All Eyes on the Middle East 86

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.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

86 thoughts on “All Eyes on the Middle East

1 2
  • Courtenay Barnett

    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.

    • YugoStiglitz

      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.

    • Ruth

      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.


  • Courtenay Barnett

    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 – – war – war – war and more war as dictated policy!)

  • Courtenay Barnett

    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!

  • anno

    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?

  • YugoStiglitz

    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.

      • Herbie

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

        • dreoilin

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

          • ingo

            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.

  • Ivan K

    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.,1518,…

  • Mark Metcalfe

    I originally prepared this information to post on Juan Cole’s site in response to his letter to the left,… 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.”


    “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

    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

    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

    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

    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

    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.

      • Mark Metcalfe

        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.

  • ingo

    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.

1 2

Comments are closed.