Free Markets, Free People

Libya


So how’s that ‘Arab Spring’ working out for you?

To paraphrase Jazz Shaw of HotAir, if anyone is wondering why intervention in Syria would be a mistake for us, what happened to our Ambassador in Libya should answer any questions in that regard.

In both Libya and Egypt, unless you just refuse to see it, the future is pretty apparent.

Oh, there will be the usual “regret” from both governments and promises of justice, but the deeds are done and we all know how the promises will turn out.

If foreign relations is Obama’s strong point, I’d hate to see his weak point.

Oh, wait … we’re living that, aren’t we?

~McQ

Twitter: McQandO

Facebook: QandO


Pan-Islamist Muslim Brotherhood takes over in Libya

Yes sir, that Arab Spring is really what we all wanted, isn’t it?  So much so that the US and NATO helped this particular one along.  In Libya:

While the elections for a 200-member National Congress is unlikely to grant a majority to any one faction, the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamist allies are confident they can join their counterparts in Tunisia and Egypt at the helm of leadership.

Negotiations between the Muslim Brotherhood and a secular-based political movement led by former interim prime minister Mahmoud Jibril have focused on forming a post-election government as soon as the result is known.

An adviser to Mr Jibril said the former prime minister was likely to take the post of figurehead president with Mustafa Abu Shagour, currently interim deputy prime minister of the Muslim Brotherhood, taking the prime minister’s slot as head of government.

The Muslim Brotherhood would dominate the ministries.

And what pan-Islamist faction is positioned in Syria along with its militant al Qaeda brothers to take the reigns there when the current government eventually falls?

Why the same Muslim Brotherhood now ascendant in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

All good, right?

Exactly what we expected and wanted, right?

Foreign policy success, right?

Caliphate?  What Caliphate?

Forward.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Meanwhile, in Libya

Unicorns are dancing, fairy dust is in the air and Arab spring continues to flower:

Libyan revolutionaries captured and killed Muammar Gaddafi more than seven months ago, but the dictator’s brutal tactics and antidemocratic ways live after him. Human-rights workers say that’s true not only within the high walls of the dictator’s former Ain Zara torture center but at other jails and penitentiaries across the country. Abdul is among at least 20 Ain Zara inmates whose relatives accuse guards of subjecting detainees to severe and regular beatings with everything from fists to sticks, metal rods, and chains. Family members say some of the prisoners have been repeatedly beaten on their genitalia, a form of punishment that—in addition to being excruciatingly painful—could leave its victims infertile. Others, according to relatives, have been tortured with Taser-style electroshock weapons.

R2P, baby, R2P.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


R2P, Syria and “dumb wars”

Remember the war in Libya?  Remember how the doctrine Responsibility To Protect (R2P) was invoked as the reason to intervene? 

Libya was somehow chosen as a country in which R2P must be exercised and quickly.  Of course NATO airpower and arms shipments to the rebels did the job of overthrowing Gadaffi, and what has since established itself in Libya is as bad if not worse than what the people of the country suffered under the dictator.

But more important than where the doctrine was exercised is where it hasn’t been exercised.  Syria … no R2P for you!

The U.N. said Tuesday that entire families were shot in their homes during a massacre in Syria last week that killed more than 100 people, including children. Most of the victims were shot at close range, the U.N. said.

Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, said the conclusions were based on accounts gathered by U.N. monitors and corroborated by other sources. He said U.N. monitors found that fewer than 20 of the 108 people killed in the west-central area of Houla were killed by artillery fire.

"Most of the rest of the victims were summarily executed in two separate incidents," Colville told reporters in Geneva. "At this point it looks like entire families were shot in their houses."

He said witnesses blamed pro-government thugs known as shabiha for the attacks, noting that they sometimes operate "in concert" with government forces.

I recall the justification for intervention in Libya quite well – “we” had to protect civilians who were being killed by their government.

Ahem.  Question for the decision makers – why did Libya qualify and Syria doesn’t?

Daniel Larison figured out the reason months ago:

Paradoxically, the Libyan war and its aftermath have had the unintended consequence of undermining the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P) that was originally used to justify the intervention. Many advocates of intervention believed Western involvement would strengthen the norm that sovereignty may be limited to protect a civilian population from large-scale loss of life. Instead, the Libyan intervention helped discredit that idea.

A key requirement of the "responsibility to protect" is that intervening governments assume the "responsibility to rebuild" in the wake of military action, but this was a responsibility that the intervening governments never wanted and haven’t accepted. All of this has proven to skeptical governments, including emerging democratic powers such as Brazil and India, that the doctrine can and will be abused to legitimize military intervention while ignoring its other requirements. The Libyan experience has soured many major governments around the world on R2P, and without their support in the future, it will become little more than a façade for the preferred policies of Western governments.

One of those “dumb wars” Obama condemned as a Senator.  Meanwhile our Prez said yesterday, when speaking of war:

"I can promise you I will never do so unless it’s absolutely necessary, and that when we do, we must give our troops a clear mission and the full support of a grateful nation."

“Absolutely necessary?”

You mean like Libya?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


How good is Obama’s foreign relations record really?

One of the supposed areas in which President Obama has done well is in the area of foreign relations.  And, of course, the press has dutifully helped create the myth of success.

But have foreign relations really been a success for him?

Don’t forget, this is the man who thinks he was responsible for “Arab Spring”.  In both Egypt and Libya, radical islamists have begun to take charge.  And this morning, a rocket launched from Egypt hit Israel.

Of course relations with our staunchest ally in the region – Israel – are terrible. 

Then there is Russia.  They way they’ve treated the US Ambassador to Russia is indicative of their belief that Obama is weak:

The Kremlin sees the Obama administration as weak and indecisive, making it a perfect, nonthreatening partner that can be bullied and provoked using the same tools Moscow routinely employs against opposition leaders and civil and human rights activists at home. This was the approach that the Kremlin used against the Estonian ambassador to protest the relocation of a monument to Soviet soldiers from downtown Tallinn. By Moscow’s reasoning, if such tactics are permissible when dealing with "weak" Estonia, why not use the same methods against a "weak" United States? Why should Putin and his cohorts show respect for the U.S. ambassador? On the contrary, it is better to put him in his place.

And they have used a “Kremlin-sponsored media campaign aimed at discrediting, pressuring, provoking and defaming him.”

Nice reset.

Of course in the anarchy of world politics, weakness is something to be exploited, and Russia sees the opportunity to do exactly that.

You’d think, in the midst of all this failure, he could at least maintain good relationships with his allies.  But Israel would beg to differ.  And, surprisingly, so would Canada and Mexico.  But you won’t read about it in the US press.

Investors.com reports:

Obama’s neglect of our nearest neighbors and biggest trade partners has created deteriorating relations, a sign of a president who’s out of touch with reality. Problems are emerging that aren’t being reported.

Fortunately, the Canadian and Mexican press told the real story. Canada’s National Post quoted former Canadian diplomat Colin Robertson as saying the North American Free Trade Agreement and the three-nation alliance it has fostered since 1994 have been so neglected they’re "on life support."

Energy has become a searing rift between the U.S. and Canada and threatens to leave the U.S. without its top energy supplier.

The Winnipeg Free Press reported that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper warned Obama the U.S. will have to pay market prices for its Canadian oil after Obama’s de facto veto of the Keystone XL pipeline. Canada is preparing to sell its oil to China.

Until now, NAFTA had shielded the U.S. from having to pay global prices for Canadian oil. That’s about to change.

I talked about that yesterday when I noted the ultimate cost of Obama’s fit of pique that led to him disapproving the Keystone XL pipeline.

And Mexico?  Is it as bad as Canada?

Things were even worse, if you read the Mexican press accounts of the meeting.

Excelsior of Mexico City reported that President Felipe Calderon bitterly brought up Operation Fast and Furious, a U.S. government operation that permitted Mexican drug cartels to smuggle thousands of weapons into drug-war-torn Mexico. This blunder has wrought mayhem on Mexico and cost thousands of lives.

The mainstream U.S. press has kept those questions out of the official press conferences, while Obama has feigned ignorance to the Mexicans and hasn’t even apologized.

As usual, we’re poorly served by our media which somehow seems to have managed to miss all the points the Canadian and Mexican press have noted.

Yes, this president has a record he has to run on finally and it seems his foreign relations record isn’t, in reality, much better than his domestic one.

Of course it will be up to the GOP to point that out since obviously, the US press isn’t going too.

Bottom line for the Obama record? 

#FAIL

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Meanwhile, in the Arab world, spring has sprung

Michael J. Totten brings us up to date on Tunisia which is credited with starting “Arab Spring”.  Guess who the new enemy of freedom is there?

“People here think the United States is cooperating with Ennahda,” said local journalist Ashraf Ayadi, referring to the Islamists who won 42 percent of the vote in the election last October. Even though a majority of Tunisians voted against them, they still got more votes than any of the other various parties, so they got to choose the prime minister.

“People here are against the United States helping Ennahda,” Ayadi continued. “All Americans who come here are against the Islamists, but the American government is supporting them. I wish we had a good, modern, respectful Islamic party. I’m a Muslim and I’m proud of it, but I’m not proud of this party.”

Now this may be no fault of the US – elections, winner, etc.  However, it is perceived that the US is supporting an Islamist party by establishing diplomatic relations with them.  Meh, you say?  They’re wrong, that’s what governments do. 

Well, okay, but you have to ask why the US (and Qatar for some reason) is being singled out as a supporter of an Islamist government? Doesn’t matter … perception is reality and the majority of Tunisia believe the US is enabling an Islamist regime.  And, by the way, those complaining are the “liberal” and “secular” portions of the population.  Ironic.

Meanwhile in Libya, a mess continues to grow messier. Western intervention has left a country in chaos:

Libya is now effectively ruled by the militias that ousted Gadhafi, and some militias run parts of the country as their own fiefdoms independent of any national authority. The most powerful militias in the western cities of Zintan and Misrata have refused the government’s calls to disarm. These militias believe that remaining armed allows them to retain political influence in the new order that they fought to create.

Amnesty International has documented numerous cases of abuse and torture of detainees by local militias, and there have been many reports of reprisals against civilians living in perceived pro-Gadhafi areas. Militia rule is made possible by the weakness of the NTC, which never had real control over armed rebel forces during the war, and still does not. Plus, the council’s opacity and corruption have been rapidly de-legitimizing it in the eyes of Libyans.

So much for “saving the civilians”.  And, as it turns out, the overthrow of the Gadhafi government has had a negative spillover effect in the area:

But the Libyan war’s worst impact may have occurred outside of Libya. The neighboring country of Mali, which also happens to support U.S. counter-terrorist efforts in western Africa, has been roiled by a new Tuareg insurgency fueled by the influx of men and weapons after Gadhafi’s defeat, providing the Tuareg rebels with much more sophisticated weaponry than they had before. This new upheaval benefits al Qaeda in the Maghreb (AQIM), and the Tuareg uprising threatens the territorial integrity of Mali. The rebellion has also displaced nearly 200,000 civilians in a region that is already at risk of famine, and refugees from Mali are beginning to strain local resources in Niger, where most of them have fled. "Success" in Libya is creating a political and humanitarian disaster in Mali and Niger.

Brilliant.  I’m sure that was all thought through and considered before the first attack sortie was approved.

Finally, and hopefully, it has shown the doctrine of R2P to be a sham:

Paradoxically, the Libyan war and its aftermath have had the unintended consequence of undermining the doctrine of "responsibility to protect" (R2P) that was originally used to justify the intervention. Many advocates of intervention believed Western involvement would strengthen the norm that sovereignty may be limited to protect a civilian population from large-scale loss of life. Instead, the Libyan intervention helped discredit that idea.

A key requirement of the "responsibility to protect" is that intervening governments assume the "responsibility to rebuild" in the wake of military action, but this was a responsibility that the intervening governments never wanted and haven’t accepted. All of this has proven to skeptical governments, including emerging democratic powers such as Brazil and India, that the doctrine can and will be abused to legitimize military intervention while ignoring its other requirements. The Libyan experience has soured many major governments around the world on R2P, and without their support in the future, it will become little more than a façade for the preferred policies of Western governments.

And that’s exactly what the intervention in Libya has provided.  But hey, it’s “Arab Spring”.  It’s all good.

Right? 

Hello out there …

Is this thing on?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Meanwhile in Libya …

“Arab Spring” lurches on:

The country that witnessed the Arab world’s most sweeping revolution is foundering. So is its capital, where a semblance of normality has returned after the chaotic days of the fall of Tripoli last August. But no one would consider a city ordinary where militiamen tortured to death an urbane former diplomat two weeks ago, where hundreds of refugees deemed loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi waited hopelessly in a camp and where a government official acknowledged that “freedom is a problem.” Much about the scene on Wednesday was lamentable, perhaps because the discord was so commonplace.

This is the result of not knowing who we were supporting.  Apparently we assumed that nothing could be worse than Gadaffi. 

It may turn out that we were wrong. 

“Where is the rule of law?” asked Ashraf al-Kiki, a vendor who had gone to a police station, the Tripoli Military Council and a militia from Zintan in pursuit of compensation after militiamen shot holes in his car. The scent of the kebab he grilled wafted over speakers playing the national anthem. “This is the rule of force, not the rule of law.”

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. 

It’s hard to pretend that our intervention improved the lives of Libyans or significantly advanced their freedoms given the current situation. 

Bashir Brebesh said the same was true for the militias in Tripoli. On Jan. 19, his 62-year-old father, Omar, a former Libyan diplomat in Paris, was called in for questioning by militiamen from Zintan. The next day, the family found his body at a hospital in Zintan. His nose was broken, as were his ribs. The nails had been pulled from his toes, they said. His skull was fractured, and his body bore signs of burns from cigarettes.

The militia told the family that the men responsible had been arrested, an assurance Mr. Brebesh said offered little consolation. “We feel we are alone,” he said.

“They’re putting themselves as the policeman, as the judge and as the executioner,” said Mr. Brebesh, 32, a neurology resident in Canada, who came home after learning of his father’s death. He inhaled deeply. “Did they not have enough dignity to just shoot him in the head?” he asked. “It’s so monstrous. Did they enjoy hearing him scream?”

The government has acknowledged the torture and detentions, but it admits that the police and Justice Ministry are not up to the task of stopping them. On Tuesday, it sent out a text message on cellphones, pleading for the militias to stop.

“People are turning up dead in detention at an alarming rate,” said Peter Bouckaert, the emergencies director at Human Rights Watch, who was compiling evidence in Libya last month. “If this was happening under any Arab dictatorship, there would be an outcry.”

Hard to call that success, isn’t it?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Meanwhile “Arab Spring” stumbles on

In Lybia, the expected – at least for those who paid attention and had a rudimentary understanding of modern Islam – is beginning to happen:

Throughout this country, Libyans are discovering that their hard fought battle to win freedoms is at risk. Puritanical Muslims known as Salafis are applying a rigid form of Islam in more and more communities. They have clamped down on the sale of alcohol and demolished the tombs of saints where many local people worship.

[…]

Throughout Libya, Gaddafi’s fall has emboldened Salafis, who were persecuted and imprisoned under the now deceased leader. They have increased their public presence, taken over mosques, and even hoisted the flag of al-Qaeda over the courthouse in Benghazi where the revolution began eleven months ago. In the capital of Tripoli, Salafis have destroyed more than six shrines. In one incident, dozens swarmed mausoleums belonging to two Muslim mystics and dug up their bodies so that worshippers could no longer visit their tombs. They also burned the relics around the shrines.

The Salafis are the same group that has done well in the Egyptian elections.  Speaking of Egypt, Robert R. Reilly makes some important points about that country and Islam in general, taking apart a Matthew Kaminski article that appeared in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Arab Democracy Is the Best Bet for a Muslim Reformation."  He points out the problems associated with the “propensity to project Western conceptions and norms onto the Islamic world, where they are largely irrelevant.”  It’s an interesting read. 

For instance:

"The appeal of political Islam… grows when religiosity is repressed." Islamism is a reaction to modernity, not to repression. It would grow regardless. With the shackles off in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, watch it grow even more. To think that it will diminish because it is not repressed is a dangerous fantasy. Thanks to the Arab Spring, it now has the opportunity to seize control, and most likely will do so. Democratic elections have simply revealed the strength of the view that "Islam is the answer."

And Reilly stomps on the notion that “democracy” will provide the necessary reformation of Islam.  Instead, he points out, the Islamists are the reformation:

Kaminski calls for a Reformation in Islam, without seeming to realize that Islamism is that Reformation. Be careful of what you wish for. One reason that the Islamic world became calcified is that the "gates of ijtihad" were closed in the Middle Ages. This meant that the authority for making original interpretations of the Koran or the hadith had been withdrawn because the sharia had, by that time, covered every possible situation in human life with a specific ruling. The Islamists today have reclaimed the authority of individual interpretation in order to wipe out the Islamic jurisprudence that stands in their way, most particularly in their use of indiscriminate violence and terrorism.

As for the Muslim Brotherhood:

"Salafists… practice Osama bin Laden’s creed of Islam." No, bin Laden’s creed of Islam is not Salafist, but came directly from the Muslim Brotherhood and is infected with its ideology, which was partially obtained from Western totalitarianism. His teacher in Saudi Arabia was Mohammed al Banna, the brother of the founder of the Muslim brotherhood, Hassan al Banna. Salafism, on the other hand, is an ancient and integral part of Islam.

Reilly points out that “[w]ishful thinking can be dangerous when it distorts reality.”   And that’s precisely what many in the West have done – engage in wishful thinking and project “Western conceptions and norms onto the Islamic world” where they simply don’t fit.

Engaging in an honest assessment grounded in at least an understanding of Islam and human nature should have disabused a rational person of such wishful thinking.  The information was there, the history was there, and the conclusions weren’t that hard to reach if objectively put together.

Unfortunately our government apparently prefers to engage in wishful thinking along with many others in the West.  The outcome in Libya and Egypt, given who was involved and how that has worked in other countries should have been obvious.  But instead many in the West, such as Kaminski chose to believe in fictions like the Muslim Brotherhood’s declared “moderation” and their supposed belief in sharing power with secularists.  Oh you may see that at least given lip service for a while, at least until they fully consolidate their power, but that’s not their plan.

These two “revolutions” made the Middle East a more dangerous and oppressive place.  Our government chose to ignore the reality of the Muslim Brotherhood’s extremism for a more sanitized and moderate model (which it used to justify its support) and aided and abetted the Islamists in Libya – while pretending they didn’t really exist — through direct intervention in a conflict that was simply none of our business.

Now, unfortunately, we have to live with the results.

Somehow both of these will be spun into “foreign policy successes”, just watch.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Libya: Here’s a surprise

Not!  

Al Qaeda’s leadership has sent experienced jihadists to Libya in an effort to build a fighting force there, according to a Libyan source briefed by Western counter-terrorism officials.

The jihadists include one veteran fighter who had been detained in Britain on suspicion of terrorism. The source describes him as committed to al Qaeda’s global cause and to attacking U.S. interests.

The source told CNN that the al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, personally dispatched the former British detainee to Libya earlier this year as the Gadhafi regime lost control of large swathes of the country.

The man arrived in Libya in May and has since begun recruiting fighters in the eastern region of the country, near the Egyptian border. He now has some 200 fighters mobilized, the source added. Western intelligence agencies are aware of his activities, according to the source.

Well aren’t you comforted by the fact that Western intelligence agencies are “aware” of his activities.  Aren’t you also completely surprised by this turn of events?

If you are, you’ve just not been paying attention. 

In a video message to fellow Libyans distributed on jihadist forums earlier this month, al-Libi said: "At this crossroads you have found yourselves, you either choose a secular regime that pleases the greedy crocodiles of the West and for them to use it as a means to fulfill their goals, or you take a strong position and establish the religion of Allah."

Anyone want to wager on the outcome?

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


Libya–Welcome to the Post-Gaddafi era

Seems to me to be much like the Gaddafi era minus Gaddafi:

Thousands of people, including women and children, are being illegally detained by rebel militias in Libya, according to a report by the Secretary-General of the United Nations. Many of the prisoners are suffering torture and systematic mistreatment while being held in private jails outside the control of the country’s new government.

The document, seen by The Independent, states that while political prisoners being held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, their places have been taken by up to 7,000 new “enemies of the state”, "disappeared" in a dysfunctional system, with no recourse to the law.

Now I know the apologists for the “new” government will say this is all part of the transition from one era to the next.  But in fact it is not.   It is Libya.  It is now completely dysfunctional, not partially.   And there are no wonderful democratic traditions and institutions to pull it out of the morass either.

Instead, it has devolved into a land area in which tribal feuding is in full swing and armed militias now rule.

Ban Ki-moon also presents a grim scenario of the growing power of the armed militias that control of the streets of many towns, including those of the capital, Tripoli, and the settling of internecine feuds through gun battles resulting in deaths and injuries.

Meanwhile the lawlessness has resulted in the vast majority of the police force not being able to return to work. In the few places where they have been back on duty under experienced officers, such as Tripoli, their role has been restricted largely to directing traffic.

[…]

The scope of escalating strife, inside the country as well as the wider region, is highlighted by the caches of weapons abandoned by the regime and subsequently looted. These include shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles, known as Manpads, capable of bringing down commercial airliners.

[…]

The report says that “while political prisoners held by the Gaddafi regime have been released, an estimated 7,000 detainees are currently held in prisons and makeshift detention centres, most of which are under the control of revolutionary brigades, with no access to due process in the absence of a functioning police and judiciary.”

Of particular worry was the fate of women being held for alleged links with the regime, often due to family connections, sometimes with their children locked up alongside them.

“There have also been reports of women held in detention in the absence of female guards and under male supervision, and of children detained alongside adults,” says the report.

A number of black Africans were lynched following the revolution following claims, often false, that they were hired guns for the Gaddafi regime. The city of Tawerga, mainly comprised of residents originally from sub-Saharan countries, was largely destroyed by rebel fighters from neighbouring Misrata. The port city had withstood a prolonged and brutal siege in the hands of the regime forces during which, it is claimed, fighters from Tawerga were particularly aggressive and brutal.

The report says that ”sub-Saharan Africans, in some cases accused or suspected of being mercenaries, constitute a large number of the detainees. Some detainees have reportedly been subjected to torture and ill treatment. Cases have been reported of individuals being targeted because of the colour of their skin.”

The document continues: “Tawergas are reported to have been targeted in revenge killings, or taken by armed men from their homes, checkpoints and hospitals, and some allegedly later abused or executed in detention. Members of the community have fled to various cities across Libya.”

Wonderful stuff.  Just gets your freedom and liberty loving bones stirring doesn’t it?  Loaded with weapons and with scores to settle, militias are now out and about carrying out whatever orders the tribal leaders have decided are necessary. 

That’s democracy, right?  Not to mention enough weapons looted to threaten regional security even more than it already has, many of which will most likely reach the hands of Hezbollah and Hamas.

Well done, NATO.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO

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