All Eyes on the Middle East

by craig on March 25, 2011 1:06 pm in Middle East, Uncategorized

For weeks now, every Friday has been full of thrill and expectation, as we have waited to see what will transpire after Friday prayers. Plainly the Islamic religion is capable of being a motor for postive social change. First expectation centred on Tunisia, then on Egypt. Today among many key points, Syria and Yemen are particularly interesting.

In Yemen, the Americans are back in the position they were in over Egypt as it became plain that Mubarak could not survive, when they tried to foist in the arch Zionist Omar Suleyman. In Yemen they are still hoping to find a successor for Salih endorsed by the USA and propelled to power by the military, who will permit free operation by US forces in Yemen. It does not seem that anything will ever convince Obama that freedom and democracy in the Middle East would address most of the root causes of terrorism.

Syria is interesting, because while Assad is every bit as murderous as his father, he gives an example of what a younger and more media savvy generation of Middle Eastern dictators might look like. Instead of threatening to murder all opposition, he apologises for each and every massacre his troops carry out and sends flowers to their relatives. His wife does excellent PR in a Princess Diana style, pretending all kinds of concern for the poor. Assad spouts the language of reform with glib facility, meaning absolutely none of it. If is easy to see that Saif Gadaffi, charmer of Western politicians and institutions who craved the money stolen from his people, would have adoped that model if the Arab Spring had not emerged.

While the USA is not fond of Assad, stylistically he is a good example of the kind of media friendly dictator the CIA sees as the ideal medium term outcome of the Arab Spring.

It is peculiar that the Western media, and now international law, view Gadaffi’s assets as ill-gotten because he stole them after seizing power, whereas the money looted from his pople by the King of Bahrain, or the vast Saudi oil wealth treated as private property by the al-Saud, is viewed as highly respectable and desirable. At least Gadaffi seized it for himself. The ancestors of monarchs did precisely what Gadaffi has done, and then their descendants simply wallowed in the inheritance. There is no moral difference between Gadaffi’s sons and Saudi princes. I should like to see the back of the lot of them.

As predicted, the military action in Libya is going horribly wrong. The bombs and missiles are consolidating an undeserved nationalist support for Gadaffi and motivating more people to actually fight for him. The rebels are on the wrong end of ground battles and there is precious little evidence what majority opinion in Libya actually now wants. The western bombing forces are more and more involved in ground attack on pro-Gadaffi forces, and not only armour.

Whether taking a side in the civil war can be justified in terms of UNSCR 1973 as “protecting civilians” seems to me a very dubous prospect indeed. It is certainly unwise, but the legality of current actions is arguable as it may not yet be definitely established that taking sides is what we are doing.

However, it cannot be argued that taking out the command and control structure of the entire Libyan army, not just that related to air defence, is necessary to civilian protection and a no fly zone. And the pattern of ground attack in support not of civilians but of armed rebel forces is becoming plainly established.

If this goes on for more than another couple of days, it seems to me it will be beyond doubt that the action has gone outwith the aims of UNSCR 1973, are disproportionate, and the UK will be engaged in illegal war.

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86 Comments

  1. In a recent article for the Asia Times, Pepe Escobar writes:-

    "Odyssey Dawn has no inbuilt endgame. US President Barack Obama has made it clear numerous times that his endgame means "Gaddafi must go". This is called "regime change". Or, in the new two-pronged Obama doctrine, "US outreach" (directed towards opponents of "evil regimes"). Not-so-evil regimes, as in Bahrain or Yemen, are encouraged towards "regime alteration".

    The problem is "regime change" is not mandated by UN Resolution 1973."
    http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MC25Ak01.htm

  2. Bahrainis March Again Despite Brutal Crackdown; Demand Civil Rights, Democracy; Siun; FDL; 3/25/11 http://firedoglake.com/2011/03/25/bahrainis-march

    […] While the Bahraini activists continue to practice nonviolent resistance to the regime, the Obama administration still refuses to back this civil rights movement – and instead plays along with the monarchy’s false claims of Iranin involvement. […]

    The Day After Salih in Yemen; Gregory Johnsen; 3/25/11 http://bigthink.com/ideas/31730
    [Links to three articles, interviews]

  3. Syria: Amazingly, The Next Crucible of Revolution in the Middle East?; Andy Worthington; 3/24/11 http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/03/24/syria

    • can't open link , harpie, it aborts instantly.

      • Sorry, ingo. It does work for me…hmmm…not good at technical stuff. I'll post it again here, but also, if you type in www dot andyworthington dot co dot uk it will take you directly to his website, where this is the current article. It's a good read, so I hope you can get it. Good Luck.
        http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/03/24/syria

        Anyone else having trouble?

  4. 'While the USA is not fond of Assad, stylistically he is a good example of the kind of media friendly dictator the CIA sees as the ideal medium term outcome of the Arab Spring.'

    Yes – he's young, English speaking, with a pretty British born wife who's probably never worn a headscarf in her life (not that it matters, but you know how obsessed Western media is with 'the veil'.)

    Actually, although they don't 'like' Bashar, when it comes down to it, I don't think the Yanks or Israelis would want to see his regime overthrown. They know, whatever their PR peole might like to say, that opposition to Israel is genuine and near universal in Syria, and that a democratic Syria might not provide the 'stability' Israel so craves (when it suits them). Syria is seen as an implacable foe of Israel, but in fact Israel's northern 'border' has been quiet for years. I reckon if anyone is agitating for regime change in Damascus, it's probably the Saudis. That said, it seems that most of the protesters don't want the overthrow of the regime, but rather extensive and genuine reforms, though these things have a way of snowballing.

  5. "Plainly the Islamic religion is capable of being a motor for postive social change."

    Is that the case, or is the mosque on a friday the convenient focal point for meeting up without anybody wondering what you are doing ?

    • I think that's a lot of it. These regimes can and do ban and break up even the smallest protests. But not even the most brutal among them would dare to stop people congregating for Friday prayers! In fact, the Arabic word for Friday 'jumaa' means just that, 'congregation'.

  6. Craig, you left out Egypt – the Egyptian military has become adept at utilizing Thursday to make some kind of concession to ensure nothing takes place on Friday. So one Thursday the trial of ex-ministers begins, the next the Prime Minister resigns, and so on, which has worked in breaking the back of a mass movement. At the same time, once the protest genie is out of the bottle, its difficult to get it back in. Both Tunisia and Egypt still witness numerous smaller protests, strikes etc. on a regular basis (though they have now been banned in Egypt – so watch to see what happens over the coming weeks). Everything points to these events are just the beginning, the direction and final destination are still unknown.

    Re. Libya – possibly indicators that it is heading to a final solution which would see a partition of the country. The military action against Gaddafi seems aimed at opening the way for the rebels to consolidate their positions in the East – keeping Ajdabiyya in rebel hands is a necessary part of this

  7. willyrobinson

    25 Mar, 2011 - 4:17 pm

    Who exactly are western governments arming? The Americans ought to know, because it's there in their diplomatic cables:
    http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/06/08TRIPOLI430….

    Yes, Uncle Sam is arming insurgents recently returned from fighting the jihad against US forces in Iraq – people whom the Americans themselves would have no difficulty labelling as Al Qaeda under other circumstances.

    *sighs, rubs eyes in frustration*

    These 'rebels' will most likely join a long list that includes Saddam Hussein, Edouard Noriega, the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden etc who were aided and abetted and financed by the CIA to do their dirty work, only to become public enemy number one later on. The gestation period for these US funded allies to become terrorists is about 10-15 years is it not?

    Watch this space…

    • YugoStiglitz

      25 Mar, 2011 - 9:47 pm

      Please provide evidence that the CIA aided and abetted bin Laden. You've had many, many years to come up with evidence.

      (I haven't read this cable in full – I'll do so soon – but if it says what it purports to say, then this is the sort of thing that can start to suffice to people who demand evidence).

  8. YugoStiglitz

    25 Mar, 2011 - 5:35 pm

    Ambassador Murray, why do you keep using the word "Zionist"? In your opinion, what does that word mean?

    And I completely understand what the word meant in the early part of the 20th Century.

    If a Jewish child is coming of age in Israel and comes to believe that his family has the right to self-determination, to live in peace and enjoy liberal democratic freedoms, does that make him a "Zionist"?

    Also, is it the case that, in your opinion, the only way to NOT be a Zionist would be to entertain the notion that the State of Israel should simply cease to exist?

    • I use Zionist in the sense of somebody who supports the existence of a Jewish state – defined either ethnically or theologically – in Israel. I suspect that is not a definition you have too much trouble with. I am not a Zionist. I campaign for a singular, ethnicity blind, secular state in Palestine. I am more than happy for everyone currently there to live in it.

      • But why the word use the word at all? Why not "right-wing Israelis" or "irredentist Israelis".

        You know that word involves a great deal of hatred. It's as if you're willingly feeding into the hatred of many of your commenters, who think that Zionist bankers are behind all sorts of things.

        I think you're in complete denial of the hatred for Jews that exists all around the world. You really have no excuse for this, as a great number of your commenters don't mince words regarding their hatred. In fact, reading your blog and the comments of those who are attracted to your blog has convinced me even more of the pervasive existence of the sick perverse racist hatred that we've come to call anti-Semitism.

        And I'm wondering if you have a special word for Arab Muslims who believe in the destruction of Israel and the extermination of the people living there.

        • Do you have "a special word…", ahm… Yugo? You too are one of those "attracted to this blog". There are many "special words" for such "Arab Muslims" (your preferred, and to readers of this blog somehow very familiar, favourite term) with the views you describe. Other terms in common usage might include 'Jihadists' or 'Islamists' or 'Fundamentalists', or 'Bigots'. These words are hardly censored in the media or on the web. And then there are the straightforwardly generically abusive terms of recent and vintage yore, the types of terms to which all groups are subject, such as 'ragheads' (ah, yes!), 'wogs' and so on. So why so very sensitive wrt the word, 'Zionist'? It is indeed a contested term – and, despite what you may be attempting to imply, is not synonymous with 'Jewish'! Terms when used in a mindlessly abusive manner certainly become meaningless or even reinforcements of pre-existing prejudice. 'Nazi' or 'Fascist', and in some quarters, 'Zionist', for example, too often have become catch-all terms of abuse for anyone with whom people disagree. But my interpretation is that 'Ambassador Murray' was using the term, 'Zionist' here in a very specific way, to refer to the political modus operandum of a senior member of the Mubarak regime in Egypt – the Head of the Intelligence Service, Omar Suleiman. As I see it, this is an assertion of what Mr Murray may believe is fact, not a mindless insult. But perhaps you prefer Omar Suleiman and what he represents…? And what does he represent? Perhaps we might look at that. On the other hand, let us be glad that the Egyptian people are booting him and what he represents out! And good on them for doing it!

          • YugoStiglitz

            27 Mar, 2011 - 5:49 pm

            "Raghead" is a horrible word. I assume "wog" is as well – but I don't know what it means.

            "Jihadist" and "fundamentalist" can be useful words, in describing certain Muslims who deserve those terms. For instance, the 911 hijackers deserve those terms.

            But there's no word to describe Arabs who believe in the right of Egypt to exist.

            It's usually used by conspiracy nuts, such as those at this blog who write "Zionist bankers" and "Zionist plan" and "Zionist rag."

            It's an inflammatory word.

            But perhaps you're right – maybe it's just like "raghead." So now go find a website that refers to all Arabs as ragheads. Go on.

            • I'm glad you agree that the word, 'raghead' is a horrible one. I mean, look, actually you've made a good point re. the contexualisation of our use of various words, I agree that we should always think about how and why we might be using specific words. All language is contested, of course, and some words more than others at particular junctures in history. I also agree that the word, 'Zionist' is often used by those who would like to lump everyone who in some way they see as supporting imperialism, as though the reference to Israel (a convenient node of hatred for those who desire simple world views) were their raison d'etre, when actually in many cases, it's probably just one aspect of their views. One of my points in replying to your post was to suggest that in my view, Craig Murray was not using it in this manner, but rather in the specific regional sense that Omar Suleiman was basically an agent of US imperialism and that he – as a key operative of the Egyptian state – directly colluded with the Israeli MI complex in their oppression of the Palestinians, etc. Perhaps, as I sense you may be suggesting, he might have considered simply stating that, rather than using the catch-all term, 'Zionist', which is possibly too broad a term for this specific context. Btw, the word, 'wog' is a British term of abuse for 'brown/black person'; it may be derived from 'Golliwog'. No, I don't think the term 'Zionist' is the same as the term, 'raghead', any more than the term, 'Commie' is the same as the word, 'nigger'. I accept, though, that some people (clearly not Craig here, since he's calling a Muslim Egyptian a Zionist) use the word, 'Zionist' as a teflon substitute for 'Jew', even though of course the two are by no means contiguous.

    • I am not Craig Murray, but here is my answer.

      I would not call the hypothetical Jewish person of your question a Zionist, at least in a perjorative sense, if

      (1) He recognised that the foundation of the State of Israel in 1948, and subsequent events, involved a great injustice to the existing non-Jewish population of the area;

      (2) Was willing for the State of Israel to make restitution for this injustice, as far as is practicable, by recognising a right of return for some Palestinian refugees.

      (3) Was willing for the State of Israel to truly become a liberal democracy by giving equal rights and status to all religious, secular and ethnic groups amongst its citizens;

      (4) Was willing for the State of Israel to negotiate secure borders and a treaty of friendship, between itself and a neighbouring Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza: those borders to be based on the pre-1967 Green Line with small mutually agreed adjustments, as specified in numerous UN Security Council resolutions.

      • YugoStiglitz

        25 Mar, 2011 - 9:52 pm

        chrisentia, do you have a special word for Arab Muslims who supported the expulsion of Jews in the 1940s from (for example) Baghad in pro-Nazi Iraq?

        I imagine you don't really care about the Jews of that time, or their descendants … I just simply want to know if you have a special word for Arab Muslims who've engaged in exactly the same behavior as your Israeli enemies.

        •  Yugo, you misunderstand me. I am not an enemy of Israel.Though I think the founding of the State of Israel was neither necessary nor just, the past cannot be changed, and the reponsibility of the present is to start where we are and create the best future we can.

          Craig Murray's vision of a unitary bi-national state is a noble one, but I do not think it achievable. I recognise the importance to Jewish Israelis and many other Jews world wide of the continued existance of Israel as a state with a predominantly Jewish identity.

          That could be achieved by the kind of Israel I have described, and I would fully support a two-state solution on those lines. The Palestinians would accept it, the Arab states would accept it, and the United Nations would accept it. Would you accept it? If not, why not?

          I do not know anything specific about the expulsions of Jews from Baghdad, but certainly I care about anyone who has been brutally expelled from their homeland. I think it would be a wonderful thing if, as part of a general settlement between Israel and the Arab nations, some were able to return.

  9. "it may not yet be definitely established that taking sides is what we are doing. "

    The Empire took sides in 1991 with the plan to overthrow seven governments in the ME, including that of Libya. This is related by Wesley Clark http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=wesle… clark policy coup&search=Search&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&spell=1) who received it directly from the Pentagon, and has been a theme of editorials in Canada's Zionist press since 9/11.

    As for Britain, Cameron's statement <a href="http://(http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20110321/tuk-pm-it-is-not-our-job-to-kill-gaddafi-45dbed5.html)” target=”_blank”>(http://uk.news.yahoo.com/5/20110321/tuk-pm-it-is-not-our-job-to-kill-gaddafi-45dbed5.html) that "If the uprising was allowed to be crushed, Europe would be left with a pariah state festering on its border and exporting terrorism," makes it clear that this is an illegal war for regime change.

    Nicholas Pelham's report <a href="http://(http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/07/battle-libya/)” target=”_blank”>(http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/apr/07/battle-libya/) on the Libyan civil war in the NY Review of Books makes it clear that the rebels have no greater respect for human life than Gaddafi, which means if the rebels win, we are likely to witness a bloodbath in Libya, black people from Southern Libya being particularly vulnerable to the lynch mob mentality of the racist, Al Qaeda backed rebels.

  10. 'As predicted, the military action in Libya is going horribly wrong. The bombs and missiles are consolidating an undeserved nationalist support for Gadaffi and motivating more people to actually fight for him'
    Craig, where is your evidence?

  11. "Can a 4 star General Talk Like a Truther?" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bX7hMj2NKTc

    "Petraeus and Gates Joke About Libya" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9Yc5Aieu14

    • That first link – did you notice the massive edit?

      He's not saying anything that we didn't know before.

      If you think Wesley Clark is a "911 truther" – if that's what you're saying – then you've lost your mind.

  12. CanSpeccy

    It's 2011, please learn how to cite a link.

    • I only learnt myself a fortnight ago!

    • Listen laddie, I've been making links since before you were born, but the problem is this Scotch blog software buggers up my URL's if I put round brackets around them.

      Well how was I supposed to know that?

      Anyway, thanks for pointing out the problem, which I think I have now fixed.

  13. I'm with Ruth here. Craig, you say:

    'The bombs and missiles are consolidating an undeserved nationalist support for Gadaffi and motivating more people to actually fight for him. The rebels are on the wrong end of ground battles and there is precious little evidence what majority opinion in Libya actually now wants. '

    You're often better informed than the rest of us, but the pictures I'm getting from the news are that at least in the East, people welcome the bombing etc. No-one seems to have clear evidence that in the West allied actions are strengthening Gaddaffi, but when you look at news pictures from there everyone looks scared.

    I also agree with Germanicus about Syria. A lot of Arab countries play a role which in terms of western values are deeply ambiguous. Syria has been a bulwark against Israel for many decades. No its not democratic but they have had to fight hard since the second world war to dig themselves out from British, French, US and Russian attempts to establish hegemony and in that respect they have done bloody well. (to be continued)

    • "the pictures I'm getting from the news are that at least in the East, people welcome the bombing etc."

      So the rebels remain rebellious and glad of any help they can get. Well that's not so surprising. And if there are any in the East who are not so rebellious, they'd be wise to keep their mouth's shut since there is reported to be intense tribal pressure to support the insurrection. And if by chance some one in Cyrenaica were unwise enough to appear on Sky News expression their opposition to the the revolutionary council headed by people who, until a few weeks ago were dispensing justice and other measures as ministers in Gaddafi's government, do you really believe the pro-war media would publish the fact?

  14. (continued)

    Saudi Arabia, of course, is split down the middle between funding Al Quaeda and sucking up to the Americans.

    As far as allied actions are concerned, it seem to me essential that the allies proceed with the extremest of caution. However it is also clear that a case can be most definitely be made for all sorts of action in order to protect civilians as Gaddaffi is prepared to do anything to kill them.

  15. "Plainly the Islamic religion is capable of being a motor for postive social change."

    You can't possibly be serious. You're not a child, and I hate talking down to adults who are not-a-child, so I feel a little squeamish telling you that correlation does not equal causation.

    Other things happen on Friday. Is that possibly the last day of work for many of them? Might they have just been paid for their work that week? Yes, a mosque might provide a place to meet, but I don't think the glory of Muhammed is what is motivating the overthrow of these dictators in the name of Thomas Jefferson's First Amendment.

    If what you write is true, why did it Muslim Arabs so long to have what Christian and then secular Iceland had for centuries?

    Why did the revolutions start in the countries with the most Western influence?

    And now, to address half the population – do you think Islam is a motor for positive social change for the rights of women?

    • "do you think Islam is a motor for positive social change for the rights of women? "

      Do you think that Muslim women with families to raise feel that the millions of childless, unmarried Western women with their contraceptives, their right to chose, and their freedom to fornicate are really privileged? Some may, others, more interested in the survival of their families and their civilization, more imbued with a viable cultural tradition, may think otherwise.

      • YugoStiglitz

        26 Mar, 2011 - 2:08 pm

        You have a problem with contraception?

        It would seem, in addition to all of your problems, you have a problem with women, probably involving your inability to impress women. This results in your hatred of the liberation of women, and women themselves.

        "fornicate" – Hah! You sound like either a Christian preacher from the American South, or a radical Muslim. Which is it?

    • Yes, there is no evidence really to suggest that these revolutions are being driven by religious motors. The people in most places in the region are demanding an end to corruption, a fairer distribution of wealth, input into the running of their countries, more personal freedom, freedom of expression, an end to rule-by-diktat and and end to the police state. You saw what happened to that poor woman in the Libyan hotel – that is what has been happening for decades in these countries. The are overwhelmingly secular revolutions – in most places, the people are rejecting the politics of Islamism, they don't want that either! The mosque is simply a place an situation where lots of people can gather simultaneously. That's not to say that there are not progressive 'liberation theological' movements within Islam, there most certainly are, but in my take, these are not central to this current series of revolts. I think also that to continually state that 'it took Egypt six thousand years to demand democracy' is nonsense. Egypt was trying to industrialise during C19th but the British Empire crushed the attempt. Iran had its first constitutional revolution in 1906. It took South America how long to achieve democracy? It took Europe how long? China is not a democracy. Russia became 'democratic' only in 1992. Eastern Europe – around the same time. Most of Eastern Europe had never been democratic. It's got zilch to do with Christianity in itself. Ethiopia was Christian long before Western Europe! So was Egypt, actually. Ah, and so was apartheid South Africa. In the UK, women got the vote properly only in the late 1920s. This is not to deny the centrality of Enlightenment ideas to modernity or to the current Middle Eastern political uprisings, not at all, they are central, but the attempt to impose some kind of ridiculous historical essentialism on this process comes across as incredibly arrogant and is also frankly inaccurate.

  16. Forces loyal to Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi have attacked the western city of Misratah, killing a mother and her four children. Gaddafi, a mad-man, is determined to crush all Libyan opposition with heavy armour and snipers, and his disregard for his own cease-fires proves it. He intends to regain full control of the country regardless of how many Libyans he has to kill in the process. It is therefore illogical to say you support the Libyan people and want an end to the military campaign in the same breath.

    Yes, I have a problem in that I firmly believe the coalition partners are only in it for Libya’s oil. The name of the game is to impose control and a dictatorial re-reign in Libya that will secure the oil, ultimately being in the hands of the NATO countries and the United States. That is all that is involved with the United Nation's role in Libya – to provide pretense and cover for a ruthless and imperial war that is open ended and expanding far beyond the pretense of the so-called no-fly zone.

    The Chinese and Russian economic interests in Libya **will**take a battering when the opposition wins. Demonstrators who took to the streets of Benghazi to thank the French, British and Americans for their military action, also strongly condemned Russia and China for their UN abstentions and subsequent statements. Views held by the opposition's immerging leadership are music to America and Britain, empowering their own plans of gentle subjucation of a Libyan people, euphoric and blinded by victory.

    Actions speak much louder than words such that even while writing this piece, Saudi troops with their Cobra attack helicopters are raining death upon the people of Bahrain. Mercenary forces are there in large numbers with axes and hatches attacking the population. The doctors and the surgeons are being rounded up and they are disappearing. Is there the slightest interest or concern on the part of the United States or the NATO powers about this?

    No! not at all – Do you think the 2.5 million people in Iraq and Afghanistan died from a Tsunami? The US-NATO troops that destroyed those countries are at work in Libya as we speak and Gaddafi days are numbered – like Saddam he knows too much to survive.

    • "Gaddafi, a mad-man, is determined to crush all Libyan opposition"

      Are you arguing that Gaddafi is mad because he is intent on crushing all opposition, because if so, you are saying all governments are mad, since any government will act to crush an insurrection.

      Here in Canada we have something called the "War Measures Act" which allows the government to suspend habeus corpus and other civil rights in the face of an "apprehended insurrection." The Act was invoked by Pierre Trudeau during the FLQ crisis in the 1970's. All democratic governments have similar legislation to deal with insurrections real or only apprehended.

  17. Of course Syria is a different case from the other Arab countries experiencing unrest since there is a covert war against
    Syria by America and it is subject to sanctions so many of the economic problems of Syria are as a direct result of this factor. Whatever is going on throughout the Middle East, no matter how worthy it may appear, I am too cynical to think that it is all entirely spontaneous. It fits in too well with the Zionist plan for a re-shaped Middle East which is just too convenient.

    • `I am too cynical to think that it is all entirely spontaneous`

      That makes two of us. The word I think should be `realist`.

      `In politics, nothing happens by accident. If it happens, you can bet it was planned that way`

      Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945)

    • So, the USA has stooge dictators and kings in place, all of whom, to one extent or another, over the past decade basically are doing the USA's bidding. The oil flows freely, all into the dollar zone, etc. etc. And so the USA decides it wants it dictators and kings in its 'sphere of influence' threatened with being overthrown and some actually overthrown? In Egypt, the Main Stooge is removed by the people. But in Iran, it allows the regime to crush all dissent – again? Why, exactly? How does that serve its purposes? Yes, the imperialists will try to take advantage of the situation and they don't want the people to be in charge (eg. Egypt). And so they will foment COUNTERrevolution. But in essence, the uprisings are from the inside-out, not the other way around. Yes, they are not primarily anti-American or anti-Israeli. The people are saying, 'stop torturing us and amassing masses of wealth and then issuing hypocritical and insincere anti-Zionist rhetoric, let's get our own house in order'. I mean, what revolution would satisfy your criteria, kathy? People being mown-down in Bahrain and Syria alike isn't enough? Israel's military-industrial whatever were very happy with Mubarak and the Sheikhs (sounds like a pop group!). So how precisely does Israel gain from all of these uprisings?

  18. Today it is reported in the Mail that 350 British special forces are active within Libya supporting the rebels. Surprise, surprise. We are merely protecting civilians? On a 'humanitarian' mission? I don't think so.
    Webster Tarpley calls current events in the Middle East an 'engineered orgy of destsabilisation' the purpose of which is to make it impossible for vassal states like Libya to strategically reconsider their interests and move over into the Chinese or the Russian or the Iranian sphere. This makes sense. The idea that these actions are altruistic (as we are asked to believe) was always laughable.

    Neither is Gaddafi the wild idiot that even people like Robert Fisk would have him. His take on western democracy and Obama is surely about right (see below):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJ4u-v-PJbs&fe

    • YugoStiglitz

      26 Mar, 2011 - 2:14 pm

      Is Webster Tarpley the best source on anything? Haven't you noticed how he gets everything wrong? Are you so dumb that you would fall for the rants of an American right-wing nut?

      And apparently you also think that Gaddafi was an intelligent observer of America. I didn't watch much of that video – I stopped when he said Reagan was like Hitler and Stalin. You people are that insane, aren't you?

      ThereisaGod, I really would love for you right now to go to Tripoli and exercise political expression. You would be bound, gagged and tortured within hours.

      • ThereIsa God

        27 Mar, 2011 - 9:01 pm

        Tarpley got EVERYTHING right about Obama. He wrote two books about him before he was elected. He said that Obamsa was a Wall-Street puppet (TRUE) and that the first thing he would do when he entered office was bomb Pakistan (TRUE). When he says that the US have put massive amounts of money into funding opposition groups in the middle east (and elsewhere) that is also true. He is an analyst and I do not see what is right-wing about him. Although decades ago he was associated with Lyndon LaRouche he jumped that crazy ship and now states correctly that both left and right are two sides of the same international-finance-oligarch-sponsored coin.
        Could anything be more obvious.
        The bit of Gaddafi's speech you failed to listen to said the very same thing…that democracy is a fraud wherein all electable parties have swallowed the same banker's camel. Going beyong anything Tarpley says, we need to prevent money being created as debt by private banks. Then there will be no National Debt and no slavery to the kind of tyrants that rule us.

        I carry no torch for Gaddafi. He is a tyrant too. Our tyrants cannot control him. That's the only reason he is in trouble. The military action will almost certainly ultimately kill many, many more Libyans than it saves therefore it is a bad thing.

        Reagan bombed Gaddafi's home and killed one of his children. You expect him to be rational about Reagan?

  19. When did 'no fly' mean 'destroy all military equipment and capability'? The scale of the action can be argued, and the timeframe is critical: "you break it, you own it" china shop rules, applied again, could mean the end state for this action is at best blurred. Together the validity of action is harder to justify. Here's to all those brave folk from the forces involved, our best wishes are with them. Polimil Team, all the very best.

  20. I don't believe a man, a despot, stays in power in the Middle East for over forty years by being an 'idiot.' That is too simple. There's cunning involved to and an accute understanding of how to play the game of ruling a county as diverse as Libya. Gadaffi has an image problem in the west, but not so much in other regions of the world. In Africa he's almost seen as a revolutionary hero, a kind of Castro, who thumbs his nose at the west and defends his country's independence at tremendous cost. He isn't a hated in South America, for much the same reasons. Both Russia and China has resonable relations with Gaddafi. Even his choice of clothes and hairstyle, mark him out as not plaing the game by the west's rules.

    But the central point is, are the stories and rumours presented by the involved, belligerent, parties; like 'massacres' 'mass-slaughter' and even 'genocide' really true? Has Gaddafi been using his airpower to conduct these acts, did he need to, could it pay, wouldn't it be the same as handing the west a propaganda victory and an excuse to invade Libya on a silver platter?

    If the stories are part of a systematic programme designed to whip up war hysteria and an excuse to intervene, and our 'democratic' western leaders are aware of this, doesn't that have profound implications for the character of, not just our elected politicians, but for the nature of our democracy itself, and our 'free' and 'independent' media?

    I thought that after Iraq, and WMDs, anyone remember them? I thought things were supposed to be different. I thought next time things would be different. I thought our media would remember and learn, and be far more sceptical of stories that lead us to war. I imagined the media would scrutinise and ask difficult questions of our leaders, like how do you know and where precisely are you getting your information from? It' one thing to have reports from the rebels in Libya, but what are our own security services saying? Has Cameron been briefed of what's actually happening in Libya? And none of these questions were asked during the parliamentary debate the other day. I thought Parliament, had learnt the hard way, after Blair and Iraq, that they had to get their act together and stop acting like a rubber stamp?

  21. Political Prisoners in Syria: An Urgent Crisis Now!; Andy Worthington; March 25, 2011 http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2011/03/25/polit

  22. When listening to Joe Carney, one US spokesman of many, warning Syria not to kill its democracy protesters, the hypocrisy should really come over clear. The US has an interest in the democratic/ human rights issues that is expressed by Syria's youth and opposition, but it continues to disregard the non violent protest that is brutally oppressed in Bahrain.
    The Saudi's duplicity is as disruptive to middle east affairs as the preposterous notions of superiority that underscores Israels bad realtions with its neighbours. These two enteties, most concerned with keeping internal strife down to suit their respective agenda's, are engaged in deadly pursuits abroad, so it seems, to keep the status quo.
    Both are engaged in buying time, by offering either more local democracy to shia's, or keeping sweet with west bank settlers.

  23. Libya will most likely be split in half, but Algeria, Morocco and as yet Egypt are in a state of flux, as is the EU's massive 400 billion project for sustainable CSP energy, postponed by UN SCR 1973 for years to come. This middle east calamity sponsored by oil pushers and producers, is hampering the establishment of a sustainable solar economy in the middle east, sustainable jobs and expertise instead of taking the oil, paying the regimes, and when its run out we'll wish you fare well and good bye.
    When Egypt was in its first week of revolution, we all could seen this spreading, we knew it would reach Libya, why the heck could diplomats not prepare for this?

    • Why is it likely that Libya will be split in half?

      • Until Ghadaffi is captured, as Obama wishes, he will be off the radar and in hiding. The current resolution does not include regime change and a new one, with Arab league opinion rapidly sapping away, will dissappear in the procrastinations of the UN, imho. So Ghadaffi will become a long term problem, hang on to much of his supporters and live in a western enclave.
        Once the democracy protesters reached Ras Lanuf, the major oil exporting facillities will be in the hands of the interim Government and a cease fire could be called. Oil proceeds could be withheld to make him budge in the long term, but he is sly and I would not exclude that he might resign and hand the cudgel over to his lesser tainted sons. Past tribal divisions will play a big part in a possible partition, as will those AK 47 handed out by Ghaddafi to all and sundry. Oil proceeds could eventually be used to coax and unite the tribes into a governing Council/Government of sorts, but it would take time and pain.

  24. SANE WORDS IN A TIME OF PENDING MAD WARFARE.. .http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlM87dwYPjg&feature=related

  25. @ Michael k

    "I thought that after Iraq, and WMDs, anyone remember them? I thought things were supposed to be different. I thought next time things would be different. I thought our media would remember and learn, and be far more sceptical of stories that lead us to war."

    THE MAINSTREAM WESTERN MEADIA IS A PART OF THE WAR MACHINE AND JUSTIFIES THE ACTIONS OF THE WARMONGERS – IF YOU SERIOUSLY THINK ABOUT IT.

  26. @ Courtenay

    Don't yell.

    @ Michael K

    I thought so, too.

    I have always looked with boredom and distaste at the various accusations of neo-imperialism that are so frequent in the leftist discourse. They seemed to say "Whatever our problems, they are caused by rich foreigners." But now, I accept the fact that the imperialist mentality is alive and well.

  27. Gadaffi's assets. The source on the link below says "he has no personal bank accounts and neither has Saif.
    All the money is Libyan Sovereign money through official Libyan government organizations, headed by shrewd professionals, like LIA, Libyan Investment Authority. There are many of such State Investment Funds.
    All real estate either Gaddaffi father or Saif live in is Libyan Sovereign property. Every foreign property belongs to the Libyan State and not to the Gaddaffi family."
    http://mercurymail.blogspot.com/2011/03/libya-fro

    As it often happens, I see no means to ascertain the truth about this. But, strictly speaking, you don't seize state property by being a lifelong leader.

  28. IT SEEMS TO ME THAT EACH AMERICAN PRESIDENT THROUGHOUT MY FIFTY PLUS YEARS HAS IN CERTAIN SENSE SIGNED THE LETTER BELOW UPON HIS LEAVING OFFICE:-
    “ I the undersigned former President of the United States of America, hereby confirm that I have either continued or started the following wars during my teunue in office:-
    1….
    2…
    3…
    Etc.
    Signed:
    ( Former President of the United States of America)”
    Again – can we have some sanity here please&hellip ;http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlM87dwYPjg&feature=related

  29. Come on Craig lets be really honest on this one:-
    A. Just weeks ago Gadaffi was embraced by the West and welcomed back in the fold.
    B. Libya is oil rich and has the best standard of living across Africa and within the Arabian world ( read the CIA factbook if you want grudging verification).
    C. What real interest does the West have in this so-called humanitarian mission in Libya – its about the oil isn’t it?
    I respect your intellect Craig and I think that your life’s work has confirmed your courage against great odds – so – let us all of this site discourse truth and assist in getting that to the wider world. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlM87dwYPjg&fehttp://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/Perspectihttp://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va

    • YugoStiglitz

      27 Mar, 2011 - 4:22 am

      Farrakhan is your source, really? The anti-Semitic nut who believes that the Jews did 911? A cult leader? A man who loves Mugabe?

      Oh, and he probably killed Malcolm Little.

    • Of course it's obvious that France, Britain and the US would not be doing what they're doing if there was no oil, gas and Libya wasn't so strategically important to them.
      'Libya is oil rich and has the best standard of living across Africa and within the Arabian world'
      This statement assumes that the Libyans themselves are quite content. This is incorrect I believe for 99% of Libyans.

      Whether Libya submissively follows the direction of the West later remains to be seen. But the one thing I've heard many Libyans say in Gadaffi's favour is that he stood up to Western encroachment with the ownership of oil and gas remaining in Libya. Unfortunately, the eastern region of Libya received little benefit.

      .

  30. When the US government wants to win its agenda – it misleads the people – it lies to sustain its agenda – it must have lies to support the causus belli – because decent and peace loving American people are – truth be told – fed up with these never ending wars. The problem is their news sources of information, their lack of sufficiently inquiring minds on the general average, the lack of a global understanding and historical perspective on where their country is and why is finds it necessary to project and perpetuate these wars of aggression ( if you doubt me – just view the agenda as it was outlined and stated by the PNAC – http://www.newamericancentury.org/ – war – war – war and more war as dictated policy!)

  31. From the onset of this madness visited upon Libya, two things were clear in my mind, myself a lawyer:-
    1. The Resolution 1973 of the UN is clear and I accept it as legal – but I do not accept that the cynical and illegal applications and extensions and uses of it are legal.
    2. Just compare this 2011 so-called “humanitarian mission” -compare and contrast Yugoslavia – what do you really think is going on?
    Who are the rebels? –where is the opposition leadership? – somewhere in the CIAs pocket most likely!

  32. No – I did not mean Did you mean: http://www.¬youtube.¬com/¬watch – I meant http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KlM87dwYPjg ( this is what I posted – not what has been changed above)
    That was somehow changed.

  33. Conjunction – thanks for crediting Syria with having to deal with past (European) and present ( European + Zionist) colonial oppression.
    Craig – don't you see that this same oppression + democracy = Blackburn under Jack Straw.i.e. the power of the grabit box not the ballot box.
    Yugo***yourself – do you not know that the whole of Western learning was imported from Islam at the end of the medeivalism and that Islam had a welfare state long before 1,000 years of Western crusadism?
    I have personally witnessed that In Turkey, the Islamic culture of richer people helping the poor with charity is very strong 100 years after Churchill destroyed the Chalifah , while in this country, because of socialist child benefits and hand-outs, charity for people struggling within our own community is almost forgotten. Cold State intervention has killed off personal concern for one's fellow citizens.

    Arming Gaddafi with weapons and training for terroriising his own citizens, same as with Saddam Hussain, and then intervening by shredding his army and its facilities, is seen as oil gold digging in the Muslim world and beyond. It looks and is, a repeat of Iraq, and Cameron is being used as a condom by the US zionists same as Blair and Brown before him.

    Talking of which, We have a joke in the Muslim community: Some brothers working in a pork factory were reprimanded by their fellow Muslims. They replied that they were not eating it and they always used gloves so it was not haram. Yes, came the reply, and when you were shagging the English girls you always wore a condom, so did you think that that was also not haram?

  34. YugoStiglitz

    27 Mar, 2011 - 8:32 am

    This blog seems to have descended into the cesspool of Webster Tarpley, Lyndon LaRouche, Louis Farakhan, Holocaust denial, the 911-inside-job-crowd and extreme Jew hating.

    • Yugo gives us the standard zionazi blather.

      • I suggest you visit a pro-Israel blog. There you'll find all the facism, racism and evil misanthropic violence you desire.

        • Someone suggested that YugoStiglitz is Larry from St Loopy. Could well be right.

          • Not Larry the lamb, shirley…
            The bidggest annual schmoozing in May will take place under the watchfull eyes of Obama, should he attend that is. AIPAC looks likely to regress to the 1960's mudslinging in order to safe netanyahu's indefensible settlement policies and oppose the new found unity between Fatah and Hamas with sabre rattlin and war talk.
            After having positioned themselves in a corner, the usual jump and run can be expected, not a good omen for this coming summer. http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011

  35. Some interesting background on the Western, Israeli and Arab dictator backed forces attacking Gadaffi:
    http://japanfocus.org/-Peter_Dale-Scott/3504

  36. http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-

    Here it is. Now, one might say that maybe this was a set-up, but it doesn't look like a set-up to me. The goons, the hotel, the scuffling, etc. all of it looks real. This is the kind of stuff that has been happening in these countries for decades. This is why their people are rising up.

  37. From the claim that Libya's state security forces grossly abuse their power, it doesn't follow that armed action against the state is necessary; nor that the insurgents should be encouraged to refuse government offers for democratic reforms and tolerate lynching of black people (as they do).

    "Across the city, people are disappearing after having spoken to reporters, and journalists themselves are vanishing as well. Some people one interviews don't want to give their names, refuse to be photographed, don't want to meet up and are worried that their phones are being tapped. "

    That city is liberated Benghazi.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,…

  38. "Depleted uranium: a strange way to protect Libyan civilians" http://stopwar.org.uk/content/view/2321/27/

  39. Mark Metcalfe

    28 Mar, 2011 - 9:15 am

    I originally prepared this information to post on Juan Cole’s site in response to his letter to the left, http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/an-open-letter-to… but unfortunately he has gone all pro-war propagandist and has censored it so I thought it best to post it here.

    I don’t hold a candle for Qaddafi and I’m not saying there haven’t been some killings of civilians by his forces (in fact Saif Qaddafi has admitted this is the case), but I think it is important to understand how this war was got up, by who and for what reasons and I hope this provides some insight.

    Firstly, it is a complete distortion of the truth for Juan to write that:

    “In the two weeks after February 17, there was little or no sign of the protesters being armed or engaging in violence.”

    The evidence suggests this was a planned armed rebellion aimed at violently overthrowing the regime from the very first day (which was 15 February not 17 February).

    Al Jazeera reported at the time:

    “Hundreds of protesters have reportedly torched Libyan police outposts in the eastern city of Beyida.”

    and

    “In the southern city of Zentan, 120km south of Tripoli, hundreds of people marched through the streets and set fire to security headquarters and a police station”

    and outside police headquarters in Benghazi:

    “The crowds of demonstrators included some armed with rocks and petrol bombs, reported the online edition of Libya’s privately owned Quryna newspaper, which is based in Benghazi”
    Source: link to webcitation.org

    Benghazi had fallen to rebel control by 23 February and, according to the head of the Benghazi city health centre, 320 people had been killed.
    Source: link to thestar.com.my

    Juan says that Qaddafi and his sons have been organising armoured brigades and the air force to bomb civilian crowds and shoot tank shells into them. He quotes the Transitional Government Council in Benghazi as his source.

    However, some of the Transitional Council members have been calling for international intervention since a meeting headed by Mustafa Abdul Jalil, the former Justice Minister, on 24th February. The Transitional Council are engaged in a life or death struggle with Qaddafi’s forces, so in no way can be quoted as a reliable source.

    Juan Cole also mentions Democracy Now! As a source – but their correspondent reported that most of the local people in Benghazi did not support a no-fly zone:

    “I think most people on the ground, as well as the authorities of the rebel forces, are very clear that they don’t want any form of foreign intervention. They want to see this Libyan revolution take place entirely with—by the Libyans themselves.” link to democracynow.org

    The original source of both the accusations of massacres and the calls for UN intervention come, not from Benghazi, but from Geneva – in the shape of an organisation called UN Watch.

    UN Watch appealed for UN, US and European Union intervention on 20th February. It was this appeal which contained the allegations of tanks crushing protestors, artillery shells used against unarmed crowds, snipers shooting women and children and helicopter gunships being used against civilians.

    UN Watch is headed by Alfred Moses, who is also President of the American Jewish Committee and on the board of MEMRI which is an organisation which Juan Cole has described as an “anti-Arab propaganda machine.” link to antiwar.com

    Co-Chair of UN Watch is David A Harris who is Executive Director of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

    Executive Director of UN Watch is Hillel Neuer who is known for his attacks on Naomi Klein and the Gaza flotilla.

    Amongst the signatories to the Appeal is Francis Fukuyama, a consultant for Muammar Qaddafi along with Richard Perle, working for The Monitor Group.

    The Monitor Group had been helping Qaddafi set up a National Security Council – and inside this high-level council there was at least one person reporting directly to the Americans (as revealed by Wikileaks in Tripoli cable 07TRIPOLI1056 which was released on 31 January) link to wikileaks.ch

    Abdulrahman Shalgham was one of the National Security Council members at the time and as UN Ambassador to Libya he officially transferred his allegiance to the rebels on 25 February.

    There has been a lot of talk about the point of this intervention being to topple the Qaddafi regime, or protect civilians, in the interests of democracy. The actual evidence (rather than the anti-Arab propaganda pushed by MEMRI for which Juan Cole has fallen hook, line and sinker) suggests that the character of the events are those of a civil war marking a mobilisation of forces to bring to power western intelligence assets within the regime, regardless of the fact this is against the wishes and interests of all the Libyan people, whether they are labelled as pro- or anti- Qaddafi.

    • Thank you. I do find Juan's recent stuff surprisingly lacking in his normal intellectual rigour.

      • Mark Metcalfe

        29 Mar, 2011 - 2:23 pm

        Indeed, he seemed to have been moving in a more leftward direction up until recently. Its a real shame – I've been following his blog for years and feel a bit nonplussed.

        Why Juan has become a pro-war propagandist is a matter of speculation – maybe he has been suckered in by MEMRI and Al Jazeera propaganda. Al Jazeera have generally behaved as the propaganda arm of the interventionists from the point where Cameron met the Qatari PM on 24 February.

        I need to amend the post above – Benghazi was apparently in rebel hands by 20 February already and clearly this had been achieved by force of arms. Also I will add the original sources and repost as soon as I get time.

  40. Thanks for that snippet Mark, this ties in well with the exhuberance of the NATO responses we have seen.
    Too many bombs can kill and I do not expect the civilians in Sirte, whatever their allegiance, to stand by and wait for some youthfull enthusiast wielding AK's and protec ted by NATO aircover to kill them.

    All civilians must be saved from harm, ther UN resolution does not differentiate between sides and allegainces.

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