The American Bear


U.S. officials say the hope is that the General Purpose Force — a [US] trained Libyan military organization — will start to fill the country’s festering security vacuum, initially by protecting vital government installations and the individuals struggling to make this country run. The Obama administration hopes the force eventually will form the core of a new national army.

U.S. plan for new, Western-trained Libyan force faces obstacles | The Washington Post

We never learn.

US seeks Libyan permission for drone attacks, says source

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—A high-ranking Libyan official has told to Asharq Al-Awsat that Libyan authorities have opposed “intense American pressure” to allow the US to use military drones in eastern Libya. The requests are based on US intelligence that organizations affiliated with Al-Qaeda are operating in the area.

“American authorities requested an agreement with us over operations to target extremists on Libyan territory,” said the official, who requested anonymity. “But until now, no decision has been made.”

Speaking from the Libyan capital during a telephone conversation with Asharq Al-Awsat, he added that “there are currently military and political communications between Tripoli and Washington to this end, but we have not given our consent until now. It is hard to arrive at a decision, especially as the Americans do not share their information and intelligence sources.”

The source added that a bilateral agreement that would allow the US to perform drone strikes in the eastern Libya would not be an easy one, because the Libyan people would not tolerate any government that approved such strikes, regardless of the context.

The former Libyan minister of defense Mohamed Al-Barghathi confirmed to Asharq Al-Awsat before his resignation last month that his country would not grant permission for US drones to launch attacks against extremist bases within Libyan territory, adding that he believed this was the task of the Libyan security forces.

Local residents in the eastern city of Benghazi have witnessed unidentified aircraft flying at low altitude over the past few weeks. This has increased speculation that the United States is conducting surveillance of suspected extremist sites in the region.

CIA Gun-running: Qatar-Libya-Syria | Phil Greaves

A report from CNN’s Jake Tapper has reintroduced “Benghazi-Gate” to the US media spotlight. The report claims that “dozens” of CIA operatives were on the ground in Benghazi on the night of the attack, and the CIA is going to great lengths to suppress details of them and their whereabouts being released. The report alleges that the CIA is engaged in “unprecedented” attempts to stifle employee leaks, and “intimidation” to keep the secrets of Benghazi hidden, allegedly going as far as changing the names of CIA operatives and “dispersing” them around the country.

One suspects this has a single and defined purpose – to hide the CIA’s culpability in supplying arms to known extremists in Libya and Syria. Moreover, the CNN report alludes to the CIA supplying “surface-to-air missiles” from Benghazi to rebels in Syria, but this may only be the tip of the iceberg. The report goes on to state: (PG emphasis)

Sources now tell CNN dozens of people working for the CIA were on the ground that night, and that the agency is going to great lengths to make sure whatever it was doing, remains a secret. CNN has learned the CIA is involved in what one source calls an unprecedented attempt to keep the spy agency’s Benghazi secrets from ever leaking out.

Since January, some CIA operatives involved in the agency’s missions in Libya, have been subjected to frequent, even monthly polygraph examinations, according to a source with deep inside knowledge of the agency’s workings. The goal of the questioning, according to sources, is to find out if anyone is talking to the media or Congress. It is being described as pure intimidation, with the threat that any unauthorized CIA employee who leaks information could face the end of his or her career.

Speculation on Capitol Hill has included the possibility the U.S. agencies operating in Benghazi were secretly helping to move surface-to-air missiles out of Libya, through Turkey, and into the hands of Syrian rebels.

Although Saudi Arabia have recently been kindly given “the Syrian card” by the United States – with Prince Bandar once again becoming “Prince of the Jihad,” it has become common knowledge that since the onset of the Syrian crisis, it was Qatar at the forefront of supplying arms and funds to both the political and militant elements of the so-called “opposition”. This has undoubtedly included tacit support of the dominant radical elements among the plethora of brigades on the ground in Syria; with Jabhat al Nusra being the most obvious beneficiary of Qatari largesse. Earlier this year it was reported that the CIA had been in direct “consultation” with the Qatari Monarchys’ network of arms smugglers – run primarily from the Emir’s palace in Doha. Accordingly, it seems certain that both the CIA and Qatari intelligence were involved in an operation to ship arms stockpiles from “rebels” in Libya; to the “rebels” in Syria: both varieties of which are inextricably linked to Al Qaeda affiliates and radical Salafi-Jihadi militants.

A New York Times report from 30 March 2011 reveals that the CIA had been active in Libya “for weeks”, to “gather information for [NATO] airstrikes, and to contact and ‘vet’ the rebels battling “Gaddafi’s forces”. The New York Times report also states that Obama had signed a presidential finding in the weeks previous, which gave authority to the CIA to arm and fund the rebels. Furthermore, the Independent revealed in March 2011 that Obama had requested Saudi Arabia supply arms to the Libyan militants. Obama had also given his blessing for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to ship arms into Benghazi, urging them to supply non-US manufactured arms to avert suspicion – in violation of the No-Fly Zone and arms embargo he helped to enforce, and all in total violation of the US Constitution and International Law. [must read]

Libya sacks defense minister after deadly Tripoli clashes | Al Akhbar English

Libya’s defense minister has been relieved from his post following deadly clashes in the capital Tripoli, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan said in a televised news conference on Thursday.

“He previously submitted his resignation but we asked him to stay,” Zeidan said, referring to when Defense Minister Mohammed al-Bargathi submitted his resignation last month.

“But after what happened yesterday, it has been decided that he will be relieved from his position. We will name a new minister as soon as possible.”

Tension was palpable in the Libyan capital on Thursday, a day after deadly fighting broke out between groups of ex-rebels, highlighting the country’s continuing insecurity nearly two years after dictator Muammar Gaddafi fell.

Five people were killed and nearly 100 were wounded in clashes between rival armed militias in Tripoli on Wednesday, Health Minister Nurideen Doghman said.

“In total 97 people were wounded and five were killed in yesterday’s clashes,” Doghman said on state television.

Loud explosions and gunfire rocked Tripoli late into the night – the second day of violence in the city, highlighting the rivalries between heavily armed groups that have plagued the country since the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi.

Much of Libya’s recent unrest has centered on the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of the uprising, where attacks blamed on Islamists have targeted both the authorities and Western interests.

But it now seems to be spreading to Tripoli, where brigades of ex-rebels remain entrenched despite government efforts to disarm them and impose its authority.

Since the fall of Gaddafi’s regime, militia groups, mostly ex-rebels, have managed border controls, prisons, strategic facilities in the country and vital institutions.

Coming from different parts of the country, representing different tribes and with varying ideologies, they have received salaries and perks from the authorities, and some have even benefited from smuggling and extortion.

Deadly events on Tuesday and Wednesday epitomized the sense of lawlessness that surrounds them.

A group of armed men from the city of Zintan who had been guarding oil facilities in the southern desert, attacked the Tripoli headquarters of the petroleum industry security force on Tuesday.

They had been replaced by another group and wanted their jobs back.

Another “brigade” of ex-rebels, loosely attached to interior ministry’s high security commission, intervened in the fighting. Five people were killed and five of the Zintanis seized.

On Wednesday, armed Zintanis attacked the Tripoli headquarters of the brigade, located in the capital’s Abu Slim district. They ransacked it and freed their comrades.

Five people were also killed in that fighting and another 97 wounded, the health ministry said.

The interim head of Libya’s army, General Salem al-Konidi, said “we tried to intervene, but our resources did not allow it”.

“The government refuses to equip the army,” Konidi told Libya al-Ahrar television.

On Thursday, military police remained deployed at key points along the airport road near Abu Slim, having arrived during the previous days clashes.

While there were no outright threats, there was a sense among people in the city that there could be more inter-militia clashes.

Konidi also disowned the Zintanis, who are officially attached to the defense ministry, saying “forces that don’t follow our orders don’t belong to us”.

The government limited itself to issuing a statement overnight in which it regretted the “deplorable acts” and affirmed its intention to enforce its decision to remove “illegal militias” from the capital.

That decision had been taken by the General National Congress (GNC), the country’s highest legislative and political authority, after deadly fighting in Benghazi three weeks ago.

And the government said on Thursday that, during the course of the day, Prime Minister Ali Zeidan would speak about the latest clashes.

But while violence hit Tripoli, there were deadly attacks elsewhere in the country.

Overnight, three car bombs exploded in Sebha, 700 kilometers south of the capital. Two people died and 17 were wounded in the blasts, which came at roughly half-hour intervals, officials said.

And in Benghazi on Wednesday, an army officer died after a bomb placed in his official vehicle exploded.

The death of Lieutenant Colonel Jemaa al-Misrati came a day after gunmen killed six soldiers at a checkpoint south of Sirte, the late Gaddafi’s hometown.

Benghazi, Petraeus, and the CIA | Horace Campbell

What Greg Hicks and Representative Darrell Issa did not probe was the role of the CIA and Petraeus in the use of Benghazi as the largest CIA station in North Africa, where they ran militias into Syria. When the information about the attack on the US ‘facility’ in Benghazi was first brought to light, there was confusion because this information had the potential of putting the vaunted military in its proper perspective. Was the space that was attacked a consulate, a State Department facility, a CIA safe house, or indeed a prison for captured militias? This confusion took attention away from the reality that elements in the military/intelligence hierarchy had formulated a policy to align with certain militia groups in Eastern Libya and that these militias (sometimes called jihadists) had in the past been linked to groups that the U.S. called ‘terrorist organizations.’ France, the CIA, and the U.S. Africa Command had aligned with these jihadists to destabilize Libya, freeze billions of dollars of assets, execute Gaddafi, and use Libya as a rear base in the drive for regime change in Syria.

… [T]his review and these hearings are obfuscating … the real issues that emanate from the role of the CIA in recruiting Jihadists in Benghazi. On Monday at a press conference, Obama called the continued discussions on Benghazi a “side show.” However, for the millions of persons in North Africa that have been negatively affected by the NATO intervention and the role of the CIA, private militias and private military contractors, the debates in the USA can be viewed as another diversion to cover up the CIA operations in North Africa. Ethan Chorin, one of the operators in Libya and close ally of Ambassador Stevens, has weighed in with an op-ed piece in the New York Times that stated,

“The biggest American failure wasn’t in the tactical mistakes about security at the diplomatic mission where Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died. It lay in thinking that an intervention in Libya would be easier or less costly than it has proved to be — a judgment that led the United States to think it could go in light, get out fast and focus on the capital, Tripoli, without paying enough attention to Libya’s eastern provinces, where the rebellion began as a call for a constitution and increased civil liberties.”

Chorin, who was an insider in Benghazi, continues to insist that the NATO intervention was “inspired and skillfully executed, and had the potential to do more good than harm.”

But knowing that the U.S. facility was a CIA post would seem to help explain certain mysteries. Why wasn’t the Obama Administration truthful about what happened? There may have been multiple reasons. Surely one of them was that they wanted to hide the fact that a supposed diplomatic facility was really rife with spies. Why was the compound attacked? It seems likely that the presence of more than 20 CIA agents had something to do with it. Why were bureaucrats at the State Department so insistent on deflecting blame? Perhaps they’re just typically averse to seeing their misjudgments revealed. But it also seems plausible that they conceived of Benghazi as a CIA operation, given the fact that it was largely a CIA operation, and felt the CIA bore responsibility for protecting their own assets, a rebuttal State Department officials cannot make publicly so long as we persist with the fiction that Benghazi was just a normal diplomatic facility with foreign service folks, a visiting ambassador, and no overwhelming spy presence. How Can We Understand Benghazi Without Probing the CIA’s Role? (via azspot)

(via azspot)

David Petraeus, who tried and failed to get his preferred spin of the attack in Benghazi accepted by the Obama Administration, who subsequently got fired, purportedly for fucking and possibly sharing classified information with his mistress, went to Dick Cheney’s propagandist to try to get his preferred spin adopted after the fact. … [F]or the moment, note how neatly this all serves to let David Petraeus tell the story he tried to tell just before he got fired. Benghazi Talking Points: Petraeus’ Revenge

The Sykes-Picot Agreement - which divided the Ottoman Empire after World War I and created the Middle East as we know it - is today violently breaking apart in front of the eyes of the world. The countries of Syria and Iraq; formerly unified Arab states formed after the defeat of their former Ottoman rulers, exist today only in name. In their place what appears most likely to come into existence - after the bloodshed subsides - are small, ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets: weak and easily manipulated, where their progenitors at their peaks were robustly independent powers. … Such states, divided upon sectarian lines, would be politically pliable, isolated and enfeebled, and thus utterly incapable of offering a meaningful defence against foreign interventionism in the region. Given the implications for the Middle East, where overt foreign aggression has been a consistent theme for decades, there is reason to believe that this state of affairs has been consciously engineered. Iraq, Syria and the death of the modern Middle East | Murtaza Hussain

Libya defense minister resigns as gunmen continue sieges | Al Akhbar

Libya’s defense minister resigned on Tuesday in protest of a siege by gunmen of two government ministries that he denounced as an assault on democracy.

He was the first cabinet minister to quit in a crisis over the sieges, which armed groups refused to lift even after parliament bowed on Sunday to their demand by banning any senior official who served under former leader Muammar Gaddafi from holding government posts.

Gunmen encircle Libya's justice ministry | Al Akhbar

Dozens of armed men demanding the expulsion of officials from the former Gaddafi government on Tuesday surrounded the justice ministry in Tripoli, stepping up an action started at the foreign ministry three days earlier, an official said.

“Several armed men in vehicles equipped with anti-aircraft guns surrounded the ministry of justice,” Walid Ben Rabha, head of the ministry’s information department, told AFP.

“They asked the minister and staff present to leave their offices and close the ministry.”

Libya’s interior ministry and the national television station have also been attacked.

On Monday, angry police officers firing their guns in the air stormed the interior ministry demanding higher wages.

Prime Minister Ali Zeidan has denounced the encircling of the foreign ministry and other such attacks.

On Sunday, he appealed to Libyans to support the government in resisting armed groups “who want to destabilize the country and terrorize foreigners and embassies,” but said the government would “not come into confrontation with anyone.”

Gunmen have said their siege of the ministries would be lifted when their demands are met by a vote in the General National Congress – Libya’s highest political authority – on a bill calling for the expulsion of former regime employees.

The Congress is studying proposals for a law to exclude former Gaddafi regime officials from top government and political posts.

The proposed law could affect several senior figures in the government and has caused waves in the country’s political class.

In March, demonstrators encircled the assembly itself, trapping members in the building for several hours as they called for the adoption of the law.

After the siege was lifted, gunmen targeted Congress chief Mohammed Megaryef’s motorcade without causing any casualties.

More than a year after Gaddafi’s ouster in an eight-month civil war which NATO entered on the side of the mostly-Islamist rebels, Libya is struggling to build a unified army and police force.

Libya faces growing Islamist threat | The Guardian

Western intervention in Libya leads to blowback in Mali, leads to intervention in Mali, leads to blowback in Libya, leads to …

Diplomats are warning of growing Islamist violence against western targets in Libya as blowback from the war in Mali, following last week’s attack on the French embassy in Tripoli.

The bomb blast that wrecked much of the embassy is seen as a reprisal by Libyan militants for the decision by Paris the day before to extend its military mission against fellow jihadists in Mali.

The Guardian has learned that jihadist groups ejected from their Timbuktu stronghold have moved north, crossing the Sahara through Algeria and Niger to Libya, fuelling a growing Islamist insurgency.

“There are established links between groups in both Mali and Libya – we know there are established routes,” said a western diplomat in Tripoli. “There is an anxiety among the political class here that Mali is blowing back on them.”

That anxiety escalated last week after militants detonated a car bomb outside the French embassy, wounding two French guards and a Libyan student, the first such attack on a western target in the Libyan capital since the end of the 2011 Arab spring revolution.

“The armed groups we are fighting are fleeing to Libya,” said Colonel Keba Sangare, commander of Mali’s army garrison in Timbuktu. “We have captured Libyans in this region, as well as Algerians, Nigerians, French and other European dual-nationals.”