Posts Tagged ‘Zawiyah’

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

Obama’s Debacle in Libya

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

The great tragdy that is unfolding in Libya is a tragedy foretold by many keen and dispassionate observers.

See also The Trenchant Observer, “Libya — ‘All necessary measures’”, March 29, 2011.

The debacle follows brilliant diplomacy to get Security Council Resolution 1973 adopted without a Chinese or Rusian veto, which was a great achievement not only for France and Britain and, however reluctantly, the United States, but also for the international community.

What has happened since, since President Obama applied a highly intellectual abstraction to the brutal facts on the ground–leaving NATO leaderless, dodging responsibility for the thousands of civilians who have already died since the demonstrations began, is nothing short of a debacle.

It is Obama’s debacle.

As we suggested in a recent post, the only arguments Obama seems to understand these days are electoral arguments. Libya just might provide one–an extremely powerful argument for Republicans to make to the effect that Obama committed American forces, failed to lead, and is responsible for the disaster that has occurred.

Nixon spoke of “ä pitiful helpless giant”. I never thought I would quote Nixon in this regard, but surely Republicans will.

The 82nd Airborne Division could take down Qaddafi in a week.

But for Obama, who likes to say “all cards are on the table” when he is acting in his rhetorical realm, the most important cards for Libya are now missing from the deck.

Historians may write that this dramatic foreign policy failure, where the Commander in Chief appears to be absent from the scene, not only led to the countless deaths of innocent civilians in Libya, but also to the foundering of the Atlantic Alliance.

Where was President Obama when Zawiyah fell? Is he watching the events in Misurata? What would it take to move him?

The Trenchant Observer

Zawiyah 2011 = Srebrenice 2005

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

While the international community moves to develop a consensus to intervene with a no-fly zone in Libya, Zawiyah is being reduced to rubble.

The population of Zawiyah could be wiped out by Qadaffi’s modern weapons of war, while the international communitiy moves slowly toward possible but far from certain approval of a no-fly zone.

Events on the ground in Libya are moving very fast, not at the speed of diplomacy. Action in the air and on the ground is needed, now, if only to preserve the options of the international community.

It is all too reminiscent of Srebrenice in 2005, when the U.N. stood by and watched 7,000 people, mostly men and boys, massacred by Serb and Bosnian-Serb war criminals.

Given the weapons under Qadaffi’s control, we can expect many massacres to occur in the coming days.

What difference will the eventual approval of a no-fly zone make to the citizens of Zawiyah who are dying as we speak?

Srebrenice, Srebrenice, Srebrenice!

This is the cry that rings loudly in the ears of the Observer.

The Observer

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