Libya’s Memories

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British Consulate Tripoli.JPG
I took this picture of a plaque outside of the old British Consulate building in old Tripoli. The language is a useful frame to understand how many in the region view their colonial past.
I will be appearing on MSNBC’s The Last Word with Laurence O’Donnell speaking about President Obama’s tightrope walk between advocates and opponents of his Middle East moves.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

33 comments on “Libya’s Memories

  1. Cee says:

    Carroll,
    Some of us want to know who is being used and why.
    http://www.historycommons.org/searchResults.jsp?searchtext=libya&events=on&entities=on&articles=on&topics=on&timelines=on&projects=on&titles=on&descriptions=on&dosearch=on&search=Go
    1995-May 2000: Al-Qaeda Leader Connected to British Intelligence Lives Openly in Britain
    Edit event
    Anas al-Liby.Anas al-Liby. [Source: FBI]Anas al-Liby, member of a Libyan al-Qaeda affiliate group called Al-Muqatila, lives in Britain during this time. He had stayed with bin Laden in Sudan (see May 18, 1996). In 1995, he moves to Britain and applies for political asylum, claiming to be a political enemy of the Libyan government. He is involved in an al-Qaeda plot (see Late 1993-Late 1994) that will result in the bombing of two US embassies in Africa in 1998 (see 10:35-10:39 a.m., August 7, 1998). The British government suspects he is a high-level al-Qaeda operative, and Egypt tells Britain that he is wanted for an assassination attempt of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak (see (Late 1995)). In 1996, he is involved in a plot with the British intelligence agency to assassinate Libyan leader Colonel Mu

    Reply

  2. Carroll says:

    Posted by Don Bacon, Mar 26 2011, 9:52AM – Link
    ‘has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.’
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Of course they did—a lot of Arabs flocked to Iraq to fight the Americans and it makes sense that anyone with some fighting experience is going to be at the front lines of the untrained Libyan rebels.
    However trying to conflate every instance of Arabs fighting in Iraq against US invasion with their being die hard ALQ jihadists is silly.
    You may be against the US actions in Libya but turning it into a ALQ and radical jihadist conspiracy is just grabbing everything you can from the anti Mulsim/scary jihadist movements like Fairchilds to try and condemn it.
    Try to look at this objectively–there is less chance of ALQ jihadist blooming in Libya if these rebels are successful in their revolution. If they lose and the West is perceived as having not done enough for them then ALQ, if that’s who you are afraid of, will get a big boost.

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  3. drew says:

    In respect of ‘arming the opposition’, there is a mishmash of people
    operating in small groups with zero military capabilities. We’ll be
    arming tribal gangs, some with AQ loyalties. What the heck,
    people.

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  4. DonS says:

    “There has been a lot of talk about the Arab Spring, are we seeing a British Spring?” (DBK)
    And the “American Spring”? Where is the progressive resurgence? Apparently not in the dictionary. Seems like Teabaggers are the most innovative direction Americans are capable of thinking in.

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  5. DakotabornKansan says:

    Arab and British

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  6. DonS says:

    One wonders who might be in favor of the administration’s failure to lead and enthusiasm to endorse so many destructive policies. Almost makes one wish for the days of the trolls who diverted precious attention from the corruption of the entire political class and their psychophants to grind some political axe.
    Politics of virtually all stripes, it seems, has become a distraction from creating viable solutions — and yet we will not see a proper accounting.
    Can we at least acknowledge that our politicians are midgets with atrophied minds? Without a real concern for the plight of ordinary Americans and the path to further disintegration that politicians and their corporate buddies are paving?
    Details and nuances aside, I see every commenter above concerned with the level of dysfunction multiplying every day.
    With Don Bacon’s comment re Hillary/AQ; who can read those tea leaves? Drew’s take is somewhat sarcastic, but the question is real.
    The worse things get, the more reactionary Barry becomes. Acting as if we are on EVEN MORE of a war footing as a tactic for shutting down criticism is a dangerous path.

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  7. Don Bacon says:

    THE United States and its allies are considering whether to supply weapons to the Libyan opposition as coalition air strikes fail to dislodge government forces from around key contested towns.
    France supports training and arming the rebels, and the Obama administration believes the United Nations resolution that authorised international intervention in Libya has the ”flexibility” to allow such assistance ”if we thought that were the right way to go”, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said.
    Gene Cretz, the recently withdrawn US ambassador to Libya, said administration officials were having ”the full gamut” of discussions on ”potential assistance we might offer, both on the non-lethal and the lethal side”.

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  8. Don Bacon says:

    Mar 2
    U.S. fears Libya could become “a giant Somalia”
    (Reuters) – One of Washington’s biggest concerns is that Libya will slide into chaos and become a haven for al Qaeda much like Somalia though it does not now expect that, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday.
    “One of our biggest concerns is Libya descending into chaos and becoming a giant Somalia. It’s right now not something that we see in the offing but many of the al Qaeda activists in Afghanistan and later in Iraq came from Libya and came from eastern Libya, which is now the so-called free area of Libya,” Clinton told U.S. lawmakers said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/02/us-libya-usa-somalia-idUSTRE7214QS20110302

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  9. DakotabornKansan says:

    Unsafe radioactive waste storage and those

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  10. drew says:

    So Obama’s speechwriter (for Monday night) now has three
    choices, given that it’s plain we are bombing Libya in order to
    benefit AQ:
    a. pretend we don’t know, and trust that the press will rally
    around Obama and not publicize the fact;
    b. pretend that it doesn’t matter, because, as in the case of “jobs
    saved” (i.e., a metric that is not a metric, because it measures
    something that cannot be observed), they will say “lives saved”
    trumps “AQ enabled”.
    c. deny that it’s the case.
    I think they’ll go with a). I think they’ll also pretend that we do
    not maintain C&C of our aircraft, and just lie about that. In terms
    of defining the purpose and duration of the mission, he’s in
    particularly difficult territory with the duration issue. Virtually
    anything he says will prove wrong, adding to the sound bite
    library for the next election, unless he is willing to just walk away
    from the French and English on a date certain.
    And any characterization of the eastern Libya forces as
    sympathetic freedom fighters is going to backfire, because
    they’re not — to many of them are sharia-spouting Islamists.
    Their numbers include veterans of combat in Iraq and
    Afghanistan. That means we are bombing in the support of
    people who have fired weapons at American troopers.
    This war is getting less hypothetical and faculty lounge-y by the
    day.
    Footnote: I cannot wait for someone to set off a bomb within the
    USA, so I can listen to Ben Rhodes say, “Not to worry, they just
    dropped the Chrysler Building, but that’s not an act of war
    against the USA. It’s just kinetic military action. Nothing to see
    here, everyone move along.”

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  11. DakotabornKansan says:

    Glenn Greenwald reports that

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  12. DakotabornKansan says:

    Re: capitalism and democracy
    Bob Herbert in today

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  13. Cee says:

    I posted this on the LIFG before.
    In 1996, British intelligence employed the services of an al Qaeda cell inside Libya, paying them a huge fee, reportedly over $100,000, to assassinate Muammar Qaddafi. A bomb, intended for Qaddafi, was detonated under the wrong car in his hometown, Sirte. Several civilians were killed.
    Former MI5 operative, David Shayler, revealed that while he was working on the Libya desk in the mid-1990s, British secret service personnel collaborated with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group(LIFG), which is connected to one of Osama bin Laden

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  14. Don Bacon says:

    Hey Carroll,
    from The Telegraph,
    Libyan rebel commander [one of them] admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links
    Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.
    Rebel Commander in Libya Fought Against U.S. in Afghanistan
    On his own admission, rebel leader Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi fought American troops in Afghanistan and recruited Libyans to fight American troops in Iraq.
    http://tinyurl.com/4a89ea5

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  15. Cee says:

    How odd. My post didn’t appear where it should have.
    I wonder if people in Libya may wish for the old days when this is over.
    Norah Owaraga, in 2007, wrote in the African Executive Magazine:

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  16. Don Bacon says:

    Warren,
    re: democracy in Libya
    from der Spiegel
    ‘Survival Hinges on Tribal Solidarity’
    Libya, together with Yemen and Jordan, is among the nations in which tribes have played a central social and political role for centuries. In Libya, which is largely covered by deserts, the importance of tribes is largely due to the Bedouin way of life, which is based on livestock farming and the caravan trade and was dominant into the 20th century. Their survival hinged on tribal solidarity.
    Moammar Gadhafi’s assumption of power in 1969 resulted in members of the Gadhafi tribe (the “Qadhadhifa”) and the allied Maqarha and Warfalla tribes taking over all key positions in the security arena, that is, in the armed forces, police and intelligence service, thereby guaranteeing their control. For this reason, it was never to be expected, in the event of open political opposition questioning the dominance of the three tribes, that the members of the tribes would renounce their own tribes and defect to the opposition.
    For decades, Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi managed to balance the political influence of the country’s tribal groups, often using the threat of reprisals. Now, however, he seems to be losing control. Libya expert Hanspeter Mattes predicts a return to an era of traditional strongmen.
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,747234,00.html

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  17. Don Bacon says:

    Who are the Libyan rebels?
    On March 10, 2011 France recognized The Interim Transitional National Council as the government of Libya. The Council is composed of thirty one (31) members representing the various regions and cities of Libya. A number of these members have been named while the names of “those representing Ajdabiya, Al Kufrah, Ghat, Nalut, Misratah, Az Zintan and Az Zawiya will not be declared for safety reasons.”
    http://ntclibya.org/english/
    The un-named council members could be, probably are, members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group LIFG, which was affiliated with al-Qaeda for several years.

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  18. Don Bacon says:

    Hey Carroll,
    Neither Fairchild nor I ever claimed that the Libyan revolt is led by al-Qaeda, or that al-Qaeda has a current open presence in Libya. The LIFG is allied with AQ, however.
    The Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) is derived from the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and as I said above was openly affiliated with al-Qaeda for several years. The Muslim Brotherhood first appeared in Libya in the 1950s.
    The LIFG is based in eastern Libya, described above. The Combating Terrorism Center at the US Military Academy at West Point has recently published the so-called Sinjar Records, captured al-Qaeda documents that fell into American hands in 2007. The records contain precise details on personnel, including those who came to Iraq to fight American and coalition forces and, when necessary, commit suicide. Fifty-three of the al-Qaeda recruits came from Darnah, in eastern Libya, the highest total of any of the home towns listed in the records. The second highest number, 51, came from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. But Darnah (80,000) has less than two per cent the population of Riyadh. So Darnah contributed “far and away the largest per capita number of fighters”.
    The LIFG, established in Afghanistan in the 1990s, has assassinated dozens of Libyan soldiers and policemen. In 2009, to mark Gaddafi’s 40 years in power, it apologised for trying to kill him and agreed to lay down its arms.
    The LIFG still maintains close ties with al-Qaeda, and some of its members hold senior positions within its ranks. This highlights a related threat posed by Libyan

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  19. Paul Norheim says:

    Many of the militant Islamists in the area went to Iraq to
    fight the Americans, and many of them went to Afghanistan.
    If this becomes a prolonged stalemate or civil war, I would
    say that the likelihood that they’ll return to Libya is pretty
    big.

    Reply

  20. DonS says:

    Now its 90 days:
    Reuters via FDL
    http://news.firedoglake.com/2011/03/25/nato-foresees-90-day-campaign-in-libya/
    Is it days weeks or months?
    Do we take out Quadaffi or not?
    Do we supply arms to the rebels or not?
    Is the deal with NATO sealed or not?
    Are Arab nations going to participate or not?
    Is there an Obama/US policy or not?
    Feh.

    Reply

  21. Carroll says:

    Posted by Don Bacon, Mar 25 2011, 8:25PM – Link
    As former CIA operations officer Brian Fairchild writes, amid “the apparent absence of any plan for post-Gaddafi governance, an ignorance of Libya’s tribal nature and our poor record of dealing with tribes, American government documents conclusively establish that the epicentre of the revolt is rife with anti-American and pro-jihad sentiment, and with al-Qaeda’s explicit support for the revolt,
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Hey Don..
    Brian Fairchild?…the for profit Muslim hater who claims ALQ is going to nuke Israel and then come to the US and murder us all in our beds? You should use a better source than that.
    Some one is paying him well to add to the anti Muslim ALQ fear mongering campaign in the US…wonder who it is?
    A sampling of his nonsense.
    Terrorists: Just the Tip of the Jihadi Iceberg

    Reply

  22. Warren Metzler says:

    Given the tone of the comments, I want to say a few words about democracy. Truly unfortunately, democracy is often linked with that euphemism “capitalism”. I say euphemism, because capitalism is really about accumulating capital, and I believe that most people, even most of those who own the most rapacious of companies, would really like to produce products that benefit their clients and have a fulfilling day at work, but settle for accumulating money, power and fame as a fall back position; because they can’t seem to figure out how to work in a way that adds benefit to themselves and others. So free enterprise, where you are free to pursue business as you wish, even it you are incorporated, ought to accompany democracy.
    Same with democracy, often falsely perceived as governments that are elected in a free election. But the real foundation of democracy is having a government that exclusively works on setting up an administrative framework; post offices, roads, dams, embassies, coast guard, a SMALL military as a base to expand from when genuinely attacked, elementary and secondary schools, air traffic control, establishing RATIONAL laws that articulate boundaries of harm to others that is unacceptable to cross, and so forth; a framework in which each citizen has the freedom to exercise all his basic human rights: life, liberty, pursuing happiness, being the person he can be, pursuing the work he is naturally talented to do, have the great social relationships he is capable of having, practicing the religion he wants, and if he wants totally failing and being totally miserable.
    Creating and establishing a democratic government is a skill and takes a long time to master, and no country of which I know, including the current US has yet got it right.
    We need to let people produce this on their own, going through all the versions they go through on their own. Criticizing when the current efforts are obviously going in the wrong direction (dictator as an example), encouraging when there is an authentic struggle, and shouting hallelujah when success is present. And, I say, intervening with assistance when the current ruler is behaving in an excessive manner.
    I put Libya in the latter, would have put Darfur in there to, as well as Ruanda. But not yet Yemen or Bahrain. Basically I propose the following rule, when a substantial percentage of the population wants changes, has valiantly tried the peaceful protest move, and is now being massacred manner, such as Libya. Which from a purely logical and reasonable assessment requires intervention to support the Palestinians NOW.

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  23. rc says:

    “Democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.” – H.L. Mencken (DBK, 9:56PM)
    That is a good quote imo. However, But I believe it is more a case of “from the Clowns’ caravan!”

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  24. Don Bacon says:

    from a recent news conference with commander, AFRICOM, General Carter Ham:
    GEN. HAM: I cannot be sure there have been no civilian casualties. What I can be sure of is that we are very, very precise and discriminate in our targeting. There have been more instances than I can think of in the conduct of this campaign where our pilots have made the correct decision to not attack a legitimate military target for concern of the civilian casualties that, that attack would have caused. It is a very, very high priority. And I cannot emphasize enough the precision with which we conduct these strikes.
    from Dr. Peter Goodrich:
    Modern military aerial bombardment is often characterized by the press as “surgical” and “precise”. In this way, it is claimed, civilian casualties — euphemistically referred to as collateral damage — are minimized.
    To back up these claims, military public affairs officers often refer to the Circular Error Probability (CEP)2 of various precision ordnance.3 They claim that 50% of their “smart” bombs fall within 25 feet of the target. Under test conditions, this is a true statement.
    Military briefers show slides and videos always with direct hits. They even show “before and after” slides with the “before” slide depicting arrows to a target which is invariably hit precisely in the “after” slide. Briefers never show misses, not even near misses.
    They leave the impression that the ordnance is so accurate that it can literally fly in though a window to hit a target. Yet, in the 19 March 2003 S-hour “decapitation” strike on the Iraqi leadership in Baghdad, the US may have seen fit to fire not one but over 40 cruise missiles.
    The U. S. military also claims that newer, more modern, hi-tech weapons are less likely to cause collateral damage. A single, precise figure for bombing accuracy is misleading. Precision bombing is far less “precise” than CEP optimal test figures or highly-selective, simplistic video bomb camera shots played for gullible newsmen would suggest. While, if there are no errors, half the bombs may fall within the claimed CEP. This totally disregards what happens after the bomb explodes.
    Figure 1 shows that the damage radius is far, far greater than CEP.
    http://www.psgoodrich.com/war/surgical/surgicalold.htm

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  25. Don Bacon says:

    Here’s the way it works in an African country (Ivory Coast) that, while it has a domestic crisis with a million refugees, it doesn’t have oil.
    WASHINGTON, D.C.,
    Mar 25, 2011

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  26. Don Bacon says:

    While Obama walks his domestic tightrope, the African Union, which is actually there in Africa, has been “ignored,” according to Jean Ping, chairman of the Standing Commission of the AU, which was attempting a peaceful solution.
    The African Union has warned of a wider regional crisis unless the international community acts fast, to find a lasting solution to the Libya crisis.
    Africa Union chief Jean Ping said the current situation is posing a regional security threat as well as offering an opportunity to armed groups in the region. African Union together with the UN, EU, US and Arab League started a crucial meeting yesterday morning on Libya with an aim of seeking an immediate ceasefire.
    Four ministers from Libyan government led by Mr Mohamed Zowya, the Speaker of the Libyan congress (parliament) appeared for the meeting despite the no-fly zone restrictions against Libya. Ping underlined the current situation as very alarming and serious, saying the AU wants to broker a lasting peaceful solution for the Libyan people.
    http://www.monitor.co.ug/News/National/-/688334/1133032/-/c3dhm6z/-/
    But that doesn’t concern the western colonialists as much as who will control the “no-fly zone” AKA bombing the shit out of Libya, whilst Obama walks his tightrope.

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  27. The Pessimist says:

    If we won’t call our present military actions across multiple continents WWIII, can we at least call this time period WWIII?
    Any 20 century historians out there care to weigh in on any direct comparisons between 1939-1949 and the past 10 years? Seems like an awful lot of territorial disputes to simply dismiss as coincidence.
    Me thinks it would be an enlightening exercise.

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  28. DakotabornKansan says:
  29. Don Bacon says:

    Here’s a listing of the hundreds of U.S. embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions throughout the world
    http://www.usembassy.gov/
    and every one of them has employees pumping out classified cables to Washington every day as an indication that they are doing something.
    That answers the question, right?
    So the Empire has become unmanageable, as well as unaffordable.

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  30. DakotabornKansan says:

    WikiLeaks released cable, EXTREMISM IN EASTERN LIBYA
    http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/02/08TRIPOLI120.html

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  31. DakotabornKansan says:

    Reply

  32. Don Bacon says:

    Included in the advocates of Obama’s new war is the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, a part of the rebel group in East Libya that the U.S. is assisting. The LIFG was affiliated with al-Qaeda for several years.
    Many of the Islamist fighters who are facing off against Gadhafi’s forces were released from prison last year as part of the government rehabilitation program that was overseen by Gadhafi’s son, Saif al-Islam, in which they repented their ways, but did not fully renounce violence.
    Analysts said the jihadists’ role in the struggle to topple Gadhafi would strengthen their position irrespective of what the outcome is of the battle for Libya.
    A wikileaks-released cable to the State Department from the US embassy in Tripoli in 2008, part of the WikiLeaks trove, entitled “Extremism in Eastern Libya” revealed that this area is rife with anti-American, pro-jihad sentiment.
    “Unlike the rest of the country, sermons in eastern Libyan mosques are laced with phraseology urging worshippers to support jihad in Iraq and elsewhere through direct participation or financial contributions. While senior regime figures, including Saif al-Islam al-Qadhafi, appear to have recognized that the east merits more attention and investment, the reported ability of radical imams to propagate messages urging support for and participation in jihad despite GOL security organizations’ efforts suggests that claims by senior GOL officials that the east is under control may be overstated.”
    As former CIA operations officer Brian Fairchild writes, amid “the apparent absence of any plan for post-Gaddafi governance, an ignorance of Libya’s tribal nature and our poor record of dealing with tribes, American government documents conclusively establish that the epicentre of the revolt is rife with anti-American and pro-jihad sentiment, and with al-Qaeda’s explicit support for the revolt, it is appropriate to ask our policy makers how American military intervention in support of this revolt in any way serves vital US strategic interests”.

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