The American Kafir

2012/03/24

Saudi Wahhabism Expands into Libya

Source JCPA

Saudi Wahhabism Expands into Libya

by Jacques Neriah

Inroads by the Salafi-Wahhabi School of Islam

Since the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011 and in the chaos that has gripped Libya since, fundamentalist Libyans have been pushing for a strict interpretation of Islamic law. Under the umbrella of lawlessness, gunmen calling themselves Salafis broke into the Saif al-Nasr Mosque in Tripoli on November 8, 2011, smashed open the wooden sarcophagus and removed the remains of el-Nasr, a scholar who died 155 years ago, as well as that of a former imam, Hammad Zwai. The gunmen moved the bodies to a Muslim cemetery and, with the help of graffiti left on the walls, explained their disapproval of the Sufi Muslim tradition of burying scholars and teachers in mosques to honor them.

The estimated 200 to 400 members of the local Salafi movement in the small town of Zuwara near the Tunisian border have demolished shrines belonging to adherents of the Ibadi sect, long considered heretics by orthodox Sunni Muslims. In the town’s cemetery, large blocks of stone surround what was once a mausoleum. The large, conical-shaped structure that once adorned it now lies collapsed in the debris.

In January 2012, extremists bulldozed through a wall of an old cemetery in the eastern city of Benghazi, destroyed its tombs, and carried off 29 bodies of respected sages and scholars. They also demolished a nearby Sufi school.

A group of Salafis angered by the burning of the Koran at a NATO military base in Afghanistan entered the Commonwealth War Cemetery in Benghazi on February 24, 2012, and shattered headstones of British and allied servicemen who fought in North African desert campaigns against the Nazis during World War II.

Salafis are intolerant of other schools of Islam and have physically attacked Muslim minorities in other parts of the Arab world, including Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Many Muslims frequent the shrines of saints, believing the holy men have powers of intercession with the divine. Salafis, however, believe these are pagan rites that must be obliterated from Islam, in line with the teachings of the founder of the Salafi movement, Muhammad Ibn ‘Abd el-Wahab (1703-1792) whose philosophy has been the official doctrine of Saudi Arabia since the end of the eighteenth century. Its adherents prefer to call themselves Salafis.

The Wahhabi teachings disapprove of the veneration of historical sites associated with early Islam on the grounds that only God should be worshipped and that veneration of sites associated with mortals leads to idolatry. Many buildings associated with early Islam, including mausoleums and other artifacts, have been destroyed in Saudi Arabia by Wahhabis from the early nineteenth century through the present day.

Indeed, this version of fundamentalist Islam is not typical of Libyan Islam. Moderate Libyan and North African Islam has receded in the face of Wahhabi Islam coming from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries. Under Gaddafi, the regime succeeded mostly in containing the Salafi push. But in areas remote from the center (Benghazi), the Salafis, together with al-Qaeda elements that apply a strict Wahhabi Islam, succeeded not only to survive the persecutions of the Gaddafi regime, but also succeeded in proselytizing their school of thought among the Libyans who were the backbone of the fighters in Afghanistan.

Throughout Libya, Gaddafi’s fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even raised the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. Gaddafi’s disappearance and the link between the Qatari regime and the fighting militias particularly exposed the connection with Abdel Hakim Belhaj, the head of the Tripoli Military Council and former Guantanamo Bay inmate, and has created a situation where the military commanders of Libya are part and parcel of the Salafi-Wahhabi school of Islam. This explains their attitude towards the prevalent Sufi Islam in North Africa.

Moreover, for thirty years, massive amounts of oil money have been used to drown the Middle East and North Africa in Wahhabi ideas. The purpose of this support for the Wahhabi school of thought is basically political, in that the Saudi system of government depends on an alliance between the ruling family and the Wahhabi sheikhs. Hence, spreading the Wahhabi ideology reinforces the political system in that country.

Libyans exposed to Wahhabi ideas see a society different from theirs. Men and women are completely segregated, but rates of sexual harassment and rape are among the highest in the world. Alcohol is banned but many people drink in secret. The law does not apply to princes, who can do what they like, confident that they are immune from punishment. Libyans learn that performing your prayers on time is not voluntary, as it is in Libya, but a compulsory obligation, and if you are late the police might arrest you and harm you. They learn that if you are walking along the street with your wife and her hair is accidentally uncovered, then a policeman will pounce on her to hit her with a stick and make her cover her head. Women in Tripoli are already feeling the heaviest burden to conform. They have been under pressure to dress conservatively since Gaddafi’s downfall.

In January, hundreds of Libyan Salafis rallied to demand that Muslim Shari’a law inspire legislation. Assembled by Islamist political and religious groups, mostly young and bearded men holding up copies of the Koran demonstrated in squares in the capital Tripoli, the eastern city of Benghazi, and in Sabha in the southern desert. In Tripoli’s Algeria Square, Islamists burned copies of the “Green Book,” Gaddafi’s pronouncements on politics, economics, and everyday life, to underline that the Koran should be the country’s main source of legislation.

The chairman of Libya’s ruling National Transitional Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdul Jalil, promised in October to uphold Islamic law. “We as a Muslim nation have taken Islamic Shari’a as the source of legislation; therefore, any law that contradicts the principles of Islam is legally nullified,” he said. The NTC says that the new constitution that will be drafted by a panel elected in June must have Islamic law, i.e. Shari’a, as its principal source. How Shari’a will be interpreted remains uncertain until the constitution is drafted.

Economic Islamism

The new trend in Libyan Islam is also weighing on the economy. The deputy governor of the central bank of Libya stated that a law regulating Islamic banking would be issued in the first quarter of 2012, but stressed that both conventional and Islamic banks would be allowed to operate in Libya. Islamists in Algeria Square in Tripoli held up placards demanding a financial system respecting Islam’s ban on interest and calling for a constitution derived from Shari’a’s legal and moral codes.

Along with Libya, Egypt is also preparing a law that will pave the way for the issuance of Sukuk the Arabic name for financial certificates, commonly referring to the Islamic equivalent of bonds. Since fixed income, interest bearing bonds are not permissible in Islam, Sukuk securities are structured to comply with Islamic law and its investment principles that prohibit charging or paying interest. The Islamist party that won Tunisia’s election says it will encourage the establishment of stand-alone Islamic lenders.

Islamic banking services in Libya are limited today to Murabaha, a three-party contract where a customer places an order at a bank to purchase goods from a supplier by paying a deposit and secures the rest through collateral. The bank sells the goods back to the customer at a mark-up with a fixed credit period.

The Break-Up of Libya?

On the one-year anniversary of the start of the Libyan revolution, the NTC seems to have lost control of what used to be a united Libya. The NTC is unable to impose its authority over regional military bodies, while tensions between secular and Islamist groups are surfacing in all spheres because of the clash between two versions of Islam: The North African (and Libyan) version and the Salafi-Wahhabi school of thought represented by the militias.

The country itself has split into two semi-autonomous regions. Representatives of about 100 militias from western Libya declared in January 2012 that they had formed a new federation to prevent infighting and to allow them to press the country’s new government for further reform. The leader of the new federation, Col. Mokhtar Fernana, said the council’s committee in charge of integrating revolutionary fighters was taking in men who had fought for Colonel Gaddafi.

Beginning in March 2012, tribal leaders and militia commanders declared eastern Libya to be a semiautonomous state. The thousands of representatives of major tribal leaders, militia commanders, and politicians who made the declaration at a conference in Benghazi said the move was not intended to divide the country. They declared that they want their region to remain part of a united Libya, but insisted the move was needed to stop decades of discrimination against the east.

The conference stated that the eastern state, known as Barqa, would have its own parliament, police force, courts and capital – Benghazi, the country’s second largest city – to run its own affairs. Under their plan, foreign policy, the national army, and oil resources would be left to a central federal government in the capital Tripoli in the west. Barqa would cover nearly half the country, from central Libya to the Egyptian border in the east and down to the borders with Chad and Sudan in the south.

The announcement aimed to pose a federal system as a fait accompli before the National Transitional Council. The goal is to revive the system that was in place between 1951 and 1963 when Libya, ruled by a monarchy, was divided into three states: Tripolitania in the west, Fezzan in the southwest, and Cyrenaica in the east – or Barqa, as it was called in Arabic.

Sufism vs. Salafism

Polarization between the two main schools of Islam in Libya, Sufism and Salafism, has created two distinct camps fighting one another. The tension between the traditional Sufis and the Salafis, influenced by Saudi Wahhabis and other ultra-conservative foreign Islamists, has become a key divide in Libyan politics as parties begin to form to contest free elections in June. At present the Sufis are on the defensive and behave accordingly. Sufi militiamen guard the remaining mosques in Tripoli, including the Sha’b Mosque, home to the body of a revered scholar, Abdul Sahfi, which is interred in a large stone sarcophagus.

Libyan Sufis staged a joyous parade through the heart of Tripoli and Benghazi to mark the Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, defying radical Salafi Muslims who were pressuring them to scrap the centuries-old tradition. Chanting hymns to the beat of drums and cymbals, marchers choked the narrow alleys of the walled old town to celebrate the feast of Mawlid (birth), a favorite event for pious Sufis whose spirituality is an integral part of North African Islam. The celebrations were the first since the fall last August of Muammar Gaddafi, who kept religion under firm control during his 42-year dictatorship, and went ahead despite concerns that hardliners might attack the marchers as heretics.

This is the essence of the phenomenon: the disconnect between belief and behavior is a social malaise that emanates from Saudi Arabia and has spread like a plague throughout almost all the Arab world, just as it has spread into Islamist groups. Libya is clearly its victim, as are other Arab states that have witnessed the so-called “Arab Spring.”

*      *      *

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, was formerly Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence.

2011/11/10

African Jihadists’ Grand Ambitions

Source Link: Family Security Matters

African Jihadists’ Grand Ambitions

By Clare M. Lopez

Boko Haram Wants to Put Nigeria Under Islamic Law

The armies of Islam arrived in the Nigerian kingdoms as early as the 9th century. The forcible conquest of North Africa—including present day Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco—imposed Islamic law (shariah) according to the Maliki school of Sunni jurisprudence over this vast swath of territory. Over subsequent centuries, relentless jihadist raids (razzias) as well as the penetration of Muslim merchants, scholars, and traders into areas of the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa eventually succeeded in subjugating Senegal, Gambia, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mali and the entire northern half of the modern country of Nigeria to Islam.

Today, Nigeria is a large and populous West African country of some 160 million people, about half of whom are Muslim and half Christian and animist. Nigeria is comprised of 36 states, 12 of which have implemented shariah in the northern half of the country. As the renowned political scientist, Samuel Huntington wrote, “Islam’s borders are bloody and so are its innards.” Islam in Nigeria, as in every other place on earth where it establishes power, has shown itself aggressive and violent. Shariah commands Muslims to jihad to spread the faith and, especially throughout the second half of the 20th century, Nigeria’s Muslims have obeyed: wars of domination against non-shariah-adherent Muslims like the Hausa exploded into jihad against non-Muslim tribes like the Yoruba and the Ibo (Biafra) leaving as many as a million dead. Shariah Implementation Committees drew up detailed plans to establish Shariah Courts, train and hire shariah judges, create a Religious Affairs Ministry, set up a Zakat Board, codify the Islamic penal code (hudud punishments like amputation, lashing, and stoning), and make the educational curriculum shariah-compliant.

In 2002, a fanatic jihadist group calling itself “Boko Haram” emerged from among the vast network of Nigeria’s savage Islamic militias, determined to conquer all of Nigeria, seize its oil wealth (largely concentrated in the south), and impose shariah on the entire population, Muslim and non-Muslim alike. “Boko Haram” means “Western education is forbidden” in the local Hausa language and expresses the group’s visceral hatred of all things modern, Western, and non-Muslim. Boko Haram leaders have expressed solidarity with al-Qa’eda, explicitly rejected the Nigerian constitution and democracy, and demanded nation-wide implementation of Islamic law.

Since its inception, Boko Haram, which is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban, has unleashed a wave of vicious attacks against Nigeria’s central states that border the Muslim north and Christian south. Abuja, the country’s capital, is a planned city that was built mostly during the 1980s, became the official capital in 1991, and was deliberately positioned almost exactly in the middle of Nigeria. Unfortunately, this location puts Abuja squarely on the Nigerian fault line between the jihadist north and Christian south, sometimes called the “Middle Belt.”

A steady stream of murderous Islamic attacks against Christian churches, towns, and villages across northern and central Nigeria exploded into large-scale terrorist assaults in early November 2011 that killed more than 100 people. A car bomb that killed a number of security personnel outside a military barracks in the northeast state of Yobe was followed by a night of rampaging gunmen who blew up a bank, and attacked multiple police stations and churches, leaving behind a trail of destruction. That wave of deadly attacks was followed by U.S. Embassy warnings that Boko Haram planned to bomb three luxury hotels in Abuja over the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, which fell on November 8th this year. An August 2011 suicide car bomb attack against the UN Headquarters in Abuja that killed 24, including 12 UN staff, left no doubts about Boko Haram’s willingness to attack targets identified with the West.

Media reports that describe the violence and refer to Boko Haram as “Islamists” or a “radical Islamic sect” miss the point: just like the Taliban in Afghanistan, the mullahs’ regime in Iran, al-Shabaab in Somalia, or the al-Qa’eda rebels that have seized control of Libya, Boko Haram is following in the footsteps of Muhammad, obeying the command of Islamic law to wage war against infidels “…until all opposition ends and all submit to Allah.” (Q 8:39) According to shariah, there is nothing particularly radical about this command, which is the same command given to every generation of Muslims since the time of the earliest Muslim warriors.

Mistaking Boko Haram’s jihad for mere disgruntlement over poverty or wealth disparity plays into its hands, enabling this sophisticated Islamic terror organization, with possible ties to al-Qa’eda, to claim its war of conquest against non-Muslim Nigerians is nothing more than a righteous effort to end corruption.

Jihad is about waging war in the name of Islam in order to spread the religion. Nigeria, with its vast oil wealth, is a coveted prize and would make a formidable base from which the armies of Islam might link eventually with al-Qa’eda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) to threaten all of West Africa.

Family Security Matters Contributor Clare M. Lopez is a strategic policy and intelligence expert. Lopez began her career as an operations officer with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), serving domestically and abroad for 20 years in a variety of assignments. Now a private consultant, Lopez is a Sr. Fellow at the Center for Security Policy and Vice President of the Intelligence Summit. She is also a senior fellow at the Clarion Fund.

2011/11/04

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

Source Article Link: National Interest

Arab Spring or Islamist Surge?

By Benny Morris

Rioting in Tunisia and Egypt in early 2011 unleashed a tidal wave of unrest across the Arab world that was soon designated the “Arab Spring.” Enthusiasts in the West hailed a new birth of freedom for a giant slice of humanity that has been living in despotic darkness for centuries. But historians in fifty or a hundred years may well point to the 1979 events in Teheran—the Islamist revolution that toppled the Shah—as the real trigger of this so-called “spring” (which is looking more and more like a deep, forbidding winter). And the Islamist Hamas victory in the Palestinian general elections of 2006 and that organization’s armed takeover of the Gaza Strip the following year probably signified further milestones on the same path.
For, if nothing else, the past weeks’ developments have driven home one message: That the main result of the “Arab Spring” will be—at least in the short and medium terms, and, I fear, in the long-term as well—an accelerated Islamization of the Arab world. In the Mashreq—the eastern Arab lands, including Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq—the jury may still be out (though recent events in Palestine and Jordan are not encouraging). But in the Maghreb—the western Arab lands, from Egypt to the Atlantic coast—the direction of development is crystal clear.

In Tunisia the Islamist al-Nahda (Ennahda) Party won a clear victory in the country’s first free elections, winning some 90 out of 217 seats in the special assembly which in the coming months is to chart the country’s political future. Speculation about whether the party is genuinely “moderate” Islamist—as its leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, insists—or fundamentally intent on imposing sharia religious law over Tunisia through a process of creeping Islamisation a la the Gaza Strip and Turkey is immaterial. The Islamists won, hands down and against all initial expectations—and in a country that was thought to be the most secular and “Western” in the Arab world. Freedom of thought and religious freedom are not exactly foundations of Islamist thinking, and whether Tunisian “democracy” will survive this election is anyone’s guess.

To the east, in the tribal wreckage that is Libya, the Islamist factions appear to be the major force emerging from the demise of the Qaddafi regime. In the coming weeks and months we are likely to see movement toward elections that will hammer down another Islamist victory.

And much the same appears to be emerging from the far more significant upheaval in Libya’s eastern neighbor, Egypt, with its 90 million inhabitants—the deomographic, cultural and political center of the Arab world and its weather vane. The recent crackdown, by a Muslim mob and then the ruling military, against Coptic Christian demonstrators (protesting the destruction of a church) was only, I fear, a taste of things to come. All opinion polls predict that the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood—which has long sought the imposition of strict sharia law and Israel’s destruction—will emerge from next month’s parliamentary elections as the country’s strongest political party, perhaps even with an outright majority. An Islamist may well win the presidential elections that are scheduled to follow, if the army allows them to go forward.

And the Sinai Peninsula bordering Israel and the Gaza Strip has become, following Mubarak’s fall, a lawless, Islamist-dominated territory. Egyptian writ runs (barely) only in the northeastern (El Arish-Rafah) and southeastern (Sharm a-Sheikh) fringes. The peninsula’s interior is in the grip of Islamists and bedouin gunmen and smugglers and has become a major staging post for Iranian arms smuggling into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

For months now the Egyptian natural gas pipeline to Israel (and Jordan) has been cut, the military unable to prevent continued incidents of Islamist-beduin sabotage. The severance of the gas export—in effect, a continuing Egyptian violation of an international commercial agreement—has meant that Israel has had to dole out hundreds of millions of additional dollars for liquid fuel to run its electricity grid.

And last week witnessed a further, violent aftereffect of the “Arab Spring”—three Grad rockets (advanced Katyushas), launched from the Gaza Strip, landed 20-25 miles away in open fields outside the central Israeli cities of Ashdod and Rehovot. There were no casualties and air force jets hit what Israel called “terrorist” targets in the strip in retaliation (apparently also causing no casualties).

But the direction is clear. After the Israel-Hamas prisoner exchange, the region may be heading toward increased violence. If so, such violence would be part and parcel of the unfolding Islamisation of the region—both in terms of the anti-Zionist Islamist ethos and attendant concrete developments on the ground, one of which is the giant arms smuggling operations that have followed the downfall of Gaddafi. Thus, the “Arab Spring” has brought both Islamization and chaos (and the Islamization will only benefit from this transitional chaos). Ordinary smugglers have collaborated with Islamists to plunder Qaddafi’s armories, and the Middle East’s clandestine arms bazaars are awash with Grads and relatively sophisticated shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles. Israeli intelligence says that many of these weapons have recently made their way into the Gaza Strip via the Sinai Peninsula. One anti-aircraft missile was fired at an Israeli helicopter in a recent skirmish on the Sinai-Israel border.

All these developments suggest an accelerating trend in the Middle East that is far different rom what many Western idealists anticipated when they coined the term “Arab Spring.” It’s a trend that could severely alter Muslim-Western relations across the board.

Benny Morris is a professor of history in the Middle East Studies Department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His most recent book is One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict (Yale University Press, 2009).


Links:
[1] http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php?v=250&username=nationalinterest
[2] http://nationalinterest.org/profile/benny-morris

2011/11/03

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Opening of the Knesset’s Winter Session

Source Article Link: Israel Prime Minister Office

PM Netanyahu’s Speech at Opening of the Knesset’s Winter Session

October 31, 2011

Photo By GPO

The Knesset is returning to its winter session at a time when the most dramatic events of our time are taking place in our region.

The Arab street has awoken; old regimes have toppled, others are swaying and new ones are rising.

No-one can guarantee how good or how stable these new regimes will be, nor their attitude towards Israel. Unfortunately, this attitude, which left much to be desired to begin with, is not expected to get any better in some, or most, of the new regimes, not in the foreseeable future.

These new regimes depend on the masses, the raging masses, of which many of the people have been systematically poisoned with anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist propaganda. This incitement began even before the State of Israel was established, and continues at full steam today.

If the results of the elections in Tunisia a few days ago are anything to go by, we will probably see the rise of other governments with a dominant Islamist component.

In most countries in the region, the Islamist movements are the strongest, most organized power, while the liberal forces, striving for freedom and progress, as we define the terms, are divided and weak.

If the positions of the religious extreme do not become more moderate, I doubt that any of the high hopes that blossomed in the Arab spring, will be realized.

It is possible that these hopes will only be fulfilled a generation from now, after this wave subsides, when progress will be given a chance to lead the Arab world along a new path.

If I had to summarize what will happen in our region, I would use two terms: instability and uncertainty.

The collapse of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya, the bloody incidents in Syria, the American forces leaving Iraq, the new government in Tunisia, the upcoming elections in Egypt and many other events – these are all expressions of the immense changes occurring around us. These changes can increase the instability within these countries, and the instability between countries.

Regional powers who have control in the Middle East will try to ensure they have greater influence on the new regimes – influence that will not always support us or be of benefit to us, to say the least. One of these regional forces is Iran, which continues its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. A nuclear Iran would pose a dire threat on the Middle East and on the entire world. And of course, it poses a grave, direct threat on us too.

To cope with the instability and the uncertainty we are faced with, we need two things: strength and responsibility. Strength in all areas: security, economy, society, everywhere; and responsibility in navigating the stormy sea in which we are sailing. We must continue to strengthen Israel in all areas of security so that we can respond to the new challenges and threats we are facing.

Only a few days ago we were reminded that one of the challenges we face is dealing with the tens of thousands of rockets and missiles in the hands of our enemies, and aimed at our cities.

The Iron Dome batteries and other defense systems provide only a partial solution. They boost the protection of the citizens of the South, and I intend to deploy these systems in other places in the country. But a security philosophy cannot rely on defense alone. It must also include offensive capabilities, which is the very foundation of deterrence.

We operate and will continue to operate intensely and determinately against those who threaten the security of the State of Israel and its citizens.

Our policy is guided by two main principles: the first is “if someone comes to kill you, rise up and kill him first,” and the second is “if anyone harms us, his blood is on his own hands.”

For two thousand years our people could not realize these two basic principles of self defense. The Jewish people paid the ultimate price in the history of the world due to this inability.

This changed when the State of Israel was established, and the Israel Defense Forces was founded. The governments of Israel acted on these principles: they fought those who threatened us and attacked those who harmed us.

Since assuming the office of Prime Minister, I have instructed the IDF and security forces to act systematically and decisively against the terrorist leaders and those who carry out the attacks.

That is what we did with the terrorist group from the Sinai a couple of months ago. The person who initiated and organized the attack was eliminated several hours later. That is also how we acted this weekend. And I would express my appreciation once more to the IDF soldiers, to the armed forces and the intelligence units who work tirelessly, around the clock, morning-evening-night, to protect our country and all of us.

We will continue to act strongly to defend ourselves, and we will continue to conduct ourselves responsibly in the complex reality of our region. Some of the Members of Knesset may not have noticed that we live in a complex reality.

We witnessed this complexity two months ago, when an enraged mob attacked the Israeli embassy in Cairo. The mob didn’t care whether we have a treaty or not. Its intentions were clear and its message was obvious. Those were intense and complex moments. I thank Defense Minister, Barak and Foreign Minister, Lieberman. We worked together with the US Administration and the Egyptian Government and we brought the incident to its conclusion, bringing those who were trapped in the embassy, ​​and their families, home.

Reality, which is changing before our very eyes, presents many obstacles that we are faced with from time to time. It also provides us with opportunities that we do not necessarily see. In this changing world, Israel is rapidly becoming a leading force in the cyber field, known as the war of computers.

Thanks to our special abilities in this area, large, important countries want to cooperate with us. This opens up opportunities for establishing new partnerships that were not available to us in the past and I anticipate that it will become a major factor on the international level. In order to strengthen our standing in the cyber arena, I recently established the National Cyber ​​Directorate. That is the future, and we are already there.

Fostering the strength and responsibility required to fortify Israel’s security is also paramount in our quest for peace. In the Middle East, peace is made with the strong, not with the weak. The stronger Israel is, the closer peace will be.

The people in Israel are united in their desire for peace. Yet we seek real peace; peace that is anchored in the right of the Jewish people to a nation-state in its homeland; peace that is based on security.

We are willing to compromise, but not to discard our security. Even before the earthquake shook our region, I stood firm on Israel’s security interests, and today more than ever.

I assure you that in the negotiations for peace, we will continue to insist on our national interests, first and foremost, security.

Last weekend it was said that I am a tough bargainer. I know that was said as criticism, but I take it as a compliment.

Well, Chairman of the Palestinian Authority, President Abbas, I am not tough when it comes to peace. I am tough about the security of the State of Israel and its citizens, and I will continue to be so – that is my utmost duty, my very basic responsibility as the Prime Minister of the State of Israel.

I am willing to make real peace with our neighbors, but I am not willing to risk our security and future. Any peace deal must be accompanied by firm security agreements on the ground; otherwise it just will not last.

For the negotiations to end, they first need to be started. I have called upon the Palestinian leadership time and time again to enter direct negotiations without delay. I appealed to them to do so in my Bar Ilan Speech, I asked them to do it in my speech at the Knesset, I urged them to do it in my speech at the American Congress and I recently proposed it to them at the United Nations , and dozens of other times in between.

I also accepted the Quartet’s proposal for direct negotiations with the Palestinians with no preconditions. Regrettably, the Palestinians continue to refuse to engage in direct negotiations with us. Instead of sitting at the negotiation table, they decided to join the Hamas and take unilateral steps at the United Nations.

We will not idly sit by while these steps harm Israel and severely violate the most basic obligation that the two parties took upon themselves in the peace process – to resolve the conflict between us only through direct negotiations.

Unfortunately, while we support the foundation of a Palestinian state as part of a peace agreement, the Palestinians are trying to reach a Palestinian state without a peace agreement. That is the essence of our reality and anyone with eyes to see and a sense of decency knows it.

And I will not agree to that.

No responsible leader would.

Our friend, the United States, stands firmly at our side and opposes the Palestinian unilateral steps at the United Nations, and we are very grateful for that.

I know that there are those who have doubted the Israeli-American relations. But the alliance between us is deeply rooted and solid. The cooperation between the United States and Israel encompasses many important areas.

The alliance is based on the strong support of the American people for Israel, on shared values ​​and common goals. This support has become even stronger in the last few years.

Like us, the United States attaches great importance to the peace treaties between Israel and Egypt and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

These treaties are an anchor of stability in the region and are clearly an Israeli interest.

Over the last year we also enhanced our ties with other countries in the region from Greece to Cyprus, Romania and Bulgaria.

And regarding Turkey, we see that even when we disagree, we help each other out in times of need due to natural disasters.

That is what Turkey did during the Carmel forest fire and it is what we did after the earthquake in Turkey last week.

I hope that we find the way to improve the relations between the two countries in the future.

Strength and responsibility, they are the driving force behind our actions in the political and security arena, and they are our compass.

The same means are needed for successfully dealing with the great challenges in the economic and social area.

Over the last few years, the world economy has been in a crisis which is not over yet. The sea is stormy there too.

Major Western countries that did not act responsibly, that did not heed the danger, were occupied with chatter and did not do what was required of them – those countries now find themselves on the verge of bankruptcy. Not only have their credit ratings gone down, but many, many people are unemployed.

So far this economic storm has skipped over Israel. There is no doubt that the responsible way in which Israel has conducted itself over the last decade contributed to that fact.

There is one golden rule that every citizen knows from his own home economy: over time, if you spend more money than you make, you will eventually go bankrupt. The overdraft grows and you collapse. This is true for a family and it is true for a country. There are countries around the world that forgot the rule, and are now paying dearly. Israel acted differently, responsibly.

Israel acted differently, responsibly. That is how I acted as Finance Minister, it is how the finance ministers after me acted, and it is how we act today. But you cannot generate the growth that is vital for creating jobs, growth that is vital for resources, for education, health, you cannot generate growth only by responsibly sticking to the budget. In order to make the market grow one must encourage competition. Not cartels, not monopolies, but fair, supervised competition that benefits the consumer. Competition is not the enemy of the consumer. On the contrary – it is the consumer’s greatest friend. It reduces prices, improves service, reduces gaps, and raises the standard of living. Lack of competition in Israel is one of the most severe causes for the increase in the cost of living, and that is why a year ago, Mr. Speaker, not now, not two or three months ago, I established the Committee on Increasing Competitiveness in the Economy. That is why we are advancing the section of the Trajtenberg Committee’s recommendations on increasing competition in the market, and for good reason.

Yesterday, at the Cabinet Meeting held in Tzfat, we approved the recommendations of the committee dealing with taxation; we cancelled the planned increase on excise tax, a step that benefits every Israeli citizen; we reduced the purchase tax and duty on commodities; we gave extra tax credit points to fathers of children up to the age of three, which will be very helpful for young couples. But these are only the first steps.

I am pleased that all the Members of Knesset want to help, and you will all have the opportunity to do so, as I plan to introduce several bills to the Knesset during this session that will help the citizens – guaranteed. Education for preschoolers will cost less, the burden of taxes will not be so heavy and housing will be more available. I am aware of the real difficulties which you speak about, Mr. Speaker, and I am committed to solving them, including resolutions that we will pass during this session, and I hope the opposition will help too.

Members of Knesset, I promised that I would give you an answer. We are committed to acting with the utmost social sensitivity to change priorities, but I do not accept the claim that the free-market system has collapsed, that we must return to a centralized economy run by clerks, an economy in which the government must be involved in everything and control everything, an economy in which the citizens will have to run around government buildings and beg before the bureaucratic powers. We have been there and we are not going back. That is how to kill an economy, how to destroy it.

MK Gilon is concerned about social needs. But you cannot take care of these things if you do not create the resources, and the resources are not generated by the government, but by the free, open economy. So we must balance the needs of economic growth with social needs, and that is precisely what we are doing and are going to do. […] And invest in the periphery of Israel.

Yesterday, we inaugurated, with you, Mr. President, a new medical school in Tzfat. This is great news for the Galilee. After a decade of promises, we will soon start moving military bases to the south, which is great tidings for the south. We are a government that not only promises but does, a government that not only talks about things but realizes them. We are building highways, interchanges, overpasses, trains, and we are finally easing Israel out of the Hadera-Gedera traffic jam.

Yesterday, at Tzfat, I gave an account of my grandfather and father going there 91 years ago. They went from Yaffo or Neve Tzedek, that what Tel Aviv was at the time. They took the Emek (Valley) railroad. They arrived in Tzemach and sailed in a stormy sea to Tiberius. And from there they continued up. Before leaving for Tzfat I asked my father, and he said “a hard, harsh journey.” That is how he described it. Through Rosh Pina, having to change the horses with carriage. This trip, this journey took three days, 91 years ago. A few years ago it would take three hours. I asked the Mayor of Hatzor HaGlilit, Swissa, how long it takes him now. He said one hour and 40 minutes. I told him it’s going to be faster. Not only because of the interchange at HaMovil Junction which has opened up the Galilee, but soon there will be interchanges at Golani Junction and Amiad Junction, and in our vision, among others, there will be one multilane highway, with no traffic lights, all the way from Metula to Eilat. It is not impossible, but it hasn’t been done. We are doing it. We are bringing the periphery of Israel closer.

Our goal is to strengthen the periphery and bring it closer to the center, but ultimately, when the drive to most areas in the country will be so short, we will be able to cancel the term ‘periphery.’ There is no reason in our country … I want to tell you, our country is huge, in spirit, in actions, our nation is skillful, but our country is tiny, and there is no reason why there are places that are cut off, disconnected, distant in such a small country. Therefore, in addition to the roads and the trains and the interchanges and the overpasses – and the entire country can see the great things we are doing at huge investment, whether they want to admit it or not – we are diligently developing the two largest areas of the country, the Galilee and the Negev. That way we will get people out of Gush Dan, we will better their lives and improve the lifestyle of the residents of the Galilee and the Negev, Jews and non-Jews alike. That is a very important social step.

But the biggest social revolution we are creating is in education. After many years of decline – and it was measured; it has been tested in IDF reading tests, standardized tests, international tests – for the first time since the reforms were implemented, and new changes are being introduced now, we can already see a change in direction, we can see an improvement in the test results of Israeli children.

And after a decade we began salvaging higher education. Two years ago, Nobel Prize laureate Ada Yonath, said that she was afraid that without investing in education and in higher education, we would not have any more Nobel Prize winners. And I took what she said seriously, and Professor Trajtenberg who we all now know, is committed to helping create a revolution in higher education.

We have invested, we have started to invest over NIS 7 billion in a multi-year plan, and I was so happy to hear from our new Nobel Prize laureate Professor Dan Shechtman, that he can see the changes that our government is leading. And he is right, because we launched the program to save higher education. I want to promise you, we will continue to invest and we will see many more Israeli Nobel Prize laureates.

Members of Knesset, I have spoken, and I must admit not always successfully, about strength and responsibility.

I also want to talk about something that links the two: unity. Two weeks ago we brought our soldier Gilad Shalit home after being held captive by Hamas for over five years. Like everybody else, I was extremely moved when I saw Gilad step off the helicopter. For a few days the entire country was united, unified, excited about one soldier whom we had brought home. Last week, in coordination with Egypt and with the help of the American government, we released Ilan Grapel, who made aliya alone, volunteered to serve in the paratrooper unit and was injured during the Second Lebanon War. We will continue to work for the release of Uda Tarabin who has been imprisoned in Egypt for 11 years. And I want to tell you and the entire people of Israel, I never, not for a moment, forget Jonathan Pollard, who has been in jail in the United States for 26 years. We will continue to do everything we can to bring him to Israel and we will not cease to try to obtain information about the fate of our missing soldiers.

The unity that brings us to work together for one soldier is a testament to the ability of our people to come together in times of trouble. It is an expression of our strength, our responsibility, our mutual accountability. I believe in the power of this unity in times of trouble in the Knesset too. I believe that in spite of all the disagreements, at the moment of truth we will rise above them and work together for the important and common goals. These are the things that guide us: strength, responsibility and unity. We have one country, together we can protect it.

Thank you.

2011/10/24

Libya’s liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law

Filed under: Government, Laws, Libya, Shari'a Law — - @ 9:45 am

Source Article Link: The Telegraph

Libya’s liberation: interim ruler unveils more radical than expected plans for Islamic law

Libya’s interim leader outlined more radical plans to introduce Islamic law than expected as he declared the official liberation of the country.

Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, the chairman of the National Transitional Council and de fact president, had already declared that Libyan laws in future would have Sharia, the Islamic code, as its “basic source”.

But that formulation can be interpreted in many ways – it was also the basis of Egypt’s largely secular constitution under President Hosni Mubarak, and remains so after his fall.

Mr Abdul-Jalil went further, specifically lifting immediately, by decree, one law from Col. Gaddafi’s era that he said was in conflict with Sharia – that banning polygamy.

In a blow to those who hoped to see Libya’s economy integrate further into the western world, he announced that in future bank regulations would ban the charging of interest, in line with Sharia. “Interest creates disease and hatred among people,” he said.

Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, and other Muslim countries, have pioneered the development of Sharia-compliant banks which charge fees rather than interest for loans but they normally run alongside western-style banks.

In the first instance, interest on low-value loans would be waived altogether, he said.

Libya is already the most conservative state in north Africa, banning the sale of alcohol. Mr Abdul-Jalil’s decision – made in advance of the introduction of any democratic process – will please the Islamists who have played a strong role in opposition to Col Gaddafi’s rule and in the uprising but worry the many young liberal Libyans who, while usually observant Muslims, take their political cues from the West.

2011/10/20

Muammar Gaddafi dead – video

Filed under: Gaddafi, Libya — Tags: , , — - @ 1:21 pm

Warning: Video contains graphic scenes please do not view around children.

Muammar Gaddafi Shown Captured But Alive

Muammar Gaddafi Dead

2011/08/22

Gaddafi Toppled: What Does Bible Prophecy Say About The Future Of Libya?

Filed under: Bible, Christianity, Darkness and Light, Dictators, Jews, Libya — - @ 6:45 pm

I have been reading Joel Rosenberg’s Blog consistently for quite awhile. Please read the many posts he has on his site concerning the turmoil in the Mid East and Bible Prophecy. I truly believe we are at a time where we need to get the Word to many people and share with them of our Salvation through knowing Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. W

Bible prophecy also tells us the government and many of the people of Libya will be engaged in great evil in the End of Days.

  • In Ezekiel 38-39, we learn that Libya is one of the nations that joins the Russian-Iranian alliance against Israel in “the last days.” In this prophecy, Ezekiel uses the name “Put.” The first century historian Flavius Josephus wrote in his famous book, The Antiquities of the Jews, that “Put” or “Phut” is “ancient Libyos.” Ancient Libyos, we know, certainly included the territory of the modern nation state we refer to today as Libya, but also included Algeria and possibly Tunisia. This tells us the no matter what the near term outcomes of the revolutions underway in North Africa are, in the not-too-distant future Libya for certain and possibly her neighbors will have virulently anti-Semitic and anti-Israel leadership who will eagerly join a coalition bent on destroying the Jews and occupy the land of Israel. Gaddafi, of course, is already such a leader. Perhaps he will ride out this storm and stay in power. Perhaps someone worse will rise up after him. Hopefully Gaddafi will be deposed and a more moderate leadership will rise up for a season before the prophecy of the “War of Gog and Magog” comes to fulfillment. Either way, the Church should be using this window of time to do everything possible to get the gospel into Libya and to strengthen the persecuted believers in Libya before the country faces God’s judgment for attacking Israel.
  • In Daniel 11, we learn that Libya is one of the countries that will be under the control and direction of the Antichrist in “the last days.” The Hebrew Prophet Daniel tells us that “a despicable person will arise” during “a time of tranquility” and will seize global power “by intrigue” and by “overflowing forces” in the End Times. This person, known in Christian theology as the Antichrist, ”will do as he pleases, and he will exalt and magnify himself above every god and will speak monstrous things against the God of gods; and he will prosper until the indignation is finished, for that which is decreed will be done.” The Bible tells us the Antichrist “will enter the Beautiful Land” — that is, Israel — and “will stretch out his hand against other countries.” Eventually, the Antichrist will gain control of the entire world and force all people who haven’t received Christ as Savior and Lord to bow and worship him or be beheaded. But the Bible specificially notes that the Antichrist ”will gain control over the hidden treasures of gold and silver and over all the precious things of Egypt; and Libyans and Ethiopians [the people of “Cush,” which includes modern Sudan, Ethiopia and possible Eritrea] will follow at his heels.” It is not entirely clear why the Bible points specifically to “Libyans” and “Ethiopians” as among those who will follow and serve the Antichrist, but this is what the Lord tells us in advance will happen.

This is all the more reason the Church must seek to reach all of North Africa with the gospel of Jesus Christ before it is too late. Please be praying faithfully for Libya and all of North Africa at this critical hour.

Read the entire article as well as others at Joel Rosenberg’s Blog Site

2011/03/31

Libya: South Africa Rejects Foreign-Led Regime Change

Filed under: European Union, Libya, United Nations — Tags: — - @ 9:14 am

Source Stratfor

South Africa on March 31 rejected calls to help drive Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from power, saying the military campaign in the country should be limited to enforcing the U.N.-sanctioned no-fly zone, AFP reported. How Libya should be governed is an issue for the people therein, rather than foreign powers, to decide, which is why South Africa rejects the doctrine of regime change, a South African Foreign Ministry spokesman said. The South African government also recognizes the legitimate demands of the Libyan people for reform and democracy, the spokesman added.

Libya: Protect People, Not Arm Them – NATO Chief

Filed under: European Union, France, Libya, National Security, NATO, Obama — - @ 9:11 am

Source Stratfor

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance’s position is to protect the Libyan people, not arm them, Times of Malta reported March 31. He said the alliance will focus on the enforcement of the arms embargo. NATO said it has taken over from the United States all air operations over Libya. (emphasis added)

France Will Not Arm Libyan Rebels – DM

Arming the Libyan rebels in incompatible with U.N. Resolution 1973, so France will neither supply the rebels with weapons nor commit ground troops to the country, French Defense Minister Gerard Longuet said March 31, AFP reported.

CIA In Libya Aiding Rebels

Filed under: CIA, Laws, Libya, Lies and more Lies, National Security, Obama — - @ 8:54 am

Source Stratfor

Small groups of CIA operatives have been aiding rebels in Libya for the past several weeks, The New York Times reported March 30, citing unnamed U.S. officials. The CIA operatives include an undisclosed number who had been working at the CIA station in Tripoli as well as those that have recently arrived, the officials said. Dozens of British special forces and MI6 operatives are working inside Libya, the officials said, adding that the British operatives have been directing airstrikes from British Tornado jets and gathering intelligence about the whereabouts of Libyan government tanks, artillery pieces and missile installations.

2011/03/30

The Problem with Arming the Libyan Rebels

Source Stratfor

PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images A Libyan rebel poses next to a destroyed government tank March 26 in Ajdabiya

Summary

As the rebels fail to advance on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s strongholds in the western part of the country, allied powers enforcing the no-fly zone have increasingly floated the idea of providing the opposition fighters with weapons. Arming a rebel force can help level the playing field or nudge a conflict toward a certain conclusion, but taken alone, supplying arms cannot fix the fundamental problems that cause a force to be militarily inept.

Analysis

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Talk of arming the rebel fighters in Libya predates the March 17 decision to initiate an air campaign over the country but is again increasing as the rebels fail to show any sign of being able to successfully engage forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Before the imposition of the no-fly zone and coalition airstrikes, rebel defensive lines were collapsing in the face of an assault by Gadhafi’s forces, and the advance of the rebels from the contested city of Ajdabiya, just south of the rebel headquarters in Benghazi, to the outskirts of Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown, was actually just rebels moving into territory from which loyalist forces had already withdrawn. As soon as the rebels encountered prepared defensive positions outside of Sirte, they were forced to beat a hasty retreat. Already there are reports that loyalist forces have retaken the town of Ras Lanuf, a key energy export hub.

The renewed talk of arming the rebels has its roots in the fundamental problems of a limited air campaign against Libya. Coalition airpower is capable of defeating Gadhafi’s air force, crushing his larger, more fixed air defense capabilities as well as taking out known command, control and communications hubs. But the use of airpower to eliminate Gadhafi’s ability to wage war would entail civilian casualties and collateral damage. If minimizing those casualties is a key objective, then it is simply not possible for airpower alone to force loyalist forces already embedded in urban areas to withdraw.


The Problem with Arming the Libyan Rebels
(click here to enlarge image)

If airpower is the wrong tool for the job and no country is willing to provide the right tool in the form of ground combat forces, providing weapons to the Libyan rebels is increasingly appearing to be the best alternative, at least to some of the coalition partners. In theory, this would provide the capability to do what airpower cannot and enable the rebels to provide the required ground presence. However, at no point in the Libyan civil war have the rebel fighters proved to be a competent military force, and their difficulties are not solely linked to their lack of arms. And without coherent organization, leadership, battlefield communications or command and control, as well as the ability to plan and sustain offensives logistically, no quantity of arms is going to solve the problem.

In the early days of unrest, opposition forces broke open Libyan military arsenals and appropriated an enormous quantity of small arms, ammunition, heavy weapons and related materiel, including armored vehicles and rocket artillery. Numerous reports have described rebels expending massive amount of ammunition to no purpose, firing small arms, rockets and recoilless rifles aimlessly into the air. Early on there were reports that a rebel SA-7 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile was used to shoot down one of the rebels’ own planes, and the rebels have even implicitly acknowledged their limitations by issuing a call for drivers capable of operating a T-55, an archaic Soviet tank and one of the oldest in even the Libyan arsenal.

Indeed, the longer-term problem in Libya is not too few arms, but too many. All of the arms that have been broken out of Libyan stockpiles will not be returned after the conflict ends. Everything from small arms to explosives to man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) will be proliferating around the region for years. There are also minor concerns that even within the rebel movement there are elements of al Qaeda and Hezbollah seeking to take advantage of the situation, though this is largely reflective of the overall lack of understanding by Western countries of the nature of the eastern opposition movement.

Unconfirmed reports have indicated Egypt and possibly Qatar may be involved in smuggling weapons to the opposition. But what the opposition needs is not more weapons but training that will enable them to be a competent fighting force that could advance with only limited outside support, as the Northern Alliance did against Kabul and the Taliban in 2001. Unfortunately, as recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates, training requires time — usually years, not weeks or months — that neither the coalition forces nor the rebels have.

The necessity that training go along with any arms shipments to the rebel fighters has reportedly complicated the internal debate in Washington over whether this policy is the best course of action. The United States has been explicit in its opposition to deploying ground forces in Libya, fearing that placing even a small number of advisers in eastern Libya could suck the United States into a protracted conflict.

Arming an opposition or insurgent force can work when the group or a collection of groups are already composed of capable fighters and competent leadership. When the United States gave FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS to the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of the country, the mujahideen were a bloodied and battle-hardened force capable of planning and executing ambushes and assaults on Soviet positions. They were already slowly bleeding the Red Army in Afghanistan and may well have ultimately prevailed even without the Stingers. But the new missiles helped reduce a key Soviet advantage, their airpower. And when the Soviets and Chinese armed North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had the basic military competencies not only to incorporate those arms into their operations but also to orchestrate the massive logistical effort to sustain them in combat and conduct large-scale military operations.

Today, the Taliban are winning in Afghanistan with Lee-Enfield rifles dating back to the 19th century and homemade improvised explosive devices, among other weapons. They are an agile and capable insurgent force that may ultimately prevail even without any expansion of limited outside assistance.

Taken alone, the act of supplying arms to a group cannot fundamentally alter the military reality on the ground. Also, rooting out competent forces from prepared defensive positions in fortified urban areas is a profound challenge for the best militaries in the world. Providing a ragtag group of rebels with additional arms and ammunition will not achieve that, though it may well make the conflict bloodier, particularly for civilians. And like the arms already loose in the country, any additional arms inserted into the equation will not be used only against Gadhafi’s forces, but around the region for years to come.

The Syrian President’s Apparent Confidence

Filed under: Libya, Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Obama, Syria — - @ 3:10 pm

Source Stratfor

ANWAR AMRO/AFP/Getty Images Pro-government demonstrators rally in Damascus on March 29

Summary

The spread of protests in Syria led to speculation that Syrian President Bashar al Assad, in a speech delivered to parliament March 30, would announce reforms or repeal the country’s emergency law. However, al Assad avoided making even token political reforms that could have been construed as a sign of the regime’s weakness. The Syrian regime, still in a relatively stronger position compared to many of its Arab counterparts, is likely to resort to more forceful crackdowns in an effort to discourage the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood from throwing their full weight behind the demonstrations.

Analysis

Syrian President Bashar al Assad delivered a speech to parliament March 30 that focused on asserting his authority amid intensifying protests. Ahead of the speech, speculation was swirling that al Assad would announce an end to the country’s emergency law, which has been in place since 1963, and a handful of reforms in an attempt to quell demonstrations, which have spread from the southwest Sunni stronghold of Daraa to Damascus, Latakia, Homs, Hama and Qamishli in recent days. Instead, al Assad only vaguely mentioned the need for future reforms (he did not mention the emergency law at all) but, like the Bahraini government, maintained that security and stability would need to come first. He also spent time on a narrative of foreign conspirators exploiting the grievances of the Syrian people to break Syria apart.

When the wave of regional uprisings was still in its nascent stages, al Assad, in an interview with The Wall Street Journal, acknowledged the growing need for reforms in Syria while confidently asserting that his country was immune to a popular uprising. In spite of that obviously premature assertion, the Syrian president has observed the tactics employed by neighboring embattled Arab leaders and has deduced that the promise of reform, if announced when a regime is acting defensively in the current regional environment, is more likely to embolden than quell the opposition.

Al Assad instead appears to be steadfast in his intent to intensify a crackdown on protesters. While the protesters in and around Daraa have remained defiant and continue to take to the streets in large numbers, protests elsewhere in the country remain relatively limited so far. The regime’s priority is to halt the demonstrations’ momentum while it still can, in order to avoid giving the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB) the confidence to throw its full weight behind the demonstrations. (The Syrian MB still remembers the 1982 Hama massacre, when the government violently put down the Syrian MB’s uprising.) There are some early indications of MB involvement in the demonstrations in Daraa, where the religious movement and tribal landscape is linked to the Jordanian MB. However, it appears that the Syrian MB is waiting for stronger assurances from the West that it will be defended in the event of a severe crackdown.

So far, there is no sign of such assurances. The U.S. administration has been attempting to carefully differentiate the humanitarian military intervention in Libya from the escalating situation in Syria, claiming the level of oppression in the latter does not warrant a discussion of military intervention to protect Syrian citizens. Though this distinction is very blurry — and now much more complicated, given that al Assad is refraining from announcing even token reforms — the United States and its Western allies (including Israel) do not appear to have any strong motivation to entangle themselves in the Levant region and risk the instability that could result from the downfall of al Assad’s regime. Turkey, which has stepped up its mediation efforts with Syria, does not want to see further instability on its borders. Al Assad is likely looking to Ankara for assurances that NATO will not intervene in Syria as it did in Libya, should the government resort to more forceful crackdowns. In return for such assurances, Syria could be helping to clamp down on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad activity.

The 45-year-old al Assad does not face the same succession issues with which many other old and ailing embattled Arab leaders are struggling. Like many regimes in the region, the al Assad regime has its fissures, though those appear to be largely contained for now. A key family feud to monitor is a long-standing rivalry between the president’s brother and head of the elite Presidential Guard, Maher al Assad, and his brother-in-law, Gen. Asef Shawkat, deputy chief of staff of the Syrian army. According to a STRATFOR source, Maher al Assad was staunchly against al Assad’s announcing a package of political reforms and ending the emergency law. He, along with many within al Assad’s inner circle, believes that even token political reforms are a sign of weakness. So far, that view appears to be prevailing.

The Syrian security and intelligence apparatus has been struggling to put down the protests but remains a pervasive, fairly unified and competent force for internal security. Opposition organizers and protesters are being rounded up daily and the regime, well-versed in intimidation tactics, is making clear to the protesters and their families the consequences of dissent. Whether this will be enough to stamp out the current uprising remains to be seen, but the Syrian regime is capable of bringing much more force to bear on the demonstrators should the protests escalate.

Why Washington is Reluctant To Arm Libya’s Eastern Rebels

Source Stratfor

NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe U.S. Adm. James Stavridis answered questions on the Libyan intervention before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, echoing the refrain voiced in Western capitals of knowing little about the exact nature of the eastern opposition. Though Stavridis labeled the rebel leadership as “responsible men and women” fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, he added that there have been “flickers” of intelligence indicating that elements of al Qaeda and Hezbollah exist among the eastern opposition’s ranks. The question of arming the eastern rebels now, when U.S. military officials have gone on record before Congress with such suspicions of Hezbollah and al Qaeda links, seems politically unpalatable to say the least. Indeed, Stavridis’ testimony came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama demurred on the notion that Washington is on the verge of sending weapons to Benghazi.

Of the three countries most committed to seeing Gadhafi removed from power – the United States, France and the United Kingdom – none have yet to come up with a clear strategy on how to they intend to see this through. All have been steadfast in the refusal to consider sending ground troops to combat Gadhafi’s forces. Obama drove this point home in his Monday night speech when he drew parallels between the road the United States went down in Iraq and the way things should not be done in Libya. Airstrikes alone, however, are ill equipped to achieve this type of mission. While sanctions are made to be broken and while hope exists that continued international pressure on Tripoli would force Gadhafi to eventually step down, as evidenced by Obama’s words on Tuesday, this creates the possibility for a very long wait. Relying on such an eventuality also increases the chance that the coalition, committed to the enforcement of U.N. Resolution 1973, will splinter and potentially leave Washington to pick up the pieces. What the United States really wants out of the Libyan intervention is an opportunity to transfer responsibility for a multilateral conflict to the Europeans.

If regime change without having to insert Western forces is indeed the end goal, and ground troops are the most expedient way to push Gadhafi out in a somewhat timely manner, it would seem that bolstering the rebel forces in the east with better weapons and training is the next logical step. After all, any doubts that rebel fighters are no match for the Libyan army were erased by the events that unfolded along the coastal stretch between Bin Jawad and Sirte on Tuesday. After several days of steadily gaining ground due to a calculated decision by Gadhafi’s troops to withdraw and dig in more defensible positions, opposition forces were forced to beat a hasty and chaotic retreat from the outskirts of the Libyan leader’s hometown. While arms transfers are believed to have been occurring unofficially, courtesy of Qatar and Egypt, they aren’t going to do the job, and it is not quite clear what level of materiel would. (This is to say nothing of the amount of training that would need to go along with any arms shipments to eastern Libya, as the rebels also have proven themselves to be lacking in command and control, communications and logistics capabilities.)

As Gadhafi’s forces pushed the rebels eastward away from Sirte, an international conference on Libya took place in London, where NATO member states and others that have supported the no-fly zone were attempting to come together and speak with one voice on how to proceed. Included at the conference was a delegation from the Libyan rebel leadership, representing the body known as the Transitional National Council (TNC), or, the “responsible men” fighting Gadhafi that Stavridis referenced in his Senate testimony. One of the TNC officials explicitly requested that fighters be supplied with bigger and better weapons to combat Gadhafi’s forces. This request was rebuffed, ostensibly due to restrictions on such military aid by the U.N. resolution. France suggested that there are ways to get around such restrictions, as did the United States, but neither was willing to go on record as saying that they are on the verge of changing their undecided policy on arming the eastern forces.

For the United States, this is a reflection of what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was saying over the weekend as he made the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit. Intervening in Libya is not part of the Americans’ “vital national interests.” It may be in their interests to remove Gadhafi and have the Europeans demonstrate that they are capable of taking a greater role in joint military operations, but it is not absolutely critical. Washington has a history of arming rebel groups first, and asking questions later. The fact that it has allowed a lack of familiarity with whom, exactly, the TNC represents indicates that Libya, while certainly a high priority, is not on par with other recent crises that have spurred Washington into immediate action. Indeed, the United States was not an early proponent of the no-fly zone, and only came around after repeated insistences by the France and the United Kingdom (who have motivations of their own) gave it an opportunity to put the Obama doctrine of multilateralism and limited U.S. involvement on display.

In his Senate testimony, Stavridis also pointed out that if recent history is to be a guide, then a “foreign stabilization force” would likely be needed in Libya should the rebels ever successfully topple Gadhafi. Stavridis cited the examples of Bosnia and Kosovo as precedents. Such an assessment by NATO’S supreme allied commander in Europe might give American politicians even more pause to arming the rebels than the suggestion that some of its members may have links to al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

2011/03/29

Libya: Gadhafi May Leave, ‘Flicker’ Of Al Qaeda – U.S.

‘Flicker’???? Is that anything like, illegitimate,’ not illegal?

Source Stratfor

There is a “more than reasonable chance” Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will leave because the international community is united against him, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the commander of U.S. European Command, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, said March 29, Reuters reported. Intelligence on the Libyan rebels revealed “flickers” of al Qaeda or Hezbollah, but there is insufficient detail to suggest a significant presence, Stavridis said. The leaders of the opposition appear to be “responsible men and women,” he said.

Egypt: To Boycott London Conference On Libya

Filed under: Egypt, European Union, Libya — - @ 12:32 pm

Source Stratfor

Egypt will not delegate a representative to an international conference in which officials will meet to discuss the crisis in Libya, sources said March 29, Al-Masry Al-Youm reported. Egypt officials feared the conference would seek enhancing Western presence in Libya rather than achieving international coordination to protect Libyans from leader Moammar Gadhafi’s regime.

Europe’s Libya Intervention: Germany and Russia

Filed under: Germany, Libya, National Security, Obama, Russia, United Nations — - @ 11:03 am

Source Link: Stratfor

Germany and Russia abstained in the March 17 vote on U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized the use of force in Libya. Moscow’s decision not to exercise its veto power made the ongoing Libya intervention under U.N. auspices possible. Since the vote, Russia has criticized the intervention vociferously, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin comparing it to a medieval crusade.

For its part, while Germany does not have a veto, its abstention has brought criticism on Berlin — both domestically and internationally — for remaining aloof from its traditional Atlanticist allies. Domestic politics heavily influenced Germany’s decision to abstain from the vote and its subsequent decision not to participate in the intervention. In the run-up to the March 17 vote, German Chancellor Angela Merkel faced six difficult state elections. Elections in Saxony-Anhalt, Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Wuerttemberg have since been held. The last one, in Baden-Wuerttemberg, ended March 27 — with disastrous results for Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU).


Europe's Libya Intervention: Germany and Russia
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Despite the heavy role domestic politics played in Germany’s decision, considerable geopolitical calculations also influenced both Berlin’s and Moscow’s decision-making.

Germany

Baden-Wuerttemberg is Germany’s third-largest state in terms of population and gross domestic product and has been a CDU stronghold since 1953. Faced with a potential electoral disaster in Baden-Wuerttemberg elections and following a number of political setbacks through the first quarter of 2011, Merkel’s decision to abstain from the intervention was a fairly obvious call. But even the decision not to intervene could not save the CDU from losing the state.

In the run-up to the election, however, Berlin was not taking any chances with the intervention in Libya. This was especially true for German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is also the leader of the Free Democratic Party (FDP), the CDU’s governing coalition partner. Reports in the German media — from Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and Der Spiegel — following the U.N. vote even suggested that Westerwelle sought to vote “no” on Resolution 1973 but decided against it after consultations with Merkel. The pro-business, center-right FDP has lost much support over the past year for signing off on Germany’s bailouts of Greece and Ireland as well as its inability to deliver on the campaign promise of lower taxes. It failed to cross the 5 percent electoral threshold in Rhineland-Palatinate, and only barely managed to do so in Baden-Wuerttemberg, a considerable embarrassment for the party considering that its support in the two states is traditionally strong.

The decision to stay away from the intervention has brought criticism against Merkel both domestically and internationally. It is difficult to argue that it hurt the CDU in state elections, however. According to various recent polls, between 56 and 65 percent of the German population supported Berlin’s decision not to participate in the intervention. That said, a majority of Germans — 62 percent — favored an intervention in general terms. This means the German public approves of military action in Libya so long as Germany does not participate. Berlin’s decision perfectly tracked this sentiment, keeping German forces out of military action in Libya but facilitating NATO’s participation by offering to send airborne warning and control system crews to Afghanistan so Western forces could make more resources available for the Libyan theater.

One obvious explanation for the German public’s reticence toward military intervention is the German aversion to using Germany’s military abroad. German President Horst Koehler resigned in May 2010 after coming under criticism following a trip to Afghanistan in which he said, “In emergencies, military intervention is necessary to uphold our interests, like for example free trade routes, for example to prevent regional instabilities which could have negative impact on our chances in terms of trade, jobs and income.” A week later, he had left the German presidency, largely a ceremonial office, due to heavy criticism that he had equated Germany’s role in Afghanistan to a 19th century-style war for trade routes and markets. Still, the statement launched a wider discussion about using the German military abroad when it is in the country’s national interest to do so. To date, Germany has participated in military missions abroad as part of a broader alliance, such as Kosovo in 1999 and Afghanistan, but the issue of doing so for its own interests remains controversial.

The decision not to intervene in Libya was not purely an effort to pander to historical public sensitivities ahead of crucial state elections. For Germany, two further strategic factors come into play. First, the United Kingdom, France and Italy all have energy interests, or want more of them, in Libya. This is not to say Germany does not — energy company Wintershall is particularly involved — but it is not as critical to its national interests. The French also consider the Mediterranean their sphere of influence and have previously disagreed with Germany over how seriously the Mediterranean Union, a proposed political bloc of Mediterranean Sea littoral states, should be pursued.

Germany, however, is essentially landlocked. Its access to the open ocean is impeded by the Skagerrak and the United Kingdom, a superior naval power. Throughout its history, it therefore largely has shied away from direct competition for political influence outside the Eurasian mainland so as not to invite a naval blockade that would cripple its trade. Instead, it always has sought to expand its sphere of influence in Central and Eastern Europe, where exerting its influence is easier due to proximity and historical trade relations. This is the concept of Mitteleuropa, Berlin’s political and economic sphere of influence on its eastern borders. In many ways, the eurozone project — and Berlin’s strong interest in seeing Poland and the Czech Republic ultimately join it — is Germany’s 21st century version of Mitteleuropa.

But Germany’s not having considerable interests in Libya does not explain its unwillingness to join its allies in the intervention. After all, Germany’s interests in Afghanistan are tenuous, and yet Berlin has participated in military operations there. The willingness to stand against all of its Atlantic allies because of domestic politics and a lack of national interests therefore represents a form of assertiveness: Germany is showing its willingness to place its domestic politics above its commitments to its allies, at least with regard to a non-critical military intervention.

Whether Germany would have refused to participate in the intervention even if it did not have six state elections coming up is the central question. Had it not faced state elections, Berlin might have opted to send a token force of a handful of fighters to enforce the no-fly zone, as have Norway, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. But we suspect that Berlin might have chosen to oppose France either way to undermine one of Paris’ main motivations for the intervention — namely, to prove that Europe without a militarized France falls short of great power status. France wants Germany to hear the message that despite Germany’s leading economic and political role in the last 12 months of the eurozone sovereign debt crisis, France is still a leader in foreign and military affairs. By not participating, and therefore not following Paris’ lead, Berlin essentially is ignoring this message.

German-Russian agreement on abstaining from the resolution comes as Berlin and Moscow continue to align more closely on energy, business and even military matters. There is no evidence, however, of coordination between the two on Libya. That Germany voted with Russia is more an example of Berlin’s independence in foreign policy affairs than of its increased like-mindedness with Russia. After all, Russia’s interests in abstaining are different from those of Germany.

Russia

Russia’s abstention was a calculated move designed to facilitate the Libya intervention. As a permanent member of the Security Council, Russia’s veto would have torpedoed the intervention. But Russia has an interest in seeing the West, and particularly the United States, involved in yet another Middle Eastern conflict.

First, ongoing instability in the Arab world has caused a jump in energy prices, a boon for energy-rich Russia; the unrest in Libya will further raise those prices. Furthermore, during Moammar Gadhafi’s last eight years in power, Libya had become a stable and relatively reliable energy exporter to Europe, particularly to Italy. An intervention that leads to a stalemate in Libya, leaving the country in a state of instability, would eliminate a potential oil and natural gas alternative to Russia, giving Moscow greater market share in Europe in general and in Italy in particular.

Europe's Libya Intervention: Germany and RussiaThe second issue for Moscow is that the United States is now, however minimally, involved in a third conflict in the Muslim world. Russia has worried for the past 12 months that U.S. President Barack Obama’s determination to disentangle the United States from two conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan would give Washington greater flexibility in dealing with Russia’s own regions of interest, namely Central-Eastern Europe, Central Asia and the Caucasus. This would close Russia’s “window of opportunity” to consolidate its dominance over its sphere of influence in the former Soviet Union. The last thing the Kremlin wants is a Washington eager to pick a fight. And so even though Libya only marginally ties down U.S. forces, it still offers the potential for complications or even deeper involvement — and any further American involvement is welcome for Russia.

Third, the Libya situation gives Russian leadership yet another public relations opportunity to criticize the United States. When Putin made his comments comparing the Libya intervention to a crusade, he did so at a ballistic missile factory on the same day that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates was in St. Petersburg meeting with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev to talk about missile defense. Putin’s choice of words and the place he delivered them was symbolic, driving home the message that the United States has expansionist and militarist aims against Russia, aims that Russia is justified in taking steps against.

Russia and the United States still have considerable disagreements, starting with the U.S. plan to proceed with its ballistic missile plans for Central Europe. The intervention in Libya affords Moscow yet another opportunity to criticize the United States as an aggressive power and yet another avenue through which to voice its continued disagreement with Washington.

Obama Explains Actions in Libya

Filed under: Libya, National Security, Obama — - @ 9:49 am

Source Link: Stratfor

On Monday night, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke to the nation on Libya at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. His purpose was to explain and justify his decision to play a leading role in an air campaign targeting the North African state and to provide an update on that effort moving forward.

The speech closely follows a rapid drive westward by rebel forces from the disputed town of Ajdabiya just south of the de facto rebel capital of Benghazi in the east to the outskirts of Sirte; Sirte sits astride the broad swath of open terrain that serves as an enormous geographic buffer between the eastern and western portions of the country. It is also Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s hometown and a potential stronghold for loyalist forces.

“The case that American national interests were at stake in Libya is a difficult one to make.”

But the rebels’ progress was not all that it appeared to be. The rapid drive westward was not a rout of Gadhafi’s forces, and conquest did not take the towns that fell into rebel hands in the last 48 hours. All indications suggest that loyalist forces executed a deliberate withdrawal to strongholds in the west, terminating their eastern campaign and with it the extended lines that had become vulnerable to coalition airpower. Whether forces loyal to Gadhafi will now attempt to hold in Sirte or withdraw further is not so important. The vital issue is whenever and wherever loyalist forces choose to defend positions in built-up urban areas where civilians are present, there are very limited prospects of rebels supported by airpower rooting them out.

Obama’s speech attempted to emphasize that helping the Libyan people and removing Gadhafi from power are the right things to do. The logical extension of this argument is that it is the right thing to do to support this ragtag force that is the only physical opposition to Gadhafi in the country. Obama made a clear and consistent appeal to the moral imperative to act, anchored only abstractly to the idea that acting was in the American national interest. There are inherent problems with the campaign, with the disconnect between military objectives, the military force applied to the problem and the larger political goals for the country. It could still very easily backfire on the coalition.

Obama claimed that while the United States cannot and should not intervene in every scenario where there is a humanitarian imperative at stake (a necessary point to make given several other regional hotspots that could quickly descend into humanitarian crises), nevertheless the circumstances in this particular case were appropriate for action. This claim goes hand-in-hand with the distinction he attempted to draw in the speech between this intervention and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, which involved large numbers of boots on the ground.

It is rarely in the American national interest to become bogged down in a land war in Asia, certainly not in a protracted counterinsurgency involving more than 100,000 troops in what is anything but a decisive conflict of high geopolitical significance. In all but these rare exceptions, geopolitics and grand strategy dictate that the United States intervene overseas in only limited spoiling attacks intended to shape regional balances of power.

The case that American national interests were at stake in Libya is a difficult one to make. The coalition intervention is probably more likely to be remembered for its inherent flaws — its lack of clear, defined military objectives consistent with the military forces and resources allocated to the problem. There is also the disconnect between military and political objectives and the limited ability of airpower to intervene meaningfully against military forces already ensconced in built-up urban areas. But this intervention has indeed been limited. Although American participation in the conflict is decisive — however it plays out — nevertheless, the fact that it is limited means there is little chance of it having the systemic and prolonged repercussions for U.S. national security as did the American decision to invade Iraq in 2003 and surge forces to Afghanistan in 2009.

2011/03/28

Canadian Support for the Libya Intervention

Filed under: Canada, Libya, United Nations — - @ 6:23 pm

Source Link: Stratfor

Click on image below to watch video:

Analyst Mark Schroeder examines the domestic and international political reasons behind Canada’s support of operations in Libya.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Canadian Lt. Gen. Charles Bouchard was recently selected by NATO to head up the allied military operations in Libya. The purpose of our Dispatch today is to examine Canada’s interest in support of the allied military intervention in Libya.

For the Canadian government, there was no hesitation when it authorized the Canadian forces to intervene in support of coalition military efforts in Libya. And on March 18 the Harper government authorized the Canadian military to participate and this includes the CF-18s, the CP-140s, HMCS Charlottetown and other ground forces. Now why is Canada supporting this U.N. Security Council no-fly zone over Libya?

Canada doesn’t have any significant material stake in Libya, has no particular energy interests there or any particular regard or lack of regard for the Gadhafi regime. But Canada’s motivation to support this military intervention in Libya is to be seen in light of its relations with the United States and with Europe primarily. The Harper government in Canada wants to demonstrate that it is a staunch, reliable ally for its primary partners. The Harper government will certainly use its participation in the Libyan war for domestic purposes — there will be national elections coming in Canada on May 2 and the Harper government will likely be facing a coalition of opposition parties led by the Liberals. The Harper government will very likely show that it’s a strong international stakeholder, demonstrated by its robust involvement in Libya. Because of this, the Harper government should be elected for an additional term. But even if the Harper government falls to the opposition Liberals, led by Michael Ignatieff, Canada’s participation in Libya is not likely to be disrupted.

Canada has a long history of being involved in United Nations-authorized security missions, peacekeeping missions and interventions elsewhere such as Afghanistan and Kosovo and the Persian Gulf in 1991. In fact, the interventions in Afghanistan and Kosovo were authorized by previous Liberal governments in Canada led by then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and so even if the Harper government falls to the Ignatieff-led Liberals in Canada, don’t expect to see a disruption to Canada’s military commitment to the Libyan intervention.

2011/03/27

Libyan Airstrikes March 26-27, 2011

Filed under: European Union, Libya — - @ 11:28 am

Source Link: Stratfor

Libyan Airstrikes March 26-27, 2011
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Coalition attacks against Libyan military assets intensified the night of March 26-27. British Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft launched Brimstone missiles (derived from the U.S. AGM-114 Hellfire), destroying three armored vehicles in Misurata and two armored vehicles in Ajdabiya. Twenty French fighters supported by Airborne Warning and Control Systems (AWACS) struck five Galeb fighter jets and two MI-35 helicopters at a Libyan base just outside Misurata while personnel were reportedly preparing them for individual deployment. An ammunition dump was reportedly hit in Misurata and airstrikes were reported in Sabha, Sirta, and Marsa el Brega as well. Tomahawk cruise missiles were reportedly launched from the USS Stout (DDG 55) against targets in Libya, though the targets were not identified.

Libyan government spokesperson Mussa Ibrahim said “many” civilians and military personnel have lost their lives in the allied effort, while U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi of placing bodies of people killed by his forces at the sites of allied airstrikes. Meanwhile, British Secretary of Defense Liam Fox ruled out supplying arms to the rebels, despite reports of such a matter being considered.

But more notable than the activity of the coalition air campaign the evening of March 26 and into March 27 has been the advance of rebel forces, particularly on March 27. As of the morning of March 26, Gadhafi’s forces had reportedly been pushed to the western edge of Ajdabiya where their position was becoming untenable — though not necessarily due to rebel military action so much as to airstrikes by coalition aircraft and the vulnerability of their lines of supply. Gadhafi’s forces now appear to be falling back, perhaps as far as Sirte, the Libyan leader’s hometown and a loyalist stronghold.


Libyan Airstrikes March 26-27, 2011
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Rebel forces are advancing to Raf Lanuf, with BBC reporting Mar. 27 that the front line had moved to the town of Bin Jawad, 50 kilometers (30 miles) west of Ras Lanuf. This drive westward is noteworthy, and if consolidated, would give the rebels control of all the major energy export infrastructure in the Gulf of Sidra. But by most appearances it seems to have been an advance into territory conceded by Gadhafi rather than the seizing of territory by conquest. Meanwhile, in Misurata, Gadhafi government troops reportedly ceased firing on rebel positions upon the appearance of allied aircraft.

But there are considerable caveats to this appearance of progress. Gadhafi’s positions in the east were increasingly untenable as coalition airpower ravaged his extended supply lines and the combat power of his forces. But deliberately withdrawing to strongholds like Sirte is a very different than being forced to retreat by advancing rebels. As the rebels move westward, they, rather than Gadhafi, will increasingly be operating on extended lines, and the rebels’ logistical capability is rudimentary at best.


Libyan Airstrikes March 26-27, 2011
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At this point, it would appear more as though positions are solidifying around geographic and political realities rather than by military force. The difficulty of attacking Gadhafi’s forces in well-fortified areas and true strongholds remains. Gadhafi’s forces and the rebels in the east remain divided by an immense geographic buffer. Any attempt by the rebels to take Sirte will be enormously challenging and will entail risks of overreach and the devastation of their main force in the face of well-defended loyalist positions. But Sirte will be the town to watch moving forward.

2011/03/26

Farrakhan defends Gadhafi, pans US role in Libya

Filed under: Libya, Obama — Tags: , — - @ 1:44 pm

Source Link: KansasCity.com

By MOLLY DAVIS
Associated Press

Minister Louis Farrakhan delivers a speech Friday, March 25, 2011 at Jackson State University in Jackson, Miss., as part of the 6th Annual Conference of the Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement. Farrakhan, who leads the Chicago-based Nation of Islam delivered a speech on the need of a new grassroots movement for a change in education.

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan said Friday that the United States lacks the moral authority to attack the forces of embattled Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi.

The 78-year-old leader of the Chicago-based organization received cheers Friday night from a packed crowd at a civil rights conference at Jackson State University.

Farrakhan said his friend Gadhafi has played the role of a forceful parent in post-colonial Libya.

“When you come out of a colonial past where you have lost the value of your own self-interest, God raises somebody from among you that can instill in you the value of yourself again and that person dictates the path until you have grown into your own self-interest,” Farrakhan said of Gadhafi.

The minister did not address Gadhafi’s alleged role in the bombing of a Pan Am flight over Lockerbie, Scotland that killed 270 people in 1988.

Farrakhan gave several reasons why the U.S. lacks the moral authority to intervene in the Libyan conflict, including the deaths of black people at the hands of law enforcement during the Rodney King protests in 1991 and the unhealthy food that the federal government allows into the marketplace.

“The American people are dying, and the Food and Drug Administration is complicit,” he said. “Greed is more important than the lives of the American people.”

Farrakhan made his remarks at the 6th annual Veterans of the Mississippi Civil Rights Conference.

He talked about the importance of strong family units, conservative outfits for women, healthy food and land ownership. But he also espoused controversial views on some subjects, saying that interracial births pose a threat to the white population and that Jews control the mainstream civil rights movement.

Some Mississippi religious and civil rights leaders previously said it was offensive that Farrakhan was selected to speak at the conference.

Farrakhan criticized President Barack Obama for joining up with the “old colonial masters” of the Western-led forces and expressed skepticism about European countries espousing humanitarian concerns, saying they “give noble motives to their wickedness.”

“Do you think they had humanitarian concerns when the British mowed down the Indians in India who were peacefully protesting?” he said. “Where in the hell is humanitarian values in America when you’ve got over 50 million Americans living in poverty, sick and diseased, with no healthcare?”

He also alleged that Obama had backed down from pushing a Palestinian-Israeli peace accord and banning settlement-building in the West Bank, calling him “the first Jewish president.” Obama is a Christian.

“He was selected before he was elected,” Farrakhan said. “And the people that selected him were rich, powerful members of the Jewish community.”

Local Jewish leaders this week criticized Farrakhan for distorting historical fact in order to perpetuate harmful stereotypes. The Anti-Defamation League said recently that Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism is “obsessive, diabolical and unrestrained.”

Farrakhan has over the years denied claims of anti-Semitism, arguing his remarks are often taken out of context and that criticism of Jews in any light automatically earns the “anti-Semite” label. The Nation of Islam has espoused black nationalism and self-reliance since it was founded in the 1930s, though in recent years it has included other groups, including Latinos and immigrants.

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