Bloodbaths, lies, and after 2

The pretense continues that “the rebels’ – a crowd of untrained Libyans dangerously armed – achieved the conquest of Tripoli and now the defeat of Gaddafi’s last defenders in Sirte and his capture.

Here is a report from the Telegraph in which the writer tries to uphold the internationally agreed lie, while yet supplying the information that a US drone guided from the Nevada desert, and French bombers, and British “advisers” – actually strategists and leaders and, probably, effective fighters in sufficient number – ended Gaddafi’s forces’ last stand and flushed out the man.

Deep in the lunar landscape of the Nevada desert, American specialists trained to their computer screens spotted unusual activity at around 7.30am in District Two. From their windowless bunker, lit by constantly flickering computer screens, the analysts directed their unmanned Predator drones to zoom in on the convoy [of trucks] as it picked up speed and headed west. Nato’s eyes were suddenly trained on Gaddafi’s convoy.

Around 40 miles off the Libyan coast a Nato AWAC early-warning surveillance aircraft, flying over the Mediterranean, took control of the battle and warned two French jets that a loyalist convoy was attempting to leave Sirte.

As the convoy sped west, a Hellfire missile was fired from the Predator and destroyed the first vehicle in the convoy.

By now, the NTC troops had realised that the loyalists were escaping and a small number of lightly armed rebels began to give chase.

To me it seemed like a wild, chaotic situation. But we now know that it had, in fact, been foreseen by the British SAS and their special forces allies, who were advising the NTC forces.

British military sources have told The Sunday Telegraph that small teams of SAS soldiers on the ground in Sirte, armed but under strict orders not to get involved, had warned them throughout the siege to be alert to the fleeing of loyalists.

Assisted by other special forces – in particular the Qataris [put in because they’re Arabs which makes it okay if they have “boots on the ground”? – JB]  with whom the SAS have a long relationship dating back 20 years – the SAS tried to impress on the Libyans the need to cover all escape routes.

But despite the advice, the breakout seems to have taken the rebels on the Zafran front completely by surprise.

In the previous two weeks I had repeatedly seen the militiamen fail to hold forward positions at night as they fell back to their encampments. Again and again loyalists had used cover of darkness to surprise the militiamen and manoeuvre into new firing positions.

Once more their surveillance was lax, and one rebel fighter confessed to me that in the early hours of Thursday they had failed to keep proper watch on the western front and they were surprised by the convoy. …

At this point the SAS urged the NTC [National Transitional Council] leaders to move their troops to exits points across the city and close their stranglehold.

After the Hellfire missile struck its target, the convoy changed direction, possibly hoping to avoid a further strike, before heading west again. It had begun to fracture into several different groups of vehicles.

The French jets were also given permission to join the attack.

By now a group of 20 vehicles in the convoy had reached a point around three miles west of the city. The shattered streets had been left behind, and the convoy had halted next to a walled electricity sub station, in arid farmland dotted with breeze block compounds and trees.

Just then, the French pilot began his bombing run, seconds later releasing two 500lb GBU-12 laser-guided bombs, into the centre of the convoy.

The bombs unleashed massive force. Arriving at the site, a few hours later, their devastating power was clear to see: at least a dozen vehicles were shredded and burned out, while I counted more than 25 bodies, some lying twisted and charred inside the vehicles and others lying in clumps nearby.

The air strike marked the end of any attempt at an ordered retreat and the convoy’s remnants scattered. …

Col Gaddafi had survived the air strike, but was apparently wounded in the legs. With his companions dead or dispersed, he now had few options.

He and a handful of men … appeared to have made their way 300 yards north from the devastation and taken shelter in a drainage culvert running under a dual carriageway. …

Members of the Al Watan revolutionary brigade who had been following the convoy at a distance witnessed the explosion, but at that point still had no idea who was in the vehicles.

Saleem Bakeer, a rebel fighter who said he was among those who came across Gaddafi hiding in the pipes said they had approached on foot.

“One of Gaddafi’s men came out waving his rifle in the air and shouting surrender, but as soon as he saw my face he started shooting at me,” he said.

“Then I think Gaddafi must have told them to stop. ‘My master is here, my master is here’, he said, ‘Muammar Gaddafi is here and he is wounded’.”

“We went in and brought Gaddafi out. He was saying: ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong? What’s going on?'”

The initial astonishment [on the part of the rebels] appears to have quickly switched to jubilation, and then rage.

“I don’t think that anyone thought he would be there, we all thought that he would be in the south, or maybe across in Niger or Algeria. We were as shocked as he was at first,” said Abdullah Hakim Husseini, one of the band of men who found him. “We were so happy when we knew it was him. I thought, ‘at last, it’s all over’.”

Mobile phone footage shows Col Gaddafi alive but weak and bloodied, with blows raining down on him from frenzied fighters. At one point he was hauled onto the bonnet of a pickup truck, then pulled down by his hair. His weighty golden gun, intricately engraved and decorated with the words “The sun will never set on the Al Fattah revolution”, was snatched by one of the revolutionaries. His satellite phone was seized, and it was later discovered that he had made one last call to Syria.

Omran el Oweyb, the commander who captured Gaddafi, said that he only managed to stagger ten steps before he fell to the ground. …

One rebel was heard screaming in his face: “This is for Misurata, you dog.”

Gaddafi – confused, bloodied, stumbling – can be heard to reply, in what could be his last, laughably philosophical words: “Do you know right from wrong?”

What happened in the next minutes is the subject of intense controversy. Sometime in the next hours or minutes he died of a bullet wound to the left temple. The official NTC account says he was caught in crossfire as he was being driven to hospital. …

However the ambulance driver who ferried him said Col Gaddafi was already dead when he was loaded into the ambulance, around 500 yards from his point of capture.

One NTC member, who did not want to be named, admitted that this version of events was likely. “They beat him very harshly and then they killed him,” he said. “This is a war.”

So British SAS soldiers directed the last battle on the ground.

A Hellfire missile and bombs released from French planes hit the truck-convoy in which Gaddafi was trying to flee from Sirte. Gaddafi and at least one of his men sought shelter in a large drainpipe. And only then the Libyan savages moved in for the kill.

This is also from the Telegraph:

In Benghazi, on the main square where it all started, they were slaughtering camels in celebration. … They daubed their hands in the camel-blood, and gave the V-for-victory sign with dripping fingers. …

In the cafes, people were watching TV pictures – more graphic than any shown in Britain – of a bloodied Gaddafi dragged along and beaten, feebly protesting, before a gun was put to his head.

The picture then cut to the dead ex-leader being rolled onto the pavement, blood pooling from the back of his skull.

Gaddafi’s death is already showing up some of the weaknesses of Libya’s new rulers.

The claim by the interim prime minister, Mahmoud Jibril, that he was killed in “crossfire” looks ever more false with every new piece of video.

Both he and his son Mutassim were alive when captured, and dead soon after. A statement by an anonymous NTC source that “they beat [Gaddafi] and they killed him” seems closer to the mark.

But Mr Jibril angrily rejected demands by the United Nations and some in the West for a proper investigation into the circumstances of Gaddafi’s death.

“People in the West don’t understand the agony and pain that the people went through during the past 42 years,” he said.

The dictator’s treatment – before and after death – underlines that Libya does not have a government, or a state with functioning standards, only a collection of militias.

After he was killed, his [torn and bloodied] body was taken by the Misurata militia and put on display in a shopping centre, where yesterday the corpses of his slain son Mutassim and Gaddafi’s army chief, Abu Bakr, were placed alongside.

Libyans from hundreds of miles away came to queue up and, some wearing gloves and masks, view the three bodies. …

The various militias are quarreling over who should take possession of the corpses. It is a harbinger of fiercer quarrels to come. Trouble looms.

Most of the militias are based on a particular town, financed and commanded largely autonomously. Gaddafi’s death means that the main thing which united them – the war against him – is over. Now, the many rivalries and disputes between them, and between them and the NTC, may come to the fore. …

The NTC is indeed going to vanish: Mr Jibril, along with the rest of the council, have already said they will serve only until elections in eight months’ time, and he repeated that yesterday. Eight months is quite enough time for political disputes to fester and harden into something more serious.

Such as more civil war?

This comes from DebkaFile:

[National Transitional Council leader] Mustafa Abdul-Jalil will be little more than a figurehead. Even now, he is confined in Benghazi by three strongmen, who control most parts of the capital, and have not given him permission to move the seat of the interim government to Tripoli. …

The regime taking shape could not be further from the Western ideal of a free democracy.

Behind the grisly images of Muammar Qaddafi’s last moments spilling out since Thursday, Oct. 20, a quiet contest is afoot between the US and at least two NATO allies, France and Germany, over who deserves the credit for his termination and therefore for ending the alliance’s military role in Libya.

American sources are willing to admit that US drones operated by pilots from Las Vegas pinpointed the fugitive ruler’s hideout in Sirte and kept the building under surveillance for two weeks, surrounded by US and British forces.

Both therefore had boots on the ground in breach of the UN mandate which limited NATO military intervention in Libya to air strikes.

According to the London Daily Telegraph, his presence in the convoy was first picked up by the USAF River Joint RC-135V/W intelligence signals plane, which passed the information to French warplanes overhead who then carried out the strike on Qaddafi’s vehicle.

The German Der Spiegel reported Monday, Oct. 24, that the tip revealing Qaddafi’s last hiding place came from German BND intelligence agents. Although Chancellor Angela Merkel was dead against German participation in the NATO operation in Libya, the BND nonetheless played an important role in intelligence-gathering.

It is increasingly obvious now that without the active intervention of the US, Britain, France and Germany, the anti-Qaddafi rebels on their own would never have beaten Qaddafi or been able to end his life.

As usual, however, the foreign offices of all the NATO countries involved in the operation will follow a long established custom of the Western powers and allow the Arabs to lie.

The lie will be that the people of Libya overthrew a tyrant. The truth will be that they’ll instate an Islamic regime in his stead; and the West, for all its talk of helping Libya become a free democracy, will not raise a finger to prevent that from happening.

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.

No responsibility to report 1

Just how phony the claim is (put out by Obama and his henchwomen*) that the Libyan engagement is all about the “responsibility to protect” civilians, is demonstrated by this report published two days ago on July 18, 2011, by Asia News – and nowhere in the West:

Benghazi-based rebels took Brega over night. The town, which is 740 km east of Tripoli, is the country’s main oil hub. The National Transitional Council (NTC) called the fall of the city its greatest victory since the war against Gaddafi began. However, doubts remain about rebel intentions. Human Rights Watch (HRW) has accused them of retaliatory violence against pro-Gaddafi regime civilians. … HRW said rebels looted and torched homes in towns that had fallen under NTC control. In villages south of Tripoli, Gaddafi loyalists were beaten, their houses set on fire.

We have little respect for Human Rights Watch having observed their frequent incapacity or reluctance to tell the truth, but in this case their accusation is backed up by another source:

Tiziana Gamannossi, an Italian businesswoman in Tripoli, told AsiaNews that the rebels’ push is causing fear in the civilian population. …

In her view, NATO is funding and arming violent groups that lack any training or code of honour. …

For Gamannossi, a war that was launched to defend civilians is absurd. The latter watch powerless as their cities and country are torn down amid the silence of western media.

“These days, hundreds of thousands of people have demonstrated against NATO in Tripoli, Zliten, Ajaylat and Sabha, demanding an end to the air strikes. No newspaper has given such news much importance, calling the protests ‘ demonstrations funded by the regime’.”

Last week the 30-member contact group on Libya, including the United States, China and Russia, “formally recognised the NTC as the sole representative of the Libyan people. This will give the council access to about US$200 billion in Libyan government assets held in foreign banks to fund the rebel advance.”

What makes this contact group expect that the people leading the National Transitional Council will be any better for Libyans, or for other states to deal with, than Gaddafi has been?

The answer is, absolutely nothing. They may even be worse.

 

* Samantha Power, Senior Director of Multilateral Affairs, National Security Council;  Susan Rice, US Ambassador to the UN;  Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State.  See our post A siren song from hell, April 1, 2011.