Tyrone Woods, 41, a former Navy SEAL, was one of four Americans killed — including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and ex-SEAL Glen Doherty — when protesters attacked the US consulate Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya.
Glen Doherty, 42, a former Navy SEAL, was one of four Americans killed — including US Ambassador Christopher Stevens — when protesters attacked the US consulate Tuesday in Benghazi, Libya.
Libyan rebel military chief Abdel Fattah Younes is killed in unclear circumstances, after being called for questioning over “Gaddafi links”.
On the Way Forward in Afghanistan
June 22, 2011
Good evening. Nearly ten years ago, America suffered the worst attack on our shores since Pearl Harbor. This mass murder was planned by Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network in Afghanistan, and signaled a new threat to our security – one in which the targets were no longer soldiers on a battlefield, but innocent men, women and children going about their daily lives.
In the days that followed, our nation was united as we struck at al Qaeda and routed the Taliban in Afghanistan. Then, our focus shifted. A second war was launched in Iraq, and we spent enormous blood and treasure to support a new government there. By the time I took office, the war in Afghanistan had entered its seventh year. But al Qaeda’s leaders had escaped into Pakistan and were plotting new attacks, while the Taliban had regrouped and gone on the offensive. Without a new strategy and decisive action, our military commanders warned that we could face a resurgent al Qaeda, and a Taliban taking over large parts of Afghanistan.
For this reason, in one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve made as President, I ordered an additional 30,000 American troops into Afghanistan. When I announced this surge at West Point, we set clear objectives: to refocus on al Qaeda; reverse the Taliban’s momentum; and train Afghan Security Forces to defend their own country. I also made it clear that our commitment would not be open-ended, and that we would begin to drawdown our forces this July.
Tonight, I can tell you that we are fulfilling that commitment. Thanks to our men and women in uniform, our civilian personnel, and our many coalition partners, we are meeting our goals. As a result, starting next month, we will be able to remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year, and we will bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer, fully recovering the surge I announced at West Point. After this initial reduction, our troops will continue coming home at a steady pace as Afghan Security forces move into the lead. Our mission will change from combat to support. By 2014, this process of transition will be complete, and the Afghan people will be responsible for their own security.
We are starting this drawdown from a position of strength. Al Qaeda is under more pressure than at any time since 9/11. Together with the Pakistanis, we have taken out more than half of al Qaeda’s leadership. And thanks to our intelligence professionals and Special Forces, we killed Osama bin Laden, the only leader that al Qaeda had ever known. This was a victory for all who have served since 9/11. One soldier summed it up well. “The message,” he said, “is we don’t forget. You will be held accountable, no matter how long it takes.”
The information that we recovered from bin Laden’s compound shows al Qaeda under enormous strain. Bin Laden expressed concern that al Qaeda has been unable to effectively replace senior terrorists that have been killed, and that al Qaeda has failed in its effort to portray America as a nation at war with Islam – thereby draining more widespread support. Al Qaeda remains dangerous, and we must be vigilant against attacks. But we have put al Qaeda on a path to defeat, and we will not relent until the job is done.
In Afghanistan, we’ve inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds. Along with our surge, our allies also increased their commitments, which helped stabilize more of the country. Afghan Security Forces have grown by over 100,000 troops, and in some provinces and municipalities we have already begun to transition responsibility for security to the Afghan people. In the face of violence and intimidation, Afghans are fighting and dying for their country, establishing local police forces, opening markets and schools, creating new opportunities for women and girls, and trying to turn the page on decades of war.
Of course, huge challenges remain. This is the beginning – but not the end – of our effort to wind down this war. We will have to do the hard work of keeping the gains that we have made, while we drawdown our forces and transition responsibility for security to the Afghan government. And next May, in Chicago, we will host a summit with our NATO allies and partners to shape the next phase of this transition.
We do know that peace cannot come to a land that has known so much war without a political settlement. So as we strengthen the Afghan government and Security Forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban. Our position on these talks is clear: they must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be a part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan Constitution. But, in part because of our military effort, we have reason to believe that progress can be made.
The goal that we seek is achievable, and can be expressed simply: no safe-haven from which al Qaeda or its affiliates can launch attacks against our homeland, or our allies. We will not try to make Afghanistan a perfect place. We will not police its streets or patrol its mountains indefinitely. That is the responsibility of the Afghan government, which must step up its ability to protect its people; and move from an economy shaped by war to one that can sustain a lasting peace. What we can do, and will do, is build a partnership with the Afghan people that endures – one that ensures that we will be able to continue targeting terrorists and supporting a sovereign Afghan government.
Of course, our efforts must also address terrorist safe-havens in Pakistan. No country is more endangered by the presence of violent extremists, which is why we will continue to press Pakistan to expand its participation in securing a more peaceful future for this war-torn region. We will work with the Pakistani government to root out the cancer of violent extremism, and we will insist that it keep its commitments. For there should be no doubt that so long as I am President, the United States will never tolerate a safe-haven for those who aim to kill us: they cannot elude us, nor escape the justice they deserve.
My fellow Americans, this has been a difficult decade for our country. We have learned anew the profound cost of war — a cost that has been paid by the nearly 4500 Americans who have given their lives in Iraq, and the over 1500 who have done so in Afghanistan – men and women who will not live to enjoy the freedom that they defended. Thousands more have been wounded. Some have lost limbs on the field of battle, and others still battle the demons that have followed them home.
Yet tonight, we take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding. Fewer of our sons and daughters are serving in harm’s way. We have ended our combat mission in Iraq, with 100,000 American troops already out of that country. And even as there will be dark days ahead in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance. These long wars will come to a responsible end.
As they do, we must learn their lessons. Already this decade of war has caused many to question the nature of America’s engagement around the world. Some would have America retreat from our responsibility as an anchor of global security, and embrace an isolation that ignores the very real threats that we face. Others would have America over-extend ourselves, confronting every evil that can be found abroad.
We must chart a more centered course. Like generations before, we must embrace America’s singular role in the course of human events. But we must be as pragmatic as we are passionate; as strategic as we are resolute. When threatened, we must respond with force – but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas. When innocents are being slaughtered and global security endangered, we don’t have to choose between standing idly by or acting on our own. Instead, we must rally international action, which we are doing in Libya, where we do not have a single soldier on the ground, but are supporting allies in protecting the Libyan people and giving them the chance to determine their destiny.
In all that we do, we must remember that what sets America apart is not solely our power – it is the principles upon which our union was founded. We are a nation that brings our enemies to justice while adhering to the rule of law, and respecting the rights of all our citizens. We protect our own freedom and prosperity by extending it to others. We stand not for empire, but for self-determination. That is why we have a stake in the democratic aspirations that are now washing across the Arab World. We will support those revolutions with fidelity to our ideals, with the power of our example, and with an unwavering belief that all human beings deserve to live with freedom and dignity.
Above all, we are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home. Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America’s greatest resource – our people. We must unleash innovation that creates new jobs and industry, while living within our means. We must rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy. And most of all, after a decade of passionate debate, we must recapture the common purpose that we shared at the beginning of this time of war. For our nation draws strength from our differences, and when our union is strong no hill is too steep and no horizon is beyond our reach.
America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home.
In this effort, we draw inspiration from our fellow Americans who have sacrificed so much on our behalf. To our troops, our veterans and their families, I speak for all Americans when I say that we will keep our sacred trust with you, and provide you with the care, and benefits, and opportunity that you deserve.
I met some of those patriotic Americans at Fort Campbell. A while back, I spoke to the 101st Airborne that has fought to turn the tide in Afghanistan, and to the team that took out Osama bin Laden. Standing in front of a model of bin Laden’s compound, the Navy SEAL who led that effort paid tribute to those who had been lost – brothers and sisters in arms whose names are now written on bases where our troops stand guard overseas, and on headstones in quiet corners of our country where their memory will never be forgotten. This officer – like so many others I have met with on bases, in Baghdad and Bagram, at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital – spoke with humility about how his unit worked together as one – depending on each other, and trusting one another, as a family might do in a time of peril.
That’s a lesson worth remembering – that we are all a part of one American family. Though we have known disagreement and division, we are bound together by the creed that is written into our founding documents, and a conviction that the United States of America is a country that can achieve whatever it sets out to accomplish. Now, let us finish the work at hand. Let us responsibly end these wars, and reclaim the American Dream that is at the center of our story. With confidence in our cause; with faith in our fellow citizens; and with hope in our hearts, let us go about the work of extending the promise of America – for this generation, and the next. May God bless our troops. And may God bless the United States of America.
- TRANSCRIPT: Obama’s Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Speech (theroot.com)
- Full Text of President Barack Obama’s Speech on Afghanistan (themoderatevoice.com)
- The text of President Obamas speech (theglobeandmail.com)
- President Obama on the Way Forward in Afghanistan (whitehouse.gov)
- Obama address: Surge troops home by summer 2012 (ctv.ca)
- Obama To Pull Out ‘Surge’ Troops By 2012 (news.sky.com)
- 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan home by summer 2012: Obama (theglobeandmail.com)
- U.N. to delink al Qaeda, Taliban sanctions (cbsnews.com)
- Afghan leader says U.S. in contact with Taliban (calgaryherald.com)
- Afghan leader says U.S. in contact with Taliban (theprovince.com)
- Fighting terror: Obama claims crippling al Qaeda (pakistannewsupdate.wordpress.com)
- President Obama on the Way Forward in Afghanistan (ynative77.wordpress.com)
- President Obama on Afghanistan drawdown: Transcript (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Barack Obama: The Way Forward in Afghanistan (video + transcript) (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
- Obama’s Afghanistan Speech by Ed Ciaccio (dandelionsalad.wordpress.com)
I am confused. Are we attacking Libya with the purpose of killing it’s leader or are we there to knock out its abilities to fight the rebels attempting to take over the government?
No standing Federal law criminalizes the assassination of a foreign official outside the boundaries of the United States. In the absence of such a statute, only Executive Order 12333 prohibits the act of state-sponsored killing.This Order, which was drafted in the mid-1970s in the wake of revelations of government involvement in plots to kill several foreign leaders, has been maintained by every administration since President Ford.
From the Washington Post…
One of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi‘s sons, Saif al Arab Gadhafi, was killed in a NATO airstrike, a spokesman for Libya’s government said Sunday.
Moammar Gadhafi and his wife were also in the house when it was targeted, spokesman Mussa Ibrahim said.
- “Libyan Leader Moammar Gadhafi Nearly Killed, Son And Grandsons Die In Attach” and related posts (thelifefiles.com)
- Libya: Gadhafi survives attack that killed son (msnbc.msn.com)
- NATO denies targeting Gadhafi in attack that allegedly killed son (theglobeandmail.com)
- Libya says Gadhafi survives NATO missile strike (boston.com)
- “Libya: Gadhafi Son Killed In NATO Strike; Gadhafi & Wife Reportedly Inside Structure At Time Are Unharmed” and related posts (theyeshivaworld.com)
- One of Gadhafi’s sons killed in NATO airstrike, Libyan official says (cnn.com)
- Vandals attack embassies in Libya after airstrike (msnbc.msn.com)
- NATO confirms strike but not Gadhafi’s son’s death (salon.com)
- Unconfirmed Report: NATO Airstrike Kills Gadhafi’s Youngest Son, Grandchildren: Gadhafi Escapes (themoderatevoice.com)
- Qaddaffi Supporting Libyans Vow Vengeance for Strike on Residence (waronterrornews.typepad.com)
- Few would weep for Colonel Gaddafi, but targeting him is wrong | Jackie Ashley (guardian.co.uk)
- Rummy on Afghanistan and Libya (defensetech.org)
- Ryan McDermott: What Makes A War ‘Dumb’? (huffingtonpost.com)
- Iraq Paved the Way for Libya (newser.com)
- Strike on Libya came after West intercepted high-level communications (garnetspy.com)
- Lesson Plan of The Day – Terrorism – Libya and Iraq Terrorism (socyberty.com)
- Libya: A replay of Iraq? (worldtruthtoday.com)
- Obama Should Send U.S. Troops Into Libya (usnews.com)
- Baghdad Arab Summit schedule to be decided (currencynewshound.wordpress.com)
- VIDEO: Iraqi minister warns of stalemate in Libya (news.bbc.co.uk)
- US condemns attacks on embassies in Libya (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- US condemns attacks on embassies in Libya (sfgate.com)
- Angry mobs attack embassies in Libya after Gadhafi’s son killed (thestar.com)
- BREAKING: ‘Restrepo’ Director Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya (moviefone.com)
- ‘Restrepo’ director Tim Hetherington killed in Libya (news-briefs.ew.com)
- Two photojournalists killed in Libya (boingboing.net)
- Reports: War Photographer Tim Hetherington Caught in Libya Attack – ABC News (news.google.com)
- Report: Two U.S. Journalists Killed, Others Wounded In Mortar Attack In Libya (mediaite.com)
- ‘Restrepo’ Co-Director Tim Hetherington Killed in Libya (slashfilm.com)
- Report: Two photographers killed in Libya (shortformblog.tumblr.com)
- Oscar Nominated Documentary Filmmaker And Photographer Reportedly Killed In Libya (businessinsider.com)
- Tim Hetherington: Photographer turned videographer, and everything in between (podcastsandslideshows.wordpress.com)
- STOP PRESS: Two dead in Libya, including Oscar nominated photographer Tim Hetherington – British Journal of Photography (aboriginalpress.blogspot.com)
President Dmitry Medvedev has confirmed that Russia will not take part in military operations to settle the situation in Northern Africa.
“We believe that a whole range of ongoing conflicts must be resolved peacefully, without troops’ participation and based on international mediation,” the Russian head of state said on Wednesday at a meeting with high-ranking officers.
Medvedev reiterated that Russia is not going to take part in military operations which are now underway in “that rather difficult region”.
“We will proceed from this stance in implementing our foreign policy as well as in making domestic decisions – I underline – while fulfilling the earlier decisions by the UN Security Council,” he stated.
Since the beginning of the year, a storm of anti-government protests has swept through Arab countries, which resulted in a change of power in Egypt and in Tunisia. A February standoff between the Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi‘s forces and the opposition has led to a bloody conflict with many civilians among the victims, which still seems to be far from an end.
Seeking to bring stability to the North African state, on March 17, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1973 which imposed a no-fly zone over the country and authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. Russia abstained from voting because the text of the document did not strictly determine limitations on the use of military force and lacked clarifications on who exactly would use that force to ensure that the no-fly zone is observed.
Earlier, commenting on Moscow’s decision to abstain from voting rather than veto the resolution, Medvedev said that the document generally reflected Russia’s stance on the situation in Libya, but there were certain details that Russia did not support.
Back in March, the President made it absolutely clear that Russia would not participate in the Libyan operation – both in the air and on land.
Army and police should join efforts in war on terrorism
During the Wednesday’s meeting with top officers, Dmitry Medvedev also spoke about a number of domestic issues, including the situation in the North Caucasus.
The president called on the Army and law enforcement agencies to unite in the fight against terrorism and to do everything possible to not allow destabilization in Russia’s troubled region.
“I would like to underline again that it is necessary to obtain intelligence about criminal plans and promptly respond to attempts to destabilize the social-political situation in the North Caucasus. Cooperation between various services of our Armed Forces and law enforcement agencies is crucially important here,” he said, according to Interfax.
The president pointed out that in a modern world where situations change rapidly, foreign intelligence services also face special tasks. “Timely analysis of the international situation helps the state leadership to promptly make decisions on both internal and external political issues,” Medvedev observed. He stressed that developing cooperation between intelligence services would be very useful for that purpose.
Medvedev also noted that the state, for its part, would fulfill its obligations concerning social guarantees and earlier promised indexation of salaries for officers serving both in the army and in the law enforcement agencies.
- Medvedev: Russia won’t participate in military operations in North Africa (rt.com)
- Peace trumps all during King of Jordan’s meeting with Medvedev (rt.com)
- Who is helping Gaddafi out? (rt.com)
- Libya rebels condemn NATO (rt.com)
- Medvedev wants irreconcilable militants killed (rt.com)
Mikhail said he had spent more than a year in Libya. He had signed a contract and was thus getting around $3000 a month for his services. However, what he did in Libya has nothing to do with the Belarus Ministry of Defense, explained the officer.
While talking with the Belarus Defense Staff the KP correspondents learned that “sending military advisers to Libya is an old habit in the country”. The Defense Staff also admitted that members of the Belarus MD are present in Libya, but they have tied up a contract with the Libyan authorities and thus got the financing directly from them.
Andrey Savinykh, press secretary of the Belarus Ministry of Foreign Affairs, denies any presence of Belarus military advisers in Libya: “It is naïve to even assume such a thing”, said Savinykh. According to the Belarus Ministry of Defense such information “is highly provocative and does not correspond to the facts. Only one military man from Belarus is now in Libya, an army attache in the Belarus embassy”. According to the ministry, Libya has seen no Belarus military advisers within its borders. All of the people who now find themselves in the middle of the civil war are those who went to Libya on contract. Savinykh even said that there was a kind of an employment office for former military men in Minsk, who are then sent to such places as Libya, Venezuela and Cote d’Ivoire.
In the interview to the newspaper, the counselor of the Belarus embassy in Tripoli said that before the beginning of these hostilities as many as 500 Belarus military advisers were believed to be in Libya. Later the majority, mainly high-ranking military men, were evacuated to Minsk.
According to KP, CIS countries have long had relations with Libya in their personal history, and Belarus military advisers in the country are nothing new. This may be backed up by the fact that in the Soviet era a lot of Soviet military advisers served in Libya. Back in 1969 when a group of military men under the leadership of Captain Gaddafi mounted a coup d’etat, a big Soviet squadron was near the Libyan shores in the Mediterranean Sea. Today there are no Russian soldiers in Libya. And since the arms export embargo was imposed on Libya Russia has even stopped procuring arms for the Libyan army.
Published: 24 March, 2011, 18:07
Edited: 25 March, 2011, 16:19
Libya is going through a revolt resembling the Middle East protests of the last few months, the only difference being that the people are armed, setting a new example for those waiting for their turn, turning revolutions into civil wars.
Muammar Gaddafi announced a war against imperialism in the televised address he gave his supporters on Tuesday night. He stated that the Libyan people loved him and promised to provide his supporters with weapons in order to defend the country.
In his address, the Libyan leader once again placed the responsibility for the situation in Libya on the international forces. He then appealed to young Libyans asking them “not to get a wink of sleep at night” and at the same time to sing, dance and rejoice. Gaddafi also appealed to all the neighboring countries to support Libya in the struggle against the Western coalition: “All Islamic armies must take part in the fight!”, the leader pointed out.
“This is not the first statement of this kind Gaddafi has made”, said political analyst Dmitry Babich. “I believe those who are fighting on Gaddafi’s side are already armed”.
The Libyan conflict has all the signs of turning into a full-scale civil war, especially now that the Libyan people are armed. But not only Europe is keeping close tabs on the situation in Libya – the neighboring states of Cote d’Ivoire, Sudan, Algeria, and Syria are as well. The unrest that sparked in Tunisia and then “infected” Egypt, Yemen and other countries may now be gathering new features – equipping people with arms. Will this example be picked up by their neighbors?
Can one fool turn into many?
“Of course there is a kind of domino effect, but that doesn’t mean all the countries in the Middle East will follow Libya’s lead”, believes political analyst Sergey Strokan. “Every country that picks up the torch will take advantage of the other countries’ experience and adapt it according to its own specific character. All Middle Eastern countries are in the risk zone because they all have similar problems – unemployment and poverty, lack of independent mass media and grave social problems”.
Among the countries in the Middle East however, Libya is believed to be one of the most prosperous and richest and one of the few with a totalitarian regime, which cannot but distinguish it from Egypt and Tunisia, and their methods of protesting.
“A lot of countries have now gone through this period of protests and disaffection; the majority managed to rest satisfied with demonstrations, but Libya would not have accepted a peaceful way of dealing with its problems. Gaddafi soon understood people were ready to fight for their wellbeing, and he didn’t hesitate to return the compliment”, stated Alexei Vasilyev, head of the Institute for African Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
A political analyst and orientalist Alekxander Shumilin shares this point of view: “The sequence of events in Libya has proved an obvious truth – bowing before people like Gaddafi and supporting them will only lead to catastrophes and tragedies. People in the Middle East want to get rid of their decades-long authoritarian regimes, but they don’t want victims”.
“We cannot predict what will happen in each and every Middle East country, but it is possible to mark out three versions of how things may develop”, Strokan told RT.“The first scenario is the so-called Egyptian one – the most peaceful of all three. It involves demonstrations and protests. The second one is what we see in Libya today – an all-out civil war, when every side is fighting to the bitter end. And finally the third scenario, let’s call it the Bahrain scenario –is halfway between Egypt and Libya. There is no doubt the regimes will fall one by one, but when, how and in what sequence is unpredictable”.
Anna Yudina, RT
- Revolution pandemic (rt.com)
- If Libyans want freedom we support them – Austrian FM (rt.com)
- Libyan revolution is worth the fight, say battle-torn families (guardian.co.uk)
- Libya uprising and Moussa Koussa defection – live updates (guardian.co.uk)
- Gaddafi regime starts talks with the west to end conflict (guardian.co.uk)
- Gaddafi regime admits attempts to talk to west (guardian.co.uk)
- Gaddafi’s line in the sands | Ian Black (guardian.co.uk)
- UN resolution gives too much power to coalition – British MP (rt.com)
- Libya is a Continuation of Neocon War to Remake Middle East (valorfreedom.wordpress.com)
- War News Updates: Libyan Rebels Too Weak To Finish Off Gaddafi (xbradtc.wordpress.com)
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Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi says anti-government protests will not force him out, and that he expects to die a “martyr” in Libya.
Mr. Gadhafi spoke on Libyan state television Tuesday in his first detailed address to the country since the bloody wave of demonstrations began. He urged his supporters to help defend Libya against people he called “gangs” and “terrorists.” Clenching a green book that appeared to be a guide to his political philosophy, he threatened the death penalty for anyone who takes up arms against Libya or engages in espionage.
Also Tuesday, one of Mr. Gadhafi’s closest associates, Interior Minister Abdel Fattah Younis, announced his defection and support for the “February 17 revolution.” Speaking to Al Jazeera television from the protester-held eastern city of Benghazi, Younis urged other armed forces to join the people and their “legitimate demands.”
Numerous high-level Libyan officials, including ministers, diplomats and military officers, have abandoned the regime and announced their support for the rebellion.
Meanwhile, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Lynn Pasco, said United Nations staff in Libya have seen aircraft and helicopters flying but could not confirm attacks against civilians. Lynn Pasco, speaking in New York, said the U.N. fears crimes against humanity have been committed in the North African nation and that the situation is deteriorating.
Libya’s ambassador to the U.N. said the country’s air force has not attacked civilians, but he acknowledged that most of Libya’s eastern provinces are under the control of anti-regime forces. Abdurrahman Shalgham also said Libya’s public prosecutor has begun an investigation into the deaths of protesters.
Witnesses in Tripoli say Libyan helicopter gunships and warplanes struck civilian areas Monday, while African mercenaries and pro-Gadhafi gunmen opened fire indiscriminately to terrorize the population. Human Rights Watch said it has received reports of at least 62 deaths in Tripoli since Sunday, on top of its previous toll of 233 dead, mostly in the country’s eastern provinces.
The reports could not be independently confirmed because Libya has barred the entry of foreign journalists and cut some communication networks in the country.
The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama on Tuesday offered its condolences to the victims. White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned Libyan authorities for practicing “appalling violence” against the population.
Libyan diplomats in several countries say they have severed relations with Mr. Gadhafi to protest attacks by his forces on protesters. Libya’s ambassador to the United States, Ali Aujali, called on the Libyan leader to step down. The Libyan ambassadors to India and Indonesia and a senior diplomat in China have all resigned.
Libya’s embassies in Malaysia and Australia said they no longer represent Mr. Gadhafi. His Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil resigned Monday in protest at the crackdown, while two Libyan fighter pilots flew their jets to Malta, saying they had defected after being ordered to attack demonstrators.
The protests represent the greatest challenge to Mr. Gadhafi’s rule since he took power in 1969.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
- Libya: Gadhafi vows to fight on, die a martyr (abclocal.go.com)
- Arab League Reprimands Libya’s Gadhafi (npr.org)
- Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi vows not to resign, denounces protesters as ‘greasy rats’ (knoxnews.com)
- What You Need To Know About Libyan Strongman Moammar Gadhafi (huffingtonpost.com)
- Libya’s Moammar Ghadafi Says He’s Still in Control (abcnews.go.com)
- Libyan Ambassador to U.S.: Regime Is Shaking, Now is Time to Get Rid of Moammar Gadhafi (blogs.abcnews.com)
- Gadhafi vows not to resign, denounces protesters as ‘greasy rats’ (calgaryherald.com)
- U.N., U.S. Condemn Violence In Libya (npr.org)
- Libyan UN Diplomats Say Gadhafi Should Step Down (abcnews.go.com)
- Libya: Gadhafi vows to fight on, die a martyr (sfgate.com)
Feb. 22, 2011: A Libyan citizens in Serbia protest against Moammar Gadhafi in front of the embassy in Belgrade, Serbia. About 30 Libyans gathered at the protest against Gadhafi’s crackdown on peaceful protesters in Libya.
CAIRO — The bodies of protesters shot to death by forces loyal to Muammar al-Qaddafi were left on the streets of a restive district in the Libyan capital Tuesday, an opposition activist and a resident said, while the longtime leader defiantly went on state TV to show he was still in charge.
The eruption of turmoil in the capital after a week of protests and bloody clashes in Libya’s eastern cities has sharply escalated the challenge to Qaddafi. His security forces have unleashed the bloodiest crackdown of any Arab country against the wave of protests sweeping the region, which toppled leaders of Egypt and Tunisia.
The U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing sources inside the country, said Tuesday that at least 250 people have been killed and hundreds more injured in the crackdown on protesters in Libya. New York-based Human Rights Watch has put the toll at at least 233 killed. The difficulty in getting information made obtaining a precise figure impossible.
The head of the U.N. agency, Navi Pillay, called for an investigation, saying widespread and systematic attacks against the civilian population “may amount to crimes against humanity.”
World leaders also have expressed outrage. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called on Qaddafi to “stop this unacceptable bloodshed” and said the world was watching the events “with alarm.”
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Mohammed Ali of the Libyan Salvation Front and a Tripoli resident, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said scores of bodies had been left on the streets in Fashloum after the pro-Qaddafi gunmen opened fire the night before. Ali, reached in Dubai, and the resident said the gunmen shot at ambulances and some protesters were left bleeding to death.
Ali, who spoke to people in Tripoli, and the resident said inhabitants of the capital of some 2 million people were staying home Tuesday after the killings and warnings by Qaddafi loyalists that anybody on the streets would be shot.
Western media are largely barred from Libya and the report couldn’t be independently confirmed.
Qaddafi, the longest serving Arab leader, appeared briefly on TV early Tuesday to dispel rumors that he had fled. Sitting in a car in front of what appeared to be his residence and holding an umbrella out of the passenger side door, he told an interviewer that he had wanted to go to the capital’s Green Square to talk to his supporters, but the rain stopped him.
“I am here to show that I am in Tripoli and not in Venezuela. Don’t believe those misleading dog stations,” Qaddafi said, referring to the media reports that he had left the country. The video clip and comments lasted less than a minute — unusual for the mercurial leader, who is known for rambling speeches that often last hours.
Pro-Qaddafi militia drove through Tripoli with loudspeakers and told people not to leave their homes, witnesses said, as security forces sought to keep the unrest that swept eastern parts of the country — leaving the second-largest city of Benghazi in protesters’ control — from overwhelming the capital of 2 million people.
State TV said the military had “stormed the hideouts of saboteurs” and urged the public to back security forces. Protesters called for a demonstration in Tripoli’s central Green Square and in front of Qaddafi’s residence, but witnesses in various neighborhoods described a scene of intimidation: helicopters hovering above the main seaside boulevard and pro-Qaddafi gunmen firing from moving cars and even shooting at the facades of homes to terrify the population.
Youths trying to gather in the streets scattered and ran for cover amid gunfire, according to several witnesses, who like many reached in Tripoli by The Associated Press spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal.
Warplanes swooped low over Tripoli in the evening and snipers took up position on roofs, apparently to stop people outside the capital from joining protests, according to Mohammed Abdul-Malek, a London-based opposition activist in touch with residents.
Qaddafi appeared to have lost the support of at least one major tribe, several military units and his own diplomats, including Libya’s ambassador in Washington, Ali Adjali. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi accused the longest-serving Arab leader of committing genocide against his own people in the current crisis.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told reporters in Beverly Hills, California, on Monday described the crackdown as “a serious violation of international humanitarian law.” The U.N. spokesperson’s office said late Monday that the Security Council had scheduled consultations on the situation in Libya for Tuesday morning.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, visiting Egypt, called the crackdown “appalling.”
“The regime is using the most vicious forms of repression against people who want to see that country — which is one of the most closed and one of the most autocratic — make progress,” Cameron said.
The chaos engulfing the country prompted many foreigners to flee.
Italy’s government on Tuesday dispatched an air force jet to Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, to evacuate around 100 Italian citizens. Many countries had already urged their nationals to avoid nonessential travel to Libya, or recommended that those already there leave on commercial flights.
Benghazi’s airport was closed, according to an airport official in Cairo.
Egyptian troops, meanwhile, have beefed up their presence on the border with Libya and set up a field hospital as thousands of Egyptians return home from Libya by land, according to an Egyptian security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t allowed to release the information.
Oil companies, including Italy’s Eni, Royal Dutch Shell PLC and U.K.-based BP have also begun evacuating their expat workers or their families or both.
State TV, which showed video of hundreds of Qaddafi supporters rallying in Green Square Monday, waving palm fronds and pictures of him. It also quoted Qaddafi’s son, Seif al-Islam, as saying the military conducted airstrikes on remote areas, away from residential neighborhoods, on munitions warehouses, denying reports that warplanes attacked Tripoli and Benghazi.
Seif has often been put forward as the regime’s face of reform and is often cited as a likely successor. His younger brother, Mutassim, is the national security adviser, with a strong role in the military and security forces. Another brother, Khamis, heads the army’s 32nd Brigade, which according to U.S. diplomats is the best-trained and best-equipped force in the military.
Jordanians who fled Libya gave horrific accounts of a “bloodbath” in Tripoli, saying they saw people shot, scores of burned cars and shops, and what appeared to be armed mercenaries who looked as if they were from other African countries.
Many billboards and posters of Qaddafi were smashed or burned along a road to downtown Tripoli, “emboldening” protesters, said a man who lives on the western outskirts of the capital.
The first major protests to hit an OPEC country — and major supplier to Europe — sent oil prices jumping, and the industry has begun eyeing reserves touched only after Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and the first Gulf War in 1991.
The heaviest fighting so far has been in the east. Security forces in Benghazi opened fire Sunday on protesters storming police stations and government buildings. But in several instances, units of the military sided with protesters. By Monday, protesters had claimed control of the city, overrunning its main security headquarters, called the Katiba.
Celebrating protesters raised the flag of Libya’s old monarchy, toppled in 1969 in a Qaddafi-led military coup, over Benghazi’s main courthouse and on tanks around the city.
“Qaddafi needs one more push and he is gone,” said lawyer Amal Roqaqie.
Fire raged Monday at the People’s Hall, the main building for government gatherings where the country’s equivalent of a parliament holds sessions several times a year, the pro-government news website Qureyna said.
It also reported the first major sign of discontent in Qaddafi’s government, saying Justice Minister Mustafa Abdel-Jalil resigned to protest the “excessive use of force” against unarmed demonstrators.
Several ambassadors abroad resigned to side with protesters. Two Mirage warplanes from the Libyan air force also fled a Tripoli air base and landed on the nearby island of Malta, and their pilots — two colonels — asked for political asylum, Maltese military officials said.
The backlash began Sunday after protesters streamed into the central Green Square in Tripoli, sparking scenes of mayhem. Snipers fired from rooftops and militiamen attacked the crowds, shooting and chasing people down side streets, according to witnesses and protesters.
- Qaddafi’s iron grip on Libya tested by turmoil (cbsnews.com)
- Witnesses: Bodies Litter Streets of Libyan Capital (foxnews.com)
- World Condemns Qaddafi for Riots (foxnews.com)
- Qaddafi’s Grip Falters as His Forces Take On Protesters – New York Times (news.google.com)
- “Muammar Qaddafi Surfaces, Umbrella Intact” and related posts (nymag.com)
- Qaddafi 2001 interview: I’m “not a terrorist” (cbsnews.com)
- Cucko Qaddafi (andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com)
- You: Qaddafi’s Grip Falters as His Forces Take On Protesters (nytimes.com)
- Qaddafi denies he fled, says he’s in Tripoli (cbsnews.com)
- “Qaddafi Reportedly Flees Libyan Capital” and related posts (nymag.com)
By ANTHONY SHADID
Published: February 18, 2011
CAIRO — Thousands gathered Friday for a third day of violent demonstrations in Benghazi, Libya’s second-largest city, in an unprecedented challenge to the mercurial 41-year reign of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. Human rights groups said 24 people had been killed across the North African country, though activists say the count may be far higher.
Unrest Around the Region (February 19, 2011)
Security Forces in Bahrain Open Fire on Protesters (February 19, 2011)
U.S. Offered Rosy View Before Bahrain Crackdown (February 19, 2011)
After Long Exile, Sunni Cleric Takes Role in Egypt (February 19, 2011)
Amid a Sea of Upheaval, Algeria Is Still (February 19, 2011)
Message to Egypt From Qaeda’s No. 2 (February 19, 2011)
Cellphones Become the World’s Eyes and Ears on Protests (February 19, 2011)
The Lede Blog: Feb. 18 Updates on Middle East Protests (February 18, 2011)
Libyan Unrest Spreads to More Cities, Reports Say (February 18, 2011)
The escalating unrest bears the hallmarks of uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, as protesters copy slogans heard there. But as in Bahrain and Iran, the police and the army have moved quickly to crush unrest. Residents say the government has mobilized young civilian supporters in the capital and other towns and deployed foreign mercenaries in eastern Libya, long the most restive region.
Libya demonstrates both the power and the limits of the Arab uprisings. The country, though the most isolated in the region, is not disconnected enough to black out the news of autocrats falling in two of its immediate neighbors. But information about what is happening inside Libya — and the ability of protesters to mobilize world opinion on their behalf — is far more limited.
A refrain of opposition leaders was that the world was failing to act, even as they sought to post videos, statements and testimony on social networking sites with mixed success.
“The international community is watching,” said Issa Abdel Majeed Mansour, an opposition figure based in Oslo. “Why isn’t anyone helping us?”
As the Libyan clashes worsened, a violent crackdown continued in Bahrain on Friday, where government forces opened fire on hundreds of mourners marching toward Pearl Square and at least one helicopter sprayed fire on peaceful protesters. There were also violent confrontations on Friday in Yemen and Jordan.
Since seizing power in a coup in 1969, Colonel Qaddafi has imposed his idiosyncratic rule on Libya, one of the world’s biggest exporters of oil. With a population of just 6.4 million, the country is one of the region’s wealthiest, though eastern Libya and Benghazi have witnessed periodic uprisings. Tripoli, the capital, has also had sporadic protests but remains firmly in the government’s grip, residents say.
“I don’t see them being easily overpowered, especially at this point, because of the powers of the Libyan security forces and their tendency to crack down very brutally on protests,” said Heba Morayef, a researcher for Human Rights Watch in contact with residents in Libya. “I’m not saying it will never happen, but it won’t happen today.”
Residents reached by telephone said the most intense unrest was in Benghazi and Bayda, a city about 125 miles to the northeast. As many as 15,000 people gathered in front of the courthouse in Benghazi on Friday, and security forces withdrew from at least part of the city by the afternoon, residents said. The residents saw the withdrawal as a sign of withering authority.
“Security has retreated to allow the protesters to march because the masses are in a state of extreme anger,” said one of the protesters, Idris Ahmed al-Agha, a writer and activist. “I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think it’s going to escalate.”
In the background, demonstrators’ chants could be heard. “The people want to topple the government!” they cried, an expression first heard in protests in Tunisia, then picked up by the demonstrators in Cairo’s uprising.
Judging by funerals and residents’ accounts, Mr. Agha put the toll at 50 in Benghazi. Other opposition activists said 60 had died there and dozens more in Bayda, though Libya’s isolation made the numbers difficult to verify. Citing doctors’ reports in Benghazi, Samira Boussalma, a member of Amnesty International’s North Africa team, said a majority of those killed were shot in the head and the chest. An opposition figure, citing a source at the Jalaa Hospital there, said that most of the dead were 13 to 36 years old and that as many as 50 people had been wounded.
Opposition groups said protesters had wrested control of several towns, including Bayda and Darnah, a northeastern port, though the degree of their authority seemed ambiguous. They said several police stations had been burned across Libya, and Mr. Agha said a military building was attacked in Benghazi.
In Kufrah, an oasis town in Libya’s southeast, protests were planned after Friday Prayer, but security forces deployed outside mosques, forbade demonstrations, then allowed worshipers to leave one by one, said Badawi Altobawi, an activist there.
He said the military had deployed in force to counter a second day of demonstrations, where protesters chanted Thursday, “Long live a free Libya.”