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Libya: The Knowns and Unknowns

Gavin Hewitt | 10:47 UK time, Monday, 21 March 2011

The Knowns

The Libyan mission has been a victory for the nation state and an energetic leader. That's how it comes across in Paris.

At the summit at the Elysee at the weekend, President Sarkozy beamed and embraced over a dozen heads of government and world leaders. The Palace Guard was in line and the drums rolled for the heads of state. Even opponents of the French president say that he has seized the initiative, forged alliances, and was able to inform his lunch guests that French planes were over Libya.

Political enemies like Dominique de Villepin said "France has, in these circumstances, been true to its ideals".

Mr Sarkozy said France had "decided to assume its role" - implying there was a French moral mission that formed part of its identity.

The start of a military operation often makes for good politics. Callers have been phoning French news stations to say they are proud to be French. The departure of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle from Toulon was "breaking news".


US F16 warplane takes off from the Aviano airbase in Italy


The indispensable Americans: It was the French and the British who had made the diplomatic breakthrough. On the opening night the French were given the lead role, but the heavy punch was delivered by the Americans - they fired the vast majority of the Tomahawk cruise missiles that crippled the Libyan air defence system. They had help from the British, but the American Growlers and B2 Stealth bombers were essential.

The operation, so far, has been under the command of the Americans. It was controlled by the US Africa Command out of Germany. That will change. The Americans are determined not to have the "pre-eminent role". Within days command will be handed over to a joint UK-French team or Nato.

Washington - with an eye to the future - is keen to have the Europeans shoulder as much of the burden as possible. At a moment of international crisis the world now knows that Washington may not, as in the past, assume leadership.

The Arab League: Essential to the whole operation. Only underlined at the weekend when they wobbled after the first salvos.

The role of the Germans: In Europe it is often said that everything rides on the Franco-German alliance. It is the bedrock of the EU. On Libya the two countries came down sharply on different sides of the argument. The German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle, found himself insisting that Berlin was not "internationally isolated". But he only underlined the divisions in the EU when he said "many other countries in the EU not only understand our position, not only respect it, but also share it". Germany, the economic superpower of Europe, finds itself debating once again whether it needs to be bolder in international affairs.

Other institutions: The EU has come across as divided, incapable of acting and so has been left on the periphery. This was not a Nato operation, but it may yet come to play a role.

The Unknowns

Already there is confusion over aims. In recent days both US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and others have said they seek the removal of Gaddafi. David Cameron said there was "no future that includes Gaddafi". Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs, took a different line: "this is not about going after Gaddafi himself". That message was reinforced by other American military officials.

But that begs the question. Would the international community be satisfied with the Libyan leader remaining in place as long as civilians were not being attacked?

And if the answer to that is "yes" then would the so-called "coalition of the willing" accept a country that is de-facto partitioned? The Libyan opposition is deeply opposed to this.

Would France, the UK, and the US settle for a stalemate?

What happens when the obvious targets run out? Already one UK Tornado mission has been aborted because of the threat to civilians. Gaddafi's forces are not going to risk being caught again on the open desert highways. They will hunker down in the cities they control.

Admiral Mullen summed it up when he said that the "end game" was very uncertain.

How long will the coalition hold together? There was consternation in various foreign ministries when Arab League head Amr Moussa said: "what has happened in Libya differs from the goal of imposing a no-fly zone". He had, apparently, been misquoted.

But the lesson of history is that civilian casualties are inevitable even with "smart" weapons.

Experience suggests that over time alliances fracture. Short missions work more effectively. So time may be more on Gaddafi's side than the coalition's.

An official said this to me at the weekend. Our big hope is that the air raids will encourage units and officials to desert Gaddafi's side. When they see they cannot win the regime will weaken from the inside and that might open the way for a deal with the opposition. Yesterday there were signs of the insurgents regrouping, but can they regain the initiative?

Just a few of the unknowns.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    You didn't mention the unknown unknowns.


  • Comment number 2.

    Earlier Gavin Hewitt wrote:

    "Firstly, the decision by the Arab League to back a no-fly zone was a game changer. It gave the West crucial political cover."




    Well Gavin, it seems that after initial air strikes at least some AL members have experienced a change of heart.

    And protests from Moscow are getting louder and louder.

    [not that've seen any Greek/Italian/Portuguese/Spanish fighter-bombers over Libya even at the very beginning of "Odyssey Dawn"]


    "And what now, my love?"

  • Comment number 3.

    with Cathy Ashton at the helm, we can all sleep easy.

  • Comment number 4.

    Mr Hewiit, by far and away the vey biggest 'unknown' in all of this gung-ho diplomacy:

    WHY IS BRITAIN TAKING ANY PART AT ALL WHEN THERE IS NOTHING TO SUGGEST THE UK HAS ANY FUNDAMENTAL CONCERNS OR OBJECTIVES WITHIN LIBYA?

  • Comment number 5.

    Here's what I know: There have been lies and misrepresentation by the international media. There is no way that missiles can be presented as peaceful and democratic.
    Libya was the enemy, led by a brutal mad dog.
    The Coalition of Willing were Spiderman, Superman, heroes all - coming to control the mad dog.
    This mission was never about humanitarianism.
    What is unfolding before us is not the flower of democracy, but the stiffling, spreading, poisonous weeds of a fourth US War, this time in North Africa.
    Operation Odyssey Dawn is the biggest Western military intervention in the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq began eight years ago.
    This war, like the Iraq War, is a battle for oil. Libya is among the World's largest oil economies with approximately 3.5% of global oil reserves, more than twice that of the Americans.
    The implications of Odyssey Dawn are far-reaching.
    Odyssey Dawn is part of a conniving military agenda in the Middle East and Central Asia. It consists of gaining control (corporate) control over more than 50% the world's reserves of oil and natural gas, including pipelines.
    With 46.5 billion barrels of reserves, (10 X Egypt), Libya is the largest oil economy in the African continent followed by Nigeria (Shell) and Algeria.
    Operation Odyssey Dawn was in the advanced stages of military planning before the first plane hit the runway, before the first rebels hit the street of Egypt...prior to the protests. The sheeplings were led to believe that the protest movement had spread "spontaneously" from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya.
    To this I would only ask: WHY NOW?
    Why did the protests raise up and spread NOW?
    Why did the rebel forces in Benghazi hoist the red, black and green flag with the crescent and star: the flag of the monarchy of King Idris - the rule of the former colonial powers.
    It happened now because it was orchestrated to happen NOW, the operation had been carefully planned...and the sheep awaited in their pens, barely curious, mostly graising.
    So far, the Libya bombing has resulted in countless civilian casualties, which are either categorized by the media as "collateral damage" or blamed on Mad-Dog Gaddafi. The sheep graize, oblivious; Sometimes, they raise their heads and ba, which sounds oddly like rah...
    Ironically, UNSC R 1973 grants NATO a mandate "to protect civilians"
    Show m where in R 1973 it talks about regime change, confiscation of financial resources, bombing Gaddafi out of his home. And then please tell be why the EU DOES NOT CARE. This operation should have been called operation oil and fraid. It would have been more honest. Ut should have been challenged.
    R-1973 calls for an arms embargo; yet, from the outset the arms have been supplied to the rebels in violation of Article 13.
    How can peace, security and protection of the Libyan people be achieved through missiles, scrafing and plain-out killing. The objective of the military operation is not the protection of civilians but regime change and the balkanization of Libya i.e. partitioning Libya into separate countries (Divide, conquer and control.).
    Obama's policy is get rid of Gaddafi because Gaddafi will never allow Libya to be Balkanized. Operation Odyssey Dawn began; the sheep ba'd, never even seeing that such darkness was descending that tomorrow they would never see the slaughter coming.
    These things are what I know, and so should you and so should the EU. We have seen it all before. We should have the script memorized; we should have been ready for action. If not, I think we must be complicit and this complicitcy - cover, criminality, deception, covert action - whatever you want to call it feels ugly and evil.

  • Comment number 6.

    We are no different to Gadaffi and his followers, they had more planes and weapons than the rebels and used them to fight the rebellion. Now the west come along with more weapons and do the same to Gadaffi's forces, destroying his army and arming the rebels so they can go and slaughter Gadaffi and his supoorters.

    As for human shields, this could be said of both sides as the rebels are hiding in populated areas and Gadaffis forces are now hiding in populated areas. Each not wanting to die.

    Libyan rebels have said that while they welcome more air strikes against government forces they do no want foreign troops to intervene on the ground. A rebel spokesman, Ahmed El Hasi, quoted by the Reuters news agency said the opposition coalition "commttee rejects foreign troops on the ground but we encourage the bombardment of Gaddafi's army".

    I feel this is a totally unjust involvement by the west, siding on one side instead of stopping both sides from killing each other....

  • Comment number 7.

    5 BluesBerry
    6 geordieonline

    Totally agree, the bully boys are on the move again. I'm ashamed we are following yet again like the proverbial sheep just to hang on to a bit of world power and look good on the world stage. Shameful indeed.The sight of Sarkozy preening himself at the expense of some poor civilians dying for 'the cause' is sickening.

  • Comment number 8.

    Forgive me, but I'm utterly bemused as to what exactly we are trying to achieve in Libya - the UN mandate permits intervention to prevent harm to civilians, so the Western forces have targeted Gadaffi's air defence system but also ground forces. Are we therefore to assume that these ground forces were seen to be deliberately targeting civilians which made them justifiable targets, or that potential for collateral casualities caused by Gadaffi's forces advancing on the rebels was seen to be to high to sit back?

    As rightly pointed out, there is no mandate from the UN as regards regime-change, so the question I ask is: if the answer to the above questions in 'YES', will the western forces intervene if after the rebel forces regroup they go on the offensive and civilian lives are again at stake? Surely the potential for civilian casualties will be just as high if the rebels are allowed to advance on Tripoli, and surely that is as much under the UN mandate as Gadaffi's use of force, and our forces should intervene on the same standards.

    But of course all this will be lost in the rhetoric of the Allied leaders who have made it abundantly clear that Gadaffi must be removed, and that is what truly sickens me - that we are once again involved in regime-change in an Arab country that happens to be rich in oil, but this time they will hide behind a UN mandate. Attention should have been focused on alleviating the humanitarian crisis emerging out of the conflict, and why was foreign policy in this case so wildly different to that in Egypt and Tunisia? Surely the most important objective should be to establish an immediate ceasefire on the condition that both sides will enter into peaceful talks with the promise of political change and redistribution of power - that would be the best way of minimising civilian casualties but surprisingly has not been prioritised, and in the meantime we are none the wiser as to who on earth the Interim Council actually are, what their intentions are should they claim power, and their connections to the West.

    As a cursory note, when are we going to begin air raids on Bahrain? At what point do we decide that intervention is necessary there? But of course appealing to other nations to bring in armed forces to quell resistance is morally sound and barely worthy of note in comparison to Libya.

    Nearly 2 million people marched on London in protest of the Iraq war - significantly more people outraged at our government than the numbers of rebels in Libya - would we consider that sufficient for international intervention? The whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.

    Cameron and Sarkozy parading around like show ponies in a 'foreign policy success' - what a disgrace. I'm sure we'll be as proud of this legacy as we are about Iraq and Afghanistan when we are still trying to tidy up the mess in ten years time.

    This is nothing more than entirely driven by oil, dictated by oil, and for the security of oil, and it is a great tragedy.

  • Comment number 9.

    5. At 12:43pm on 21 Mar 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    "..This mission was never about humanitarianism.
    What is unfolding before us is not the flower of democracy, but the stiffling, spreading, poisonous weeds of a fourth US War, this time in North Africa.""

    AND,


    "..This war, like the Iraq War, is a battle for oil..."


    The US led campaign in Iraq was never about 'Oil' and for sure neither is the International involvement in Libya.

    Your assertion about 2003 & thereafter doesn't add-up as the USA is NOT the biggest recipent of Iraqi oil: Check Your facts & try to formulate opinion based on the reality You will find about Iraq oil exports post-2003 and not Your prejudices.

    I don't doubt another, hopefully slightly milder form of dictatorship will eventually end up controlling Libya - - the oil issue is almost periphery - - this was a popular uprising that will be exploited by ruthless leaders within Libya for their own ends. Which/Whomever takes control will then do oil deals with 'west' & 'east' & reap the benefits whilst the Libyan people continue to be repressed.

    The same will be true for much of Noerth Africa 6 Middle East at present undergoing these civilian insurgencies.

    In fact, 2011 will probably come to be compared in History with Europe's 1848 so-called 'Year of Revolutions'.
    Lots of upheavals, many impressive speeches, slogans & calls for 'democracy' with an occasional idealist standing out in the footnotes for their ardent support of 'free-will' followed by new faces from those in 'authority' re-establishing the 'Old Order'.

    Cynical? Yes. Realistic? Yes. Profoundly depressing? Oh yes!

    Meanwhile, I do urge You to start reading more carefully & appreciating the factual reality of the World around You: Stop looking for cheap, easy, quick-fixes whereby every conspiracy, plot, agitation eminates or is inspired from the USA. You are wrong.

  • Comment number 10.

    As for the oil conspiracists, Libya produces a magnificently small amount of the world's oil. Check your numbers before you write your rants.

  • Comment number 11.

    P.S. What about Yemen? An oppressive ruler President Ali Abdullah Saleh in power for 33 years, and a revolution movement causing significant armed conflict, and the defection of a leading General - what's the difference? Will the international community act there?

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12804552

  • Comment number 12.

    I would add a couple more unknowns. Who exactly are the Libyan rebels? What do they want? Where did all their guns come from? Are they fighting for democracy? Or for power? Why is partition not acceptable to them? Is the grass greener over that fence?

  • Comment number 13.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 14.

    Countries that have oil, sand, people, and very little of anything else will always need to trade their oil for food etc. The disturbing issue is that we are not being told who the rebels are, and what percentage of the population they represent. They may simply be a few digruntled citizens who want their own way, we do not know. Perhaps we do not understand the culture of tribalism, but any football fans will have witnessed the hatred of a few supporters at local derbys. (eg. West Bromwich and Wolverhampton). If we could imagine that hatred by two minorities extending into everyday life, the difficulties of interfering in cultural disputes becomes more apparent. Do we really want to help one minority leader to have power over over another. I am cynical of the British ruling class, and I believe that their motivation is self interest, and not the National interest.

  • Comment number 15.

    6. At 1:12pm on 21 Mar 2011, geordieonline wrote:

    "We are no different to Gadaffi and his followers"

    Don't be so incredibly disingenuous. Since when did this country abuse the human rights of its citizens? When did the army, loyal to a dictator in this country, spread across the land looking to wipe out armed rebels trying to protest at the rights violations? When did we go to Libya and indicriminately attack hordes of civilians?

    No, we never did that, so stop with the ridiculous guilting. We do not have anyone like Gaddafi in this country. We have not treated people like Gaddafi has.

  • Comment number 16.

    Patrick wrote:
    As for the oil conspiracists, Libya produces a magnificently small amount of the world's oil. Check your numbers before you write your rants.





    And only 13% of all oil imported by the U.S. comes from the whole ME.

    Its two biggest suppliers of oil being Canada and Mexico.

    Oooppps, sorry! :-)))

  • Comment number 17.

    @ 9 Cool Brush Stroke:

    You are playing a dangerous game choosing to patronise others for their contributions through claiming they are factually incorrect, without substantiating your point. Especially considering your bold assertion that Iraq had nothing to do with oil. If you are going to put down the thoughts of others and criticise what you see to be a lack of 'reading', please back up your arguments.

    I believe you read my comment on Hewitt's blog from 11th March, as you referred to it in a later post. I would like to post it again because it shows (and substantiates) exactly how US involvement in Iraq was and maintains to be benefited by oil:

    "https://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4264.htm

    Essentially, the legal ownership of oil reserves technically remain with the Iraqi people but under the caveats of corporate rights to develop oil production (granted to Shell and Exxon), of which profits from oil extraction would be returned to the 'Iraqi People' through the instruments of the Development Fund for Iraq, who offer development contracts to, funnily enough, US companies - step up Halliburton, Bechtel, Brown and Root etc, and their sub-contractors. Any security issues arising from such development, with specific attention to insurance, is guaranteed not by the companies' own insurance or by the US government, but by the fund itself - so the Iraqi people are liable. Iraq's liabilities ultimately increase as a result and have resulted in an ever increasing reliance on the sale and development of oil production to the West to cover development, which is directed by US interests. But this should be no surprise given that the Republican manifesto upto the invasion of Iraq, from the first Gulf War, consistently stated that there was a priority to secure US oil interests in the Middle East." - Me, Gavin Hewitt's blog from 11th March 2011.

    Moreover, export indicators from Iraqi oil production are not in themselves accurate as they show the export of brent crude which is exported to whichever refinery lcoation the relevant oil companies choose. Refined products such as petrol/diesel are classed entirely differently and you'll find that America is the main consumer of the refined oil products produced by the main refiners of Iraqi oil - Exxon Mobil being the largest holder.

    But even if you were correct in saying that America is not the largest consumer of Iraqi oil, the US benefits from every dollar made from Iraqi oil sales through the structuring detailed in the article above.

    Spreading of democratic values, or humanitarian concern are difficult arguments to substantiate beyond the rhetoric of the Bush Doctrine of 2002, as it had absolutely no precedence - in fact quite the opposite from the direct support and involvement in dictatorial regime changes in South America by former Republican regimes. If this was actually the case, America would be involved in wars in many, many more countries. You have to look far deeper into the conditions now faced by Iraqi citizens as a result of Western occupation and the vested benefits and interests gained by the occupiers as a result to make a reasoned statement of intentions for getting involved in a war in the Middle East.

  • Comment number 18.

    @ 10 Patrick:

    Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60×10^9 m3) as of 2007. Oil production was 1.8 million barrels per day (290×10^3 m3/d) as of 2006, giving Libya 63 years of reserves at current production rates if no new reserves were to be found. Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets. Libya would like to increase production from 1.8 Mbbl/d (290×10^3 m3/d) in 2006 to 3 Mbbl/d (480×10^3 m3/d) by 2010–13 but with existing oil fields undergoing a 7–8% decline rate, Libya's challenge is maintaining production at mature fields, while finding and developing new oil fields. Most of Libya remains unexplored as a result of past sanctions and disagreements with foreign oil companies.[1]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oil_reserves_in_Libya

    I disagree with you entirely - whilst not the largest, Libya's reserves are hugely significant. As hinted at above the real issue is the underdevelopment of the Libyan oil fields and the huge areas of unexplored terrain which have a very high chance of holding more reserves. Gadaffi has refused Western investment and development of Libyan oil fields resulting in a decline in sustainability of the current processing sites.

    I would not call this conspiracy theorising.

  • Comment number 19.

    Int. community should include the AU.
    Given the circumstances it is slanderous, if not criminal, to see and listen "world-leaders" discussing openly about the fate of the president of a foreign country, member of the UN.
    The goal now is to cause as much destabilization in Libya as possible using "acceptable" FORCE - thanks to UN res. 1793 weak leadership of BKiMoon and AMusa but also the abstaining veto powers, Russia and China -thus giving a breathing space for the forces of reaction to regain lost control particularly in Egypt and allow a grace time for the sheikdoms to put in order their shaky palaces.
    Collective security without collective interests is just a substitute for a rewarding instrument through which "world leaders" such as president NSarkozy and prime ministerr DCameron manage the world without the necessity of understanding it.

  • Comment number 20.

    To Powermeercat and other interested.

    Spain is doing its little bit. The BBC reported that 2 Spanish F18 had been in action over Lybia, out of 6 offered.

    Spain is also sending an Air refuelling tanker (707), an F100 Frigate (Spain has 4 and is building a 5th of these very modern vessels equipted with the American AEGIS combate system.) An S74 submarine, CN235 marine survailance plane and 500 troops.

    Not too bad for a country that acording to some is about to go broke, if not so already!

  • Comment number 21.

    Just in case those expensive, time-serving, waste-of-space members of the EUropean Union elite think they're getting under the radar because of all the hyperbole over Libya etc.:

    21st March - BBC News - 'Two Euro MPs quit amid lobbying allegations'

    "A Slovenian Euro MP has resigned after corruption allegations surfaced on Sunday - the second MEP to do so.

    Zoran Thaler said his resignation "should enable an investigation of all facts and circumstances of this attempt to compromise my name".

    Austrian MEP Ernst Strasser resigned earlier, after the UK's Sunday Times newspaper made the allegations.

    The paper alleged the pair and Romanian MEP Adrian Severin accepted offers of cash in exchange for influencing laws.

    All three have denied wrongdoing. The European Parliament is now investigating the allegations."


    The BBC News story follows on from an article in the British Sunday Times which according to 'Open Europe' carried the following expose of alleged corruption in Brussels:

    'MEPs caught in newspaper sting accepting €100,000 bribes to amend EU laws; Former Austrian Minister resigns.

    Three MEPs have been caught agreeing to accept secret payments to alter laws by the Sunday Times. The Austrian, Romanian and Slovenian MEPs put forward amendments believing they would be paid for this work with a €100,000 (£87,300) annual salary, a consultancy fee or both. Journalists, posing as public affairs executives, contacted over 60 MEPs asking if they would be interested in a paid role as an adviser. 14 MEPs expressed an interest and met the reporters, among them two British MEPs. When confronted, Adrian Severin MEP, the 56-year-old former Romanian Deputy Prime Minister, said, “I didn’t do anything that was, let’s say, illegal or against any normal behaviour we have here.” Austrian MEP Ernst Strasser, a former Austrian Interior Minister, has resigned.

    A leader in the paper argued: “We live in an era when much of British law and a high proportion of the regulations that control our lives are determined in Europe. MEPs have the power to amend those laws and directives in a way that affects everybody…Our investigation shows that it urgently needs to clean up its act and adopt rules and practices that will put an end to this corruption.”'


    Good to know the EU gravy train is in full swing with as MEP Severin says, "..I didn't do anything... against any normal behaviour we have here."

    Well, at least he's honest about how 'normal' it is to make a pile of money whilst allegedly representing EU Constituents' interests at Brussels!


    Now if a Police officwr waqs caught accepting money to alter a charge, if a Teacher was caught accepting money to alter a grade, if a nurse was caught accepting money to change a prescription, if a.... Well, I wonder what would happen to them?
    No prizes for guessing the decision wouldn't be that they continue in their jobs paid salaries by the Tax-payer.

    One rule for EU Citizens & quite another for EU apparachiks & jobsworths!

  • Comment number 22.

    It seems the west can never learn from past mistakes. Iraq seems to have faded from memory. Sure this is different to Iraq with reluctant backing from the Arab league but sending ground forces is inevitable at some stage.

    Gaddafi is an idiot corrupted by power and could have followed the examples of Tunisia and Egypt.

    It seems every British prime minister is cursed to go into some kind of war

  • Comment number 23.

    There seems one courgeous man who knows what's going on:
    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is blasting the imperialist military attacks on Libya. He says that it is strafing - "indiscriminate bombing" - by the Western alliance and is causing many civilian casualties.
    But who listens to Chavez; he's just a pal of mad-dog Gaddafi.
    The mad-dog's pal says: "Civilian victims are now appearing because some bombs are launched - 200, 400 bombs - Tomahawks and Stormshadow cruise missiles - and these land among the people."
    With the second round of strikes on Tripoli, Chavez called the US, Britain and France to "the aggression against Libya," adding that the still-unfolding crisis in the North African country can be resolved, but it must be solved through dialogue. (I think this is the first pragmatic, intelligent politician that I have heard who truly makes sense instead of waffles!)
    Anti-aircraft fire erupted in Tripoli amid reports by the Libyan media that civilians are being killed, hospitals were being filled...
    Chavez: "The Yankee empire took the decision to depose Gaddafi, to take advantage of the insurgency to topple him, and even kill him, and over an ocean of blood take possession of the (Libyan) oil."
    Yes, I agree with this assessment 100%.
    Then follows Chavez' moment of utter threat: "Imperialists, don't even think of coming here for Venezuela's oil!"
    A spokesman for anti-government forces in Libya has said more than 8,000 Libyans and opposition forces have been killed since the onset of the revolution on February 15. Surprise, I have not seen figures anywhere near this in western media.
    I respect Chavez; I praise Chavez for his condemnation of Coalition atrocities.

  • Comment number 24.

    @6 geordieonline

    "We are no different to Gadaffi and his followers, they had more planes and weapons than the rebels and used them to fight the rebellion. Now the west come along with more weapons and do the same to Gadaffi's forces, destroying his army and arming the rebels so they can go and slaughter Gadaffi and his supoorters."

    Now now, don`t say this. We all know that the soldiers killed by NATO bombs neither have family nor are they human.
    That`s why the free world can slaughter them without feeling bad.



  • Comment number 25.

    17. At 3:10pm on 21 Mar 2011, Turbulent_Times wrote:
    @ 9 Cool Brush Stroke:

    You are playing a dangerous game choosing to patronise others for their contributions through claiming they are factually incorrect, without substantiating your point. Especially considering your bold assertion that Iraq had nothing to do with oil. If you are going to put down the thoughts of others and criticise what you see to be a lack of 'reading', please back up your arguments.

    I believe you read my comment on Hewitt's blog from 11th March, as you referred to it in a later post. I would like to post it again because it shows (and substantiates) exactly how US involvement in Iraq was and maintains to be benefited by oil:

    "https://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article4264.htm"



    Sorry mate, don't agree about any "..dangerous game..": And I can't be bothered to go through the whole thing again and again and again!

    I have countless times in the last 3+ years gone over why 'oil' was not the grounds for the Iraq campaign.

    Yes, I've read Your pieces before & recall the 'link', however I'm afraid it has made no difference to my opinion.
    I suggest You actually examine the content of Your link and reflect on my idea that "..a lack of 'reading'" accounts for people making prejudicial errors, and then, "..please back up your arguments" because at present nothing I've seen from You 'factually' endorses that 'oil' was behind the US policy.

    As for Your #18: Just to repeat for Your benefit & Bluesberry etc.

    No, 'oil' is not the reason for the U.N. Security Council Resolution & the 'no-fly' zone.
    Nor is the USA secretly behind some sort of plot to overthrow Gaddafi. On the contrary, if anything, the US is upfront in its despising of Gaddafi & the US State Dept. has operated well within International Law & U.N. protocols (as it did over Iraq) toward this present crisis in Libya.

  • Comment number 26.

    @21 cool_brush_work

    "Just in case those expensive, time-serving, waste-of-space members of the EUropean Union elite think they're getting under the radar because of all the hyperbole over Libya etc.:"

    As I live in Vienna right now, I can assure you that neither Libya nor Fukushima could save Strasser from the Austrian press and prosecution. :)

  • Comment number 27.

    Further to the discussion on the importance or otherwise of 'Oil' to Iraq circa 2003 onward & now Libya:

    Top Ten Oil Exporting Countries
    •Saudi Arabia (8.73 million barrels per day)
    •Russia (6.67)
    •Norway (2.91)
    •Iran (2.55)
    •Venezuela (2.36)
    •United Arab Emirates (2.33)
    •Kuwait (2.20)
    •Nigeria (2.19)
    •Mexico (1.80)
    •Algeria (1.68)

    The following countries have strong reserves to compete effectively in global oil trade.

    Greatest Oil Reserves by Country (2005)
    •Saudi Arabia (262 billion barrels)
    •Canada (179)
    •Iran (126)
    •Iraq (115)
    •Kuwait (102)
    •United Arab Emirates (98)
    •Venezuela (77)
    •Russia (60)
    •Libya (39)
    •Nigeria (35)


    Info gleaned from the CIA World Factbook (2009).

  • Comment number 28.

    Is it my imagination or is Cathy Ashton a dead ringer for the good colonel ? How is it you never see her and Ghadaffi in the same room ?

  • Comment number 29.

    23. At 4:00pm on 21 Mar 2011, BluesBerry wrote:

    "..But who listens to Chavez; he's just a pal of mad-dog Gaddafi."

    At last, You got something right!

  • Comment number 30.

    Cool Brush Work @ 9.


    Spot on. There will be no changes in those Arab Societies that have had their "Revolutions."

    Take Egypt: 1953. Army Generals Nasser and Sadat tell the corrupt King Fahrouk, "its time you went son."

    Gen. Nasser then ruled as Dictator until he died of cancer in late 1960s.
    Gen. Sadat then took over as Dictator until asassinated in late 1970s.
    Gen. Mhubarak then took over as Dictator until overthrown. ( though notice he still lives within Egypts borders.)

    What does this add up to........... no change, "Palace" Revolution only, a change of Army Personnel.

    And business as usual for the Egyptian people.

  • Comment number 31.

    MH # 7:

    "Totally agree, the bully boys are on the move again. I'm ashamed we are following yet again like the proverbial sheep just to hang on to a bit of world power and look good on the world stage. Shameful indeed."

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    What would have been shameful would have been standing on the sidelines as a mad, ruthless dictator exacted his revenge upon those who had the courage to stand up to him and demand a democratic, free lifestyle - you know the sort that you are privileged to enjoy in the England you profess to despise. You may have been happy to watch a slaughter, but many of us, reluctant warriors or not, felt otherwise. We cannot safeguard everyone in the world, but where we can, we have as human beings a duty to do just that.

    What this crisis once again demonstrates as clear as day is the total pointlessness of the EU political union. How anyone can pretend that it, as an organisation, is capable of responding in any meaningful way to international events is beyond me. Just how many times must it fail before its existence is called into question? The idea that it can, or should, have a common defence and foreign policy is so absurd as to defy belief. By the time the horse-trading, squalid compromises and back room deals have been practised, whatever crisis was supposed to have been addressed would have become a distant memory. Baroness Ashton is ideal as a symbol of just how inadequate the EU response always is. Completely ineffectual and hopelessly divided.

    Who will release us from this ruinously expensive and futile nightmare?

  • Comment number 32.

    Now that substantial diamond deposits have been discovered in Zimbabwe, how long before the 'allies' find an excuse to topple Mugabe? The propagande machines will soon crank into action about how he is killing and starving his own people- as if he hasn't been doing that for decades now. Or maybe in this case considering his age, they will just wait till he's dead and then grab a slice of the action. Poor Africa, forever being raided for its natural resources.

  • Comment number 33.

    The intervention of the west in Libya in the near future will be know as the big mistake ever made by the west.
    It is not rational to intervene in Libya and not in Israel which kill more of 1000 Palestinian for no reason at all.
    John

  • Comment number 34.

    31 Pickled Pete writes:
    "What would have been shameful would have been standing on the sidelines as a mad, ruthless dictator exacted his revenge upon those who had the courage to stand up to him and demand a democratic, free lifestyle ....You may have been happy to watch a slaughter, but many of us, reluctant warriors or not, felt otherwise..."
    ---------------------
    Just remind us again, how long has this 'mad, ruthless dictator' been in power? The 'brave revolutionaries' we see on our tv screens don't quite fit the image you present - more like young well-fed hooligans with bandannas and face masks sitting in the back of Toyotas with weapons supplied by god only knows whom. Do you know who is waiting in the wings? And I'm not quite sure what 'slaughter' you are talking about, though no doubt this will happen soon enough when 'precision bombing' goes wrong.

    ----------------------
    You go on to say regarding the EU:
    "By the time the horse-trading, squalid compromises and back room deals have been practised, whatever crisis was supposed to have been addressed would have become a distant memory"

    Precisely, long enough for these hotheads to cool their heels and no doubt stop the killing of hundreds of innocent bystanders.

  • Comment number 35.

    Re #23 "There seems one courgeous man who knows what's going on:
    Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez.
    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is blasting the imperialist military attacks on Libya."




    No, you cannot top it - so I quit.

  • Comment number 36.

    BluesBerry, people are known by the company they keep, and when you are in the same group as Chavez & Gaddafi, no respect is what you get. I am with powermeerkat here.

    margaret howard(no 32) wrote "Just remind us again, how long has this 'mad, ruthless dictator' been in power? The 'brave revolutionaries' we see on our tv screens don't quite fit the image you present - more like young well-fed hooligans with bandannas and face masks sitting in the back of Toyotas with weapons supplied by god only knows whom. Do you know who is waiting in the wings? And I'm not quite sure what 'slaughter' you are talking about, though no doubt this will happen soon enough when 'precision bombing' goes wrong".

    Anyone who willingly goes out armed with small arms, and improvised mobile light anti-aircraft artillery, in units thrown together in days against well organised and much better equipped units of long standing is brave(maybe also suicidally stupid). They are not , as you so condescendingly and sneeringly put it, "young well-fed hooligans with bandannas". As for the face masks, this is desert terrain, so they are intelligent too.

    Regarding your overwrought silliness about "weapons supplied by god only knows whom", if you have no data, do not comment. Anyone with any knowledge of weapons can tell you the overwhelming majority are of Soviet origin. As for the "'slaughter'", where have you been for the last month? Did you not see the bodies in various cities in Libya? The man has used tanks, attack helicopters, ground attack aircraft and self-propelled guns against his own people. Did you not hear the Colonels clear statement concerning his plans for the inhabitants of Bengazhi?

    I am afraid the same lack of respect expressed above re BluesBerry applies to your vapid statements.

  • Comment number 37.

    I won't be surprised if the Libyan problem comes to Paris, London, Washington. Libya is a arab/muslim problem and it is for arab and muslim countries to handle Gadaffi if they are not happy with the treatment of his people, not for the hypocritical double talking west.

  • Comment number 38.

    oh my god, do people in this post honestly believe that the reason we attacked Libya is to protect civilian lives??
    - In the 1980s we supported south africa with no regard for human life,
    - In the 1980s we supported Iraq in their war against Iran,
    - Up to this day we support Saudi Arabia as they invade Bahrain,
    - Up to this day we do not care about the killing of Arabs by Israelis,
    - Up to this day we do not care about Yemen civilians,
    - Up to this day we do not care about the Karin in Burma,
    - Up to this day we do not care about any dictator that will dance to our music

    In all honestly I do not care about Caddafi, his sons or his supporters, but it realy bothers me that our politicians lie to us and tell us they kills people in order to protect them!!

    The most honest have been the Germans, they moto is buy our stuff we do not care about your human rights, simply honest and direct. Nothing wrong with that.

    I guess the problem with us is we can only sell weapons and trade in oil, we do not make anything that we can sell to them.

  • Comment number 39.

    #38

    chrisarta;

    "The most honest have been the Germans, they moto is buy our stuff we do not care about your human rights, simply honest and direct. Nothing wrong with that."

    Abstaining is not honest, voting against is honest. At least, as honest as you can be when you are the second largest recipient of Libyan oil. Mind you , they are no worse than the brave and principled Russians and Chinese, who could have easily vetoed the resolution but didnt.

  • Comment number 40.

    The attack on Libya was a matter of emergency. I think it was allright.

    But when Gaddafis forces are weakend to a level the rebels can cope with foreign powers will have to stay apart. It's Libyan business, not theirs.

    The German distance to her partners in the security council voting was meant honestly, but it wasn't politically correct. It would have been better to stand firmly to her western allies even if the common sense wasn't complete.

    There may be more important questions which justify to avoid a backing indeed.

  • Comment number 41.

    What oil??? according to people posting here, this war has nothing to do with oil!!!! It is all about human rights.

  • Comment number 42.

    # 39. champagne_charlie

    Germany get's a lot of oil from Libya. But it may be the wrong choice to support Gaddafi today. Tomorrow the situation can be quite different. Who doesn't know that?

    And it was the German foreign minister who urged a stop of oil imports from Libya to Europe recently. Without success against the French (Total)!

  • Comment number 43.


    Why oh why oh why do we continue to pretend our politicians give a toss whether or not there might have been a massacare in bengazi.

    for a start gadaffi's mercenary forces are loyal to money, they can be paid off. second remember rwanda. no oil.. no help....

    every military commander knows you must take out the opposition command or they can regroup to consolidate a stronger grip. remember the kuwait gulf war....

    seems to me the west is not telling us all about their intentions. can they want gadaffi to remain, but as less of a tiger and more of a pussycat.

    this will not satisfy the democratic movements. even western governments will ned to face the facts, this revolution is just begining,

    and it may just go global.

  • Comment number 44.

    36 MacTurk wrote:
    "As for the "'slaughter'", where have you been for the last month? Did you not see the bodies in various cities in Libya? The man has used tanks, attack helicopters, ground attack aircraft and self-propelled guns against his own people."
    ----------------------------------
    And you talk of 'overwrought silliness'. Remember this?

    1989: Massacre in Tiananmen Square
    "Several hundred civilians have been shot dead by the Chinese army during a bloody military operation to crush a democratic protest in Peking's (Beijing) Tiananmen Square."

    They used tanks and all the other things you mention against their own people. Can't remember anyone saying then that we must take out their leaders. I wonder why not? Talk about vapid statements.
    And ChrisArta at *38 gives many more similar examples.

  • Comment number 45.

    I just thought; if all goes well - new Libyans might soon start paying taxes!

    ;o))))))

    (did anyone warn them now, like, threw a leaflet down or a thousand from board the plane, what democracy includes?)

    Imagine you meet a Libyan 20 years from now in a pub.
    Somehow I think it will be un-wise to tell where you are from:o)))))
    I definitely won't mention Russia with the right of veto :o)))))))

    ah, no. You can't meet a Libyan in a pub, they've got a dry law.
    Well, meeting a Libyan in an airport.
    No :o)))), bad idea. Meeting a Libyan somewhere!

    He/she says: Where are you from?
    You say - I am Indian. Indian German from Brazil! That'll be a safe bet :o)))))

  • Comment number 46.

    powermeer,
    Putin grumbled not because of you but because of us.
    He has a perfect sniff what the country is up to. First it's Russians began complaining in the blogs that it seems too much metal flying over one Libya, and only 2 days later Putin said a word.

    Medvedev quickly corrected him, of course, that you can't sign and then complain, that's un-becoming for a country, but it's because Putin does not want to be un-popular, he got used to the opposite :o)))), so he picked up the mood.

    It is Western fault itself :o)))))))), you boasted too much.

    Once we here heard the word "tomogavks", it is ingrained here still "a tomohawk - an arms of the cold war", you picture them all on the small Libya and it becomes a no-brainer the conclusion.

  • Comment number 47.

    I side with Margaret on the civillians look. May be it is our female view :o)))) I see Macturk finds them quite normal.

    Imagine one such a civillian with a bazooka by your dacha.

    All hands on deck windows shut doors barricaded!

  • Comment number 48.

    :o)

    "In the frame of fulfilling UN resolution of establishing a no-fly zone, French airplanes fired at a Libyan tank which was flying over Bengazi"

    "Latvia decided to support the military action in Libya.
    Just in case, so that somebody won't mix them by mistake :o))))))))

    "In Japan they teach people from childhood what to do at the approach of a tsunami.
    Same courses ought to be introduced elsewhere.
    On hearing the first words on TV "The USA and the EU express their concerns about the state of democracy in your country" you should stop all you were doing and run for cover :o)))))

    An extract from the news band:

    B.Obama: "We could not stay un-moved by the sufferings of the Libyans"

    "The USA and Britain set out at Libya 110 tomohawks."




  • Comment number 49.

    M. Howard, Bluesberry,

    By and large,

    venting ..vitriol here, I Hope(!)..

    is Not one of your totally consistantly successful endeavor(s)

    In Life.

    :O)))

  • Comment number 50.

    Also, I forgot to insert the word "the only"

    in front of "one" in the above comment,

    Sorry, ooops, birthday mistake..

    honestly, you too, take some time out to "smell the roses"

    WHEREVER you are living :)

  • Comment number 51.

    Well, I'll tell you this much is true..

    This is the French Falkands war..we, the USA, provide the supply lines and they provide the Heroic Effort.

    Oh, y'all don't remember that little fact from The Falkland Islands war?"

    I remember it, like yesterday...

    Open up the newspapers of that time

    BTW, I could be incorrect...so no offense to Britons, the world over--

    Especially because it "means" nothing much at all.

  • Comment number 52.

    Also, here I said it first!

    When the going gets Complicated WE will leave the unwieldy situation up to our allies--

    Money walks, Bravado talks

    No offense.

  • Comment number 53.

    Web Alice, maybe someday, there will be a commemorative War Museum there in London, showing all the Russian weaponry

    used to slaughter...humans...now THAT would cause war with Russia.

    But only bad ones, the few corporations that did profit.

    BUT, I'm sure no American wants to see a similar museum in Bejing showing American war weaponry through out America's centuries,

    oh how ..unfortunately informational that would be--exposing OUR OWN Dark Side (Darth Vader influenced?)

    Many people here are starting to view "Fortress America" as an idea that "got away."

  • Comment number 54.

    Hmmmm

    How long has the UK really really wanted to see the back of Gaddafi? I would say that you could put the date as sometime between the 21St of December 1988 at the earliest and 16Th August 2003 at the latest.

    The UK and many other countries have waited for decades for their chance to oust Gadaffi. When the rebellion started it looked like the time for the knives to come out; unfortunately Gadaffi is resilient and looks like sticking around for a while. I wonder when we can expect Lockerbie II? I wonder where we can expect Lockerbie II? France? Spain? UK? USA?

    Realpolitik meant putting up with Gadaffi after Lockerbie. Realpolitik also means that it is in the interest of those nations who supported the no fly zone to ensure that the Libyan rebellion succeeds in ousting Gadaffi. Whatever the UN resolution says a Gadaffi in charge of even a portion of Libya and its oil reserves is capable of mounting a significant terror offensive against any nation you care to name.

  • Comment number 55.

    I bet China views all this with mixed feelings as new loans to America -- because of Libya -- will be invested into Japan and not China--earthquake/tsunami rebuilding.

    Maybe,

    a successful prevention of Gaddafi war success will cause American arms sales to rise. paying down the deficit And

    the investments into Japan will Slow down the pace of the arrival of this new Chinese "New World Order"

    ...Hmmmmm...thinking...

  • Comment number 56.

    Maybe it won't be oil, maybe no regime change, maybe not even humanitarian progress & democracy in Libya that will merge as the longterm outcomes from this conflict.

    Perhaps there are 2 other 'Libya' effects on the horizon that will in time come to be appreciated as pivotal Historic moments:

    The split between France & Grmany.

    The split between Medvedev & Putin.

    If those 2 'political fallout' factors do gain momentum then the crisis in Libya will have been significant beyond anything anyone could have imagined at the start of it all.

    Just a thought.

  • Comment number 57.

    margaret howard(no 44). "overwrought silliness" I wrote, and I stand over it. You are basically positing that because the West(or the civilised world) did nothing about Tienamen Square, therefore we should never, ever, ever, do anything, even when;
    a) We can, which was not true of Tienamen Square.
    b) It is in our backyard, which again was not true of Tienamen Square.
    c) It is in our interest, which again was not true of Tienamen Square. Unles you believe that going to war with China is a wise policy?

    There is a saying which roughly goes "You have a responsibility to change the things you can change, accept the things you cannot change, and have the wisdom to know the difference between the two".

    In this case, we have a UN resolution to restrain a murderous loon whose country is in our backyard. So yes, we should act.

    It is in our interest(Europe's, specifically) to try and make sure that the oil keeps flowing. This, by the way, will provide money to the citizens and state of Libya.

    It is on Europe's interest to make sure that there is some kind of transition of power and some chance of development in the wider Arab Maghreb, if only to ensure that these countries generate tourists, not a flood of economic migrants.

    Also, it is in our interests to be on the right side of history for once. It is emphatically not in our interests to allow a untrustworthy loon to butcher his own people. He is now on, I think, his third declared ceasefire. He needs to go.

    The Arabs need to develop themselves, need to open up and learn, and need to start catching up with the rest of the world. The West for too long has been complicit in supporting a series of stultifying authoritarian regimes which have kept their people in stagnation.

  • Comment number 58.

    Re #46 AiW wrote: "Once we here heard the word "tomogavks"





    Alice, I have no doubt that gen. Gazputin is going to be re-elected once more (with a little help from KGB /FSB/GRU 'siloviki') as Russia's prezidyent.

    In America we call it 'revolving door'. :-)
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    TOMAHAWK - "if something absolutely, positively has to get there over night" :-)

    ['this message brought to you by good people of Boeing Co.'s Tomahawk Division.' :-)]

  • Comment number 59.

    Another topic that is presently absent from these articles because of some obscure obsession with Libya by the BBC European Editor!

    21 March 2011, BBC News - -

    Heading: 'France vote bolsters Le Pen's far-right National Front'

    "The far-right National Front (FN) has gained ground in French local elections, with preliminary results suggesting the UMP party of President Nicolas Sarkozy has fared badly.

    The opposition Socialists have a strong lead after the first round of the cantonal elections, on 25%.

    But the FN surged to about 15% in Sunday's vote, just behind the centre-right UMP, which has about 17% so far...
    ... Earlier this month, two opinion polls predicted that in next year's presidential election, Mr Sarkozy could be knocked into third place by the FN leader, Marine Le Pen..."



    This is really an aside, however I just wonder where all the blustering, denigraters of the United Kingdom 'democracy' are at this time?

    The likes of JorgeG1, Manneken, QOT, ptsa etc. who constantly refer to Britain's 'political' deficiencies are strangely absent when the 'Far Right politics' is much closer to their homelands?

    With the exception of Nik (who at least makes a fairly consistent effort) though his stuff usually just misses the point the above Brit-critics seem never to be around when the Continental political systems come under uncomfortable scrutiny.

    Doubtless they'll return at a suitable moment with some barb about the 'uneducated', the 'ill-informed', the 'oppressed/oppressive' Britons that inhabit these Islands.
    And yet, time-and-again, it is sur le continent that extremism gets the significant votes of the so very well educated/informed/liberated EUropean Citizens!


    Just a thought.


  • Comment number 60.

    CBW(no 59) Could you please try to stay on topic? Just a thought.

  • Comment number 61.

    Re #60

    MacTurk, any chance You might be taking the proverbial?

    Not so much a thought, more a modus operandi, on Your part.

    Chuckle & cheers!

  • Comment number 62.

    oh you guys ..not happy w/this lil war here-me.

    It looks like open ended money spending..not so bad as Iraq,

    but continuing indefinitely with nothing in mind except protecting protestors

    with guns.

    Viva La France..May she find Gloroire in this for future French historians:)))

  • Comment number 63.

    57 MacTurk writes:
    There is a saying which roughly goes "You have a responsibility to change the things you can change, accept the things you cannot change, and have the wisdom to know the difference between the two".

    What you are saying is that we leave the big bully boys like China alone when they murder either their own people or say, invade Tibet but go after the small fry. Not a good way to show the world that we want them to become like us and adopt our nice democratic ways.
    ----------------------------------
    You go on to say:
    "The Arabs need to develop themselves, need to open up and learn, and need to start catching up with the rest of the world."

    I agree with you there, especially as they were well ahead of us when we were sunk in the dark ages. But we had to pull ourselves out of that mire and fought off any outsiders who tried to interfere in our world. Why should they feel any different? To say they 'need to develop themselves' speaks of arrogance and new imperialism by the west. And I thought we had done away with all that.

  • Comment number 64.

    margaret howard(no 63) wrote "What you are saying is that we leave the big bully boys like China alone when they murder either their own people or say, invade Tibet but go after the small fry. Not a good way to show the world that we want them to become like us and adopt our nice democratic ways". Please read what I wrote above about wisdom. Entering an unwinnable war against China, for example, would not exactly be a great advertisement for either "..our nice democratic ways" or common sense. Unless you define Western values to include bankruptcy and possibly extinction.

    Referring to the need for the Arab world to develop itself has nothing to do with your silly buzzwords(imperialism, arrogance), but is simply quoting the sense of every UN report on this misfortunate and misgoverned part of the world by Arab scholars since at least 2004.

 

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