Libya: How Gaddafi became a Western-backed dictator

Italy' President Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

By Peter Boyle

Updated February 25, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- On February 22, Muammar Gaddafi was boasting on state TV that the Libyan people were with him and that he was the Libyan revolution, even while his dwindling army of special guards and hired mercenaries attempted to drown a popular revolution in blood.

Civilians were strafed and bombed from helicopters and planes. Snipers with high-powered rifles fired into unarmed crowds. Two pilots flew their fighter jets to Malta rather than bomb their own people and another two are reported to have crashed their jets rather than attack civilians. Sections of the armed forces, several diplomats and a couple of ministers have abandoned the regime and, at the time of the writing, the east of Libya was in the hands of popular revolutionary committees.

And as more sections of his armed forces stared to go over to the people, Gaddafi ordered troops who refused to shoot their own people to be executed.

Gruesome footage of the carnage was revealed to the world despite the Gaddafi regime’s desperate attempts to seal the country by blocking the internet and locking out journalists.

First Gaddafi’s son Saif al Islam (a darling of greedy US and European corporations in recent years) and then Gaddafi himself tried to deny these massacres while simultaneously threatening the Libyan people with ruthless retribution against those who dared to rise up against the regime.

While the regime’s genocide against the Libyan people unfolded, it took days before the US and other Western governments were prepared to condemn the regime for this monstrosity. Even as late as February 23, US President Barak Obama had not condemned Gaddafi by name.

From ‘rogue state’ to neoliberal client

Yet in the 1980s and most of the 1990s the Gaddafi regime was attacked by the same Western governments as a “terrorist rogue state” because of its political and material support to numerous national liberation movements around the world. The administration of US President Ronald Reagan imposed economic sanctions on Libya and carried out bombing raids to try and assassinate Gaddafi.

In 1988, I visited Libya as a journalist for the left-wing newspaper Direct Action and visited Gaddafi’s bombed out home. I wrote several articles describing and defending the 1969 Libyan revolution.

However, in the late 1990s secret negotiations for a rapprochement with the US and other Western governments began. First, UN sanctions were lifted in 1999 and by 2006 the US lifted its own sanctions and normalised relations.

European leaders flocked to Libya with greedy businesspeople hanging on to their coat tails and before long several European oil companies were back in business, with banks, airlines and hotel chains following. Former British Labour PM Tony Blair and scandal-plagued, right-wing Italian President Silvio Berlusconi played leading roles in the process.

Gaddafi’s son Saif was the the neoliberal frontman for Libya. He offered greater access to capital, tax concessions and privatisation. According to an April 2010 report from the Libyan government, over the previous 10 years the the regime privatised 110 state-owned companies. The same report promised to privatise 100% of the Libyan economy over time. The prospect of the privatisation of the oil refineries and other downstream sectors of the oil industry promises lucrative profits.

US interests

Worried that they were missing out to European competition, a group of powerful US companies (including BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Fluor, Halliburton, Hess Corporation, Marathon Oil, Midrex Technologies, Motorola, Northrop Grumman, Occidental Petroleum, Raytheon, Shell and United Gulf Construction Company) set up a US-Libya Business Association to catch up.

Among the Gaddafi regime’s new lobbyists in Washington was arch neocon Richard Perle, a former Reagan-era US Defense Department official and George W. Bush-era chair of the US Defense Policy Board.

According to US political reporter Lauren Rozen, Perle traveled to Libya as a paid adviser to the Monitor Group, a prestigious Boston-based consulting firm with close ties to leading professors at the Harvard Business School:

A 2007 Monitor memo named among the prominent figures it had recruited to travel to Libya and meet with Gaddafi "as part of the Project to Enhance the Profile of Libya and Muammar Gaddafi" Perle, historian Francis Fukuyama, Princeton Middle East scholar Bernard Lewis, famous Nixon interviewer David Frost, and MIT media lab founder Nicholas Negroponte, the brother of former deputy secretary of state and director of national intelligence John Negroponte.

Several major US oil companies, including ConocoPhillips, Marathon Oil and Hess Corp, now have significant stakes in Libya's oil industry, according to a fact sheet prepared by Reuters on February 23. However, 80-85% of Libya’s oil exports go to Europe and companies such as British Petroleum, Italy’s Eni, Spain’s Repsol and Royal Dutch Shell have some of the biggest stakes.

Italian interests

In the February 23 issue of the British Guardian, Tom Bawden and John Hooper described the role of Berlusconi in Europe’s courting of the Gaddafi regime:

Gaddafi and Berlusconi have a famously warm personal relationship. Less well-known, however, is the fact that Berlusconi is in business with one of the Libyan state’s investment vehicles.

In June 2009, a Dutch-registered firm controlled by the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company, took a 10% stake in Quinta Communications, a Paris-based film production and distribution company. Quinta Communications was founded back in 1990 by Berlusconi in partnership with Tarak Ben Ammar, the nephew of the late Tunisian leader, Habib Bourguiba.

The Italian prime minister has a 22% interest in the company through a Luxembourg-registered subsidiary of Fininvest, the firm at the heart of his sprawling business empire. Last September, the Libyans put a director on the board of Quinta Communications to sit alongside Berlusconiís representatives.

Libyan investors already hold significant interests in several strategic Italian enterprises. They reportedly own around one per cent of Italy’s biggest oil company, Eni; the LIA has an acknowledged 2% interest in the aerospace and defence group, Finmeccanica; Lafico is thought to retain more than 2% of Fiat and almost 15% of a quoted telecommunications company, Retelit.

The Libyans also own 22% of the capital of a textile firm, Olcese. Perhaps their best-known investment is a 7.5% stake in the Serie A side Juventus. But undoubtedly the most controversial is another 7.5 per cent interest in Italyís largest bank, Unicredit.

The European Union’s latest annual report on arms exports revealed Libya’s biggest military suppliers in Europe, reported Deutsche Presse-Agentur:

Italy granted export licences totalling 112 million euros, with a single 108-million-euro licence for military aircraft making up most of the amount, [was the largest supplier]…

Malta emerged as the second-largest exporter, having authorized the sale of an 80-million-euro consignment of small arms…

Germany was third in the list, with 53 million euros of licences, mostly for electronic jamming equipment used to disrupt mobile phone, internet and GPS communication…

France was next with 30.5 million euros, followed by Britain with 25.5 million euros, and Belgium with 22 million euros.

British interests

According to the Guardian’s Bawden and Hooper:

About 150 British companies have established a presence in Libya since the US and Europe lifted economic sanctions in 2004, after the country renounced terrorism, ceased its nuclear weapons programme and handed over two suspects in the Lockerbie bombing case.

The most high profile have been the oil companies, keen to tap Libya’s vast reserves of fossil fuels. In a deal brokered in 2007 by Tony Blair, BP signed a £560m exploration agreement allowing it to search for oil and gas, offshore and onshore, in a joint venture with the Libya Investment Corporation. Shell is also exploring for oil in Libya as western companies seek to capitalise on a country with the largest oil reserves in Africa and substantial supplies of gas.

High street retailers such as Marks & Spencer, Next, Monsoon and Accessorize have also set up in the country to serve the growing middle-class population, as oil revenues have 'trickled down' into the broader Libyan population.

Companies such as AMEC, an engineering firm, and Biwater, a waste treatment company, have supplied services to Libya, which is using its oil revenues to reshape the country through an infrastructure spending spree that will cost about £310bn over the next decade.

British exports to Libya have soared to about £930m in recent years, while the business momentum in post-sanctions Libya is so great that the economy managed to grow by about 5% last year, while much of the rest of the world struggled.

Gaddafi’s son Saif, speaking in his private suite in Mayfair’s five-star Connaught Hotel, told the British Daily Mirror in June 2010:

Tony Blair has an excellent relationship with my father.

For us, he is a personal family friend. I first met him around four years ago at Number 10. Since then I’ve met him several times in Libya where he stays with my father. He has come to Libya many, many times.

Libya considered Blair to be a trusted adviser to the Libyan Investment Authority, a role that Blair now denies.

But Blair’s done his dirty job well. As a February 19, 2011 ,report in the British Independent revealed:

Since the warming of relations between Libya and Britain, officers travelled frequently to Tripoli between 2008 and 2009 to train police, and Britain has authorised the export of tear gas, crowd-control ammunition, small-arms ammunition and door-breaching projectile launchers.

Three years ago, ministers agreed to send Libya vehicles armed with water cannons. There are also unconfirmed reports that riot vans made by British companies have been present during crackdowns in the Libyan city of Benghazi, where scores have been killed.

One of the murderous special battalions headed by another Gaddafi son, Khamis, is a British-trained unit, according to a February 21 Associated Press report.

People lose out

While Libya’s oil exports have enabled it to build up foreign reserves of US$150 billion, almost half of its youth are unemployed, according to African Online News, an independent African news agency:

Libya is the richest North African country… But that does not reflect the real economy of the average Libyan, with around half the population falling outside the oil-driven economy. The unemployment rate is at a surprising 30%, with youth unemployment estimated at between 40% and 50%t. This is the highest in North Africa.

Also other development indicators reveal that little of the petrodollars have been invested in the welfare of Libya’s 6.5 million inhabitants. Education levels are lower than in neighbouring Tunisia, which has little oil, and a surprising 20% of Libyans remain illiterate.

Decent housing is unavailable to most of the disadvantaged half of the population. A generally high price level in Libya puts even more strains on these households.

But the key of popular discontent is the lack of work opportunities, which strongly contrasts the Libyan image of a rich nation constantly propagated by the regime and its Soviet-style media.

The few options for ordinary Libyans include the police or armed forces, construction works and petty trade. But even here, contacts and corruption are needed to have a chance.

The oil sector employs only 4900 Libyans with a further 1000 training overseas, according to an October 2010 report by Libyan National Oil Company (NOC).

A revolution betrayed?

In the 1980s, the Gaddafi regime came under attack from the Reagan administration because it took a strong anti-imperialist line and gave financial and material aid to many national liberation movements at the time. There were also some weird right-wing sects seeking and sometimes obtaining Libyan largesse. The Gaddafi regime meddled disastrously and sometimes bloodily in factional disputes within the Palestinian liberation movement.

The Gaddafi regime also claims to have provided its citizens with free education and health, though quality and access was not even. Tellingly, Libyans, who could afford it, have preferred to go to neighbouring Tunisia (which is not an oil-rich state) or to Europe for serious medical treatment.

It provided its workers with some welfare but did not allow trade unions and it certainly it did not treat its significant number of “guest” workers equally or fairly. There were closed labour camps for some of these workers from other countries and trade unions were not allowed. A bizarre personality cult around Gaddafi was obvious and while there was a pretence at popular democracy of sorts through a system of “people’s congresses” these only had a nominal existence.

Left commentator Tariq Ali dismissed the Gaddafi-led 1969 revolution as “all for show, like his ghosted science-fiction short stories”. But there was a political revolution in 1969 that did result in the nationalisation of the Libyan oil industry and some broader redistribution of oil wealth, which contrasted sharply with that in countries like Saudi Arabia. This was a nationalist revolution, similar to that led by Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt in 1952, which also called itself “socialist”.

The US and other imperialist governments at the time saw the 1969 revolution as an attack on their presumed right to exploit Libya’s oil resources. David Mack, a former US diplomat and State Department official, explained how the US reacted in the January 2011 Foreign Service Journal:

By 1969, the US and British air bases in Libya were of declining strategic importance, but Tripoli had become a producer of energy vital to the economies of our West European allies and profitable for American companies. While the US still enjoyed a cozy relationship with an aging monarch and his sclerotic political system, Libyan popular attitudes were not isolated from the rest of the Arab world. The war of June 1967 had left Arabs everywhere with a feeling of humiliation and a conviction that Washington had aided Israel’s victory, achieved in large part by its devastating surprise attack on the Egyptian Air Force. This set the stage for the Libyan Revolution of September 1, 1969.

Eventually, U.S. policy adapted to these new realities. Henry Kissinger, who was President Richard Nixon’s national security adviser, claims in his memoirs that he favored a covert action program to overthrow the new Libyan leaders and keep the airbase, but yielded to the State Department view of the primacy of the oil interests and declining value of our military base. Much later, during the Reagan administration, the U.S. supported and provided some military training to Libyan émigré opponents of the Gaddafi regime. They proved unreliable.

According to Henry Kissinger’s memoirs, the government of US President Richard Nixon had prepared a covert program to assassinate Gaddafi and other Libyans who had led the1969 revolution against a corrupt monarchy, but this was abandoned because big oil companies like Exxon and Mobil prefered to cut a deal with the regime, albeit on tougher terms.

The Gaddafi regime has come a long way since then. It was increasingly betrayed promises and gains of  1969, earning an IMF tick of approval for progress in neoliberal reform:

An ambitious program to privatise banks and develop the nascent financial sector is underway. Banks have been partially privatized, interest rates decontrolled, and competition encouraged. Ongoing efforts to restructure and modernize the Central Bank of Libya are underway with assistance from the Fund…

Structural reforms in other areas have progressed. The passing in early 2010 of a number of far- reaching laws bodes well for fostering private sector development and attracting foreign direct investment… A comprehensive civil service reform is needed to facilitate more effective [read lower and stricter] wage and employment policies that would address the needs of a young and growing labor force.

Recent developments in neighboring Egypt and Tunisia have had limited economic impact on Libya so far. To counter the impact of higher global food prices, the government abolished, on January 16, taxes and custom duties on locally-produced and imported food products. Later in January, the government also announced the creation of a large multi-billion dollar fund for investment and local development that will focus on providing housing for the growing population.

The IMF will have to eat that prediction. The stifling political repression (which has been fiercest in the eastern part of the country, which is also the poorest), the corruption, nepotism and flamboyant lifestyles enjoyed overseas by Gaddafi’s children have proved too much. And the stirring example of the youth of Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Algeria, Yemen, Syria, Jordan and Djibouti added the spark.

What has led to this new Libyan revolution is the degeneration of the regime born of the 1969 revolution into a crony capitalism. The popular character of the new revolution is undeniable, it is far from clear what sort of regime will emerge out of it. The same greedy and powerful Western interests that first attacked and then propped up the Gaddafi regime are preparing for a change of tack, including considering direct military intervention.

As the 19th century British Prime Minister Lord Palmerston famously observed:

We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual ... 

Hopefully the makers of the new Libyan revolution will heed the lessons of its own history.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 03:24


NY Times February 22, 2011

WikiLeaks Cables Detail Qaddafi Family’s Exploits By SCOTT SHANE

WASHINGTON — After New Year’s Day 2009, Western media reported that Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, a son of the Libyan leader Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, had paid Mariah Carey $1 million to sing just four songs at a bash on the Caribbean island of St. Barts.

In the newspaper he controlled, Seif indignantly denied the report — the big spender, he said, was his brother, Muatassim, Libya’s national security adviser, according to an American diplomatic cable from the capital, Tripoli.

It was Muatassim, too, the cable said, who had demanded $1.2 billion in
2008 from the chairman of Libya’s national oil corporation, reportedly to establish his own militia. That would let him keep up with yet another brother, Khamis, commander of a special-forces group that “effectively serves as a regime protection unit.”

As the Qaddafi clan conducts a bloody struggle to hold onto power in Libya, cables obtained by WikiLeaks offer a vivid account of the lavish spending, rampant nepotism and bitter rivalries that have defined what a
2006 cable called “Qadhafi Incorporated,” using the State Department’s preference from the multiple spellings for Libya’s troubled first family.

The glimpses of the clan’s antics in recent years that have reached Libyans despite Col. Qaddafi’s tight control of the media have added to the public anger now boiling over. And the tensions between siblings could emerge as a factor in the chaos in the oil-rich African country.

Though the Qaddafi children are described as jockeying for position as their father ages — three sons fought to profit from a new Coca-Cola franchise — they have been well taken care of, cables say. “All of the Qaddafi children and favorites are supposed to have income streams from the National Oil Company and oil service subsidiaries,” one cable from
2006 says.

A year ago, a cable reported that proliferating scandals had sent the clan into a “tailspin” and “provided local observers with enough dirt for a Libyan soap opera.” Muatassim had repeated his St. Barts New Year’s fest, this time hiring the pop singers Beyoncé and Usher. An unnamed “local political observer” in Tripoli told American diplomats that Muatassim’s “carousing and extravagance angered some locals, who viewed his activities as impious and embarrassing to the nation.”

Another brother, Hannibal, meanwhile, had fled London after being accused of physically abusing his wife, Aline, and after the intervention of a Qaddafi daughter, Ayesha, who traveled to London despite being “many months pregnant,” the cable reported. Ayesha, along with Col. Qaddafi’s second wife, Safiya, the mother of six of his eight children, “advised Aline to report to the police that she had been hurt in an ‘accident,’ and not to mention anything about abuse,” the cablesaid.

Amid his siblings’ shenanigans, Seif, the president’s second-eldest son, had been “opportunely disengaged from local affairs,” spending the holidays hunting in New Zealand. His philanthropy, the Qaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation, had sent hundreds of tons of aid to earthquake-ravaged Haiti, and he was seen as a reasonable prospect to succeed his father.

The same 2010 cable said young Libyan contacts had reported that Seif al-Islam is the ‘hope’ of ‘Libya al-Ghad’ (Libya of tomorrow), with men in their twenties saying that they aspire to be like Seif and think he is the right person to run the country. They describe him as educated, cultured, and someone who wants a better future for Libya,” by contrast with his brothers, the cable said.

That was then. Today the young protesters on the streets are demanding the ouster of the entire family, and it was Seif el-Qaddafi who declared on television at 1 a.m. Monday that Libya faced civil war and “rivers of blood” if the people did not rally around his father.

As for the 68-year-old Colonel Qaddafi, the cables provide an arresting portrait, describing him as a hypochondriac who fears flying over water and often fasts on Mondays and Thursdays. The cables said he was an avid fan of horse racing and flamenco dancing who once added “King of Culture” to the long list of titles he had awarded himself. The memos also said he was accompanied everywhere by a “voluptuous blonde,” the senior member of his posse of Ukrainian nurses.

After Colonel Qaddafi abandoned his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, many American officials praised his cooperation. Visiting with a congressional delegation in 2009, Senator Joseph I. Lieberman, Independent of Connecticut told the leader and his party-loving national security adviser, Muatassim, that Libya was “an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends.”

Before Condoleezza Rice visited Libya in 2008 — the first secretary of state to do so since 1953 — the embassy in Tripoli sought to accentuate the positive. True, Colonel Qaddafi was “notoriously mercurial” and “avoids making eye contact,” the cable warned Ms. Rice, and “there may be long, uncomfortable periods of silence.” But he was “a voracious consumer of news,” the cable added, who had such distinctive ideas as resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a single new state called “Isratine.”

“A self-styled intellectual and philosopher,” the cable told Ms. Rice, “he has been eagerly anticipating for several years the opportunity to share with you his views on global affairs.”

Andrew W. Lehren contributed reporting from New York.

If you are new to these pages, please read an introduction on the structure of a cable as well as how to discuss them with others. See also the FAQs
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI677 2009-08-19 15:36 2011-06-27 00:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
Appears in these articles:…

DE RUEHTRO #0677/01 2311536
P R 191536Z AUG 09




E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/19/2019

REF: A. TRIPOLI 662; B. TRIPOLI 674; C. STATE 43049; D. TRIPOLI 648 TRIPOLI 00000677 001.2 OF 002 CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) CODEL McCain discussed security, counterterrorism, and civil-nuclear cooperation during August 14 meetings with Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi and his son, National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi, stressing the need for Libya to fulfill its WMD-related commitments and to approve a Section 505 end-user agreement in order to move forward on bilateral military and civil-nuclear engagement. While Muatassim al-Qadhafi reiterated long-standing Libyan requests for security assurances from the United States and emphasized Libya's interest in the purchase of U.S. lethal and non-lethal military equipment, Muammar al-Qadhafi was notably silent on these subjects. The elder Qadhafi made a point of expressing his satisfaction with the improved U.S relationship and his hope that the relationship would continue to flourish. CODEL McCain's discussion of the Megrahi case was reported ref A. End summary.


2.(SBU) CODEL McCain (R-Az), including Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Senator Susan Collins (R-SC) and Senate Armed Services Committee Staffer Richard Fontaine held back-to-back meetings August 14 with Libyan National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi and Libyan leader Muammar Al-Qadhafi. Libyan officials NSC Director Dr. Hend Siala, MFA Department of Americas Secretary Ahmed Fituri and MFA Office of Americas Director Mohamed Matari also attended the meetings, as did Charge and Pol/Econ Chief (notetaker).


3.(C) Characterizing the overall pace of the bilateral relationship as excellent, CODEL McCain opened its August 14 meeting with National Security Advisor Muatassim al-Qadhafi by noting the drastic change that the relationship had undergone over the last five years. "We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi," remarked Senator Lieberman. He stated that the situation demonstrated that change is possible and expressed appreciation that Libya had kept its promises to give up its WMD program and renounce terrorism. Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends. The Senators recognized Libya's cooperation on counterterrorism and conveyed that it was in the interest of both countries to make the relationship stronger. They encouraged Libya to sign the Highly Enriched Uranium transfer agreement by August 15 in order to fulfi
ll its obligation to transfer its nuclear spent fuel to Russia for treatment and disposal. [Note: The Libyan Government subsequently informed us of its intent to sign the agreement on August 17 and has begun taking good-faith steps to do so (ref B). End note.]

4.(C) Muatassim welcomed the high-level visit, describing it as a good sign for the relationship - a relationship that Libya wants to develop. He explained to the Senators the recent requests that the National Security Council had made to procure defense equipment. He stated that there were three categories of requests: one which was approved by the USG, another which awaited congressional approval, and a third which waited USG agreement. He reiterated the refrain he conveyed to Secretary Clinton during his April visit (ref C) -- Libya has not been adequately rewarded for its decision to give up WMD and needed some sort of security assurance from the United States. He emphasized the need for Libya to purchase U.S. non-lethal equipment in order to enhance its defense posture. Muatassim requested the "highest level of help possible" to obtain military supplies, including mobile hospitals and uniforms. He also requested assistance with upgrading Libya's equipment, including hel
icopters. "We can get [equipment] from Russia or China, but we want to get it from you as a symbol of faith from the United States," he said. He described the security threats that Libya could possibly face as a result of its geography - "There are 60 million Algerians to the West, 80 million Egyptians to the East, we have Europe in front of us, and we face Sub-Saharan Africa with its problems to the South." Muatassim stressed that Libya wanted security assurances from the United States as a sign that the United States was still committed to Libya. He pledged to work with the MFA on approval of the Section 505 end user agreement, as well as the signing of the nuclear spent fuel (highly enriched uranium-low enriched uranium) transfer agreement.

5.(C) Senator McCain assured Muatassim that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its TRIPOLI 00000677 002.2 OF 002 security. He stated that he understood Libya's requests regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C130s (ref D) and pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress. He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome. He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.


6.(C) Libyan leader Muammar al-Qadhafi, who joined the group in the same tent in which Muatassim had met the CODEL, likewise highlighted the strength of the U.S.-Libya relationship. Qadhafi commented that friendship was better for the people of both countries and expressed his desire to see the relationship flourish. He thanked the Senators for their visit and described America as a race rather than a nationality, explaining that many Libyans are dual citizens because they were born in the United States. Senators McCain and Graham conveyed the U.S. interest in continuing the progress of the bilateral relationship and pledged to try to resolve the C130 issue with Congress and Defense Secretary Gates. The Senators expressed appreciation for Libya's counterterrorism cooperation in the region. They urged Libya to fulfill the remainder of its WMD commitments. Senator Graham reiterated the need for improved U.S. Embassy security and urged Qadhafi to approve the site for a New Emba
ssy Compound (NEC) as a way to fortify the relationship. Qadhafi remained quiet throughout the discussion and did not respond specifically to any of the issues with the exception of Megrahi (ref A). He indicated that the National Security Council would be charged with addressing the security-related issues. COMMENT

7.(C) CODEL McCain's meetings with Muammar and Muatassim al-Qadhafi were positive, highlighting the progress that has been made in the bilateral relationship. The meetings also reiterated Libya's desire for enhanced security cooperation, increased assistance in the procurement of defense equipment, and resolution to the C130s issue. Although Muatassim al-Qadhafi repeated Libya's familiar complaint that it has not received enough recognition and support in exchange for its decision to abandon its WMD programs, Muammar al-Qadhafi was notably silent on this issue. Qadhafi's silence on these issues may have been part of his reaction to the CODEL's discussion of the pending release of convicted Pan Am 103 bomber Abdel Basset al-Megrahi (ref A), an issue that reportedly is of great personal concern to Qadhafi.


8.(C) Senior Libyan officials confided that the CODEL's meeting with Qadhafi took place so late in the evening (nearly 11 pm) because the Leader had been fasting and usually takes a nap after breaking his fast. The Libyan officials told us that Qadhafi often fasts on Mondays and Thursdays and is doing so now, in the run up to the holy month of Ramadan. Qadhafi appeared as if he had been roused from a deep slumber for the meeting. He showed up with rumpled hair and puffy eyes, and was casually dressed in a short-sleeved shirt patterned with the continent of Africa, wrinkled pants and slip-on shoes. In spite of his appearance, Qadhafi was lucid and engaged throughout the meeting. Muatassim al-Qadhafi, on the other hand, revealed his lack of strategic depth throughout the meeting, referring to "the 52 countries of America -- or is that Africa?" and asking MFA officials to clarlify Libya's role in the upcoming UN General Assembly.

9.(C) Muatassim conducted his meeting in English, while his father used an interpreter for his meeting. The elder Qadhafi appeared to understand some of the CODEL's English-language remarks and offered a few comments in English.

10.(U) CODEL McCain did not have the opportunity to clear this message prior to departure. POLASCHIK

Did Wikileaks just reveal the US blueprint for Libya? Ali Abunimah on Fri, 08/26/2011 - 23:23

The US administrations of Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were set on developing deep “military to military” ties with the Libyan regime of Muammar Gaddafi, classified US diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks on 24 August reveal.

The United States was keen to integrate Libya as much as possible into “AFRICOM,” the American military command for Africa which seeks to establish bases and station military forces permanently on the continent.

“We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi,” Senator Joseph Lieberman (Ind.-CT) said during an August 2009 meeting, which also included Senators John McCain and Susan Collins.

The records confirm that McCain, the Republican presidential candidate in 2008, strongly supported US arms sales to Libya and personally pledged to Muammar Gaddafi (also spelled “al-Qadhafi”) and his son Muatassim that he would push to get such transfers approved by Congress. McCain also revealed that the United States was training officers in Gaddafi’s army.

While the Americans pursued the relationship vigorously, they met with a cautious and sometimes “mercurial” response from the Libyans. In particular, the mistrustful Libyans wanted security guarantees that the Americans appeared reluctant to give.

“We can get [equipment] from Russia or China,” Muatassim told the visiting senators, “but we want to get it from you as a symbol of faith from the United States.”

In hindsight, given the US support for the NATO war against the Gaddafi regime, it is not difficult to understand why the Libyans wanted these guarantees.

Nevertheless, Gaddafi received high praise for his “counterterrorism” credentials from US officials.

The documents also reveal that the United States was keen to court Gaddafi’s sons, flying them to the United States for high level visits.

And, notably, none of the cables regarding high level meetings quoted in this post made any mention of American concerns about “human rights” in Libya. The issue never appeared on the bilateral agenda.

Does the removal of the Gaddafi regime now clear the way for the United States to pursue the plans for integrating Libya into AFRICOM under what the Americans must hope will be a pliable regime?

“Increased defense cooperation”

In January 2008, US Assistant Secretary of State David Welch met with Libyan Foreign Minister Abdulrahman Shalgam. The classified memo recording the meeting notes:

Welch underscored the importance of increased defense cooperation as a signal of normalcy in the bilateral military relationship, particularly when considering Libya’s relatively recent rescission from the state sponsors of terrorism in June 2006. A/S Welch added that the Libyan government should invite AFRICOM Commander General Ward to Libya to discuss AFRICOM in greater detail.

The Libyans responded positively but somewhat warily:

Shalgam voiced the Libyan government’s interest in discussing AFRICOM and welcomed General Ward’s visit. However, he cautioned, the old guard within the MOD [Ministry of Defense] does not favor closer ties with the USG [US government] (reftel). In particular, General Abubaker Younes, the second in command, is firmly against cooperation and will refuse to meet any American official as he views U.S. coalition forces in Iraq as an occupation force. Nonetheless, Shalgam explained that it is important for Ward to visit and dispel misinformation and mistrust of AFRICOM among the Libyan leadership. He reasserted Libya’s continued, strong objection to U.S. military forces in Africa.

Shalgam also raised the issue of six C-130 military transport planes that Libya had purchased from the United States in the early 1970s, but which were never delivered due to US sanctions that were imposed later on.

Courting Gaddafi and his sons

After President Barack Obama took office in January 2009, it appears General William Ward, the commander of AFRICOM did get his invitation to visit Libya the following March. Before his visit, Ward received a classified briefing document from the US Embassy in Tripoli setting out US priorities and goals in Libya as well as providing insights into the regime.

The American document notes that after Libya settled various claims to do with terrorism cases including the Pan Am 103 Lockerbie bombing, it:

allowed us to move forward on the Mil-Mil MOU [Military to Military Memorandum of Understanding], which was signed in Washington in January. It also increased the number of high-level visits between the two countries including Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi’s two-week trip to the US in November and his brother Muatassim al-Qadhafi’s trip to Washington planned for April.

The memo again notes the mistrust on the Libyan side:

Despite the high-level interest in deepening the relationship, several old-guard regime figures remain skeptical about the re-engagement project and some facets of our interaction remain at the mercy of the often mercurial inner circle.

This was a reference to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, whom the Americans note, often appeared cooler than his sons.

Seducing Libya on AFRICOM

Ward’s brief, according to the classified cable, was to help overcome Libyan suspicion of US military expansion into Africa. The document advises the general:

Since the former Secretary of State’s visit to Tripoli in September, regime officials have slowly come to terms with AFRICOM as we have explained more of your mission. A clear explanation of AFRICOM’s mandate and expected activities on the continent, as well as a two-way discussion on areas of military-to-military cooperation will be welcomed by your interlocutors.

Reiterating AFRICOM’s support and humanitarian roles while allaying their fears about American troops or bases on the continent is another message they will be keen to receive. While Libya is a strong partner on counterterrorism, the Libyans remain wary of initiatives that put foreign military or intelligence assets too close to their borders. They are unlikely to join the Trans-Sahara Counter Terrorism Partnership, due as much to unwillingness to appear subservient to US interests as genuine distrust of U.S. intentions from certain old-guard regime elements. Negotiations on the Mil-Mil MOU [Military to Military Memorandum of Understanding] stalled on Libyan insistence that the language include security assurances on par with our NATO obligations. AFRICOM’s capacity-building component and support for peacekeeping forces may appease some, but we expect your military interlocutors will use your visit as an opportunity to tie their cooperation to security assurances.

Gaddafi is a “Top partner”

The Ward memo states:

Libya is a top partner in combating transnational terrorism. The regime is genuinely concerned about the rise of Islamic terrorism in the Sahel and Sahara and worries that instability and weak governments to their south could lead to a “belt of terrorism” stretching from Mauritania to SOMALIA. Al-Qadhafi prides himself on his recent initiatives with Tuareg tribes to persuade them to lay down arms and spurn cooperation with al-Qaeda elements in the border region; this is an issue worth exploring with him, while being mindful that he will oppose U.S. military activity in what he views as his backyard.

US arms sales to Libya

Throughout bilateral discussions, the Ward briefing memo notes, “Libyan officials have been keen to purchase US military equipment - both lethal and non-lethal.” It adds:

Libyan officials presented “wish lists” in the context of signing the Mil-Mil MOU. Muatassim [Gaddafi] accompanied his father on a high-profile trip to Moscow in October to discuss potential deals, but his father’s trips to Belarus and Ukraine were seen as an attempt to bring the price-point down for weapons deals. Their wish-lists comprise both lethal and non-lethal materiel and we have told the GOL that sales will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, particularly since not all senior USG leaders who would have a say on the subject have been appointed by the new administration.

The Americans were clearly open to selling weapons to Gaddafi, but were noncommital, as Ward was advised:

In effect, the Libyans have made military sales a key litmus of US trust and future intentions. In response, you might say that the U.S. looks forward to developing the bilateral security relationship and this process will take time; the C130s are a commercial matter best pursued with Lockheed-Martin.

The memo to General Ward concludes:

We are confident that your visit to Tripoli will open new doors for continued cooperation. Military cooperation is a key metric to determine the extent to which the Libyan government wishes to engage with the US. We hope your visit will assuage the fears of the more conservative elements of the regime while paving the way for AFRICOM’s continued success.

Senator McCain pushes for weapons sales

During his August 2009 visit to Tripoli, according to the classified record of the meeting, Senator John McCain was frank about his support for Libya’s weapons requests in a meeting with Muammar and Muatassim Gaddafi:

Senator MCCAIN assured Muatassim that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its security. He stated that he understood LIBYA’s requests regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C-130s (ref D) and pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress. He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome. He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.

A blueprint for post-Gaddafi Libya?

Nothing in the leaked documents reviewed here suggests that the NATO-backed removal of the Gaddafi regime was premeditated. On the contrary, the documents show that the United States was more enthusiastic about working with Gaddafi than perhaps Gaddafi was with the Americans – though clearly both stood to gain.

The Americans sought to expand their military presence in Africa and Gaddafi wanted to secure his regime against external threats.

At no point were human rights concerns ever an obstacle to American engagement for either the George W. Bush or Obama administrations.

The documents support the view that the decision to go to war against Gaddafi – in the name of “protecting civilians” was more opportunistic – riding on the back of the “Arab Spring.”

It is likely that after the toppling of the Tunisian and Egyptian presidents by popular uprisings in January and February respectively, top American and NATO decisionmakers believed that once protests started against it, the Gaddafi regime would be too unstable and unreliable to deal with.

Yet, the regime also fought back against the uprising in Libya with a ferocity that exceeded even the violence of the Tunisian and Egyptian regimes. It appears likely that American and allied leaders calculated that with a little push from their bombs, the balance could quickly be tipped in favor of the rebellion.

This mindset is clear from the claim in February – a month before the NATO intervention began – by UK Foreign Secretary William Hague, that Gaddafi had already fled to Venezuela.

It was also clear from statements by US military and political leaders, once the bombing began, that the US military role would only last for days.

As it turned out, the war has so far lasted five months, and is not over. The full-extent of atrocities by NATO-backed rebels and Gaddafi loyalists are only now starting to come to light.

But just as the Americans were happy to work with Gaddafi, they will be as keen to work with his successors, who now owe their positions to foreign intervention.

The Americans must hope that the National Transitional Council (NTC) which the US has recognized as the new government will be less mercurial and even more open to “military to military,” and other kinds of ties.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 12:54


Document for the US consulting company, Monitor Company Group,
L.P. — Confidential, 2007:

The aim of which was to "enhance of the profile of Libya and Muammar Qadhafi"
and which included nice folk like Richard Perle, the Carlyle Group and other
leaders of the ruling class.


Libyan Opposition Leaders Slam U.S. Business Lobby's Deals With Gaddafi

NEW YORK -- A broad coalition of interests from oil companies, defense manufacturers and well-connected lobbying firms to neoconservative scholars and Harvard Business School professors has worked in recent years to advance a rapprochement with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and take advantage of business opportunities in the country, even in the face of the longtime international pariah's brutal repression of his people and his legendary belligerence.


Submitted by Matt (not verified) on Sat, 02/26/2011 - 16:42


From the Arab World to Latin America - What's going on in Libya?

By Santiago Alba Rico and Alma Allende
Translation: Machetera

We have the impression that a great worldwide liberation process may be aborted by the unappeasable ferocity of Gaddafi, U.S. interventionism, and a lack of foresight in Latin America.

We might describe the situation like this: in a part of the world linked once again to strong internal solidarities and from which only lethargy or fanaticism was expected, a wave of popular uprisings have arisen which have threatened to topple the allies of Western powers in the region, one after the other. Independent of local differences, these uprisings have something in common that radically distinguishes them from the orange and rose colored "revolutions" promoted by capitalism in the former Soviet bloc: they demand democracy, certainly, but far from being fascinated by Europe and the United States, they are the holders of a long, entrenched, radical anti-imperialist tradition forged around Palestine and Iraq.

Read full article here

¿Qué pasa con Libia?
Del mundo árabe a América Latina

Santiago Alba Rico y Alma Allende

Tenemos la impresión de que un gran proceso emancipatorio mundial puede verse abortado por la implacable ferocidad de Gadafi, la intervención estadounidense y la poca clarividencia de América Latina. Describiríamos así la situación: en una zona del mundo ligada de nuevo por fuertes solidaridades internas y de la que sólo se esperaba letargo o fanatismo ha surgido una oleada de levantamientos populares que amenaza con hacer caer, uno detrás de otro, a todos los aliados de las potencias occidentales en la región. Con independencia de las muchas diferencias locales, estos levantamientos tienen algo en común que, por cierto, los distingue radicalmente de las “revoluciones” rosadas y naranjas promovidas por el capitalismo en la órbita ex soviética: demandan democracia, sí, pero lejos de estar fascinadas por Europa y los EEUU son depositarias de una larga, arraigada, radical tradición antiimperialista forjada en torno a Palestina e Iraq. No hay en los levantamientos populares árabes ni asomo de socialismo, pero tampoco de islamismo ni -lo más importante- de seducción eurocéntrica: se trata al mismo tiempo de una revuelta económica y de una revolución democrática, nacionalista y anticolonial, lo que abre de pronto, cuarenta años después de su derrota, una inesperada oportunidad para las izquierdas socialistas y panarabistas de la región.

Leer el artículo completo aquí

Submitted by Aaron Aarons (not verified) on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 05:17


Neither the English nor the Spanish link seem to work. Here's some that do:

¿Qué pasa con Libia? Del mundo árabe a América Latina

What's going on in Libya? From the Arab World to Latin America (formatted for printing)

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 12:41


By Marcus Baram

24 February 2011

NEW YORK — A broad coalition of interests from oil companies, defense manufacturers and well-connected lobbying firms to neoconservative scholars and Harvard Business School professors has worked in recent years to advance a rapprochement with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and take advantage of business opportunities in the country, even in the face of the longtime international pariah’s brutal repression of his people and his legendary belligerence.

Yet Libya’s opposition leaders say that such efforts have harmed the interests of the North African country by helping enrich Gaddafi’s family and close allies at the expense of the majority of Libyans, serving only to prolong Gaddafi’s brutal reign. They also blame U.S. policy for prioritizing national security interests over issues of reform and human rights, the lack of which helped fuel the country’s ongoing violent upheaval [1].

Soon after U.S. President George W. Bush dropped sanctions against Libya in 2004, when Gaddafi announced that he intended to give up weapons of mass destruction and expressed his eagerness to join the war on terror, U.S. and British oil producers and business interests jumped at the chance to expand into the country, which has been ruled with an iron fist by the unstable leader for some 40 years.

Some of the biggest oil producers and servicers, including BP, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Chevron, Conoco and Marathon Oil joined with defense giants like Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, multinationals like Dow Chemical and Fluor and the high-powered law firm White & Case to form the US-Libya Business Association in 2005. The members of its executive advisory council each pay $20,000 in annual dues to the group, which is managed by the National Foreign Trade Council, a coalition that seeks to facilitate international opportunities for U.S. companies. Most of the group’s members have lobbied the U.S. government since 2004 to protect their investments in Libya or to iron out business problems with the regime [2]. Bilateral trade with Libya totaled $2.7 billion in 2010, compared to practically nothing in 2003 when sanctions were still in force.

The role of the USLBA, which calls itself the only U.S. trade association focusing solely on the United States and Libya, combines lobbying for the former outlaw state with advancing the commercial aims of the association’s member groups. The nonprofit has sponsored policy conferences, briefing sessions and events featuring senior U.S. and Libyan officials — two months ago, the group’s honorary chairman David Mack, a former U.S. ambassador, and executive director Charles Dittrich traveled to Libya for meetings with Libyan government officials, private business leaders and representatives of American companies working in the country.

On its now-offline website, the group said it seeks to promote Libya by educating the White House and Congress about the country’s “growing importance in maintaining stability in North Africa as well as Libya’s potential as an expanding commercial market for American business.” The website also touts the USLBA’s proximity to Gaddafi, stating that “we were the only U.S. business group to meet privately” with the leader during Gaddafi’s “historic first visit” to the United Nations in 2009.

As one measure of the group’s influence, founding chairman David Goldwyn was appointed the State Department’s coordinator for international energy affairs by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton [3]. On a visit to Libya in December 2008, Goldwyn waxed rhapsodic about the “fantastically warm reception” he and eight U.S. executives received from senior Libyan officials.

Marcus Baram


* From Huffington Post, First Posted: 02/24/11 AM:

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 02/27/2011 - 13:11


By Nabila Ramdani, Tim Shipman and Peter Allen
June 5, 2010

Tony Blair has become an adviser to Colonel Gaddafi, the Libyan dictator's son has sensationally claimed.

Saif al-Islam Gaddafi said the former prime minister has secured a consultancy role with a state fund that manages the country's £65billion of oil wealth.

In an exclusive interview, Saif described Mr Blair as a 'personal family friend' of the Libyan leader and said he had visited the country 'many, many times' since leaving Downing Street three years ago.

Personal friends? Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base

Personal friends? Tony Blair meets Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi at his desert base

If true, the claims will plunge Mr Blair - now a Middle East peace envoy - into a fresh row over potential conflicts of interest between his public and private roles.

His business affairs have attracted widespread controversy because they are deliberately shrouded in secrecy.

Last night, families of the 270 Lockerbie victims accused Mr Blair of breaking bread with people who 'have blood on their hands'.

They have in the past raised questions about Mr Blair's relationship with Colonel Gaddafi especially over a prisoner transfer agreement with Libya that paved the way for the return of the Lockerbie bomber last year.

Saif made clear that the agreement - drawn up when Mr Blair was prime minister - was key to creating a 'special relationship' between Britain and Libya.

Saif suggested Mr Blair was involved in 'Africa projects' with his father, alleging: 'He also has some consultancy role with the Libyan Investment Authority.'

Mr Blair was adamant last night he had no relationship whatsoever with the LIA. However he is advising several firms seeking a slice of the massive revenues from Libya's oil reserves.

Saif, speaking in his private suite in Mayfair's five star Connaught Hotel, said: 'Tony Blair has an excellent relationship with my father.

'For us, he is a personal family friend. I first met him around four years ago at Number 10. Since then I've met him several times in Libya where he stays with my father. He has come to Libya many, many times. 'He's adviser to the LIA, the Libyan Investment Authority. He has some consultancy role.' Saif defended Mr Blair's right to exploit his contacts in Libya.

'Many people are unhappy with him [Blair] because of Iraq,' he said. 'It's much easier to deal with the LIA than the Middle East. Tony Blair has the right to earn money.

'It's a good thing to be a businessman. The LIA is ready to talk to anybody who wants to do business in Libya.'

Last night, Mr Blair's spokesman said: 'Tony Blair does not have any role, either formal or informal, paid or unpaid, with the Libyan Investment Authority or the government of Lybia.

'He has no commercial relationship with any Libyan companies or any Libyan projects in Africa.'

But sources close to the Gaddafi family said Saif - tipped to succeed his father as leader of his country - stands by his comments.

Colonel Gaddafi is understood to be on first name terms with Mr Blair, who saw his work in Libya as one of the great foreign policy successes of his premiership.

Mr Blair has always insisted he played no role in the return of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi, who was sent home last August by the Scottish government on compassionate grounds after doctors wrongly said he had only three months to live.

But Saif said Megrahi's release was 'always on the negotiating table' in discussions about ' commercial contracts for oil and gas with Britain'.

Frank Duggan, president of the Victims of Pan Am Flight 103, told the Mail: 'If this is true, I guess this is Tony Blair's reward from the Libyan government for what he has done.

'It's important for world peace that Libya is brought back into the community of nations but that doesn't mean that you have to honour people with blood on their hands.'

Saif, 37, was a key player in Libya's bid to end its pariah status and renounce nuclear weapons.


That decision led to Mr Blair's trip to Tripoli in 2004, where he shook Colonel Gaddafi's hand and declared a 'new relationship'. The meeting led to lucrative Libyan oil contracts for Shell.

A month before stepping down as PM, Mr Blair visited-Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli again at the same time that BP signed a $900million deal with the Libyan National Oil Company.

Saif said: 'Libya has a special relationship with Britain.'

Since becoming a part-time Middle East peace envoy on leaving office in 2007, Mr Blair has exploited his contacts to amass a personal fortune in excess of £20million.

He has a lucrative contract to advise JP Morgan, which pays him £2million a year. Part of his job for them is to develop banking opportunities in Libya. It is understood that British firms Mr Blair is linked to are also being given contracts to tap Libya's massive natural resources, and to help rebuild the country's outdated infrastructure.

The details are sketchy because he has built a labyrinthine business empire of interlocking partnerships designed, it seems, to conceal the sources and scale of his income.

Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski, who chairs the all-party Commons committee on Libya, said Mr Blair should spend more time on his role as a Middle East envoy than allegedly exploiting his links with the Gaddafi family.

He said: 'Mr Blair has a very important job. It does concern me greatly that he seems to spend so much time with the Libyans, who are not key players in the Arab-Israeli conflict.

'There should be greater transparency to ensure that Tony Blair is not using his current position and his previous position to assist his business interests.'

Sources close to Mr Blair said it was a matter of public record that he has visited Libya since leaving office, where he has discussed a range of issues.

They said he fully supported the decision to integrate Libya back into the international community and is proud of the role he played in the process.

The social web that connects the rich and powerful

Saif Gaddafi sits at the centre of a remarkable social web that has ensnared both Tony Blair and Lord Mandelson.

The men are bound together by their interests in Libyan business and their friendship with the multi-billionaire financiers of the Rothschild family.

Lord Mandelson once remarked that he was 'intensely relaxed' about extreme wealth, a position he has justified ever since. It was only natural that he should share an interest in networking and wealth with one of the world's oldest banking families.

But even the Rothschilds have probably never described him as a 'killer of a man'.

That was Saif Gaddafi's take on the former Business Secretary. After Labour's election defeat, Mr Gaddafi said: 'It's bad news for the UK that he left because he is a killer of a man. It's a loss for the UK.'

The two men met briefly last summer at the secluded cliff top mansion compound of the Rothschild family on the holiday island of Corfu.

Curiously, their stays overlapped by one night and came only a week before the announcement-that the perpetrator of the Lockerbie bombing could be released from prison.

They 'fleetingly' discussed the fate of the bomber Abdelbaset Ali Al Megrahi but Lord Mandelson's spokesman said he was ' completely unsighted' on the impending release.

Last November, Lord Mandelson spent more time in the company of Saif during a shooting weekend at Waddesdon Manor, Lord Rothschild's mini-Versailles in Buckinghamshire. Cherie Blair was also a guest.

Earlier this month, the former business secretary was seen zipping around the Swiss ski resort of Klosters in Nat Rothschild's £250,000 Ferrari convertible.

An Anglophile, Col Gaddafi's likely heir Saif studied for a PhD at the London School of Economics. He has a £10million London home.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 03/02/2011 - 22:58


By Jim Lobe

February 27, 2011 "IPS" -- WASHINGTON - In a distinct echo of the tactics they pursued to encourage U.S. intervention in the Balkans and Iraq, a familiar clutch of neo-conservatives appealed Friday for the United States and NATO to "immediately" prepare military action to help bring down the regime of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and end the violence that is believed to have killed well over a thousand people in the past week.

The appeal, which came in the form of a letter signed by 40 policy analysts, including more than a dozen former senior officials who served under President George W. Bush, was organized and released by the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a two-year-old neo-conservative group that is widely seen as the successor to the more-famous – or infamous – Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

Warning that Libya stood "on the threshold of a moral and humanitarian catastrophe", the letter, which was addressed to President Barack Obama, called for specific immediate steps involving military action, in addition to the imposition of a number of diplomatic and economic sanctions to bring "an end to the murderous Libyan regime".

In particular, it called for Washington to press NATO to "develop operational plans to urgently deploy warplanes to prevent the regime from using fighter jets and helicopter gunships against civilians and carry out other missions as required; (and) move naval assets into Libyan waters" to "aid evacuation efforts and prepare for possible contingencies;" as well as "(e)stablish the capability to disable Libyan naval vessels used to attack civilians."

Among the letter's signers were former Bush Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz; Bush's top global democracy and Middle East adviser; Elliott Abrams; former Bush speechwriters Marc Thiessen and Peter Wehner; Vice President Dick Cheney's former deputy national security adviser, John Hannah, as well as FPI's four directors: Weekly Standard editor William Kristol; Brookings Institution fellow Robert Kagan; former Iraq Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Dan Senor; and former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy and Ambassador to Turkey, Eric Edelman.

It was Kagan and Kristol who co-founded and directed PNAC in its heyday from 1997 to the end of Bush's term in 2005.

The letter comes amid growing pressure on Obama, including from liberal hawks, to take stronger action against Gaddafi.

Two prominent senators whose foreign policy views often reflect neo-conservative thinking, Republican John McCain and Independent Democrat Joseph Lieberman, called Friday in Tel Aviv for Washington to supply Libyan rebels with arms, among other steps, including establishing a no-fly zone over the country.

On Wednesday, Obama said his staff was preparing a "full range of options" for action. He also announced that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet fly to Geneva Monday for a foreign ministers' meeting of the U.N. Human Rights Council to discuss possible multilateral actions.

"They want to keep open the idea that there's a mix of capabilities they can deploy – whether it's a no-fly zone, freezing foreign assets of Gaddafi's family, doing something to prevent the transport of mercenaries (hired by Gaddafi) to Libya, targeting sanctions against some of his supporters to persuade them to abandon him," said Steve Clemons of the New America Foundation, who took part in a meeting of independent foreign policy analysts, including Abrams, with senior National Security Council staff at the White House Thursday.

During the 1990s, neo-conservatives consistently lobbied for military pressure to be deployed against so-called "rogue states", especially in the Middle East.

After the 1991 Gulf War, for example, many "neo-cons" expressed bitter disappointment that U.S. troops stopped at the Kuwaiti border instead of marching to Baghdad and overthrowing the regime of Saddam Hussein.

When the Iraqi president then unleashed his forces against Kurdish rebels in the north and Shia insurgents in the south, they – along with many liberal interventionist allies – pressed President George H.W. Bush to impose "no-fly zones" over both regions and take additional actions - much as they are now proposing for Libya - designed to weaken the regime's military repressive capacity.

Those actions set the pattern for the 1990s. To the end of the decade, neo-conservatives, often operating under the auspices of a so-called "letterhead organization", such as PNAC, worked – often with the help of some liberal internationalists eager to establish a right of humanitarian intervention - to press President Bill Clinton to take military action against adversaries in the Balkans – in Bosnia and then Kosovo – as well as Iraq.

Within days of 9/11, for example, PNAC issued a letter signed by 41 prominent individuals – almost all neo- conservatives, including 10 of the Libya letter's signers – that called for military action to "remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq", as well as retaliation against Iran and Syria if they did not immediately end their support for Hezbollah in Lebanon.

PNAC and its associates subsequently worked closely with neo-conservatives inside the Bush administration, including Abrams, Wolfowitz, and Edelman, to achieve those aims.

While neo-conservatives were among the first to call for military action against Gaddafi in the past week, some prominent liberals and rights activists have rallied to the call, including three of the letter's signatories: Neil Hicks of Human Rights First; Bill Clinton's human rights chief, John Shattuck; and Leon Wieseltier of The New Republic, who also signed the PNAC Iraq letter 10 years ago.

In addition, Anne-Marie Slaughter, until last month the influential director of the State Department's Policy Planning office, cited the U.S.-NATO Kosovo campaign as a possible precedent. "The international community cannot stand by and watch the massacre of Libyan protesters," she wrote on Twitter. "In Rwanda we watched. In Kosovo we acted."

Such comments evoked strong reactions from some military experts, however.

"I'm horrified to read liberal interventionists continue to suggest the ease with which humanitarian crises and regional conflicts can be solved by the application of military power," wrote Andrew Exum, a counter-insurgency specialist at the Center for a New American Security, whose Abu Muqawama blog is widely read here. "To speak so glibly of such things reflects a very immature understanding of the limits of force and the difficulties and complexities of contemporary military operations."

Other commentators noted that a renewed coalition of neo- conservatives and liberal interventionists would be much harder to put together now than during the Balkan wars of the 1990s.

"We now have Iraq and Afghanistan as warning signs, as well as our fiscal crisis, so I don't think there's an enormous appetite on Capitol Hill or among the public for yet another military engagement," said Charles Kupchan, a foreign policy specialist at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

"I support diplomatic and economic sanctions, but I would stop well short of advocating military action, including the imposition of a no-fly zone," he added, noting, in any event, that most of the killing in Libya this week has been carried out by mercenaries and paramilitaries on foot or from vehicles.

"There may be some things we can do – such as airlifting humanitarian supplies to border regions where there are growing number of refugees, but I would do so only with the full support of the Arab League and African Union, if not the U.N.," said Clemons.

"(The neo-conservatives) are essentially pro-intervention, pro-war, without regard to the costs to the country," he told IPS. "They don't recognize that we're incredibly over-extended and that the kinds of things they want us to do actually further weaken our already-eroded stock of American power."

© 2011 Inter Press Service

Submitted by brian (not verified) on Sun, 03/06/2011 - 19:18


Trying to correct the errors of the left wing is a full time job:

1. 'Civilians were strafed and bombed from helicopters and planes.'

no, not according to the russians:
Russian military: "Airstrikes in Libya did not take place"

2. Peter managed to write on the uprising in Libya and make NO menion of the organisations behind it: like the NFSL,and the LIFG

on the NFSL(National Front for the Salvation(!) of Libya)
trained by the CIA…
and working out of Washington:

The LIFG...these guys have ties to alqaeda(remember thats what Gaddafi also claimed):

After letting slip that the earliest Libyan protests were organize d by the LIFG, Al Jazeera quickly changed its line to present a heavily filtered account of "peaceful protests". To explain away the gunshot deaths of Libya soldiers during the uprising, the Qatar-based network presented a bizarre scenario of150 dead soldiers in Sirte having been executed by their officers for "refusing to fight". The mysterious officers then miraculously vacated their base disappearing into thin air while surrounded by angry protesters! Off the record, one American intelligence analyst called these media claims an "absurdity" and suggested instead the obvious:-that the soldiers were gunned down in an armed assault by war-hardened returnees from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Many Libyan Army units have "defected" to the opposition if for no other purpose than to try to recover the troves of weapons seized by the militants. Al Jazeera's role in erasing the fingerprints of the armed militants vindicates the earlier conclusion of Western anti-terrorism experts of Qatar's sponsorship of terrorism.
The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, under the leadership of Abu al-Laith al-Libi, formally merged into Al Qaida in 2007. Two years later, Libi disowned armed violence and negotiated with Qadhafi for acceptance of LIFG as an above-ground political association. The sudden rejection of violence coincided with the Muslim Brotherhood's makeover as a democratic force and Qatar's advocacy of political reform across the Mideast. As a legal entity, it incited the first protests in Benghazi in mid-February. Within days of the uprising's start, however, the LIFG reverted to its old ways, brandishing automatic weapons

and what is their aim? to establish an islamic state!…

finaly as a antidote to Littlewoods MSM driven post:

'The conflict in Libya is not a revolution, but a counter-revolution. The struggle “is fundamentally a battle between Pan-African forces on the one hand, who are dedicated to the realization of Qaddafi's vision of a united Africa, and reactionary racist Libyan Arab forces who reject Qaddafi's vision of Libya as part of a united Africa.” The so-called Black African “mercenaries” are misnamed. “As a result of Libya's support for liberation movements throughout Africa and the world, international battalions were formed” which are part of the Libyan armed forces.…

Submitted by brianct (not verified) on Sun, 03/06/2011 - 19:27


alternative views that Littlewood ignores:

its a counterrevolution!…

No Tahrir in Benghazi: A Racist Pogrom Rages On against Black Africans in Libya
by Glen Ford

how bad is life in gadaffis Libya?…

Fidel warms against the flood of lies on Libya, Littlewood continues this deluge:

Sarah Flounders on Libya and the demonisation of Gadaffi

Submitted by Peter Boyle (not verified) on Wed, 03/09/2011 - 19:30


While Gaddafi has alleged there is a Western conspiracy against him, he has also, and at the same time, appealed to the imperialists for support with racist and Islamophobic post-9/11 "War on Terrorism" arguments.

Listen to this interview and see that Gaddafi for the totally unprincipled (and increasingly desperate) despot that he is:…

1. Gaddafi boasts his regime stops "millions of black Africans" from going to Europe

"There are millions of black Africans who could immigrate via the Mediterranean and head Italy or France, and Libya plays a crucial role in the Mediterranean in terms of stopping that," Gaddafi told the France 24 TV.

Gaddafi has played this racist card before:

"We don't know what will be the reaction of the white and Christian Europeans faced with this influx of starving and ignorant Africans," the
Libyan leader told a Rome meeting attended by Silvio Berlusconi, the
Italian prime minister.

"We don't know if Europe will remain an advanced and united continent or if it will be destroyed, as happened with the barbarian invasions."…

2. Just like Israel's attack on the "extremists" in Gaza

"Even the Israelis in Gaza, when they moved into the Gaza strip, they moved in with tanks to fight such extremists."

"It’s the same thing here! We have small armed groups who are fighting us. We did not use force from the outset… Armed units of the Libyan army have had to fight small armed al Qaida bands. That is what’s happened.”

Gaddafi also dismissed the assessment that recent events injured the Libya's links with the West, saying that the country had "very good relations with the United States, with the European Union and with African countries," adding that "Libya plays a crucial role in regional and world peace.”…

3. In the interview Gaddafi boasts about the crowds supporting him through recent rallies in Tripoli. If you look at the video footage of the pro-Gaddafi rallies in Tripoli's Green Square broadcast you can see it is actually not a very big crowd at all, at most a couple of thousand. I've been to Green Square before. It is not that big and these crowds far from fill it.


Submitted by Ram (not verified) on Sun, 03/20/2011 - 10:14


The world is reentering an era of colonization and this time around, as it happened in the past, Arabs are making this possible with their own division and hatred. The only thing that the West would be interested, as always been, as being a genetic factor, is the 'money' - call it economic, oil and whatever garb. It does not paint Gaddafi a Gandhi, but then, how many Gandhis the humanity have seen in the last million years?

The process of colonization began when the West was struggling to feed its own population, when India's GDP was a quarter of the world's GDP; when Africa had enormous resources that the Africans chose to leave it to the nature without exploiting either those resources or the soil, that once was fertile. The greed of the humanity, fed by the Western values based on the false premise of democracy that would deny freedom for those who cannot defend themselves, has proved catastrophic. It is not to say that the West has not contributed to the human development; it is just the arrogance of few countries that still think its own values alone are the gospel, Germany certainly not one amognst them, would perpetuate this catastrophe. The same nations are still dating the king of Saudi Arabia, what else can be more sinister than this?

Why can't Britain, France and lately the US, send a diplomatic convoy to Libya to put an end to the impasse? Arms in whatever form they may be, have only one purpose - to kill. It is time to shift some of the UN operations to parts of Asia and Africa, the continents that account for more than three quarters of the humanity.

Nature will have a say in all these decisions. Some people call it the God.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Mon, 03/21/2011 - 01:27


By Nicolas Pelham | published March 15, 2011

Since the rule of Col. Muammar Qaddafi had been even more gruesome than that of neighboring dictators, the Libyan people’s release from captivity by the February 17 uprising pulsated with an unparalleled hope. Freed from a ban on public assembly of four or more persons, rebel-held towns across Libya thronged with celebrants late into the night. Benghazi, Libya’s second city, which the colonel had stripped of its museums, cinemas and cultural symbols, including the mausoleum of its anti-colonial hero, ‘Umar Mukhtar, buzzed with impromptu memorials to Qaddafi’s victims, political theater, songs and art, and mass open-air prayers. And after four decades in which one man had appropriated the right to speak on behalf of a country, Libyans in their hundreds of thousands recovered their voice. “Your place, Muammar,” scrawl protesters on upturned rubbish bins.

The leaders of the exultant protesters appeared equally refreshing. The revolution was the plot of lawyers and academics, not generals, and within days of the colonel’s withdrawal of his forces westward, these urbane professionals had filled the vacuum with a nascent constitutional process. They formed local councils and appointed the heads of each to the new National Transitional Council. This overarching body’s head was a former footballer-cum-judge, Mustafa ‘Abd al-Jalil, who as Qaddafi’s justice minister had acquired something of a reputation as a turbulent priest. (He once questioned the colonel in public about why prisoners whose release papers he had signed remained behind bars.) And the Council’s declaration of principles emphasized the country’s unity, designated Tripoli its capital, denounced tribalism and undertook to establish a liberal democratic state.

Though the declaration was hurried and half-baked, such was the desire for an alternative that the charter secured immediate buy-in across rebel-held areas. Oil workers and company executives alike declared their support at all six of Libya’s oil terminals. Refinery workers maintained supplies to rebel-held towns, while shutting off spigots leading to those that remained under the colonel’s rule. The Arabian Gulf Oil Company, Libya’s largest producer, cut its ties with Tripoli, approached new buyers and committed to rerouting oil revenues from Qaddafi’s purse to the Council.

In the mountainous hinterland, many tribes that had hitherto filled the ranks of the security apparatus pledged allegiance to the Council, prompting senior military commanders to defy orders to open fire on protesters and defect. Safiyya, Qaddafi’s second wife and mother of his most notorious sons, failed to prevent the desertion of her Barassa tribe, based in Bayda, a traditional center of unrest in Libyan history. “It was a big shock for Qaddafi that Bayda rose up,” said Bayda’s police chief, himself a Barassa, at a press conference to proclaim he was joining the rebels.

The initial successes of the revolt were striking. Within four days of the February 17 uprising, the colonel had withdrawn the bulk of his security battalions, air force and navy to Tripoli, in an apparent last-ditch attempt to defend the capital. The Revolutionary Guards Brigades, the remnants of the Revolutionary Committees (the bodies vested with local governance by Qaddafi) and the apparent mercenary forces that were left behind quickly disintegrated. In the east, the rebels won Libya’s prime oil fields and a 500 mile-long stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Similar scenes of liberation erupted in the western cities of Misrata and al-Zawiya and much of the capital. Rebels controlled all of the country’s oil terminals, the supply lines emanating from the Egyptian border and a radio network broadcasting to the west: “Wake up, wake up, o Tripoli! The day for which you waited has come.”

Rebel Leverage Reduced

But if the rebels expected the colonel would bow out with the grudging unctuousness of his Tunisian and Egyptian counterparts, they miscalculated. Qaddafi had distinct advantages over both Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Husni Mubarak: In contrast to the compacted population masses of Tunisia and Egypt, which enabled close coordination among the demonstrators, the Libyan population is dispersed over a vast area, dependent on access via air -- of which the colonel held a monopoly -- to hold it together. And in preceding decades Qaddafi had eliminated not only all opposition, but also the state institutions that held the potential to overpower him. Without such props, the National Council struggled to assert its authority, withholding the names of two thirds of its 30 members, either because they feared to declare themselves or because they had yet to be appointed. The body’s third declaration admitted as much: “The Council is waiting for delegations from Tripoli, central and southern areas to join it,” it read.

Armed with air power, Qaddafi alone could straddle the 620 miles of desert separating the eastern population centers from the western. Having wrestled back control of the west, he has pushed east, retaking three oil terminals, thereby securing his own petroleum supplies and reducing rebel leverage. At press time, his forces are bombing Ajdabiya, a hub of arterial roads leading to the rebels’ primary assets: south to the largest oil fields, east to Tobruk and the Egyptian border, and north to Benghazi. Increasingly, the rebels’ fledgling institutions look no stronger than the Paris Commune in the face of Prussia’s advance.

The rebels did little to help matters. Drunk on euphoria, they fatally abandoned their peaceful protests and resorted instead to arms, naïvely believing they could outsmart Qaddafi at his own game. Protesters dumped the placards declaring “No Blood” and took up cries vowing to “avenge the martyrs’ blood,” as well as weapons they pillaged from the colonel’s abandoned armories. Unarmed schoolchildren who had braved sniper fire and students who had chased Qaddafi’s brigades out of their barracks with bulldozers during the fevered days after February 17 now volunteered for the front, fed on tales of the heroics of a 15-year old who downed a helicopter the first time he fired a gun.

It was a lost cause from the start. Worse equipped and trained than their opposition, the rebel volunteers were simply outmatched. Qaddafi commanded a 50,000-man corps plus irregulars drawn from powerful and loyal tribes from central Libya, foremost his own, the Qaddafa. In addition to air power, the colonel had hundreds of tanks, radar whose range reached the thirty-second parallel and speedboats provided by Italy in years past to catch African trans-migrants, but which could equally serve to deter an amphibious landing. The professional forces that had defected were at best one tenth the size of the loyalist units, and reluctant to intervene, on the grounds that such action might trigger a civil war.

For weeks after announcing his defection, the colonel’s interior minister, ‘Abd al-Fattah Younis, declined to obey the Council’s orders to dispatch his 1,000 men to man the front lines and protect public buildings. Left unguarded, a vast armory near Benghazi was ravaged by looters and partially exploded on March 5, reportedly killing 40 people. “My forces might have been killed,” apologized Maj. Ahmad Qatrani, supposedly the most committed of the army’s eastern commanders to the rebel cause. At his “operations room” in the army’s accounting department in downtown Benghazi, he receives reports from the fronts and sends requests for cigarettes. Those soldiers who wanted to head to the front were required to present themselves as volunteers. “We found that the army was very weak and corrupted with large houses and land,” said Fathi Baaja, a political science professor who represents Benghazi on the Council.

Largely left to pursue the fight alone, schoolchildren and other easterners swarmed to the front, only to return bruised from the recoil of rifles and shot by classmates who, losing control of their anti-aircraft guns, sprayed the ground rather than the sky. An initially rapid advance across the desert to Bin Jawad, 180 miles west of Benghazi, the main rebel city, left supply lines woefully overstretched. The rebels’ antiquated Soviet anti-aircraft guns were no match for the colonel’s MIG fighter jets and quickly ran out of ammunition. A few dozen T-55 tanks in rebel hands were rehabilitated, but plodded too slowly to reach the front before the colonel’s forces, advancing from his home town of Sirte, counter-attacked.

Recognizing the odds, a few Council members tried to advise the untrained multitudes against hubris, only to be shouted down as defeatists. “We want to go to Tripoli,” exclaimed would-be fighters protesting outside the courthouse. “Give us guns.” Lawyers were denounced as lily-livered. “Helicopters are killing our people in al-Zawiya and we have no guns to fight. Where are you, Council?” The first reversal at Bin Jawad prompted mutual recriminations. “We had an open road to Sirte, but the Council’s call for the army to take over gave Qaddafi time to regroup,” complained an irregular forced back from the front. Others accused the Council of squandering the youth’s revolution. “Old people don’t have the spirit of the revolution. They are all talk,” fumed a banker-turned-armed volunteer from Bayda. “The Council is not accepted by the young.”

Internally, the Council’s hold appears equally weak. Its appeal to the security forces to return to work was largely ignored. Police officers justified their inaction by saying that they have no stations to restaff, since the revolutionaries had torched and looted them all. Council members suspected the real reason was counter-orders coming from Tripoli. A lone policeman reported for work the day the National Council ordered its 100 judicial police back to the courthouse. Muhammad Jihani, sporting a blue uniform dry-cleaned for the occasion, sat on a bench awaiting orders, and by lunchtime he had abandoned his post.

Initially greeted as a blessing enabling a wholesale revolution and replacement of the forces of repression, the absence of the security forces has quickly become a curse. Libya’s new order is fragile and exposed, and its subjects fear chaos. The price of Kalashnikovs in Benghazi has tripled.

The Council has been hamstrung financially, too. Bereft of international recognition, with the exception of France’s, it lacks the right to sell such state assets as oil. Facing high insurance premiums and allegations of piracy, most oil purchasers keep their distance. “There are no orders for March,” says Hasan Boulifa, senior manager at the Arabian Gulf Oil Company. The lawyers, too, apparent sticklers for legality, opposed revisiting Libya’s sins of the past by selling to offshore buyers. Despite international opprobrium, Qaddafi remains Libya’s sovereign.

Moreover, despite Libya’s vast distances, the colonel oversees a highly centralized state in which, even after a month of rebellion, he retains near total control of communications. He shuts down cellular phone and Internet services at the flick of a switch. (Telecommunications engineers in Benghazi say it would take six months to set up an alternate Internet line.) Without fresh liquidity from the capital, bank vaults are beginning to empty. Public-sector workers, the armed forces included, have received a 200-dinar (about $163) bank loan, but no salaries. Without a budget, the rebel’s volunteer culture is living on borrowed time.

As the problems facing the Council mount, so does the internal acrimony. Its members span the spectrum from Islamists to ardent secularists; pragmatists ready to negotiate with Qaddafi and principled revolutionaries flinching from ever again supping with the devil; advocates of peaceful protest and military officers convinced that Qaddafi can only be forced from power; lawyers petitioning to have the colonel put on trial and survivors of the 1996 Abu Salim prison massacre, who want him not only killed but his body dumped at sea so that it will not defile Libyan soil. While National Council members hope wistfully for an implosion of Qaddafi’s command structure inside his Bab al-‘Aziziyya barracks, centrifugal forces are pulling at their own more brittle and fledgling seams.

Perhaps most damaging of all, by resorting to arms the revolutionaries have risked jeopardizing their moral authority abroad. From the struggle of a defenseless people against dictatorship, the conflict has degenerated into a battle between a sovereign government, albeit one labeled illegitimate by outside powers, and an insurgent force.

Was the violent turn inevitable? Predictably, Council members blamed Qaddafi’s henchmen for leaving the gates of his arms caches open. Peaceful protest, too, seemed futile in the face of a ruler ready to deploy far more brutal force than his Egyptian or Tunisian counterparts. The colonel’s forces shot dead almost as many people in Benghazi, a small city of 800,000, as Mubarak’s did in all of Egypt, a country 80 million strong. And the four decades of suffering Libyans have endured has been North Africa’s most onerous. Only Libyans aged 50 or older -- a small fraction of the young population -- have a recollection of any ruler aside from Qaddafi.

Escaping Qaddafi

The colonel likes it that way. A megalomaniac, he trucks no personality or telling of history that does not revolve around him. In a deeply observant Muslim country, he downgraded the holy scripture of Islam, shuttering Qur’anic schools while opening research centers devoted to the Green Book, the slim compendium of his disjointed philosophizing. From primary school to university, pupils failed their public examinations if they could not learn his Green Book’s stanzas by heart. Sowing confusion for all but himself, he replaced the Islamic lunar calendar with a solar one, significantly beginning not with the launch of the prophet Muhammad’s rule in seventh-century Arabia, like the Islamic method of timekeeping, but with the prophet’s death. “Libya was dragged through a cultural revolution,” says Rajab al-Jaroushi, an expert on tectonics at Gharyounis University and a local leader of the Society of Muslim Brothers. “With his Green Book, Qaddafi thought he was Chairman Mao.”

The colonel tried to rewrite Libya’s history as well as its faith. He erased the symbols of the 18 year-old monarchy he overthrew, replaced its flag and jailed anyone brazen enough to carry the king’s portrait. In the mid-1980s, he ordered his tanks to open fire on al-Jaghboub, the Qur’anic school of the founder of the Sanusi Sufi order in a town near the Egyptian border, reducing the site of an annual mulid to rubble. ‘Umar Mukhtar’s mausoleum was plucked from its plinth in central Benghazi and hauled south. “In schools we jumped straight from Italy’s killing of ‘Umar Mukhtar to the 1969 revolution, leapfrogging the 37 years in between,” says a history teacher in Bayda. “If you veered from the syllabus, you were jailed. He wanted a new generation that had no other roots but Qaddafi.” Until recently, all languages but Arabic were banned in schools. “He wanted us to stay ignorant and cut off from abroad,” says a high-schooler in Tobruk, the nearest city to Egypt, bemoaning his inability to communicate in a Latin tongue.

Ottoman and Italian colonial architecture was left to crumble (UNESCO only narrowly stopped him from bulldozing Benghazi’s Ottoman core). Footballers had numbers, not names, to prevent them from acquiring fans. “Qaddafi allowed no one to be popular except him,” says a former economy minister’s son. And the role of his fellow “free” army officers who launched the 1969 coup was elided. Emhemmed al-Mghariaf, a free officer and brother of a current opposition leader, mysteriously died in a car crash following protests over the colonel’s cancellation of elections, which he had slated to take place after seizing power, and his self-promotion to leader. Several others incurred hefty prison terms. (‘Umar Hariri, the Council’s military chief and another former free officer, was imprisoned in 1975, charged with organizing a coup attempt.)

Parliament, political parties and unions were similarly jettisoned and replaced with handpicked revolutionary committees. The army, the launching pad of the 1969 coup, was debilitated by a ruinous war in Chad that saw its elite soldiers taken captive and top generals purged, again for allegedly fomenting coups. By the early 1990s, the colonel had assembled alternative battalions of regional militias, most numbering around 600 men, barracked in towns across Libya. These units took orders from his sons, not the military command. Armed with modern weaponry, the militiamen contrasted markedly with poorly paid army soldiers, who were banned from carrying weapons, even on base, and mostly restricted to a few bullets each. “He marginalized the army and relied on militias, which were manned mostly by mercenaries,” said National Council head Mustafa ‘Abd al-Jalil.

Over the decades, Qaddafi’s power base has contracted to his inner family. His military intelligence chief, ‘Abdallah Sanusi al-Maghrahi, is a brother-in-law. State investments and oil revenues are channeled through organs answerable to his son, Sayf al-Islam. Dispensed with caprice, the colonel’s oil riches kept allies in line. The northern hemisphere won contracts and the southern jobs, leaving Libyans shut out of both markets. After decades of pent-up resentment, Libyans used their liberty to ransack foreign compounds and chase helpless migrant workers from their flats. “People stole because they are hungry,” explains a Chad war veteran whose family of six lives on mattresses in a bare one-room Benghazi flat, without running water. “Foreigners got money and homes and contracts to prop up his regime. He left us nothing.” Across the road, Libyans repair secondhand televisions in shacks more commonly found in the sub-Saharan nations of Africa.

Reviving Qaddafi

As his forces advance, the muzzle that Libyans sloughed off on February 17 is being slowly reattached. Briefly garrulous Libyans now shy away from giving their names, and Libya’s initially jubilant exiles postpone their return. Having dispensed with his liberal pretensions, Sayf al-Islam threatens an all-out war against the Libyan people, aerial bombardment included, at least until the international community moves to stop him. A cartoon by Sa‘id Badawi of Egypt’s al-Ahram Weekly depicts the colonel responding to “Down with Dictators” placards by waving his own, reading, “Down with the People.” He has stemmed the two-month tide of people power in the region and paused the domino-like collapse of dictatorial regimes.

As the Council’s hopes of taking Tripoli fade, increasingly they have looked to forces -- internal and external -- that might at least safeguard their gains. Internally, they have appealed to tribes, particularly Libya’s largest, the Warfalla, situated on the western borders of Sirte. The Councilmen’s experience of tribal politics, however, falls far short of Qaddafi’s. He has -- says a Warfalla scion -- carted scores of their kinsmen off to Tripoli as pawns to be sacrificed should they rebel. Externally, the Council has dropped its initial reservations about foreign intervention. As the tables turn, even ardent Islamists who shun suggestions of infidel boots on their all-Muslim soil have sought salvation from outside Libya. While leaving Qaddafi’s ground forces unfettered, they plead for a no-fly zone that would remove his qualitative edge in air power, reassure a traumatized eastern population who fear the colonel might yet deploy chemical weapons and help sway wavering Libyans to join the rebels. Humanitarian sea corridors, too, might rescue rebel-held towns, particularly in the beleaguered west. And international recognition would enable the rebels to enjoy the proceeds of Libya’s oil.

Assuming, that is, that the game is not already over by the time the international community decides. Countries that have minor oil interests, like France, have failed to persuade countries that have major ones, like Italy, to recognize the Council. To cover the dithering, their statesmen engage in public hand wringing and aid handouts. Turkey -- no stranger to aid flotillas to enclaves in crisis -- has stopped short of even that measure, delaying the departure of a humanitarian shipment, citing bad weather. Fear of forfeiting large contracts for ports, construction projects, sewage works and the Great Manmade River might also have had something to do with it.

Perhaps an even more significant brake on international engagement with the rebels is a fear of the unknown that surmounts the fear of the grotesque. Telling an Islamist from a leftist revolutionary is none too easy in rebel areas where men are too busy manning barricades to shave. But the sight of bearded men battling in oil fields makes it easier for the colonel to play on Western fears that, without him, jihadis inspired by al-Qaeda will conquer the southern Mediterranean’s oil fields.

Libyans pride themselves on a tradition of resistance forged in ‘Umar Mukhtar’s struggle against Italian fascist occupation. In the 1980s, feeling Qaddafi’s rule to be just as arbitrary, Islamist elements hearkened back to Mukhtar’s fight as a jihad that inspired their own. Harassed by the colonel, hundreds of Islamists fled to Afghanistan only to acquire the ideology of Egyptian Islamic Jihad, led by Ayman al-Zawahiri. The “Afghan Libyans” reappeared at home as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in the mid-1990s. In a campaign against their Green Mountain redoubts around Bayda, the colonel rounded up thousands of combatants and non-combatants alike, including a large group of Muslim Brothers, many of them prominent academics, in 1998. Inside Tripoli’s Abu Salim prison, jihadis and Muslim Brothers shared a common experience of torture, hunger and eventually amnesty -- in part due to the intervention of the Qatar-based televangelist Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Sayf al-Islam, who briefly adopted a Muslim Brother, ‘Abdallah Shamsiyya, a professor of economics, as his financial adviser. Of thousands of Islamist detainees, including a new jihadi crop caught returning from US-occupied Iraq, barely 200 remained in Abu Salim prison at the time of the February 17 revolt.

Outside Benghazi’s courthouse, these multiple Islamist groups have proved assiduous in asserting their presence. The Muslim Brothers, Libya’s oldest political party established by Egyptian émigrés fleeing Nasser’s repression in the 1950s, appears to be the best organized. Hitherto an elitist group concentrated in Libyan academe, it is rapidly acquiring a grassroots reach through the mosques, a newly acquired forum the liberals lack. Scrapping their previous reformist agenda, the Brothers now preach revolution and an anti-Qaddafi jihad. Prayer leaders issued fatwas declaring the February 17 protest to be a religious obligation, and later they backed armed revolt. “We thought we were demonstrating to change our lives, and we found we were changing the regime,” says Salam Muhammad, a senior Muslim Brother in Benghazi who has started a newspaper.

Within days, the academics outside the courthouse were outnumbered by would-be mujahideen staging prayers “fi sabil Allah,” in the path of God, for the fight against the colonel. “We control the street and the fighting at the front,” says Juma‘ Muhammad, one of hundreds of former Abu Salim inmates helping to rally the crowds behind the Islamists. “We’re with the people; the Council is not.” In open-air prayers and graffiti, they repetitively denounce Qaddafi -- not least because of his bushy curls -- as an unbeliever, a Mossad agent and a Jew. Another Abu Salim inmate notes that two rebel fighters killed in the first battle for the oil port of Ra’s Lanouf were Libyan veterans of the Afghan jihad, as is a 41 year-old rebel commander.

Against such forces, Qaddafi’s survival might look positively attractive to some Western policymakers. In this view, Europe would regain its first line of defense against al-Qaeda’s expansion to the Mediterranean, its rights to the oil and its coastal guard against mass African migration. The colonel, after all, has survived international sanctions before, and he could no doubt do so again, were Westerners with offshore accounts ready to bail him out. To assist his rehabilitation, he might even adopt Saddam Hussein’s formula with the Kurds, and offer the east autonomy and a share of the oil revenues. Redonning his reformist mantle, Sayf al-Islam might add a mea culpa for the killing and promise another amnesty. And all those who shamelessly wooed the autocrat might buzz once again around his honey pot.

Yet the real threat to stability comes not from the Council’s survival but from its demise. Shorn of the possibility of international recognition, the Islamists who now endorse the organ as their representative body could rapidly turn elsewhere for succor and court far less savory forces for arms and men. Disillusioned rebels could resort to heat-seeking missiles targeting trans-Mediterranean flights, in a conflict that could suck in not only neighbors, but also European powers. Without the prospect of Western engagement and challenged by more radical groups, the Muslim Brothers could shed their stated aspirations for a constitutional democracy, opposition to military rule and commitment to uphold “legal” Western contracts.

Such a confrontational twist is avoidable, given the current Islamist advocacy of constitutional models. “We will organize ourselves as a political party, which stresses our Islamic culture,” promises the tectonics professor al-Jaroushi, manning one of the tents in the square beneath the courthouse, for now. Despite the revolutionary fervor, he, like many of his fellow Brothers, still sports a Western suit and tie. As for curbing migration, says the Brothers’ Shamsiyya, a post-Qaddafi government would end Qaddafi’s open-door policy for Africans and impose visas on foreign workers, as a means of drawing Libyans into the labor market. And spokesmen for more radical groups, garbed in white tunics and traditional red felt hats, say that they, too, favor the importation of a modern Western educational system and want the soldiers of global jihad, like Western troops, to stay out of Libya.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Wed, 03/30/2011 - 17:12


Tue Mar 29, 2011

When unrest exploded in Libya last month, Khamis Gadhafi--the youngest son of the country's embattled leader Muammar Gadhafi--wasn't around. He was on an internship program in the United States.

Khamis, who runs Libya's special forces, quickly returned to his home country, where he has led a military unit that has brutally suppressed rebel forces.

The internship, which lasted a month, was sponsored by AECOM, a Los Angeles-based global engineering and design company that has been working with the Libyan regime to modernize the country's infrastructure. Khadis made stops in San Francisco, Colorado, Houston, Washington, and New York City, meeting with high-tech companies (including Google, Apple, and Intel), universities, and defense contractors like Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. While in the Big Apple, Khamis even took in the Broadway show "Mamma Mia."

News of Khamis's internship, which was approved by the State Department, was first reported by ABC News.

Since coming home, Khamis appears to have played a key role in helping his father's regime in its violent campaign to quell the uprising. He has led the elite 32nd Reinforced Brigade, known at the Khamis Brigade, which reportedly has been involved in brutally suppressing rebel forces.

Vice Adm. William Gortney of the Joint Chiefs of Staff described the Khamis Brigade, whose headquarters were the target of U.S. Tomahawk missiles, as "one of the most active in terms of attacking innocent people."

On Monday night, Libyan television showed Khamis dressed in his military uniform and greeting people at his father's Tripoli compound.

A spokesman for AECOM told CNN that the company was "shocked and outraged" to learn of Khamis' military role.

AECOM added in a statement: "The educational internship, which consisted of publicly available information, was aligned with our efforts to improve quality of life, specifically in Libya, where we were advancing public infrastructure such as access to clean water; quality housing; safe and efficient roads and bridges; reliable and affordable energy; and related projects that create jobs and opportunity."

This isn't the first time that Gadhafi's sons--and their ties to the west -- have hit the headlines. As we've written, the regime was embarrassed after Wikileaks cables shed light on the lavish New Year's parties that another son, Muatassim, has held on the Caribbean island of St. Barts, at which Mariah Carey, Usher, and Beyonce have all been paid to perform. And the current crisis also has spotlighted the Libyan leader's own personal eccentricities.

Federal Reserve Lent To Gaddafi-Owned Bank, European Firms After Fighting Disclosure For 3 Years
Federal Reserve Gaddafi

First Posted: 03/31/11 09:57 PM ET Updated: 04/ 1/11 01:09 AM ET

At a time when credit markets shunned even the most worthy borrowers, foreign banks, including one partly-owned by Muammar Gaddafi's Libya, fled to the Federal Reserve and borrowed at rock-bottom interest rates, Fed documents released Thursday show.

During the height of the financial crisis in the fall of 2008, as investors and firms hoarded cash, the Fed reduced its rates to kickstart lending in the broader economy. Arab Banking Corp., a $28 billion lender now 59 percent-owned by Libya's central bank, borrowed at least $3.2 billion during this time. The Fed charged it an interest rate ranging from 2.25 percent to as low as 1.25 percent on those borrowings, regular Fed data show.

AAA-rated corporations paid bondholders an average rate ranging from 5.63 percent to 6.37 percent during the same period, according to the Fed.

The Fed lends money to banks at cheaper rates than the market because it intends for those funds to be distributed throughout the economy. The primary facility, known as the discount window, has been in practice since 1914.

Arab Banking Corp., which can borrow from the Fed because it has a subsidiary in the U.S., was among the foreign banks that had difficulty accessing cash from other lenders during that time, leaving it to turn to America's central bank.

Records show the Libyan bank borrowed its funds beginning on September 18, 2008 and lasting through at least November 13 of the same year. The daily high point came on three separate occasions in October and November, when the lender tapped the discount window for $600 million. Beginning October 8, those loans were available at a 1.75 percent interest rate. A few weeks later, the rate dropped to 1.25 percent.

These disclosures and more were buried in nearly 30,000 pages spread across almost 900 computer files that the Fed released to reporters under court order in response to lawsuits launched nearly three years ago by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, and Fox Business Network, Fox News' financial news channel.

The Fed had fought against disclosing data surrounding its activities during the financial crisis. After President Barack Obama signed his financial reform package into law last July, calling for the nation's central bank to release documents on most of its lending programs, a coalition of the nation's largest financial institutions took the Fed's case to the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to keep the records hidden.

The high court declined to hear the case, and in December, the Fed released critical details on its emergency crisis-era programs. For the first time it revealed the identities of the banks, investment firms, insurance companies, automakers, corporations, and other borrowers it flooded with more than $3 trillion in taxpayer-backed cash.

But it took federal courts and two determined news organizations to force the public release of the Fed's discount-window activities during the same time. On Thursday, the Fed finally disclosed such information.

Now, for the first time, the public can see which banks, from the smallest community lender to the largest Wall Street firm, accessed the backstop at their regional Federal Reserve branch during the worst financial emergency since the Great Depression. The loans are far more generous than what banks get from the market.

Trillion-dollar financial behemoths like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, and Citigroup accessed cheap Fed cash through the discount window, as did smaller firms like Proficio Bank, a Utah lender with just $125 million in deposits.

Goldman Sachs also benefited after changing its legal status from an investment firm to a bank. A top Goldman executive had previously testified under oath to the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that it accessed the program simply to test its systems.

In September 2008 -- the month that saw the federal government takeover Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac; the failure of Lehman Brothers, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history; the forced-sale of Washington Mutual, the largest bank failure in U.S. history; and a government rescue of AIG, the world's largest insurer -- the Fed lent borrowers $1,574,142,741,934 through its discount window and emergency programs, documents show.

During the same period, 22 foreign-based banks borrowed $56.6 billion on 42 separate occasions from the Fed's discount window, according to a Huffington Post analysis of Fed documents.

The disclosures led Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, to write Fed chairman Ben Bernanke asking why the central bank lent U.S. funds to foreign firms. Sanders wrote that he had "serious concerns" in particular over the Fed's lending to Arab Banking Corp., the Libya-owned lender.

The Federal Reserve did not respond to a request for comment.

William Alden contributed to this report.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Thu, 09/01/2011 - 15:50


by Paul Mutter on August 31, 2011

Reporting from Tripoli, The Wall Street Journal’s Paul Sonne and Margaret Coker reveal the depths of collusion between Colonel Qaddafi’s spooks and their foreign tech support:

The recently abandoned room is lined with posters and English-language training manuals stamped with the name Amesys, a unit of French technology firm Bull SA, which installed the monitoring center. A warning by the door bears the Amesys logo. The sign reads: "Help keep our classified business secret. Don't discuss classified information out of the HQ."

French-owned Amesys was just one of those whose wares were on display. Narus, a subsidiary of Boeing, the ZTE Corporation of China and a small (but apparently important) South African firm called VASTech SA (Pty) were all represented. Other names will likely follow. So far, they are all following the hush-hush urgings of the Amesys sign, offering limp responses to the WSJ’s inquiries, or just declining to comment.

But the HQ records speak for themselves: the government recorded thousands of online conversations, phone calls and web histories, from regular citizens to human rights activists (those who had overseas contacts were priority targets, of course). And just in case the snoops heard something good on all those hours of recordings, the place was also equipped with “a windowless detention center,” the Wall Street Journal reported.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, none of this is especially shocking. Foreign companies and their products have been actively involved in suppressing the Arab Spring, and from the Middle East to East Asia, multinationals have made hefty profits from providing surveillance capacity, security contracting and arms sales to repressive regimes. This SIGINT Road, if you will, is the e-version of the old Silk Road running from Beijing to Tunis with many stops along the way.

Libya is a good example of the political dealings that are so common when multinational corporate interests stand to gain. When Qaddafi extended an olive branch as the Second Gulf War began, Western (and non-Western) governments and firms leaped at the chance to do business with a seemingly older and wiser dictator.

International trade and arms sanctions were imposed on Libya between 1988 and 1992 in response to the country’s support for terrorist organizations. These sanctions were lifted from Libya starting in 2003 because Qaddafi agreed to disclose and dismantle its nuclear program, help track down Libya’s international nuclear black market contacts and started “cooperating” with the UK’s Lockerbie bombing investigation.

Qaddafi made a shrewd choice when he decided to cooperate with the U.S., the UK and the IAEA. Having seen where the WMD “smoking gun” justification had led the U.S. in Iraq, he had no desire to give the Marine Corps cause to pay a visit to “the shores of Tripoli" once again. A grateful West began restoring diplomatic niceties.

But there were other benefits as well. Diplomatic niceties paved that way for what the Libyan government really wanted: new technology and new money to help maintain its power at home. Qaddafi looked at Western arms manufacturers, investors, security-surveillance providers and oil majors in the same way that a tech junkie would salivate over an Apple Store’s fancy gadgets and efficient tech support.

Big EU arms manufacturers like BAE Systems and the Finmeccania Group basically just picked up where they left off in 1992, selling everything from surveillance networks, firearms, and aircraft. Oil majors, discouraged from going into Libya during the Cold War because of nationalization efforts and Libya’s late pariah status started negotiating contracts.

If there was one sector of Libya’s economy that Qaddafi believed benefited from free enterprise and globalization, it was the surveillance market. The aforementioned Finmeccania Group, (although not mentioned in the article) also helped the Libyans with surveillance work, according to a report put out a few years ago by the partly-government owned Italian multinational.

So what will happen to all these poor multinationals now that their chief Libyan sugar-daddy is gone? Don't cry too hard for them. Ever resourceful, some are already dipping their toes into post-Qaddafi waters to keep or expand these contracts – joined by security contractors who hope to do a brisk business protecting VIPs and pricey machines. Let the second surveillance rush begin!

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sat, 09/03/2011 - 20:08


NY Times September 2, 2011
Files Note Close C.I.A. Ties to Qaddafi Spy Unit

TRIPOLI, Libya — Documents found at the abandoned office of Libya’s former spymaster appear to provide new details of the close relations the Central Intelligence Agency shared with the Libyan intelligence service — most notably suggesting that the Americans sent terrorism suspects at least eight times for questioning in Libya despite that country’s reputation for torture.

Although it has been known that Western intelligence services began cooperating with Libya after it abandoned its program to build unconventional weapons in 2004, the files left behind as Tripoli fell to rebels show that the cooperation was much more extensive than generally known with both the C.I.A. and its British equivalent, MI-6.

Some documents indicate that the British agency was even willing to trace phone numbers for the Libyans, and another appears to be a proposed speech written by the Americans for Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi about renouncing unconventional weapons.

The documents were discovered Friday by journalists and Human Rights Watch. There were at least three binders of English-language documents, one marked C.I.A. and the other two marked MI-6, among a larger stash of documents in Arabic.

It was impossible to verify their authenticity, and none of them were written on letterhead. But the binders included some documents that made specific reference to the C.I.A., and their details seem consistent with what is known about the transfer of terrorism suspects abroad for interrogation and with other agency practices.

And although the scope of prisoner transfers to Libya has not been made public, news media reports have sometimes mentioned it as one country that the United States used as part of its much criticized rendition program for terrorism suspects.

A C.I.A. spokeswoman, Jennifer Youngblood, declined to comment on Friday on the documents. But she added: “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.”

The British Foreign Office said, “It is the longstanding policy of the government not to comment on intelligence matters.”

While most of the renditions referred to in the documents appear to have been C.I.A. operations, at least one was claimed to have been carried out by MI-6.

“The rendition program was all about handing over these significant figures related to Al Qaeda so they could torture them and get the information they wanted,” said Peter Bouckaert, emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, who studied the documents in the intelligence headquarters in downtown Tripoli.

The documents cover 2002 to 2007, with many of them concentrated in late 2003 and 2004, when Moussa Koussa was head of the External Security Organization. (Mr. Koussa was most recently Libya’s foreign minister.)

The speech that appears to have been drafted for Colonel Qaddafi was found in the C.I.A. folder and appears to have been sent just before Christmas in 2003. The one-page speech seems intended to depict the Libyan dictator in a positive light. It concluded, using the revolutionary name for the Libyan government: “At a time when the world is celebrating the birth of Jesus, and as a token of our contributions towards a world full of peace, security, stability and compassion, the Great Jamhariya presents its honest call for a W.M.D.-free zone in the Middle East,” referring to weapons of mass destruction.

The flurry of communications about renditions are dated after Libya’s renouncement of its weapons program. In several of the cases, the documents explicitly talked about having a friendly country arrest a suspect, and then suggested aircraft would be sent to pick the suspect up and deliver him to the Libyans for questioning. One document included a list of 89 questions for the Libyans to ask a suspect.

While some of the documents warned Libyan authorities to respect such detainees’ human rights, the C.I.A. nonetheless turned them over for interrogation to a Libyan service with a well-known history of brutality.

One document in the C.I.A. binder said operatives were “in a position to deliver Shaykh Musa to your physical custody, similar to what we have done with other senior L.I.F.G. members in the recent past.” The reference was to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which was dedicated to the overthrow of Colonel Qaddafi, and which American officials believed had ties to Al Qaeda.

When Libyans asked to be sent Abu Abdullah al-Sadiq, another member of the group, a case officer wrote back on March 4, 2004, that “we are committed to developing this relationship for the benefit of both our services,” and promised to do their best to locate him.

Two days later, an officer faxed the Libyans to say that Mr. Sadiq and his pregnant wife were planning to fly into Malaysia, and the authorities there agreed to put them on a British Airways flight to London that would stop in Bangkok. “We are planning to take control of the pair in Bangkok and place them on our aircraft for a flight to your country,” the case officer wrote.

Mr. Bouckaert of Human Rights Watch said he had learned from the documents that Sadiq was a nom de guerre for Abdel Hakim Belhaj, who is now a military leader for the rebels.

In an interview on Wednesday, Mr. Belhaj gave a detailed description of his incarceration that matched many of those in the documents. He also said that when he was held in Bangkok he was tortured by two people from the C.I.A.

On one occasion, the Libyans tried to send their own plane to extradite a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, Abu Munthir, and his wife and children, who were being held in Hong Kong because of passport irregularities.

The Libyan aircraft, however, was turned back, apparently because Hong Kong authorities were reluctant to let Libyan planes land. In a document labeled “Secret/ U.S. Only/ Except Libya,” the Libyans were advised to charter an aircraft from a third country. “If payment of a charter aircraft is an issue, our service would be willing to assist financially,” the document said.

While questioning alleged terror group members who plainly had value to Western intelligence, the cooperation went beyond that. In one case, for example, the Libyans asked operatives to trace a phone number for them, and a document that was in the MI-6 binder replied that it belonged to the Arab News Network in London. It is unclear why the Libyans sought who the phone number belonged to.

The document also suggested signs of agency rivalries for the Libyans’ affections. In the MI-6 binder, a document boasted of having turned over someone named Abu Abd Alla to the Libyans. “This was the least we could do for you to demonstrate the remarkable relationship we have built over recent years,” an unsigned fax in 2004 said. “Amusingly, we got a request from the Americans to channel requests for information from Abu Abd through the Americans. I have no intention of doing any such thing.”

Scott Shane contributed reporting from Washington.

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 09/04/2011 - 14:40


By Juan Cole

Posted on 09/03/2011

Human Rights Watch found documents in Libya after the fall of Muammar Qaddafi that it passed on to the Wall Street Journal, which is analyzing them. The WSJ reported today that the documents show that Qaddafi developed so warm a relationship with George W. Bush that Bush sent people he had kidnapped (“rendition”) to Libya to be “questioned” by Libya’s goons, and almost certainly to be tortured. The formal paperwork asked Libya to observe human rights, but Bush’s office also sent over a list of specific questions it wanted the Libyan interrogators to ask. Qaddafi also gave permission to the CIA from 2004 to establish a formal presence in the country.

Qaddafi had been on the outs with the West for decades, but was rehabilitated once he gave up his ‘weapons of mass destruction’ programs (Qaddafi had no unconventional weapons, and no obvious ability to develop them, so his turning over to Bush of a few rotting diagrams that had been buried was hardly a big deal.

I have been going blue in the face pointing out that Muammar Qaddafi is not a progressive person, and that in fact his regime was in its last decades a helpmeet to the international status quo powers.

Now it turns out that Qaddafi was hand in glove with Bush regarding “interrogation” of the prisoners sent him from Washington.

Alexander Cockburn’s outfit has been trying to smear me by suggesting that I had some sort of relationship with the CIA, when all I ever did was give talks in Washington at think tanks to which analysts came to listen; when you speak to the public you speak to all kinds of people. I never was a direct consultant and never had a contract or employment with the agency itself. I spoke to a wide range of USG personnel in those talks in Washington in the Bush years, including the State Department, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and even local police officers, and the intelligence analysts were just part of the audience.

In fact, we now know that the Bush administration was upset that I was given a hearing in Washington and was influential with the analysts, and asked the CIA to spy on me and attempt to destroy my reputation.

So how delicious is it that those who supported Qaddafi, or opposed practical steps to keep him from slaughtering the protest movement (such as A. Cockburn and his hatchet man John Walsh), were de facto allies of the CIA themselves– and not just allies of the analysts, who try to understand the intelligence, but allies of the guys doing “rendition,” i.e. kidnapping suspects off the street and having them “interrogated.”

Submitted by Terry Townsend on Sun, 09/04/2011 - 15:20


September 3, 2011

Posted by Amy Davidson

How many more ways can evidence of America’s rendition and torture practices come to light? Earlier this week, it was thanks to a dispute over who would pay for muffins, airphone calls, and a plane to fly prisoners to secret prisons. Now, it’s with papers in a binder marked “C.I.A.” found in one of Qaddafi’s offices in Tripoli. (Jon Lee Anderson is there for The New Yorker.) What next—an Eastern European military officer’s divorce trial, an election campaign in Asia, an iPhone prototype left in a bar? (That’s another story.) A program that involved hiding people from our country’s laws and courts, and outsourcing their interrogation to willing torturers—including, according to the documents, Qaddafi—left traces scattered around the world, waiting to be stumbled upon. A way they haven’t been cataloged, though, is the way they should have been: through a true reckoning by our own government. Instead, President Obama decided, in effect, that what was done was done. But it isn’t.

The “C.I.A.” binder was accompanied by two marked “MI6,” and the office they were in belonged to a man the Times described as “Libya’s former spymaster.” The paper also noted that, in the circumstances, their authenticity was hard to verify. (The C.I.A.’s response was not exactly a denial: “It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats.”) Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director of Human Rights Watch, sat down and read through the binders. There were talking points for Qaddafi, logistical details for flights, and what seems to have been the bartering of Qaddafi’s opponents, some of whom had ties to Islamist groups, for his cooperation. One of them is now a rebel leader.

All in all, there were “thousands of pieces of correspondence from US and UK officials,” according to the BBC, which then quoted Bouckaert:

It wasn’t just abducting suspected Islamic militants and handing them over to the Libyan intelligence…The CIA also sent the questions they wanted Libyan intelligence to ask and, from the files, it’s very clear they were present in some of the interrogations themselves.

Its dealings in Libya are not the C.I.A.’s only problem; nor is the C.I.A. the only problem. The Washington Post has two new pieces in its “Top Secret America” series that one should read. The first, by Julie Tate and Greg Miller, is on the C.I.A.’s shift away from learning things and toward killing people considered dangerous (and who makes that call?), with analysts becoming “targeters.” The other, by Dana Priest and William Arkin, is about the Pentagon’s Joint Special Operations Command, which has held some thousand prisoners “in jails that it alone controls in Iraq and Afghanistan.” (“We’re the dark matter. We’re the force that orders the universe but can’t be seen,” a SEAL told the Post.) The “C.I.A.” binder in Tripoli included “a list of 89 questions for the Libyans to ask a suspect,” the Times said. We should have at least that many—many more—for our own government.