Unforeseen consequences of a kinetic operation 7

Obama – or “Bambi” as we hear him called ever more frequently in the data-clouds of the ethereal region where we live – is against war. Being against war is one of the off-the-peg principles that all socialists/collectivists/lefties/Marxists wear on their sleeves. But the small print on the label says it’s okay to got to war if absolutely no interests of your country are served, and it’s even positively noble to spend blood and treasure to protect some class of people you can patronize as underdogs.

So Obama took America to war against Libya to protect “civilians”. Well it wasn’t exactly war. “War” is a nasty word. It was more what you should call a “kinetic operation”. And hardly even that. It was a cheering on of other nations kinetically operating. Supplying them with some equipment and materiel and advice.

And they weren’t exactly  “civilians”. Nobody knows for sure who or what they were or are. Broadly speaking they’re the people who’re against the people whom Bambi and the other nations are against. True, they’re armed. And okay, they include al-Qaeda terrorists. So if you don’t want to call them “civilians”, call them collectively “the rebels”.

Though they’re not not really united except by their shared aim of replacing Muammar Gaddafi as the government of Libya.

In fact, they’re killing each other.

By Frank Crimi at Front Page:

General Abdul Fattah Younes, who had been summoned to the Libyan opposition capital of Benghazi by the ruling Transitional National Council (TNC) for supposed questioning about military operations, was murdered last week along with two other military officials.

Younes, who had assisted Muammar Gaddafi’s rise to power in 1969, was Libya’s interior minister and commander of its powerful Lightning Brigade before he defected to the rebels in February 2011. …

TNC minister Ali Tarhouni said Younes had been killed by rebel fighters who were sent to bring him back from the front lines to Benghazi. Still, despite the apprehension of a suspect, suspicion still remained as to what militia group carried out the assassination.

Some rebel fighters claimed the killers were from the February 17 Martyrs’ Brigade, a rebel group that is part of the larger Union of Revolutionary Forces (URF). However, Tarhouni claimed the killers were from the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade, an Islamist faction in the rebel command.

Despite the lack of clarity surrounding Younes’ assassination … the TNC would replace Younes with Suleiman Mahmud al-Obeidi as well as order all militia factions to disband and come under its control. However, that latter directive may prove particularly difficult to carry out.

None of them will disband easily. Bambi and the other kinetic operators have recently made it very worth their while to continue fighting not only Gaddafi but, with stronger determination, each other.

Specifically, the killing of Younes comes at time when the TNC — having recently been sanctioned as Libya’s legitimate ruling government by 40 nations, including the United States, France and England — now stands to receive over $30 billion of Gadaffi regime funds currently frozen in Western banks.

The sudden influx of such vast sums of money have, according to one Mideast expert, only served to intensify the inner divisions within the TNC, with each faction jockeying for control to “secure the status of being the only legitimate force to lead the country in the future.”

Whoever could have foreseen such a development!

Of course, it should come as little surprise that the Libyan rebels apparently find themselves now locked in a deadly internal struggle. From the onset of the February uprising, it has been well known that the TNC is riddled with a rogue’s gallery of rival factions and alliances that are chock full of duplicitous characters, ranging from former Gaddafi loyalists to criminals to al Qaeda insurgents.

For starters, the Libyan rebel leader, Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, has openly said jihadists who fought against US coalition forces in Iraq are well-represented in rebel ranks. While al-Hasidi has insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists.”

But of course it depends what you mean by “terrorists”.

He has also said, “The members of al Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader.”

The invader? Isn’t that the combined forces who are only trying to protect civilians and/or help al-Hasidi’s rebels with a kinetic operation?

Of course, an al Qaeda presence in the TNC shouldn’t come as a complete surprise. According to the US military, Libya, with the exception of Saudi Arabia, contributed more than any other nation to the ranks of those forces fighting against the United States in Iraq. In fact, al-Hasidi has acknowledged that he personally fought against the “foreign invasion” in Afghanistan before being captured in 2002 in Pakistan and sent back to Libya in 2008.

Moreover, the TNC, which has reportedly sold chemical weapons to both Hamas and Hezbollah, has also been linked to supplying arms to Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).

In addition to the notorious nature of its membership, the Libyan rebels have been repeatedly accused of committing atrocities on a par with those of Gaddafi’s forces. Those allegations include, according to Human Rights Watch [not always trustworthy but believable in this case – JB], Libyan rebels in the last month “burning homes, abusing women and looting hospitals, homes and shops.”

The killing of Younes has now created so much distrust within the rivalries, conflicting agendas and alliances of the TNC that stability will be hard to come by, even if it can successfully oust Gaddafi.

And thus far, if any side is winning, it seems to be Gaddafi’s.

However, the prospect that the rebels can overcome Gadaffi on the battlefield looks increasingly bleak. Gaddafi’s regime controls around 20 percent more territory than it did when the uprising began in February despite the recent launching of a rebel offensive in the western mountains near the Tunisian border; more than four months of sustained air strikes by NATO; and the defection of a number of Gaddafi’s senior commanders.

As the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs’ Admiral Mike Mullen said only weeks ago, the war remains a “stalemate,” a status not too surprising when an operation is led without a clear strategy or exit route [or aim]. To that end, it appears that England and France, the two leading nations in the fight against Gaddafi, may also be tiring of the game.

This was evident in a joint press conference last week when British foreign Secretary William Hague said “What happens to Gaddafi is ultimately a question for the Libyans.” Hague’s French counterpart, Alain Juppe, echoed that sentiment by saying that Gaddafi’s fate “is ultimately a question for Libyans to determine.”

So, for now, the fate of Gaddafi, his regime and the future direction of Libya remain as cloudy as ever. However, what is becoming clearer by the day is that even if Gaddafi does go away, all NATO may have done is trade one insane, brutal despot for a far larger and more deadly problem.

And that is not all the bad news.

Not only are the groups within the rebel group fighting each other, they are killing darker-skinned Africans from non-Libyan tribes who have come north to fight as mercenaries for Gaddafi. Or are maybe only passing through from other conflict-torn countries on their way to the safer and happier shores of Europe.

Now they’re underdogs alright but nobody’s protecting them.

Some of them get into boats. Of these, many die harrowing deaths.

From an ABC report:

Italian coast guards have found 25 people dead in the engine room of a tiny boat crammed with 271 African refugees fleeing Libya.

The 15-metre boat landed on the holiday island of Lampedusa on Monday.

It was heavily overcrowded and survivors said they had been at sea for three days.

Prosecutors said the victims, crowded in a space accessible only through a trap door, appeared to have died from asphyxiation.

Refugees cited in Italian news reports said the people in the engine room had tried to get out but were blocked by others because there was not enough space on deck, and probably died of intoxication from the engine fumes. …

Coast guards said the engine room was only accessible through a 50-centimetre wide trap door from the deck.

A fireman who helped pull out the bodies from the boat said: “I will never forget the scene.” …

Thousands of refugees fleeing Libya, mostly migrant workers from other parts of Africa [mainly Ghana, Nigeria, and Somalia], have arrived on Lampedusa in recent weeks.

Hundreds have drowned, often on rickety fishing boats not suitable for choppy seas. In April, 250 refugees drowned off Lampedusa when their boat capsized. …

The Italian authorities are clearing away the refugees as fast as possible. (We don’t know where to.)

Scenes of desperation seen earlier this year have hit the pristine island’s tourism industry but many holidaymakers have started returning to the beaches.

Bambi and Michelle might schedule a vacation there.

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  • Harold

    Your tone seems to indicate disaproval of the “kinetic operation” in Libya.  I assume you were equally dismissive of the Iraq war at the start.  Yet I see from your earlier posts “The US was right to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein,” and “In both cases it was wrong to stay on to attempt “nation-building”.

    It is quite clear that USA had no plans to stay on to attempt “nation building”.  It was well known at the time that it would take 500,000 troops in Iraq to provide a reasonable level of peace-keeping.  Rumsfeld decided to win a short war with insufficient troops to win the peace, and no proper plans for what would happen after Saddam fell.  Hence the chaos that ensued.  Much the same was true of Afganistan – there were no plans for significant American troops on the ground after the fall of the Taliban. 

    What exactly do you think USA should do in these situations?  Why was Iraq right but Libya wrong?

    And should we support a president who was “for war” rather than against it?

    • Jillian Becker

      Obama’s making war and pretending not to is absurd.   

      We were not against the Iraq war at the start. You quote accurately what we said about it.
      Each “situation” is different. 

      It has been forgotten that the West generally and genuinely believed that Saddam Hussein possessed WMD and so was seen as a serious threat to the wider world. Gaddafi does not have WMD. However, his acts of terrorism were appalling, and he too is a cruel tyrant , so if the US or Nato forces went in with overwhelming force (ie made what is known as “war”) and seized him and saw to it that he was hanged, as happened to S H, it would be something to cheer about. It would be something to cheer about if they did the same to Assad. And it was essential for the West under American leadership to have acted forcibly to prevent Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. The weakness of America’s present ideologically pacifist and pro-Islam leadership  is a cause of much that is happening in the world, not only in North Africa and the Middle East but also: Russia’s seizure of Georgian territory, China’s build-up of sea-power (while America spends less and less on defense), Pakistan’s strengthening of the Taliban and increasing threat to India …  This is not the place to attempt even the briefest summary of all the fatal errors of the Obama administration’s foreign policy. Our pages have discussed the subject quite fully and quite often. I’m glad you’re looking back through them.     

      • Joszaruba

        Unlike Jillian Becker, I believe these states need a dictator for at least fifty more years, because the local people are too poor and stupid to have democracy. They need a dictator loyal to the west, a sort of Ancient Roman consul who keeps justice and order and smashes the revolutions, Mubarak was an ideal leader. 

        • Jillian

          A Roman-type consul is one thing, a dictator who tortures people of all ages to death is another. 

          But your two comments are interesting, and I appreciate your opinions even if I don’t entirely agree with them. 

          I don’t recall that Israel ever made peace with Hamas. I don’t think Hamas will ever make peace with Israel.  

      • Harold

        Joszaruba I think sums up the view shared by most Western leaders-  “he may be a bastard, but he’s our bastard”.   However, they will not come out and say so.  Think back to all those pictures of Rumsfeld shaking Saddam’s hand.  He was known to be dispicable even then, but it  supporting him fitted with (short term) USA interests.  The UK recently courting Ghadaffi  is similar, as is the USA supporting the Mujahadeen against USSR in Afganistan.

        It seems to me that your view is that it is a good idea to invade and overthrow dictators we don’t like, but then we should just leave.  The trouble is that is likely to create a worse situation than you started with.  Organisations like Al Quaeda will fill the vacuum you leave behind.  If you plan to conquer a country, you should really take responsibility for setting it back on the path to recovery, and that means a lot of troops on the ground for quite a long time.  This mistake was made in both Iraq and Afganistan.  There were insufficient troops to impose control.   If you just invade to remove a dictator and leave the people worse off, then you are worse than the dictator you replace.

        It would be consistent to give up any moral high ground, and just say we will do whatever we want to support USA position and to heck with the foreigners, but is this a position you would really want to take? 

        A further full scale invasion is clearly out of the question at the moment – public opinion would crucify any leader who did it.  Given this, the choices in Libya are to support the “kinetic operation” to prevent Ghadaffi using his war infrastructure etc.  This gives the opposition a chance.  Or do nothing, and allow Ghadaffi to crush the opposition. 

        The central contradiction in your position is that you say it was good to invade Iraq, but bad to stay and nation build, whereas it is bad to support the “Rebels” in Libya without attempting to influence who takes over- i.e. nation build.

        As for WMD – Bush made it clear that he would invade with or without WMD.  The leaders believed in  WMD because they wanted to believe in them.  The evidence was always very thin, and those responsible could and should have recoginised that.

    • Joszaruba

      Yes Iraq was right , because it was also in order with the international law, he was attacing neighbouring states and he was threatening, none of it was doing Guaddaffi and not at all Mubarak the last years. Tere was social unrest in their coutries because of lack of  money. Tey did not want freedom. 
      I find also very immoral that the American government is supporting the trial with Mubarak, where he is kept in a cage, although they gave him promise that nothing will happen if he resigns. It is not a trial, it will end with juridical murder of him and his sons, with Clinton and Sarkozy aplauding. In 2009 Sarkozy was giving hugs and kisses to Mubarak, when they “have made” the peace between Israel and Hamas. Israel was not for removal of Mubarak. 
      The Czech foreign minister Schwarzenberg is the only EU government who did not recognize the Lybian revolutionaries as the legitimate government and I am proud of it. They are terrorists and the west is doing nonsense, they should have bombed Syria instead and listen what Israel says.
       Israel and Czechs were the ony states against removal of Mubarak and they did not want to do this kinetic operation in Libya, which is also stupid. They should now cut libya in half by a wall and let it be. There is no reason to keep the states as they are, there is no USSR to protest when you chuck the states to small pieces, and they are then easier to handle. Iraq should have been also chucked, but they did not want to upset Turkey – what a stupid reason. J