Posts Tagged ‘Borzou daragahi’

Negotiating with War Criminals? Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #7 (May 4)

Wednesday, May 4th, 2011

Moammar Qaddafi continues to commit war crimes, attacking a ship in Misurata delivering humanitarian supplies and evacuating wounded, while members of the Libya contact group travel to Rome to devise a political solution to the crisis in Libya. See

Adrian Blomfield, “Libya: aid ship cuts short mission in Misurata after coming under fire — A British-funded aid ship was forced to cut short its mission to evacuate civilians from Libya after Col Muammar Gaddafi’s forces shelled the port of Misurata shortly after it docked,” The Telegraph, May 4, 2011.

Rupert Wingfield-Hayes, “Libya: Aid ship comes under fire in Misrata — An international aid ship helping to evacuate people from the besieged Libyan port of Misrata has come under rocket attack from government forces,” BBC News, May 4, 2011.

Video: In Misrata Port, Ship Braves Shelling to Save Patients, Migrant Workers, May 4, 2011

In New York, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Court, has told the U.N. Security Council that there is evidence that crimes against humanity and war crimes have been and are being committed. He is requesting arrest warrants for three Libyan officialse. Joe Lauria reports,

UNITED NATIONS—The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor told the U.N. Security Council he is seeking arrest warrants against three members of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s regime on suspicion of committing crimes against humanity in Libya.

“The evidence collected establishes reasonable grounds to believe that widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population have been and continue to be committed in Libya, including murder and persecution as crimes against humanity,” prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said Wednesday.

“There is also relevant information on the alleged commission of war crimes,” Mr. Moreno-Ocampo told the 15-member council in New York. The Security Council in February referred the situation in Libya to the ICC to investigate possible war-crimes charges.

–Joe Lauria, The Wall Street Journal, May 4, 2011

Meanwhile, as noted above, diplomats are traveling to Rome for a meeting of the international contact group on Thursday, where a wide range of items are reported to be on the agenda, including plans for financing for the rebel government in Benghazi, and the political future of Libya.

One problem appears to be that the U.S. and major powers, with the great success of eliminating Bin Laden, have had a hard time paying attention to what is occurring on the ground in Libya. Had they been doing so, there might also be an urgent meeting on Thursday of NATO generals in Brussels.

One is never so vulerable to error as immediately following a great success.

The bankruptcy of the present policy of managing a war campaign by consensus amoung politicians and diplomats, in diplomatic conferences where consesus is the goal, is manifest.

We can at least hope that in Rome full attention will be given not to the many sideshows that are on offer (e.g., Berlusconi’s idea of putting a time limit on the coalition’s military operation), but rather to the central issue:

Will the coalition give its military commanders clear instructions to throw all of their resources into an effort to win the battle against Qaddafi?

It is certainly time for boots on the ground, in the form of amphibious and other forces that can secure the port of Misurata so that humanitarian aid can be supplied to the population, and the wounded can be evacuated.

Or should the Rome contact group consider a cease-fire that leaves Qaddafi in command of his troops, with a view toward a political settlement–with a regime which is engaged in an ongoing campaign of committing crimes against humanity and war crimes against its people?

Stay tuned.

The Trenchant Observer

For previous articles on Libya, see the following:

If Misrata falls…: Obama’s debacle in Libya– Update #6 (May 2)
May 2, 2011

Fierce Artillery Attacks on Misurata: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #5 (May 1)
May 1, 2011

NATO Impotent: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #4 (April 28)
April 29, 2011

The Human Cost: Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #3 (April 26)
April 26, 2011

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #2 (April 23)
April 23, 2011

Obama’s Debacle in Libya — Update #1 (April 22)
April 22, 2011

Obama’s Debacle in Libya
April 21, 2011

Libya — “All necessary measures”
March 29, 2011

Current military actions in Libya
March 26, 2011

“Analyst-in-Chief” muddies waters; “Commander-in-Chief” cannot be found
March 22, 2011

Shooting Straight About Military Operations in Libya
March 21, 2011

While Carthage Burns, Obama Dithers
March 14, 2011

Zawiyah–Qaddafi’s victory, but stories will be told
March 10th, 2011

Libya—America Abdicates Global Leadership in Struggle for Democracy
March 10th, 2011

Zawiyah 2011 = Srebrenice 2005
March 8th, 2011

Libya and “The Audacity to Act”
March 6, 2011

The Struggle for Democracy in Bolivia, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, and Iran
March 3, 2011

If Misurata Falls…: Obama’s Debacle in Libya– Update #6 (May 2)

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

For the latest developments in the fighting in Libya, see

Lin Noueihed (Reuters), “Fighting rages in Libya’s Western Mountains,” Reuters.com, May 2, 2011.

ABC News (Australia), “Gaddafi’s tanks hit rebel city as son is buried,” May 3, 2011.

See also

Borzou Daragahi, “Inside a city running on fear:
Six weeks in the Libyan capital, in a hotel under lock and key, give a journalist a taste of the daily oppression and suffering Kadafi’s regime inflicts on citizens,”Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2011..

If Misurata falls…

One might have written, “If Zawiyah falls…,” but then Zawiyah did fall. We still don’t know exactly what happened there.

One could make the argument that however regrettable the loss of innocent human life as the result of the bombing of Qaddafi’s son’s compound, which NATO reports was being used as a command and control center–and the deaths of three small children are indeed regrettable–one should not lose sight of the fact that Qaddafi’s forces are killing many more than three small, innocent children every day. Under his orders.

One could make the argument that the ongoing commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity in e.g., Misurata, where the civilian population has been subjected to tank and artillery attacks– and is probably under attack at this very moment–should be brought to a halt.

By the use of “all necessary measures”.

One could argue that amphibious and ground troops should be introduced immediately in Misurata in order to secure a humanitarian supply route through the port and the airport.

One could argue that the United States should re-engage in Libya with “the two most accurate close air support weapons systems, the A-10 and the AC-130“, to help defend the civilian population of towns currently under assault by Qadaffi’s military forces.

But why bother? Why should the Libya contact group meeting in Rome on Thursday do anything other than manage their political exposure, attend to inter-alliance arguments over what is and what is not appropriate action in Libya, when up to now they have been perfectly happy to proceed in disarray, with no vision of victory, and no sense that it even matters to prevail in Libya.

Punch the clock. Show that you are doing something. Explain to the world that you can’t complete the anti-mining operation to clear the port of Misurata because Qaddafi’s forces use small mines that are difficult to find.

Who is there to make the argument that in war speed, tactical advantage and momentum are qualities that can make a decisive difference if properly seized upon?

Who could make the argument that while the Russians and the Chinese are unhappy with the way the NATO campaign is going, their displeasure might be mitigated if it were brought to a rapid and successful conclusion?

The failure of incremental decision making by a broad political coaltion is there for all to see. What was and remains necessary has been for the politicians and diplomats to turn the conduct of NATO military operations over to a single commander who is tasked with simply finishing the job.

The longer the fighting in Libya drags out, the more difficult it will become for coalition partners to maintain essential domestic support.

Perhaps it is time for NATO and other coalition members to focus intently on Plan B, prolonged and inconclusive military operations from the air, with a substantial likelihood of failure, leaving Qaddafi entrenched in power. This outcome could even be the result of a negotiated solution.

Would it be possible under Plan B, assuming you don’t care about the thousands who will be hunted down and executed by Qaddafi, to somehow put Qaddafi “back in his box”? To prevent him from supporting or engaging directly in international terrorism?

Of course, coalition partners and the contact group might find “success” through knocking out Qaddafi when he is somewhere giving commands, and therefore operating as a command and control center. That would be legitimate.

In the meantime, what about the people in Misurata and the other towns and cities in Libya that are under assault?

What should be done to protect those civilians?

The Trenchant Observer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv
E-mail: observer@trenchantobserver.com

Complex political currents in Iran

Thursday, October 21st, 2010

What is going on these days in Iran?

It is difficult, from outside the country, to gain a clear picture of the relative positions of various groups inside and outside of the the establishment and the government which are contending for influence and power.

For an excellent description of the general situation, see

Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, “Iran is far from united behind Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Los Angeles Times, September 23, 2010.

The article contains an intriguing reference to Khamenei’s health, noting, “Khamenei, 71, who has tried to halt the squabbling factions from public disagreements, apparently has health problems and will eventually pass away.”

Recent developments include the imposition of U.N. sanctions, and additional unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. the Eurpean Union, and other countries. The aggressive implementation of the sanctions is beginning to seriously inconvenience Iran. For example, recent reports indicate Iran is having difficulty refueling its civilian airliners on trips to Europe.

The response of Iran’s neighbors to Iran’s nuclear ambitions is reflected in a new $60 billion arms deal between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia.

There are reports that Iran may be ready to resume negotiations with the Group of Five Plus One (the U.S., the U.K., France, China, Russia, and Germany) over resolution of the uranium enrichment issue and other proliferation concerns.

Iran recently attended a conference in Rome on the future of Aghanistan, with U.S. approval, and is also exercising influence over negotiations and political developments in Iraq related to attempts by Prime Minister Maiki to form a new government, some seven months after the elections for a new parliament were held.

It is a complicated mosaic, and one which requires our continued and close attention.

The Trenchant Observer

www.trenchantobserver.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv
E-mail: observer@trenchantobserver.com

Comments are invited.

The U.S., Iran, and Afghanistan; attacks on home of Karroubi and offices of Moussavi

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Iranian Help on Afghanistan?

In an interesting column in the Washington Post, David Ignatius reports on the possibilities for engaging with Iran to gain its assistance in dealing with Afghanistan, and the arguments for and against such an approach within the Obama administration.

Ignatius quotes President Obama’s statement, in an August 4 meeting with journalists, that he was in favor of establishing a “second track” (in addition to that on nuclear issues) for talking about Iran’s potential role in helping to stabilize Afghanistan, where the U.S. and Iran have a “mutual interest” in battling both the drug trade and the Taliban.

The question for the Obama administration is whether to take up these feelers (from Iran). Advocates argue that stabilizing Afghanistan is a strategic priority and that the United States should seek help wherever it can. They also argue that rather than undermining talks on the nuclear issue, contacts on Afghanistan could be an important confidence-building measure.

Skeptics contend the Afghan gambit would dilute the main focus of Iran policy, which is stopping Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. That same logic led the Bush administration to pull back in March 2006 from its proposal for talks in Baghdad with Iran, after Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had appointed a key adviser, Ali Larijani, as his representative.

–David Ignatius, “The U.S. should test Iran’s resolve to stabilize Afghanistan,” Washington Post, September 17, 2010.

Attacks on Home of Karroubi and Offices of Moussavi

Meanwhile, in Iran paramilitary militia and/or government security officials on September 2 reportedly attacked the home of opposition leader and 2009 presidential candidate Mehdi Karroubi.

Pro-government crowds swarmed outside the battered home of a key Iranian opposition leader Friday after militiamen attacked with firebombs and beat a bodyguard unconscious in a brazen message of intimidation and pinpoint pressure on dissent.

Mobs of hard-line militiamen — known as Basij — began breaking down the front door of Karroubi’s residence before being driven back by warning shots from guards, according to the Sahamnews website, which supports Iran’s pro-reform movement.

Karroubi was at home at the time, but was not injured, his son Hossein told The Associated Press.

Media restrictions imposed by Iranian authorities blocked journalists from reaching the site and independently verifying the accounts. A video posted on the Internet by a group backing the opposition showed smashed windows and graffiti on the walls and door panel of the house, located on a tree-lined street in north Tehran.

Hossein Karroubi said dozens of hard-liners — some on motorbikes — continued to damage the opposition leader’s home on Friday and that police were not responding to the scene. Some security cameras outside the building were torn down, he said.

–Brian Murphy and Nasser Karimi, “Mobs attack home of Iranian opposition leader,” AP, published on Iran on MSNBC, September 3, 2010.

On Wednesday night, September 15, Iranian government security forces and/or paramilitary militia reportedly attacked the offices of Mir Hossein Moussavi, the leading opposition candidate in the June, 2009 presidential elections.

–Associated Press, “Forces raid office of Iran’s opposition leader,” September 17, 2010.

–See also Ramin Mostaghim and Meris Lutz, “Iran opposition leader’s offices raided,” Los Angleles Times, September 17, 2010.

AP also reported that

Adding to the pressure on the opposition, Tehran chief prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dowlatabadi issued a new warning that the movement’s leaders could be brought to trial, Iranian newspapers reported Thursday.

See also

Ladane Nasseri, “Iran Pledges to Bring to Trial Opposition Leaders Who Challenged President,” Bloomberg, September 16, 2010

These attacks follow the surfacing of an alleged official letter to Iranian newspapers and media outlets banning any reporting on the activities of Karroubi, Moussavi, or former president Mohammad Khatami.

–See William Yong and Robert F. Worth, “Iran Clamps Down on Reporting on Protest Leaders,” New York Times, August 25, 2010.

Khamenei’s January call for opposition members to be dealt with strictly in accordance with the law

In January, two days after groups believed to be linked to the Revolutionary Guards allegedly open fire on the car of opposition figure Mehdi Karroubi, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for such groups to abide by the law, stating

“Relevant bodies should fully respect the law in dealing with the riots and the ongoing events,” he told clerics and seminary students bused to Tehran from the shrine city of Qom for an annual political commemoration.

“Those without any legal duty and obligations should not meddle with these affairs,” he said. “Everyone should hold back from arbitrary acts and everything should go within the framework of the law.”

Borzou Daragahi, “Iran’s Supreme Leader Tells Militias not to Meddle,” Los Angeles Times, January 10, 2010

See The Trenchant Observer, “NEWS TO NOTE: In Iran, Khamenei calls for non-interference by militias and for officials “to fully respect the law,” January 14, 2010

The contradiction between Khamenei’s call for the authorities and paramilitary groups to act within the law and these recent attacks raises basic questions as to whether Kamenei has lost or is losing influence over the Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary groups such as the Basiji.

The Trenchant Observer

www.trenchantobserver.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/trenchantobserv
E-mail: observer@trenchantobserver.com

Comments are invited.