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Libya

The UNSC slapped Libya with multiple sanctions. It remains to be seen what the White House offered to Russia to join the vote (probably yet another concession on Israel).

The alleged reason for the sanctions was the Libyan government’s repression of ‘peaceful protesters.’ But the protests have not been peaceful since Libya’s Bedouin tribes joined the uprising. By the UNSC’s logic, no government is entitled to suppress insurgents.

The UNSC’s approach is very selective: no such pressure was applied to Iran or Pakistan. The UNSC vote became possible after the Saudis vowed to replace any reduction in oil supply caused by the Libyan disturbances.

Thankfully, Gadhafi has crushed the rebel forces and reestablished his rule for now. Besides numerous other advantages—such as isolating Al Qaeda in Northern Africa—Gadhafi’s victory may stem the revolutionary tide in the Arab world.

By repeatedly threatening Gadhafi, Obama has lost any chance for cooperation with that influential dictator and ensured his support for anti-American movements worldwide.

Obama: no Plan B for Libya

Muammar GaddafiSeveral critical differences can be pointed out which have allowed Gadhafi to survive where Mubarak fell:

- Gadhafi was well-prepared for the revolt, having seen the American pressure on Mubarak,
- Gadhafi is a lone ruler, not first among his peers as Mubarak was. As such, Gadhafi had no staff or similar clique to betray him,
- population tends to support peaceful protestors, but not insurgents. The support for anti-Gadhafi movement among urban Libyans quickly evaporated once it became dominated by gangs,
- Libya does not receive US aid, thus Obama has no leverage over that country’s political establishment. On the contrary, as a large oil exporter, Libya commands considerable influence over the EU—which accordingly procrastinated, putting off the imposition of a no-fly zone until Gadhafi had crushed the rebels,
- since the UNSC condemned Gadhafi early on, he had nothing to lose and nowhere to run, thus he was able to employ whatever military means were required to quash the revolt,
-the popular revolt in Libya quickly became centralized, drawn along tribal and geographical lines. That allowed Gadhafi to identify and destroy his enemies. He might have been politically unable to use tanks against urban crowds, but the American incitement lured them into forming militias and coming out to battle the government’s troops. The Libyan protestors thus lost the major benefit of a Facebook revolution: distribution of power and authority.

Still, Obama could easily defeat Gadhafi forces which advanced on rebels without setting American boots on the ground, by bombing campaigns. But the US president lacks a firm policy to pursue and so far preferred to bolt out of the Libyan debacle. Obama lost exactly where his stakes were the highest: he pushed for ousting Mubarak mostly secretly and could afford to lose in Egypt, but repeatedly threatened military action in Libya. Obama’s perceived weakness will win him disdain on the Arab street, but also among liberals: he practically abandoned Libyan protestors to death after inciting them to fight Gadhafi in the open.

Libyan rebelsAs was widely expected, Libya’s ruler defied the US president’s demand to the contrary and attacked Benghazi.

Yesterday, Obama explicitly threatened military action against Libya if Gadhafi dares to attack the rebels. It remailn to be seen whether Obama will make good on his promise. If he does not, US credibility will plummet to zero in the Arab world.

Our prediction is that the US will conduct some bombing raids against Libyan military targets at most. The superpower won’t dare to bomb Gadhafi’s mammoth arms depots, intercept the foreign planes streaming into Libya with weapons, or destroy government buildings.

Iran publicly supported the Libyan rebels after they agreed to sell advanced and unconventional weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah. At the same time, it backed Syria’s plan to supply arms to Gadhafi.

Normal governments like Iran’s profit from every opportunity, and do not engage in moralistic rhetoric or look back to the United States.

IDF has so far failed to intercept the cargo of unconventional weapons.

Bombing LibyaFifty Libyans were killed by 112 cruise missiles unleashed on the Arab country by the US, Britain, and France. Add hundreds of bomber flights, and the effect seems almost negligible. The Western powers claim to be destroying Libyan air defense facilities, but those reports are unconfirmed, and at any rate Gadhafi did not pretend to be able to withstand an air war against them.

Gadhafi is fully prepared for this war. He has brought civilians to his military installations to create live shields, stationed some troops in urban areas and dispersed the others, and accumulated sufficient quantities of weapons to fight despite the naval blockade. The westerners can launch a limited land operation, perhaps even send commandos into a town or two, but that’s about all they would risk doing. No country wants to invest manpower in yet another Christian-Muslim war. Also, material resources are unavailable for a large-scale war: everything from guided bombs and Tomahawks to jet fuel is only available in very limited quantities.

Western tactics will encourage Gadhafi to engage in still more savage warfare. His troops are safe now in urban environments where NATO won’t dare attacking them for fear of civilian casualties.
Our prediction is that after the first salvo and a few isolated commando operations, the West will concede victory to Gadhafi. Our enthusiastic thumbs up to the dictator.

Now that NATO has finished off Gadhafi’s airforce and is pounding his army formations, the question arises whether they will be able to make him step down soon. That will only be possible if Gadhafi’s generals defect to the rebels, which is so far unlikely as the rebels won’t offer them anything like the perks they receive from Gadhafi. Another option is that his sons may break down—indeed, someone like Saif, who keeps a rifle under a pink sofa with stuffed toys on it, is hardly a warrior his father can count on.

Unless the West ousts Gadhafi quickly, he can defeat the rebels. Once the NATO planes are gone, Gadhafi can quickly bring his troops into the rebel strongholds and present the West with fait accompli. Also, the Arab street would react negatively to the West splitting Libya into two entities, which would look like an attempt to control some of its oil.

A French fighter jet hit a Libyan airforce plane after it had landed. The French claimed they were responding to a violation of the no-fly zone.

Which is wrong. Imposition of a no-fly zone means to down enemy planes, not destroy them. As long as the Libyan plane had landed, it was no longer violating the no-fly zone and should have been safe.

NATO commander Stavridis announced that the West can force Gadhafi to leave by applying full military pressure. The pressure in question was exemplified by 22 Tomahawk missiles fired at Libyan targets unrelated to enforcement of the no-fly zone.

Pounding another country with air strikes to effect a change in government is totally illegitimate and runs contrary even to the bizarre UNSC resolution that authorized a no-fly zone in violation of the UN charter, since Libya was not threatening its neighbors.

Political change through Tomahawks

The US and France are considering supplying weapons to the rebels. That runs contrary to the UNSC resolution, which authorized essentially peacekeeping operations, not aggravation of the Libyan civil war. Arms supply to rebels in an independent state which does not threaten its neighbors is grossly illegal; it would be no different if Libya, for example, armed Muslim terrorists in the United States. If the American ideal is to spread justice, why not start with one of the many more oppressive regimes that abound throughout the world?

The Russians objected to the idea of arming either side in the Libyan conflict. Since Gadhafi is well-stocked with arms, that would mean starving the rebels under the guise of equality.

Now we will see who disintegrates faster: the untrained rebels or Gadhafi’s government. So far, the world has prevented Gadhafi’s government from falling by denying its members asylum anywhere. The Rebels are being strengthened by an influx of Libyan fighters who fought the US in Iraq.

Libyan rebels

Coalition forces killed more than a dozen rebels after the rebels fired anti-aircraft guns at Western jets.

Obama has withdrawn the US submarines and most other Naval assets from Libyan waters, the UK has stopped firing Tomahawk missiles at Qaddafi targets, and France has stopped its air raids. Qaddafi is smart; rather than proclaiming victory, he has sent Obama a letter pleading for a ceasefire.

In the meantime, the Libyan rebels suffer heavy losses under the quiet, but steady onslaught of Qaddafi’s forces. NATO could have lifted Qaddafi’s siege of the rebel stronghold of Misrata in a brink, but it stands idle.

As in so many countries, from Hungary and Czechoslovakia to Lebanon, the United States incited the opposition to come into the open, then abandoned it to its death.

Even in Egypt, where the White House succeeded in ousting Mubarak, the Americans quit before stabilizing the situation. As a result, Egypt is falling to radical Muslims and possibly falling apart.

British fighter jets bombed an oil pipeline in Libya to punish Qaddafi. This is exactly the bombing of civilian infrastructure which the Brits decried during the Israeli war on Lebanon in 2006. The British attacks cannot be justified under the UNSC resolution, which authorized the protection of Libyan civilians.

By demanding Qaddafi leave Libya as a precondition for talks, the Brits not only exceed the UNSC resolution, but also perpetuate civil war in Libya for the sake of scoring domestic political capital for the British PM.

For his own part, Qaddafi conducts an almost Israel-esque kind of warfare against the rebels, committing no atrocities whatsoever against them or the civilian population.

During the NATO air attack on Qaddafi’s command-and-control centers in Tripoli, Libyan SAM batteries opened fire. That dramatically changes the balance of power, because fearful NATO nations have zero tolerance for losses, which are highly probable if Qaddafi uses his advanced Russian-built anti-aircraft weapons.

The US sent two drones into Libya, while Britain, France, and Italy supplied the rebels with a trickle of arms—which they are not trained to use, anyway.

The arms shipments are too small to enable the rebels to prevail against Gadhafi, but more than enough to enrage him. If the rebels win, they won’t be very grateful to the West, which extended only token help to them. If Gadhafi wins, he too will be hostile to the West.

Even  British human rights organisations confirmed the well-known fact that Gadhafi’s troops have committed no atrocities. Thus the West is acting illegally, attacking Libya in direct violation of the UNSC mandate which only allows action to protect civilians. It is an open secret that fledgling European powers long for oil contracts in Cyrenaica, which they hope to split from Libya. Unwilling to allow its oil corporations to be left behind, the United States joined reluctantly with minor air support.

Gadhafi turned the tables after the NATO intensified its bombing campaign against government troops near Misrata. He plans to withdraw his troops from the operation, replacing them with local tribes he has bribed to wipe out the rebels.

Unless Western agents counter-bribe the tribal leaders very soon, the Bedouins will attack rebel-held Misrata in their typically barbaric manner. Thus Gadhafi has created a dilemma for the NATO: allow Libyan government troops to retake Misrata or face the prospect of the Bedouins doing the same, with concomitant massacres.

The US, France, and Britain have increased the intensity of their attacks on Libya and announced that they will not stop the air strikes until Gadhafi relinquishes power. Sixty Libyans were injured in a recent such strike on Gadhafi’s compound in Tripoli.

The West’s actions are pure terrorism: attacking another country without declaring war and without allowing it the right of reprisal attacks. It is also a case of illegal collective punishment, a military crime of which Britain and France accused Israel in Gaza: pounding non-combatants to force government concessions.
The West openly ignores the UNSC resolution which limited the air strikes to the protection of Libyan civilians.

In an encouraging sign of normality, Gadhafi and Assad’s forces brought their full might to bear against the protesters. Gadhafi’s army shelled rebel-held Misrata and Assad’s divisions shot protestors freely, and both caused significant casualties. The autocrats bank on the NATO’s political inability to launch a third war in the Muslim world, besides the two they are losing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gadhafi’s and Assad’s actions benefit Israel by discrediting Obama, and incidentally, Iran. In Libya, Iran failed to sustain the insurgents. In Syria, Iranian aid was of no use to Assad until he mustered his own army.

The NATO again refused Gadhafi’s offer of a complete ceasefire. This attitude is counterproductive to the UNSC resolution’s goal of saving civilians: a ceasefire is the best way to keep civilians safe.

But the NATO could not care less about Libyan civilians; the fight is over that country’s oil.

After an unprovoked NATO air attack killed Gadhafi’s son and three grandchildren, Western leaders backed away from their new policy. The British PM lied openly, claiming that NATO does not target individuals. Then what was the target at Gadhafi’s villa?

Targeting hostile rulers is immensely wise, a welcome comeback from romantic European notions going back to the Westphalia peace treaty. We’ve long advocated assassinating enemy rulers instead of waging proxy wars on them. Assad, Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and Meshaal are all easy and proper targets for missile attacks. The Western reluctance to target enemy rulers stems from affinity: the likes of Obama and Netanyahu feel closer to their fellow rulers of enemy countries than to their own citizens who are targeted by those rulers.

Unlike other analysts, we believe that Gadhafi won’t retaliate against the West for killing his family. Unlike President Bush, who invaded Iraq in part because of his grievance over Saddam’s attempt on his father’s life, Gadhafi is far too pragmatic to endanger his rule over personal issues.

Past coverage: Libya
16.04 Libya rejects Saudi peace plan, deems partition of Jerusalem and return of 3.5 million Arab refugees insufficient
02.08 EU agrees to free trade with terrorist Libya
07.12 France will develop nukes for Libya
30.03 Libya: No peace with Israel
16.04 Russia prepares $2.5 billion arms deal with Libya
06.09 Rice praises Gadhafi
16.10 German proliferator gets a token sentence
21.10 Libya to buy $2 billion of weapons from Russia
01.11 Libya finishes blood payments to America
02.11 Libya, Russia sign military nuclear deal
26.11 Libya joins Israeli-Palestinian war
01.12 Israel blocks Libyan ship from Gaza
06.12 Libya accuses Israel of piracy
29.09 Weird news: Libya and Venezuela oppose terrorism - or welcome it
31.01 Middle East rushes for S-300
11.08 How many Jews work with enemies?
15.08 Libya: hostage-taking is official
21.02 Obama on path to destruction
24.02 Obama and Al Qaeda: the bedfellows
25.02 Libya: myth of civil war