Letting Arabs lie 2

In 1918 Australian troops liberated Damascus from Ottoman rule. An Arab contingent, led and misled by the romanticizing Englishman T.E.Lawrence, wanted to claim that they had achieved the victory. So the British ordered the Australians to withdraw and let the Arabs march in as if they were the conquerors.

The lie fostered the notion among the Arabs that they really were great warriors. This meant that when, thirty years later, a small ill-equipped ad hoc Israeli defense force beat the five Arab armies that attacked the new state, the Arabs felt not only humiliated but incredulous. The lie, as is the way with lies, did them no good.

The Europeans – the British at least – should have learnt their lesson then, that allowing the Arabs their false pretenses is a stupid and counter-productive policy.

But it seems they did not. It’s pretty obvious that something similar is happening now with the “capture of Tripoli by the rebels”.

In our recent post Sudden victory in Libya, we quoted this question asked by DebkaFile:

How did the ragtag, squabbling Libyan rebels who were unable to build a coherent army in six months suddenly turn up in Tripoli Sunday looking like an organized military force and using weapons for which they were not known to have received proper training? Did they secretly harbor a non-Libyan hard core of professional soldiers?

Now here’s the story that is supposed to answer such a question, cooked up (so we suspect) by AP and some wily Arabs, and swallowed whole by the Washington Post:

They called it Operation Mermaid Dawn, a stealth plan coordinated by sleeper cells, Libyan rebels, and NATO to snatch the capital from the Moammar Gadhafi’s regime’s hands.

Ah, so NATO did play a part. Well, everyone knows that NATO was assisting the rebels – with air-strikes, weaponry, intelligence. So what? Nothing new there.

It proceeds in the manner of pulp fiction:

It began three months ago when groups of young men left their homes in Tripoli and traveled to train in Benghazi with ex-military soldiers.

Ex-military, eh? But – soldiers of what nationality? Is care being taken here to hide the fact that NATO soldiers put their boots on Libyan ground and took charge of the rebel forces for an advance on Tripoli? After NATO had said they wouldn’t do such a thing? Perish the thought!

After training in Benghazi, the men would return to Tripoli either through the sea disguised as fishermen or through the western mountains.

A script ready for the big screen.

“They went back to Tripoli and waited; they became sleeper cells,” said military spokesman Fadlallah Haroun, who helped organize the operation.

He said that many of the trained fighters also stayed in the cities west of Tripoli, including Zintan and Zawiya, and waited for the day to come to push into the capital.

Operation Mermaid Dawn began on the night of August 21 and took the world by surprise as the rebels sped into the capital and celebrated in Green Square with almost no resistance from pro-Gadhafi forces.

Haroun said about 150 men rose up from inside Tripoli, blocking streets, engaging in armed street fights with Gadhafi brigades, and taking over their streets with check points.

See what tacticians these rebels are? What long-sighted and meticulous planners?

He said another 200 men [came] from Misrata.

But why did the armed Gadhafi troops melt away when the rebels drove through?

Would they fear a raggle-taggle rebel army?

Fathi Baja, head of the rebel leadership’s political committee, said it was all thanks to a deal cut with the head of the batallion in charge of protecting Tripoli’s gates, the Mohammed Megrayef Brigade.

His name was Mohammed Eshkal and he was very close to Gadhafi and his family.

Close to Gadhafi? Then why – ?

Ah, there was a reason. A secret grudge nursed for many and many a long year. So the plot thickens.

Baja said Gadhafi had ordered the death of his cousin twenty years ago.

“Eshkal carried a grudge in his heart against Gadhafi for 20 years, and he made a deal with the NTC — when the zero hour approached he would hand the city over to the rebels,” said Haroun.

“Eshkal didn’t care much about the revolution,” said Haroun. “He wanted to take a personal revenge from Gadhafi and when he saw a chance that he will fall, he just let it happen.”

But Haroun said he still didn’t trust Eshkal or the men who defected so late in the game.

Haroun said that he didn’t trust any of the defectors who left Gadhafi’s side so close to August 20.

“They knew his days were numbered so they defected, but in their hearts they will always fear Gadhafi and give him a regard,” he said.

Haroun said NATO was in contact with the rebel leadership in Benghazi and were aware of the date of Operation Mermaid Dawn.

Only “aware of it”. Did NATO have no active part in it?

Oh, yes, it did.  Haroun would not deny NATO had played a role.

“Honestly …

Savor that “Honestly”!

“Honestly, NATO played a very big role in liberating Tripoli — they bombed all the main locations that we couldn’t handle with our light weapons,” said Haroun.

And AP hastens to bear out the honest confession of Haroun by adding details anyone can check out:

Analysts have noted that as time went on, NATO airstrikes became more and more precise and there was less and less collateral damage, indicating the presence of air controllers on the battlefields.

Targeted bombings launched methodical strikes on Gadhafi’s crucial communications facilities and weapons caches. An increasing number of American hunter-killer drones provided round-the-clock surveillance as the rebels advanced.

Okay, that’s accepted. But that was all?  Any suspicion that European soldiers were on the ground would be wholly unfounded?

What if European foreign offices were to give out a different tale?

Diplomats acknowledge that covert teams from France, Britain and some East European states provided critical assistance.

Oh? Of what sort?

Well, quite a variety when we get down to it:

The assistance included logisticians, security advisers and forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as intelligence operatives, damage assessment analysts and other experts, according to a diplomat based at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels. The diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.

Only advisers, not trainers, mark you. But what if European military personnel were actually spotted among the rebels? Well,

Foreign military advisers on the ground provided key real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximize their limited firepower against the enemy. One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the Qatari military led the way, augmented later by French, Italian and British military advisers.

So a foreign but Arab army was “augmented” by European advisers.

But only “later’. How much later? We’re not told, but they couldn’t have been too far behind considering the speed of the advance.

This effort had a multiple purpose, not only assisting the rebels but monitoring their ranks …

There’s a good word – “monitoring”. It implies “merely observing, merely taking note”.

… and watching for any al-Qaida elements trying to infiltrate or influence the rebellion.

Ah, watching for al-Qaida elements. That’s old policy, perfectly legitimate.

And besides, most of the observing was still being done from the air. Assistance given without the use of any actual Europeans at all:

Bolstering the intelligence on the ground was an escalating surveillance and targeting campaign in the skies above. Armed U.S. Predator drones helped to clear a path for the rebels to advance.

Baja said as the time for Operation Mermaid Dawn came close to execution, NATO began to intensify their bombing campaign at Bab al-Azizya and near jails where weapons were stored and political prisoners were held.

And then the people rose up.

The dramatization is brought to a climax with the last line.

We cannot prove – yet – that the story is a lie. But we are fairly persuaded that it is: a false account seasoned with little hints of the truth to allow the fibbers to say later if challenged, ‘But we said that NATO did this, and the British and French did that, and okay we may have left out details of what they actually did…” in a red-faced effort to minimize their deception.

The AP account serves only to confirm to us – contrary to what it wants readers to believe – that NATO troops were the commanders and effective fighters in the attack on Tripoli.

But it suits the US, Britain and France politically to pretend that it was a victory for the rebels, both in order to seem to be adhering to their declared limits of engagement, and also, most importantly, to make it seem that the Libyan people fought and won their own battle.

So yet again, Arab pride is boosted – truth be damned.

*

And here’s the latest DebkaFile report which, if it turns out to be accurate, would confirm our suspicions:

DEBKAfile’s military sources report that British, French, Jordanian and Qatari Special Operations forces Tuesday, Aug. 23, spearheaded the rebel “killer strike” on Muammar Qaddafi’s regime and Tripoli fortress at Bab al-Azaziya, Tripoli. This was the first time Western and Arab ground troops had fought together on the same battlefield in any of the Arab revolts of the last nine months and the first time Arab soldiers took part in a NATO operation.

Our military sources report that the British deployed SAS commandos and France, 2REP (Groupe des commando parachutiste), which is similar to the US Navy DELTA unit

The main body of the rebels to the rear of the combined foreign force was nowhere near being a unified military force.

*

And one lie has already been exposed.

A story was put out by the rebels that Gaddafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, had been captured  – and then he appeared at a Tripoli hotel before foreign correspondents.

Even the Guardian was embarrassed by the apparent exposure of this lie. Its report is here:

There was no doubt about it: Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s second son and heir presumptive, had been captured. Mustafa Abdul Jalil, head of the rebels’ National Transitional Council (NTC), declared on Monday that he was “being kept in a secure place under close guard”.

News of the supposed arrest, which came without a date or a location, was a huge boost for the rebel movement. …

Yet just hours later, journalists at the Rixos hotel in Tripoli were woken during the night by a knock at the door and told to go downstairs. There, inside a white armoured vehicle, with a mobile phone next to him and a smile playing around his lips, was Saif himself. …

The revelation that the man they had declared to be in captivity was in fact touring parts of regime-held Tripoli and doing the V-for-victory sign for a crowd of apparent supporters seemed to stun many rebels as much as it did the rest of the world. …

A spokesman for the NTC leadership, had no explanation of Saif’s sudden reappearance, and could say only: “This could all be lies.” …

The image it projects of the rebels is hardly flattering – and while Saif’s dramatic reappearance is far from the only occasion on which the international community has had reason to question the credibility of the fighters, this particular misstep could prove damning. …

A British spokesman hastened to excuse the liars.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, was keen to avoid chastising the NTC leadership. “I think it’s inevitable in this situation, with the warfare going on … that there will be some confusion.” …

We have a vision of the ghost of T.E. Lawrence hovering over Mr Mitchell in the BBC studio.

  • wmarkw

    As John Derbyshire pointed out, the Libyan military hasn’t seen action since they attacked Chad in 1985.  And lost.  To CHAD!!!!  It’s the only world news Chad has ever made in its 50 year independence.

  • George

         I get more news information ( and factual at that ) from  The  Atheist Conservative website in one day than from ALL of the other news sources combined in an entire year.   The mainstream media engages in PC censorship and is so biased it’s pathetic.