“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

NATO leadership is supporting a rebellion that includes Islamic Libyan Islamic Fighting Group is the “main pillar of the Libyan armed insurrection.”

A new report from two French think tanks concludes that jihadists have played a predominant role in the eastern-Libyan rebellion against the rule of Moammar Qaddafi, and that “true democrats” represent only a minority in the rebellion. The report, furthermore, calls into question the justifications given for Western military intervention in Libya, arguing that they are largely based on media exaggerations and “outright disinformation.”

The sponsors of the report are the Paris-based International Center for Research and Study on Terrorism and Aide to Victims of Terrorism (CIRET-AVT) and the French Center for Research on Intelligence (CF2R). The organizations sent a six-member expert mission to Libya to evaluate the situation and consult with representatives on both sides of the conflict. From March 31 to April 6, the mission visited the Libyan capital of Tripoli and the region of Tripolitania; from April 19 to April 25, it visited the rebel capital of Benghazi and the surrounding Cyrenaica region in eastern Libya.

The report identifies four factions among the members of the eastern Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC). Apart from a minority of “true democrats,” the other three factions comprise partisans of a restoration of the monarchy that was overthrown by Qaddafi in 1969, Islamic extremists seeking the establishment of an Islamic state, and former fixtures of the Qaddafi regime who defected to the rebels for opportunistic or other reasons.

There is a clear overlap between the Islamists and the monarchists, inasmuch as the deposed King Idris I was himself the head of the Senussi brotherhood, which the authors describe as “an anti-Western Muslim sect that practices an austere and conservative form of Islam.” The monarchists are thus, more precisely, “monarchists-fundamentalists.”

The most prominent of the defectors, the president of the NTC, Mustafa Abdul Jalil, is likewise described by the authors as a “traditionalist” who is “supported by the Islamists.” The authors point out that Jalil played an important role in the “Bulgarian nurses affair,” so called for five Bulgarian nurses who, along with a Palestinian doctor, were charged with deliberately infecting hundreds of children with AIDS in a hospital in Benghazi. As chair of the Appeals Court in Tripoli, Jalil twice upheld the death penalty for the nurses. In 2007, the nurses and the Palestinian doctor were released by the Libyan government following negotiations in which French president Nicolas Sarkozy's then wife, Cecilia, played a highly publicized role.

The report describes members of the al-Qaeda-affiliated Libyan Islamic Fighting Group as the “main pillar of the armed insurrection.” “Thus the military coalition under NATO leadership is supporting a rebellion that includes Islamic terrorists,” the authors write. Alluding to the major role played by the Cyrenaica region in supplying recruits for al-Qaeda in Iraq, they add, “No one can deny that the Libyan rebels who are today supported by Washington were only yesterday jihadists killing American GIs in Iraq.”

The full composition of the NTC has not been made public. But, according to the authors, one avowed al-Qaeda recruiter, Abdul-Hakim al-Hasadi, is himself a member of the NTC. (On al-Hasadi, see my March 25 report here.) Al-Hasadi is described by the authors as the “leader of the Libyan rebels.” Although Western media reports commonly say that he is in charge of the defense of his home town of Darnah in eastern Libya, the CIRET-CF2R report suggests that in mid-April, al-Hasadi left Cyrenaica by boat in order to participate in the battle of Misrata. He is supposed to have taken arms and 25 “well-trained fighters” with him. Misrata is in western Libya, a mere 135 miles from Tripoli.

Regarding the effects of western military intervention in support of the rebels, the authors conclude:

Western intervention is in the process of creating more problems than it resolves. It is one thing to force Qaddafi to leave. It is another thing to spread chaos and destruction in Libya to this end and to prepare the ground for fundamentalist Islam. The current moves risk destabilizing all of North Africa, the Sahel, and the Middle East and favoring the emergence of a new regional base for radical Islam and terrorism.

What follows are some further translated highlights from the CIRET-CF2R report. The full report is available in French here.

On the Battle of Misrata:

Little by little, the city is starting to appear like a Libyan version of Sarajevo in the eyes of the “free” world. The rebels from Benghazi hope that a humanitarian crisis in Misrata will convince the Western coalition to deploy ground troops in order to save the population.

. . . During the course of April, the NGO Human Rights Watch published casualty figures concerning Misrata that reveal that, contrary to the claims made in the international media, Qaddafi loyalist forces have not massacred the residents of the town. During two months of hostilities, only 257 persons — including combatants — were killed. Among the 949 wounded, only 22 — or fewer than 3 percent — were women. If regime forces had deliberately targeted civilians, women would have represented around half of the victims.

It is thus now obvious that Western leaders — first and foremost, President Obama — have grossly exaggerated the humanitarian risk in order to justify their military action in Libya.

The real interest of Misrata lies elsewhere. . . . The control of this port, at only 220 kilometers from Tripoli, would make it an ideal base for launching a land offensive against Qaddafi.

On Benghazi and the Cyrenaica Region:

Benghazi is well-known as a hot-bed of religious extremism. The Cyrenaica region has a long Islamist tradition going back to the Senussi brotherhood. Religious fundamentalism is much more evident here than in the western part of the country. Women are completely veiled from head to foot. They cannot drive and their social life is reduced to a minimum. Bearded men predominate. They often have the black mark of piety on their foreheads [the “zebibah,” which is formed by repeated prostration during Muslim prayers].

It is a little-known fact that Benghazi has become over the last 15 years the epicenter of African migration to Europe. This traffic in human beings has been transformed into a veritable industry, generating billions of dollars. Parallel mafia structures have developed in the city, where the traffic is firmly implanted and employs thousands of people, while corrupting police and civil servants. It was only a year ago that the Libyan government, with the help of Italy, managed to bring this cancer under control.

Following the disappearance of its main source of revenue and the arrest of a number of its bosses, the local mafia took the lead in financing and supporting the Libyan rebellion. Numerous gangs and members of the city's criminal underworld are known to have conducted punitive expeditions against African migrant workers in Benghazi and the surrounding area. Since the start of the rebellion, several hundred migrant workers — Sudanese, Somalis, Ethiopians, and Eritreans — have been robbed and murdered by rebel militias. This fact is carefully hidden by the international media.

On African “Mercenaries” and Tuaregs:

One of the greatest successes [of Qaddafi's African policy] is his “alliance” with the Tuaregs [a traditionally nomadic population spread over the region of the Sahara], whom he actively financed and supported when their movement was repressed in Mali in the 1990s.

. . . In 2005, Qaddafi accorded an unlimited residency permit to all Nigerian and Malian Tuaregs on Libyan territory. Then, in 2006, he called on all the tribes of the Sahara region, including Tuareg tribes, to form a common entity to oppose terrorism and drug trafficking . . .

This is why hundreds of combatants came from Niger and Mali to help Qaddafi [after the outbreak of the rebellion]. In their view, they were indebted to Gaddafi and had an obligation to do so. . . .

Many things have been written about the “mercenaries” serving in the Libyan security forces, but few of them are accurate. . . .

In recent years, foreigners have . . . been recruited [into the Libyan army]. The phenomenon is entirely comparable to the phenomenon that one observes on all levels of Libyan economic life. There is a very large population of foreign workers in search of employment in the country. The majority of the recruits originally come from Mali, Chad, Niger, Congo, and Sudan. . . .

The information from rebel sources on supposed foreign intrusions [i.e. mercenaries] is vague and should be treated with caution. . . .

On the other hand, it is a proven fact — and the mission was able to confirm this itself — that Tuaregs from Niger came to Tripoli to offer their support to Qaddafi. They did so spontaneously and out of a sense of debt.

. . . It seems that Libyans of foreign origin and genuine volunteers coming from foreign countries are being deliberately confused [in the reports on “mercenaries”]. Whatever the actual number [of foreign fighters], they form only a small part of the Libyan forces.

On the role of the international media:

Up until the end of February, the situation in western Libyan cities was extremely tense and there were clashes — more so than in the east. But the situation was the subject of exaggeration and outright disinformation in the media. For example, a report that Libyan aircraft bombed Tripoli is completely inaccurate: No Libyan bomb fell on the capital, even though bloody clashes seem to have taken place in certain neighborhoods. . . .

The consequences of this disinformation are clear. The U.N. resolution [mandating intervention] was approved on the basis of such media reports. No investigative commission was sent to the country. It is no exaggeration to say that sensationalist reporting by al-Jazeera influenced the U.N.

On the insurrection in Benghazi:

As soon as the protests started, Islamists and criminals immediately took advantage of the situation in order to attack high-security prisons outside Benghazi where their comrades were being held. Following the liberation of their leaders, the rebellion attacked police stations and public buildings. The residents of the city woke up to see the corpses of policemen hanging from bridges.

Numerous atrocities were likewise committed against African workers, who have all been treated as “mercenaries.” African workers were expelled, murdered, imprisoned, and tortured.

On the insurrection in Zawiya (a town in western Libya):

During the three weeks [that the town was controlled by the rebels], all public buildings were pillaged and set on fire. . . . Everywhere, there was destruction and pillaging (of arms, money, archives). There was no trace of combat, which confirms the testimony of the police [who claim to have received orders not to intervene]. . . .

There were also atrocities committed (women who were raped, and some police officers who were killed), as well as civilian victims during these three weeks. . . . The victims were killed in the manner of the Algerian GIA [Armed Islamic Group]: throats cut, eyes gauged out, arms and legs cut off, sometimes the bodies were burned . . .


  1. Who benefits from the US getting entwined in another Middle Eastern maelstrom?

  2. Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin is one of 10 senators who signed on to a bipartisan resolution introduced Tuesday that would authorize the U.S. to continue military operations in Libya for one year.

    "President Obama made the right decision when he engaged U.S. forces in the international effort to protect innocent civilians from being slaughtered by Qaddafi's forces,” the Maryland Democrat said in a statement. “But the mission cannot go on indefinitely.”

    The proposal, which was introduced by Republican Sen. John McCain and Democratic Sen. John Kerry, is the latest effort by restive lawmakers who are concerned about President Barack Obama’s decision to not seek congressional approval for the Libya operation. Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are considering a resolution that would end funding for the effort.

    Other sponsors of the Senate resolution include Democrats Carl Levin of Michigan, Richard Durbin of Illinois and Dianne Feinstein of California. Republicans include Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Roy Blunt of Missouri. Independent Sen. Joe Lieberman, of Connecticut, is also a sponsor.

  3. THIS is the damnedest thing I've Ever seen.

    Everything about this deal is so counterintuitive as to render it all "twilight zoneish." It is surreal.

  4. The only thing I can possibly come up with is, maybe, Ghaddafi was starting to ship some of that light sweet to China, and the Euros took offense. If that ain't it I give up.

  5. What difference does it make? If Bush were doing the same thing, you don't think for one second that the Republicans would be after him to explain. The Democrats going after Obama are doing the Republicans dirty work to hurt Obama which is obvious. People like you help the Republicans.

    I don't understand why you support the denigration of Obama because he is not pure. No American president has ever been pure but with people like you abetting Republicans because some few things Obama doesn't do, which would have been done ten fold by a Republican, makes little sense.

  6. We're pretty much "equal opportunity denigrators," here, anon. Everybody gets their turn in the barrel.

  7. At present, None of our political assholes deserve anything But denigration.

  8. McCain has lost his mind and Lindsey Graham, a closet queen, are both Republicans as are Bumt and Kyl. There should be an up or down vote under the War Powers Act. I want to hear why we are engaged in another ME shithole.


  9. We're pretty much "equal opportunity denigrators," here, anon. Everybody gets their turn in the barrel.

    Roger that. A sacred cow walks too close to the bar and it becomes the prime beef special.

  10. Or an Ad Hoc group of, oh I don't know, maybe Russia, Iran, Venezuel, and a couple of others deciding to cut production by a couple of million bbl/day. Umh.

    Wouldn't That be something to wake up to in the morning?

  11. Thought this was funny.

    Oil dives to 4-month low as emergency stocks unleashed

    "This supply disruption has been underway for some time and its effect has become more pronounced as it has continued," said the IEA. It said expectations were that Libyan production would remain off the market for the rest of 2011.

    "Greater tightness in the oil market threatens to undermine the fragile global economic recovery," it said.

    2m bpd being released to take up the slack for Libya's 1.2m bpd deficit.

    Guess the NATOcrats figure the war will be over soon, since Libya has oil in the ground and the west has oil in tanks that needs to be resupplied by Libya's oil in the ground.

  12. BTW, Oil is back Up $1.20 in the overnight electronic market. Back up to $92 and change.

  13. But, that's okay. Saudi Arabia's going to jummp in and save us,

    Any. Time. Now.

  14. U.S. President Barack Obama announced June 22 that the long process of drawing down forces in Afghanistan would begin on schedule in July. Though the initial phase of the drawdown appears limited, minimizing the tactical and operational impact on the ground in the immediate future, the United States and its allies are now beginning the inevitable process of removing their forces from Afghanistan.


    Afghanistan, a landlocked country in the heart of Central Asia, is one of the most isolated places on Earth. This isolation has posed huge logistical challenges for the United States.


    More important than the fate of armored trucks and equipment will be the process of rebalancing forces across the country. This will involve handing over outposts and facilities to Afghan security forces, who continue to struggle to reach full capability, and scaling back the extent of the U.S. and allied presence in the country.

    Realities Of Withdrawal

  15. The reports that a motorized Mexican army regiment took part in the firefight alongside Zetas gunmen are likely untrue. While there is a corrupt element within the military, the chance of an entire regiment operating with cartel gunmen is quite remote.

    It is not uncommon for individual soldiers and smaller military units to be found in the employ of cartels, and perhaps a small element was working with the Zetas, but it could not have been a Mexican army regiment, which would number some 1,000 to 3,000 troops.

    Whether the Zetas Matamoros raid was a deliberate strike against the Gulf cartel’s power base or an attempt to rescue a group of Zetas prisoners, we have been expecting to see this type of Zetas offensive for several months now. People and businesses should be aware of the probability of increasing violence in the coming months in Matamoros, Reynosa and Monterrey.

    Battle In Matamoros

  16. The cellphone of Osama bin Laden’s trusted courier, which was recovered in the raid that killed both men in Pakistan last month, contained contacts to a militant group that is a longtime asset of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, senior American officials who have been briefed on the findings say.


    Harakat is one of a host of militant groups set up in the 1980s and early ’90s with the approval and assistance of Pakistan’s premier spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, to fight as proxies in Afghanistan, initially against the Soviets, or against India in the disputed territory of Kashmir. Like many groups, it has splintered and renamed itself over the years, and because of their overlapping nature, other groups could have been involved in supporting Bin Laden, too, officials and analysts said.


    In the spring of 2003, Bin Laden, accompanied by a personal guard unit of Arab and Chechen fighters, arrived unexpectedly at a gathering of 80 to 90 militants at a village in the Shawal mountain range of North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s tribal areas, the former commander said. He met Bin Laden briefly inside a house; he said he knew it was him because they had met before, in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    Pakistani Links

  17. .

    Who benefits from the US getting entwined in another Middle Eastern maelstrom?

    Only our enemies; whoever they are these days.

    Libya was the result of the US attempting to regain the part of a player in the ME.

    Us diplomacy has been irratic there for years. It is ad hoc, paying off and supporting those we need something from (SA, Bahrain), pounding our chests and playing paper tiger to those we consider our enemies (Iran, Syria), and bribing the rest (Egypt, Yemen).

    We missed the Arab Spring entirely. In Egypt, when we finally saw which way the tide was running, we switched sides immediately. Not that it was necessarily the wrong thing to do but more that is was embarrassing in it's implementation.

    Obama and more importantly Hillary had to have been embarrassed by the turn of events. So what was their out? Hell lets invade Libya.

    You have a sparsely populated country run by a dictator most of the world hates. It's a tribal society. It has no modern army to speak of. Key allies want the action because of oil. Key players in the Arab league want the big MO taken out. (Him trying to have one of the rulers assassinated and insulting the ruler of another to his face in public doesn't really endear the guy to them). The UN, who has been a bystander in the ME and ignored for years will get on board to supply a token legitimacy. You own NATO. You have the most powerful army on earth. Your political opposition in the US is still filled with neocon hawks who will support the action. And you can claim you are doing it for humanitarian reasons.

    You can walk in and dump a dictator. And maybe gain some momentum as a player again. Try to get ahead of events. Hopefully you will get some attaboys from the Arab Spring movements. And maybe Hillary will be perceived as the man we always thought she was.

    What could possibly go wrong?


  18. Egyptian activists have threatened to bring mass pro-democracy protests back to Cairo, with a "million-strong" occupation of Tahrir Square planned for 8 July unless the ruling army generals abandon their current "roadmap" to democracy.

    In an increasingly rancorous debate, which has developed into a proxy war between the nation's fledgling Islamist and secular political forces, 40 different liberal and leftist movements have joined forces to demand that plans to hold elections in September are dropped.

    Campaigners fear the existing post-Mubarak transition programme – which would see September's ballot held under an amended version of Egypt's existing constitution and then allow members of parliament to oversee the writing of a new constitution – may cede permanent power to the Muslim Brotherhood and other religious groups, who are expected to dominate the poll.

  19. Here is where our Egyptian policy has dumped us:

    In an effort to secure a compromise, presidential hopeful Mohamed ElBaradei has proposed that elections precede the new constitution as originally planned, but that a new bill of rights should be drawn up beforehand that would supersede the constitution. This bill of rights would acknowledge the importance of Islamic sharia law in guiding legislation but also affirm Egypt's status as a civil state.

    ElBaradei's plan has won some support, though questions remain about how such a legal document would be formulated.

  20. .

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Well there is always:

    1. The dictator decided he didn't want to play by your rules.
    2. The phony 'to save innocent lives' canard limited the actual damage you could do under the UN resolution.
    3. In your frustration, you start killing as many 'innocent lives' as you are saving.
    4. Since you have little knowledge of Libyan politics (and to this point hadn't really cared) or the people involved in the opposition there you side with the first one that seems the least bit organized. The fact that it is filled with terrorists and monarchists, well you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.
    5. The fact that if Ghadafi goes you may end up with a vacuum and a breeding ground for terrorists, but well, that's tomarrow's problem.
    6. You 'turn the operation over to NATO' even though you still pretty much run all aspects of it.
    7. It's reported your NATO allies are running out of ammo.
    8. What was predicted to last for days is now in its fourth month with no end in site without a lucky hit that takes out the Big Mo.
    9. Congress is getting antsy because you ignore the law and continue the operation without the proper authority.
    10. You get some hired-gun lawyers to come up with a paper that says that despite daily pictures of bombed out homes and military targets that the US is not involved in hostilities.
    11. You look like an idiot every time you come on TV and fail to explain what national interest we have in attacking Libya. Or that we are there to 'save innocent live'. Or that we are not really trying to assassinate Mo. Or that this is not really a war and there are no hostilities.
    12. Hillary, who sees the way the wind is blowing, starts looking for job opertunities with the World Bank.
    13. The action that was to be over in a couple days is now costing us $2 billion per year, money that could be spent here at home or given away in Africa on malaria control which would save a hundred times (in actual lives) the amount of (potential deaths) you predicted in Libya.
    14. We don't have troops on the ground only advisors, you know, similar to what Kennedy did in Vietnam.
    15. Worst of all, you can't back out without taking out Ghadafi; otherwise you will look like a bigger dick than you already do.
    16. Luckily, you have deep thinkers like John McCain and Lindsay Graham on you side, and your party leadership is already trying to get legislation that will make your actions legal even if it is declared so retroactively.
    17. Now commentators, liberal and conservative alike, are commenting on your Orwellian explanations and rationale for the war. The MSM is also starting to turn.

    What could go wrong?

    Hubris, Hutzpah, and Hypocrisy.


  21. US applications for unemployment compensation rose by 9,000 to a seasonally adjusted 429,000 in the week ended June 18, the Labor Department said Thursday, pointing to persistent weakness in the jobs market.

  22. Not bad work. We now have firmly established Sharia law in Iraq and now in Egypt. Libya and Syria will be next. Turkey is leaning in that direction. It is a tide that we are incapable of stopping and need to quit waisting lives and assets pretending that we can. We need to get out and stay out.

    Israel is truly screwed. They will eventually face what the Serbs faced in Kosovo and the whites faced in South Africa. It is just a matter of time.

    Build a house along the Mississippi and enjoy it while you can. My fear is that we will be mindlessly swept into an impossible situation between Netanyahu and Iran. Let's hope not. The Middle East should no longer be our problem. Here we can learn from the Chinese. We had better.

  23. As I have told you fellas, before, the US is allied with elements of Islam.

    For better or worse.
    For a variety of reasons.

    But the US has NEVER been
    "at war with Islam"
    nor will it be.

  24. And you all thought that "Maverick" McCain should be President.

    That fella is nuttier than a fruit cake.

  25. And you all thought that "Maverick" McCain should be President.

    No, I thought Obama should not.

  26. And I KNEW that McCain should not be.

    That's why the Librarian got my vote.
    The Presidency is not a binary choice.

    Lincoln won with 35% of the popular vote, in a four way race.

    It's the Republican Way.