Why Is the Fed Bailing Out Qaddafi?Source: www.readersupportedn…’Barack Obama recently issued an executive order imposing a wave of sanctions against Libya, not only freezing Libyan assets, but barring Americans from having business dealings with Lib… Continue reading
As the uprising in Libya continues, we update you with the latest developments from our correspondents, news agencies and citizens across the globe. Al Jazeera is not responsible for content derived from external sites.
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(All times are local in Libya GMT+2)
French warplanes destroy five Libyan planes and two helicopters on ground at Misurata airport, Reuters news agency quotes armed forces spokesman as saying.
Libyan rebels say they have seized control of the oil port of Brega, but there is no independent confirmation. Brega, site of an oil export terminal and refinery, sprawls over a large area and overall control can be hard to determine.
“Brega is 100 percent in the hands of the liberating forces,” Shamsiddin Abdulmolah, a rebel spokesman in Benghazi, said.He said forces opposed to leader Muammar Gaddafi had been driven out late on Saturday afternoon in what would have been a signficant success for the rebels.
There were no journalists in the town and no immediate independent confirmation of the rebel breakthrough.
A Libyan woman claims she was handcuffed by government troops and gang-raped by 15 men. The woman narrated her story to journalists at a hotel in Tripoli as government minders and hotel staff dragged her out of the hotel to stop her telling the story.
Pro-democracy activist Ahmed Al Misrati in Misurata tells al Jazeera:
The city of Misurata is besieged from all sides. Gaddafi’s troops had laid siege to the city and after the no-fly zone [was imposed] Gaddafi troops who were stationed in certain [areas] are now spreading out around the city.Some of them are also positioned inside the city in the main road called Tripoli Street. As a matter of fact, the city of Misurata since morning has been under heavy gunfire and heavy bombardment … by tanks or mortar shells. This bombardment is indiscriminate and arbitrary, sometimes targeting residential plots and one entire family was killed – the father and his children.They are also stationed in other rooftops, especially the high buildings … Anybody in the street comes under heavy gunfire and now the situation is exacerbating and is very, very dire.
.Rebels tell the AFP news agency they have retaken the eastern town of Brega, and a journalist confirms their forces are in the town centre. ”We are in the centre of Brega,” rebel fighter Abdelsalam al-Maadani told AFP by telephone.
“Gaddafi’s forces are on the retreat and should now be at Al-Bisher (30km, 20 miles) west of Brega,” he said.
3:53pm Al Jazeera’s Sue Turton, reporting from Benghazi, where the National Council for the rebels held a press conference, says a senior Libyan army officer has been captured. She says the rebels believe Gaddafi forces are on the back foot and the captured general will be brought to Benghazi.
We’re hearing reports that the number three in Gaddafi’s army, Bilgasim Al-Ganga, has been captured overnight in fighting in Ajdabiya. He has a fierce reputation among the opposition who accuse him of committing many atrocities under the Gaddafi regime.
There is muted optimism. It really does feel the momentum of the Gaddafi forces has been stopped. They are not outwardly celebrating but they are definitely optimistic.
In the past hour allied war planes have hit Gaddafi targets in the opposition-held town of Misurata. Pro-democracy fighters now say they have moved past Brega further to the west. And that they are heading towards Ras Lanuf – another oil-rich town.
Al Jazeera’s James Bays says celebrations by the rebels in Ajdabiya, where he is reporting from, are continuing after the town was retaken by the rebels. Gunfire could he heard from background as he spoke and referred to it as “fresh celebrations”.
But he added that it is unclear whether the rebels’ victory was planned.
The opposition fighters have come along the main road, hit the roadblock of Gaddafi’s forces and that was a stalemate … It was only when those airstrikes [of coalition forces] took place that the situation changed.
It [town] was recaptured because of what came from the skies. It was here- at the west gate in Ajdabiya – that Gaddafi forces made their last stand … There was bombardment from international jets; international coalition … People here are celebrating. The people are firing in celebration rather than anger. Most people had fled Ajdabiya during the fighting, but some had hidden in their homes but now they [are] joining the celebrations.
Reuters - Barack Obama, the US president, says that the military mission in Libya is clear, focused and limited, and that it has already saved “countless” civilian lives.
He added that Libya’s air defences have been disabled, Gaddafi’s forces are no longer advancing and in places like the city of Benghazi, a rebel stronghold, his forces have been pushed back.
“So make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians – innocent men, women and children – have been saved,” he said in a weekly radio address.
Al Jazeera reports that Libyan rebels have advanced 40km from the eastern town of Ajdabiya towards Brega.
Libyan opposition rebels take the key eastern town of Ajdabiya from government control, Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from the city. Bays said:
“There is no doubt about it, you can probably hear some of the celebrations behind me, Ajdabiya is in opposition hands.”
Libyan opposition rebels take the key eastern city of Ajdabiya from government control, Al Jazeera’s James Bays reports from the city. Bays said:
There is no doubt about it, you can probably hear some of the celebrations behind me, Ajdabiya is in opposition hands.
AFP – The United States and it’s allies are considering supplying weapons to the Libyan oppostion, the Washngton Post newspaper has reported.
It added, citing unnamed US and European officials, that the Obama administration believed the UN resolution that authorised international intervention in Libya has the “flexibility” to allow such assistance.
According to the newspaper, Gene Cretz, the recently withdrawn US ambassador to Libya, said administration officials were having “the full gamut” of discussions on “potential assistance we might offer, both on the non-lethal and the lethal side”.
But no decisions had been made, the paper noted.
Video of jets with weapons … headed for Libya
A military site in Tripoli’s eastern Tajura suburb was in flames early on Saturday morning after three major explosions rocked the district, a witness told AFP
Reuters reports that Western warplanes bombed Muammar Gaddafi’s tanks and artillery in eastern Libya in an attempt to try to break a battlefield stalemate and help rebels take the strategic town of Ajdabiyah. Rebels said they had entered Ajdabiyah from the east on Friday, while Gaddafi’s forces held on in the west of the town, which commands the coastal road towards Tripoli.
How Gaddafi bought friends and influence on the African continent. A photo essay on Foreign Policy
Reuters reports that individuals accused of bombing and shooting anti-government protesters in Libya will end up on trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) sooner or later, the US ambassador-at-large for war crimes has revealed.
Barack Obama to address the American people on Libya at the National Defense University in Washington on Monday evening, according to the Whitehouse.
NPR examines the next steps for NATO forces in Libya
Rumours have been circulating online and in mainstream media for about two weeks that Khamis Al Gaddafi, son of Muammar Gaddafi, has been killed. Tonight, the rumours are making the rounds again, with a new twist. Global Voices blogger Amira Al Hussaini collates the latest debate over twitter.
The pundits can’t make up their mind which they dislike more – Obama’s inaction or his action? But they’re not dithering, oh no!
The much anticipated military intervention in Libya was met with scepticism by Fox News hosts because America is not leading the charge and because the president continues to insist that protecting civilians is the mission’s priority.
Sean Hannity is dissatisfied on many levels with America’s role in the military intervention in Libya, because he believes the president has wasted time by engaging with the United Nations rather than going it alone, because the purpose of the mission has not been defined to his satisfaction and because he doesn’t know “how long we have to be in it to win it” (view clip).
He discusses his frustrations with Colonel Oliver North, who gained notoriety for his involvement in the Iran-Contra arms scandal. North is also disappointed with President Obama’s handling of the situation and believes that he (Obama) only got the US involved because the French embarrassed him into it. Hannity finds this penchant for thinking before acting typical of “the gang that can’t shoot straight” (aka the Obama administration). Although he (Hannity) doesn’t appear to be entirely sure himself that intervening in Libya is the right thing, he seems to wish the president would get on with it already.
I am frightened by this president’s inability, Colonel, to make a decision. Now, it took six months to give the troops that were requested by our leaders in Afghanistan. He was dithering – that was the phrase we used – and then he still didn’t give them the troops they wanted. He didn’t support the freedom fighters in Iran in 2009. He vacillated and took varying positions in Egypt and seems to be doing the same here today, more concerned about brackets, trips to Rio and games of golf!
North agrees and further asserts that President Obama’s problem is that he tries too hard to please everyone and ends up pleasing no one. The kinder view would be that the president has tried very hard to do the right thing by the civilians in Libya at risk of slaughter while, at the same time, trying to avoid dragging America into what could turn into another intractable war in the Middle East. But to Hannity, pondering these dilemmas are of less concern than America losing its standing as the world’s policeman.
This is a problem if the centre of gravity, in other words, in terms of terms of world leadership, is now – because of America’s failure or America gives it up … is now shifted to Europe, if they now make these decisions. If the president doesn’t go to Congress, for example, there are a lot of angry liberal congressman about this, but he goes to the United Nations and he basically uses them as his justification and doesn’t seem to have real commitment, it seems like he doesn’t really believe that America’s place in the world ought to be one of moral leadership – fundamentally, what message does that send the world?!
It doesn’t seem to occur to Hannity that the world might be very open to a less imposing America that does not feel obliged to provide leadership, moral or otherwise.
Bill O’Reilly welcomes the “better late than never” military intervention in Libya, but is dismayed by the mixed reaction to the air strikes and invokes Britain’s wartime prime minister, Winston Churchill, to articulate his desire for clarity of vision (view clip).
“Talking Points [that is, O'Reilly's show] is almost numb, numb from the foolish analysis of the Libyan action. Never have so many said so much useless stuff for stuff.”
O’Reilly’s biggest problem with the intervention is that neither the United Nations nor the American president will say outright that the goal of their mission is to take out Gaddafi (rather than to protect civilians). And while he claims to understand that such a statement might anger our allies or would-be allies in the Arab world, O’Reilly still has no time for all this beating about the Bush.
Even a five year old knows you don’t bomb a country unless you want the country to change. And Libya is not going to change unless Gaddafi is out of there. We all understand that. I don’t know about you but I am tired, tired of the obnoxious verbal game being played.
O’Reilly discusses this with Karl Rove who claims that because the president “dithered” for so long and allowed the UN to take the lead, he is now bound by the language of the UN resolution, which does not state “regime change” as its goal. Rove also contends that Obama’s choice of words is a face-saving measure because if he says he is out to get Gaddafi and then fails to get Gaddafi, it will make him (Obama) and the United States look weaker than Rove believes they already appear. O’Reilly agrees with this assessment but does his bit on behalf of his network’s “fair and balanced” theme, and tries to explain the president’s point of view.
But wasn’t it smart for President Obama to do that, though? To take the international approach, to take all the animus away from the United States because people would use that to say, “here they go again!” It has the Arab League signature on it and all of that.
Rove counters that the time wasted (seeking an international solution) just empowered Gaddafi. And with his quest for fairness and balance thus satisfied, O’Reilly goes back to calling for some straight talking and an end to the “BS”, which he claims is “his job to cut through”.
World events are moving a bit too fast at the moment for Glenn Beck’s liking, and although he had the whole weekend to get a handle on the Libya situation, by the time his first show of the week aired, he had not yet managed to come up with a satisfactory theory as to who is behind it all, who stands to gain from it and what we should all be thinking and doing about it. Until he can finalise his storyline, Beck consoled himself with making sure his audience understood that everything Gaddafi has done and continues to do to his people is very, very bad, and everything that President Obama and the United Nations have attempted to do to protect Libyan civilians from the brutal Gaddafi is very, very bad also (view clips; read transcript).
To counteract all this mayhem, Beck urges his viewers to turn their back on all that is evil (communists, socialists, and TV personalities like Bill Maher and the ladies on ABC’s The View who reject the bible’s teachings) and embrace all that is good (God and the Founders).
America understand one thing – this is good versus evil and your name will be put on a chart or a book someplace. Evil is alive and well on this planet and it is growing. It needs to be put on notice that good is growing as well.
Beck draws two columns on his blackboard, one for good and one for evil and quickly fills up the evil column with some of the afore-mentioned offenders. The good column sadly remains empty, largely because Beck believes that far too many of us today are choosing to “rely on man’s intelligence and are openly hostile to God”. But if only we remind ourselves that Jesus is coming back and prepare for that event, everything will be OK.
No one knows the hour that Jesus is going to return. Nobody does. That’s what you believe if you’re a Christian. That he is coming back. I don’t know when he’s coming back. Everybody has been thinking that it could be five minutes from now, it could be five thousand years from now. We don’t know. But does it hurt to be prepared, to have order in your life? Does it hurt to have, to check yourself spiritually, to check your pantry, to have an emergency plan together?
I’m not quite sure why stocking one’s pantry or whatever is necessary preparation for the second coming but it’s probably not a bad thing that, for the time being at least, Beck is more focused on God than on Gaddafi.
US president said it might not be ‘military might’ but a belief among the Libyan people which ultimately sweeps Gaddafi from power
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may try to hang on to power despite the US-military backed mission in Libya, president Barack Obama said in an interview on Tuesday. But Obama hopes the military action will create enough space for rebels to “create a legitimate government.”
Speaking to CNN during his trip to south America the president said he hoped the military intervention would help the Libyan opposition start organising for change. Obama said it might not be “military might” but a belief among the Libyan people that it is time for a change that ends with “ultimately sweeping Gaddafi out of power.”
“I think – our hope is – that the first thing that can happen once we’ve cleared the space is that the rebels are able to start discussing how they organise themselves, how they articulate their aspirations for the Libyan people and create a legitimate government,” he told CNN.
Obama said the immediate goal of the mission that began Saturday was to prevent Gaddafi’s military from conducting an onslaught on the rebel stronghold of Benghazi. “Because the international community rallied, his troops have now pulled back from Benghazi,” Obama said.
While the US and its coalition partners, including NATO allies and Arab states, are establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and attacking the Libyan leader’s forces, the president warned that Gaddafi was unlikely to back down soon. “Gaddafi may try to hunker down and wait it out even in the face of the no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded,” Obama said.
The president, in El Salvador on the last leg of his trip, said there were other ways the international community could try to oust Gaddafi: “Keep in mind we don’t just have military tools at our disposal in terms of accomplishing Gaddafi’s leaving,” he said. “We’ve put in place strong international sanctions. We’ve frozen his assets. We will continue to apply a whole range of pressure on him.”
“Potentially what we may see is all the enthusiasm that the Libyan people had for a change in government that was occurring a few weeks ago,” and that had repressed by Gadaffi’s “brutal amplification of force” would now be reawakened, the president said.
Obama noted the irony of being a Nobel Peace Prize winner who ordered the US military into action on the eight anniversary of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but he said the goal in this case was humanitarian.
“I’m accustomed to this contradiction of being both a commander-in-chief but also somebody who aspires to peace,” Obama said. “We’re not invading a country, we are not acting alone,” he said. “We are acting under a mandate issued by the UN Security Council.”
International coalition including Qatar and United Arab Emirates to share oversight of UN-mandated anti-Gaddafi campaign
Bosnia, which came to symbolise Europe’s failure to prevent bloodshed on its doorstep , could provide a model for a new era as the world confronts Muammar Gaddafi.
Diplomatic sources say that a structure which has kept the peace in Bosnia could be replicated as the international community enforces the no-fly zone over Libya.
Diplomats in Brussels have become embroiled in bitter exchanges in recent days as they try to establish a command structure for the Libyan operation that would meet Barack Obama’s demand to relieve Washington of operational control.
The diplomats are now looking to Bosnia which was famously failed by the European Union in the mid 1990s. The EU finally redeemed itself when it assumed command from Nato of the peace keeping operation in Bosnia in 2004. The EU force, known as Eufor, has been in the lead ever since but is able to draw on Nato assets when needed.
In separate phone calls Tuesday night Barack Obama agreed with David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy that a similar structure would be established to run the no-fly zone over Libya.
Political oversight would be in the hands of members of the international coalition joining the action to enforce the UN security council resolution 1973. Britain, France and the US are in the lead, but the coalition also includes Arab countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. This oversight would be akin to the EU’s role in Bosnia.
But the military campaign to enforce the no-fly zone would be run by Nato. This could mean that James Stavridis, an American admiral who is Nato’s current Supreme Allied Commander Europe, could be in charge of the military operation.
The agreement by Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron will have to be put to all 28 members of Nato. The alliance operates by consensus which means that a raised eyebrow could scupper the plan.
But there were hopes in London and Paris that agreement will be reached, giving Nato the chance to avoid its worst split in years.
An intense debate opened up after Obama, who wants to avoid a repeat of the US-led “shock and awe” tactics of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, made clear that Washington would command the campaign only in its early stages.
A clear message was sent across the Atlantic: Nato or a combination of its members with the support of Arab nations would have to take command of the no-fly zone to show the world that the US had no wish to impose its will on a Muslim country.
Sarkozy was keen to establish an Anglo-French command to run the military campaign. Britain was wary of the proposal however, and pushed hard for a clearly defined Nato operation.
“The French want to run this jointly with Britain,” a senior Whitehall source said before Tuesday night’s agreement. “That is their preference. It is not our preference. We want Nato to deal with this because Nato has the right experience in dealing with multinational teams.”
The attempts to broker an agreement on the structure for the first major military action initiated under Obama’s presidency started in a scratchy way on Monday when Nato ambassadors in Brussels held what was described as a “truly awful” and “emotional” meeting.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Nato secretary general, prompted a walkout by the French and German ambassadors after suggesting Paris was blocking the alliance and that Berlin was dragging its feet. One observer said: “There were a range of issues related to people’s egos.”
Tensions were running high even before the meeting opened. Britain and the US were said to be irritated that Sarkozy acted with characteristic impetuosity by launching the first strikes shortly after a summit of decision-makers in Paris on Saturday without properly briefing allies.
Germany, which abstained in the vote at the UN last week, agreed that Nato should have no more than a supporting role. This view was shared by Turkey, Nato’s third largest member and a crucial voice in the alliance because of its predominantly Muslim population.
But Ankara and Paris started to give ground over the last 48 hours. Sarkozy accepted that Nato would be in the lead on the military front as Britain and the US accepted that international coalition members and not the alliance would provide political oversight.
Diplomats said that some of the newer members of Nato in eastern Europe put strong pressure on France. The likes of Romania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states and Belgium made clear that they could help enforce the UN resolution on the no-fly zone as part under a Nato umbrella.
Ankara also adopted what was described as a more flexible approach after a phone call late on Monday between Obama and Tayyip Recep Erdogan, the Turkish prime minister.
Obama, who was grateful for Ankara’s role in helping to release four New York Times journalists in Libya, is understood to have impressed Erdogan in listening to his concerns about a western-dominated campaign.
Signs of movement were shown Tuesday when the Nato envoys met again to try to patch over their differences. Rasmussen announced Nato would take charge of the naval flotilla assembled in the Mediterranean to police a UN arms embargo against Libya.
The ships “will conduct operations to monitor, report and, if needed, interdict vessels suspected of carrying illegal arms or mercenaries. This will be done in close co-ordination with commercial shipping and regional organisations,” he said.
The Rasmussen statement said: “Nato has completed plans to help enforce the no-fly zone – to bring our contribution, if needed, in a clearly defined manner, to the broad international effort to protect the people of Libya from the violence of the Gaddafi regime.”
Amid the disarray over who should run the air campaign, Norway said it was keeping its aircraft grounded on Crete until it knew who was in charge. Italy, close geographically to Libya, has made seven air bases available for the “coalition of the willing” campaign, but warned that it would put them back under national control if Nato did not take charge.
One observer of Anglo-American military adventures over the last 20 years tried to make light of the impasse. “It’s a bit like a barn dance,” the source said of the efforts to decide whether and how Nato would run the operation. “Half of the people can’t dance, a couple are drunk and then there’s always the characters at the back with their hands up various skirts.”
• Nato to assume day-to-day military command in Libya
• Obama and Cameron: Substantial progress made
Britain, France and the United States have agreed that Nato will take over the military command of the no-fly zone over Libya in a move which represents a setback for Nicolas Sarkozy, who had hoped to diminish the role of the alliance.
Barack Obama agreed in separate phone calls with Sarkozy and David Cameron that political oversight would be handed to a separate body consisting of members of the coalition, including Arab countries such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates that are outside Nato.
The agreement, which will have to be put be to all 28 members of Nato, indicates that the alliance has resolved one of its most serious disagreements. Countries had been splintering as they tried to comply with Obama’s demand that Washington be relieved of command of the air campaign.
Sarkozy moved to portray the agreement as a Franco-American success. In a statement the Élysée Palace said: “The two presidents have come to an agreement on the way to use the command structures of Nato to support the coalition.”
But the agreement represents a blow for Sarkozy, who had tried to persuade Britain set up an Anglo-French command for all military operations in Libya. This was strongly resisted by Britain, who said Nato was best placed to run the military operations.
Cameron – who also spoke to Obama – prevailed, as Britain, the US and France agreed that:
• Nato will assume the day-to-day military command of the no-fly zone, using the alliance’s usual military structures. The operation could be run by Admiral James Stavridis, the US supreme allied commander in Europe, who works from the Nato’s military headquarters in Mons, Belgium.
• Political oversight will be provided by members of the coalition and not by Nato. Sarkozy will say this shows Nato is not in complete command of the operation, as it was in the bombing campaign against Serbian targets during the 1999 Kosovo campaign. In a traditional Nato-led operation, political control would be provided by the North Atlantic Council, which is the main political decision-making body of the alliance.
The plan will be put to the council on Wednesday, which will hold its third meeting in as many days at ambassadorial level.
All 28 members of NATO will have to agree on the proposal.
The breakthrough emerged when the Élysée hailed Sarkozy’s agreement with Obama. Downing Street adopted a more cautious approach when it confirmed that Cameron and Obama had agreed that Nato should play a key role.
A spokesman said: “The prime minister and the president agreed that good progress had been made, that Nato should play a key role in the command structure, and that these arrangements now need to be finalised. The prime minister and the president agreed to stay in close touch.”
Diplomatic sources said that progress on the new structures for the no-fly zone emerged as France and Turkey started to give ground. France softened its stance after Britain and the US agreed that the interational coalition would have political oversight, but that Nato would have to assume military control. London and Washington were supported by newer members of Nato, such as Romania and the Czech Republic, who said they could only support the campaign if it was run by Nato.
A phone call between Obama and the Turkish prime minister Tayyip Recep Erdogan led to what was described as a more pragmatic approach in Ankara. “Turkey has become more flexible in the last day or so,” one diplomat said.
Turkey, the third largest member of Nato, and which has a predominantly Muslim population, had highlighted tensions within the alliance when it launched a strong attack on France. Sarkozy had tried to reach out to the Muslim world by playing down Nato’s role in Libya.
Egemen Bagis, Turkey’s Europe minister, accused the French president of exploiting Libya for his own electoral needs. Sarkozy has been the biggest opponent of Ankara’s ambitions to join the European Union.
“A European leader began his election campaign by organising a meeting that led to a process of air strikes against Libya. He acted before a Nato decision, and his act was based on his subjective evaluation of a UN resolution,” said Bagis.
The intense diplomatic discussions took place as key military figures expressed dismay at Downing Street’s handling of the Libyan conflict. Senior defence officials make it clear they deeply resent the way Downing Street appeared to undermine General Sir David Richards, the country’s most senior military officer, who rejected ministers’ claims that Gaddafi might be a legitimate target.
Defence officials said that by identifying Gaddafi as a target, Britain laid itself to the charge that “if you kill him, it was premeditated, and if you don’t, you have failed”.