persuade Qaddafi to abandon weapons of mass destruction and back off from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Allied intelligence services may know lots about Moussa Koussa, but the rest of us don’t. What we do know is that he was a sociology graduate of Michigan State University in 1978, whose thesis was about Qaddafi’s leadership.

He was subsequently appointed by Qaddafi to be Libya’s ambassador to Britain, but soon was expelled from the U.K. when he told the London Times that he planned to have a couple of Libyan dissidents in Britain “eliminated.”

Candid, certainly, but not conventionally diplomatic

That Moussa Koussa chose to betray his leader by defecting, while leaving his wife and children in Tripoli to the tender mercies of Qaddafi, speaks volumes about his character, personality, courage, sense of self-worth, loyalty, honor and opportunism.

He may (or may not) be a charmer, but he’s not that admirable.

But he is useful. Of course he is an invaluable source about the goings-on of the Libyan regime, and not only regarding Qaddafi’s thinking, but also on the power, abilities, and personalities of Qaddafi’s sons, with whom he apparently did not get on.

Regardless of Moussa Koussa’s use as an intelligence source, or as a blow to the morale of Qaddafi’s forces, it’ll be something of an outrage if someday he is not put on trial for his involvement in Qaddafi’s crimes against humanity. We shall see.

If nothing else, the defection of one of his closest advisors and co-conspirators is a blow to Qaddafi, who so far has weathered the “no fly zone” air attacks by Britain, France, U.S., Canada and assorted states with disquieting aplomb.

Now there are reports of Qaddafi’s sons sending emissaries to London to discuss how their dad might voluntarily go into exile, on condition that he can do so safely.

Meanwhile, Qaddafi’s forces have apparently discarded tanks, which draw allied aircraft fire, and switched to cannon-mounted jeeps, which are harder for aircraft to detect, and quite effective at routing rebel fighters.

The Real Libya Policy Obama Won’t Admit

David Frum March 30th, 2011 at 5:20 pm 186 Comments

And people say George W. Bush lied about Iraq!

President Obama’s campaign in Libya may be the most deceptively sold U.S. military policy since Franklin Roosevelt’s “all aid short of war” policy in 1941.

In his speech to the nation Tuesday night, ailment the president described a military action in Libya

  • where the main U.S. military commitment had already ended, ambulance
  • where NATO was relieving the U.S. of operational responsibility, treatment
  • where the U.S. mission was limited to protecting civilian populations,
  • where the U.S. goal is strictly humanitarian,
  • and where the U.S. took no view about Libya’s future government beyond a vague preference that Muammar Qaddafi move on.

As described, this is a preposterous policy. Fortunately, the president is giving every sign of not believing a word of it.

In fact, the U.S. commitment continues and will likely enlarge. And despite the president’s statement that no U.S. “ground forces” will enter Libya, does anybody doubt that – as in Afghanistan in 2001 – U.S. personnel are present “on the ground”?

In fact, any large-scale NATO operation is inescapably U.S.-led. The NATO commander in charge of the Libyan operation is a Canadian three-star general. With all due respect to the heroic military traditions of my native land, it is not very likely that a Canadian three-star is running a war involving large U.S., French, and British military assets.

In fact, the U.S. mission is aimed at the overthrow of Qaddafi. The U.S. is engaged in sophisticated propaganda operations urging Qaddafi’s troops to turn on him. And it’s reported that the U.S. is negotiating with Qaddafi about a secure exit from Libya.

In fact, the U.S. mission is as deeply concerned with European energy security as with the humanitarian crisis. Critics correctly point out that the US has managed to ignore many other humanitarian crises – and is in fact ignoring one right now in the Ivory Coast. This particular crisis is occurring in a country from which NATO ally Italy buys more than one-fifth of all its net oil imports and in which Britain has a very large investment. We are not going to war for oil. But we very rarely go to war without oil.

In fact, the Obama administration is obviously very concerned about bringing Islamic radicals to power in Libya. Unlike the Sarkozy government, the Obama administration has not recognized the rebels as the legitimate government of the country. It is instead proposing a conference at which various factions will be present – and at which Western governments will have more scope to pick and choose, as happened in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban. By concentrating on the air war, and providing only limited help to the rebels on the ground, the Obama administration keeps the rebels weak and maximizes NATO’s relative sway over Libya’s future.

Henry Kissinger used to contrast the Bush 43 and Clinton administrations: “Under Clinton, the explanations were much better than the policies; under Bush, the policies were always much better than the explanations.”

The Libyan war takes the Bush frailty to extremes: the explanations are laughable on their face – but the policy seems astute and promising.

Oscar Wilde has one of his characters remark to another: “I hope you have not been leading a double life, pretending to be wicked and being really good all the time. That would be hypocrisy.” In that sense, the contrast between this president’s actions in Libya and his justifications is hypocrisy at it’s most shameless – and most welcome.

Originally published in The Week.

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Is Al Qaeda Gaining the Upper Hand in Libya?

March 30th, 2011 at 3:14 pm 12 Comments

A Libyan rebel commander who recruited his countrymen to  serve as jihadists in the Iraqi insurgency has said radical Islamists “today are on the front lines” in the uprising against Muammar Qaddafi.

Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi told an Italian newspaper this week that some of the Libyan jihadists he recruited to fight multi-national forces in Iraq had returned home to participate in the rebellion.

They “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” he said, adding that the “members of al Qaeda (in Iraq) are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.”

The charismatic al-Hasidi, who has emerged as one of the most visible rebel spokesmen in the ongoing anti-Qaddafi  unrest, belongs to an Islamist group called the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG).

The  organization mounted a series of spectacular guerrilla attacks against Qaddafi’s military near Benghazi and Derna in 1995 and 1996, reportedly killing dozens of soldiers.

He also fought with anti-coalition militias in Afghanistan. Captured in Pakistan in 2002, al-Hasidi was handed over to the U.S. and later repatriated to Libya. Qaddafi’s regime kept him in prison until 2008.

While al-Hasidi’s LIFG does not fall under the al Qaeda umbrella, the two groups share similar radical Islamist ideologies and militant strategies. In 2001 the U.S. designated LIFG a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).

In an interview with CBS News Tuesday night President Obama said the role of al Qaeda and other Islamists in the Libyan civil war is being assessed by U.S. and allied intelligence agencies: “That’s why I think it’s important for us not to jump in with both feet,” he said, “but to carefully consider what are the goals of the opposition.”

“There’s an operational advantage for militants in any place where law enforcement and domestic security are weak and distracted,” said Steven Simon, author of the Sacred Age of Terror and a fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Simon suggested last month that while the current wave of Arab revolts had largely bypassed al Qaeda and its credo based on the twin tenets of religious fundamentalism and militancy, Libya might prove to be the exception.

At the weekend, al Qaeda encouraged Libyan insurgents to continue waging war against Qaddafi in a videotaped message posted to jihadist websites.  The message, recorded by a senior Libyan al Qaeda commander, was the organization’s first high-level statement on the revolt.

Earlier this week Chad’s president Idriss Deby claimed al Qaeda plundered  Libyan military arsenals in rebel-held territory, acquiring weapons including surface-to-air missiles “which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries” in the Saharan desert.

Chad’s president also backed Qaddafi’s assertion that the protests in Libya had been fomented, in part, by an al Qaeda network active in the North African country.

“There is a partial truth in what he says. Up to what point? I don’t know,” said Deby. “But I am certain that (al Qaeda) took an active part in the uprising.”

While Qaddafi has reason to exaggerate the part militant Islamic fundamentalism has played in Libya’s insurrection, his longtime regional enemy doesn’t.

Qaddafi has repeatedly blamed al Qaeda for inciting the Libyan unrest, saying anti-regime protestors were being manipulated by Osama bin-Laden and warning that Islamist militants will fill the power vacuum if he is toppled.

The Libyan strongman was the first to issue an Interpol arrest warrant for bin-Laden, charging al Qaeda with acting in concert with domestic Islamists to assassinate two German counter-terrorism agents in Libya in 1994.

Qaddafi’s concerns about al Qaeda and the resurgent Islamist threat helped prompt his decision to dismantle his weapons of mass destruction program and embark on a rapprochement with the West in 2004.

Casting himself in the once unimaginable role of an ally of convenience in the War on Terror, Libya was cautiously welcomed back into the international mainstream after decades of pariah state-status. Qaddafi’s own history of sponsoring terrorist violence, including the bombing of a Pan Am airliner out of the skies over Lockerbie, Scotland, was partially forgiven if never actually forgotten on the even-the-craziest-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend principle of realpolitik.

Prior to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s visit in 2008, the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli provided her with a briefing which described Qaddafi as “a strong partner in the war of terrorism,”  lauding his efforts to contain the activities of Libyan jihadists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

The embassy said Qaddafi was routinely providing the West with “excellent” intelligence on al Qaeda and its allies and the quixotic leader was determined to “blunt the ideological appeal of radical Islam.”

Regime change is the unstated goal of the West’s intervention in what amounts to a Libyan civil war.

But President Obama is correct when he says the alliance should err on the side of caution when it comes to the opposition’s objectives . The idea, after all, is surely to change the Qaddafi regime for a Western-tilting, secular government, not a jihadist-dominated one.

Intel Experts: ‘Don’t Quit Until Qaddafi’s Gone’

March 29th, 2011 at 7:44 pm 9 Comments

In his Libyan speech, President Obama established the Obama Doctrine:  America would intervene to stop a murderous tyrant from massacring their citizens.  However, the President also stated that America would transfer responsibility to NATO allies and that the military action in Libya would stop short of removing Qaddafi from power. FrumForum asked experts from the intelligence community for their views on the Obama Doctrine and its application in Libya.

Many we spoke with noted that the official Obama Administration policy does not mesh with what is actually happening in Libya. Congressman Tom Rooney (R-FLA) argued that

the President had not clearly articulated what our mission is in Libya.  What are we hoping to accomplish?  What is the U.S. role in achieving those objectives?  What is our endgame? I don’t think the President has sufficiently answered any of these important questions that should have been addressed before any action was taken.

Michael Hayden, former CIA Director, concurs and also feels that actions speak louder than words.  Despite the talk that the U.S. will step back and take a secondary role, he pointed out that America is still playing a prominent part in handling surveillance, intelligence, indirect fire attack, electronic warfare, and refueling. Hayden explained that

usually we want the game figured out and I am not sure we have figured that out. The no fly zone has little relevance to the tactical situation.  Libyan airplanes were not causing the problem.  His air force was not winning the war for Qaddafi; it was the preponderance of ground power.

The Libya intervention also raises another question: should America turn against all despots, including those who were supportive against Al Qaeda?  A national security decision was made to build a relationship with Qaddafi that chose to look the other way and forget about his past criminal actions in hopes of persuading him to eliminate his biological and WMD programs.

Pete Hoekstra, the former ranking member on the intelligence committee, pointed out that for the last eight years the official U.S. policy has been that Qaddafi is an ally, not an enemy:  President George W. Bush re-established diplomatic relations, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton appointed an ambassador and President Obama doubled military aid to Libya.

Hoekstra also argued that the Obama administration’s Middle East policy is:

sending a very confused signal.  America is bombing Qaddafi who was considered an official ally, yet did nothing when there were riots in the streets against the Iranian government. What are you going to do with tyrannical regimes around the world that have a revolt?  Are we going to support those rebels?  I don’t think so.

On the other hand, James Woolsey, President Clinton’s CIA Director believes that there is no clear-cut rule to decide when to take action against despots and when not to. He would like to see the Obama Administration stop using kid gloves with the regimes of Libya, Syria, and Iran. “Don’t fool yourself: what the President says matters.  A change of government can only get better than the theocratic, genocidal maniacs in power now.  We should do everything possible to help the dissents including arming and training them.”

All those interviewed disagree with one remark from the President’s speech.  Obama stated that “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” Those FrumForum spoke to strongly believe that once the President chose to go to war, the definite objective had to be to eliminate Qaddafi as Libya’s leader.

Hoekstra compared a wounded Qaddafi to a wounded bear, noting that:

he is the guy who ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103 and exploded a bomb outside a German nightclub that was directed against American troops.  As long as Qaddafi remains in power you can bet he will be vengeful and target American interests.  He had done it before so why wouldn’t he do it again?

Former CIA Director James Woolsey agreed and pointed out that:

Libyan civilians will not be protected without eliminating Qaddafi. It’s extremely naïve to believe that if we leave him in power he will be a nice guy. The worst thing America can do is to become tentative.

Woolsey further stressed that if Qaddafi is not eliminated, Islamic despots will be emboldened because the Libyan leader will be able to say he defeated the great Satan: America.

However, a former CIA official pointed out that replacing Qaddafi brings a multitude of problems since no one has any idea who will fill the vacuum or what the true allegiances of the rebels are.  He noted that Abdel Hakim al Hasidi, a declared Libyan rebel leader, fought against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and recruited troops to fight against the U.S. in Iraq.  Hayden confirmed that many Al Qaeda recruits as well as the largest number of foreign fighters in Iraq came from Eastern Libya.

A former CIA official explained to FrumForum that America should implement the Obama Doctrine only

when there is an abiding U.S. national interest at stake.  I do not believe that America should send military forces to a country simply for humanitarian reasons or for human rights preservation.  We should, however, commit only when there is a vital U.S. interest, such as nuclear proliferation, counterterrorism, or important economic interests.

Unfortunately, as Hayden pointed out, “By intervening we have unmistakably taken on an operational, political, and ethical responsibility. If Qaddafi is in any way remaining in power he wins,” and America loses.

Obama’s Real Libya Goal: Regime Change

March 29th, 2011 at 12:21 pm 25 Comments

It was a good speech, clinic but it told us nothing that we don’t know.

President Barack Obama’s intent was to reassure the nation (and, advice I guess, the world) that the U.S. wasn’t at “war” with Libya, but was merely anxious to save Libyan lives from a homicidal Muammar Qaddafi.

That sounds good, but is it true?

Despite fancy rhetoric, the reality is that Obama (and America’s allies and some of her enemies) want Qaddafi gone. Period. Regime change is the goal, with Qaddafi in exile in some unlovely country or, preferably, dead.

No leader is saying that outright, but that’s the hope.

Obama saying that “some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries” but not America has a hypocritical ring, if not a false one.

“As president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action,” said Obama, as if this was ingrained policy.

Maybe in the case of Libya, but certainly not elsewhere.

The truth is that had not the Libyan people risen as one, and rebelled against Qaddafi, Obama and the rest of the world would still be dealing cordially with him, and turning a blind eye to his repressive acts.

The same goes for America’s policy towards Egypt. It was only when the anti-Hosni Mubarak elements were winning, that America put pressure on him to bail out. Until then he was a friend and ally.

Double-dealing is legitimate in international politics and diplomacy. The world accepts winners, even if it may not like them as individuals. What it will not tolerate is losers, and it discards them.

The trouble with Qaddafi is perhaps his Bedouin background. He’s not going quietly – at least not yet. Italy is said to be negotiating a way for him to flee to a country that doesn’t recognize the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague, which is Qaddafi’s destination if he were to surrender or be captured.

No one wants that. Better that he be torn apart by Libyan mobs, or strung up on a lamppost as has been the fate of many failed tyrants.

On the positive side, the Libyan campaign is now internationally led by NATO, with Canadian Air Force Lt.Gen. Charlie Bouchard in command. He is a former deputy commander of NORAD.

Gen. Bouchard’s insistence that NATO forces are not taking sides in the Libyan civil war and that “our goal is to protect and help civilians and population centers under the threat of attack,” is a bit ingenuous.

Tell that to the tank crews demolished by NATO aircraft, and the exuberance of the rebels on the move towards Tripoli, who were in retreat until the “air attacks for peace” routed Qaddafi forces.

Of course we have picked sides, although Obama seems eager to distance America from what the future holds. Libya’s future hinges on what Libyans do when Qaddafi is eventually bounced.

To quote Yogi Berra, “making predictions is hard, especially when it’s about the future.” That holds with Libya and the whole Arab world which is now on the brink of rebellions, if not revolutions.

As Obama puts it, there are “democratic impulses across the Middle East.”

One hopes Obama is right, but history indicates that relatively few “revolutions” end up as democracies.

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