32 Nations Recognize Free Libya

The 32 nations of the Libya contact group, meeting in Istanbul, have decided to recognize the Transitional National Council in Benghazi as the legitimate government of Libya. The US was among those agreeing to do so, for the first time. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made it clear that it took the US so long to take this step because Washington had been vetting the TNC leadership for signs it was actually committed to democratic elections and was free of radical Muslim tendencies. The TNC has already hosted conferences with representatives from all of Libya’s provinces, and has made it clear that it will move to parliamentary elections once dictator Muammar Qaddafi is gone.

It is important that the Contact Group meeting was hosted by Turkey, a major Muslim nation, and chaired by the United Arab Emirates, so this was not just a Western initiative. In fact the UAE foreign minister was most vocal on the need for more international pressure on Qaddafi. The international recognition of the TNC is important in part for resource reasons. Most of the Contact Group countries, including the US, have frozen Qaddafi’s bank accounts, containing tens billions of dollars that he wasn’t spending on the welfare of his people. This diplomatic step clears the way for the US and others to cede control of the frozen funds to the TNC, an infusion of resources that could well make the difference in the conflict.

Aljazeera English reports on the Contact Group endorsement, including that of the US:

Doug Saunders reports from Benghazi on the heady sense of liberation in that city, with censorship gone and the five Qaddafi propaganda rags succeeded by 126 newspapers of all political tendencies, some of them critical of the TNC. One, Youth Call is run by teenagers and edited by a fourteen-year-old young woman, Sadus Jahmi.

The one thing I’d disagree with Saunders about is that I don’t think Qaddafi still has 2/3s of the country. I’d put it, demographically, at less than half.

I also don’t agree with the use of the term, common in the journalism on Libya nowadays, of “stalemate.” The Free Libya advances have been slow but sure over the past three months. It isn’t a stalemate when Qaddafi was stopped in his attempt to conquer Misrata or the Western Mountains, and even less so when he was pushed substantially back on both fronts.

One reason for the slowness of the war is that the United Nations allies helping the Free Libya forces do not want to destroy Qaddafi’s military, taking a lesson from what happened in Iraq. There, when the US liquidated the Iraqi military, it threw the country into chaos that persists today. Rather, they will try to advance against the Qaddafi brigades gradually enough to leave them intact, encouraging them to defect (which of course large numbers already have), in hopes of integrating them into a new national army. I was told this by Free Libya speakers at a meeting I attended a couple of weeks ago at the Cultural Center in Tunis, sponsored by the Tunisian Progressive Democratic Party. James Dorsey, writing at al-Arabiya, makes the same point today. It is a wise way of proceeding and has a good chance of success, since many defecting members of the Qaddafi brigades have expressed remorse for how they were deceived by the regime (they are told that the Free Libya forces are al-Qaeda foreigners).

A slow advance, gradually convincing Libyans in Tripoli to bundle Qaddafi onto a plane to somewhere else, could also forestall his plan, reported by the Russian special envoy for Africa, to blow up Tripoli if it seems like to fall. A Qaddafi spokesman later denied the report.

Of course another reason for the slowness of the war is that Free Libya forces are mostly untrained teenagers, bravery more often their virtue than savvy tactics and strategy on the battlefield. The indiscipline in these green ranks has sometimes led to looting and other abuses, according to Human Rights Watch. This problem is in the field, from all accounts, and not owing to policy or TNC directives, unlike the war crimes committed by Qaddafi brigades, which have often been ordered from the top. HRW admits that Free Libya abuses pale in comparison with the “atrocities” committed by Qaddafi brigades.

In other Libya developments, the front at Brega is heating up in the east, as Free Libya forces gradually close in on the major oil refining center that has been fiercely defended by Qaddafi brigades stationed there. The Benghazi forces have been clearing mines around the largely deserted town and preparing to move in. A small reconnaissance force breached Brega on Friday before pulling back. Qaddafi brigades are defending the town with GRAD rockets.

Aljazeera English reports:

The course of this conflict, maddeningly slow, is also inexorable. Ultimately the Burayqa / Brega basin is likely to be taken, and, deprived of its resources, the murderous Qaddafi regime will not be long for this world.

Posted in Libya | 18 Responses | Print |

18 Responses

  1. The freedom fighters have captured Brega Star University, 9 km east of Brega, but have met resistance elsewhere.

    Qadafi line of defense is about 4km out of town. There is a 2nd line of defense – it’s main job being to shoot deserters. Qadafi is unwilling to resort to urban fighting because the desertion rate skyrockets.

    There are 3000 Qadafi troops, but 70% are logistics men who would rather escape. 800 troops have either defected, wounded, or dead in the past 36 hours.

  2. Israel’s government is controlled by radical Jewish (religion) tendencies, we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies but THEY must be vetted for lack of radical Muslim tendencies.

    REAL reason #105 for “why they hate us-“

    • I don’t quite understand how a government can be controlled by tendencies?

      How does that work?

    • “we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies but THEY must be vetted for lack of radical Muslim tendencies.

      REAL reason #105 for “why they hate us-”

      What a novel idea, that we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies. I cannot imagine the amount of analytical firepower it took to reach the conclusions that:

      A. Our Guvernment, i.e., the Obama adminstration, is controlled by “radical Christian tendencies.”

      B. The major media (The New York Times, The Washington Post, The LA Times, ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC and others (Fox excepted) are controlled by “radical Christian tendencies.”

      C. Our major universities, both public and private, are controlled by “radical Christian tendencies.”

      D. The major corporations and fiancial institutions, such as Exxon-Mobil, Citicorp, etc. are controlled by “radical Christian tendencies.”

      To reach the conclusion that the U.S. is controlled by radical Christian tendencies borders on paranoia, and is just one step removed from the conclusion reached by others of a conspiratorial frame of mind that the UN is about to take over the U.S., using sightings of “black helicopters” as their evidence.

      • Be fair ….JP has just taken the quote above and applied to to the US
        “Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made it clear that it took the US so long to take this step because Washington had been vetting the TNC leadership for signs it was actually committed to democratic elections and was free of radical Muslim tendencies.”
        Honestly, the suggestion that the US is capable of anything that is genuinely well thought out ( not just ‘in the best interests of the US’) is pretty laughable by itself – that they take it upon themselves to vet foreign powers , confer the power of leadership to groups in other sovereign nations, even recognize the signs of democracy ( having been so long since they practiced it themselves) – and finally well, yes they should be well versed in recognizing Muslim radicals by now having had so many years creating them :(

        • No one questioned his statement that the U.S. vetted the TNC leadership, Janine, as we should vet any group we potentially support. The question involved his statement that “we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies.” That statement represents a high degree of paranoia, and I would like to see the evidence that led him to such a conclusion. In particular, the list of the major elements in U.S. society I listed in my post above seem to me devoid of “control by radical Christian tendencies.” I would be glad to consider evidence to the contrary if you would like to provide it.

        • @Janine – Could you explain what is so “sovereign” about Libya under Qadafi?

          Do Libyans have self-determination or the power to determine their foreign policy?

          If not, then Libya is NOT sovereign.

      • How about Christian Bush, Christian God, and Iraq, and Afghanistan?

        Let’s put it this way, George Bush, the Christian President, “has claimed he was on a mission from (the Christian)God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq”. When we speak of radical Muslim tendencies, the only measuring point is violent threats to our security and interests. We hardly care a whiff about their “tendencies” if there is no such threat. I don’t recall recall any of the serious establishment people calling the king of Saudi Arabia a radical Muslim, even though his country practices a radical version of Islam, compared to other Muslim countries.

        So let’s leave out your A, B, C, and D and use the same measure of radicalism that we apply to Muslims – violent threats to security and interests. By that measure Christian Bush invading Iraq and Afghanistan on a mission ordered by the Christian God far exceeds the radicalism, in terms of total endurance, violence and destruction, of any Muslim group. And I don’t recall a huge public outcry about Bush’s statement – no call for impeachment, no clamor about separation of church and state.(And, by the way, A, B, C, and D didn’t really give a damn either.)

        God wasn’t his co-pilot, God was his commanding officer. Now that’s Christian radicalism pure and simple. I suppose A, B, C, and D could fit under the Christian radicalism umbrella by virtue of their acquiescence and support to the “mission”.

  3. Qaddafi brigades have expressed remorse for how they were deceived by the regime (they are told that the Free Libya forces are al-Qaeda foreigners).”

    Good grief! Sounds like Qaddafi is trying to mimic Bush and the Neocons.

    Does recognition of the TNC mean that now Qaddafi’s forces are considered insurgents?

    I’m probably just being too pessimistic, but something just doesn’t fit. Could be that rosy outcomes in situations like this are confined to works of fiction.

  4. The only “radical Christian” tendencies afoot in the U.S. are those of “Christian Zionism,” technical theological name
    “dispensational premillenialism.” It even infects non- millenial Lutheranism, as when Michelle Bachmann violates
    her Church’s doctrines by throwing an aura of divine prophetic mysticism around Israel.

    But the premise that Christ needs European Jews with limited
    association with Ancient Israelites to dispossess Palestinians in order to Himself return, strikes me as
    outside the bounds of the most hardline Traditional forms of Christianity–because it is.

    • According to a 2009 Gallup poll only 39% of Americans say they believe in the theory of evolution. How can anyone in their right mind believe that there aren’t “radical Christian” tendencies afoot in the US?

      What this has to do with Libya eludes me.

      • Of course there are radical Christian tendencies among certain groups in the U.S., Moi. But that isn’t the question. The statement in question is the claim that “we are controlled by radical Christian tendencies.” No evidence has been provided to substantiate such a claim because, in my opinion, it does not exist.

      • @MOI – first off, one doesn’t “believe” in evolution or a scientific theory. One either subscribes to it, or does not accept it.

        Of the 61% of Americans who do not accept evolution, I would propose that at least a half of them are non-religious people who believe in alternate forms of religion such as new ageism, or astrology, or simply have a humanities degree or bias, and bereft of a scientific mindset – which one needs in order to understand evolution. Not everyone disputing evolution is a church-going Christian fundy. Most people find the theory preposterous out of pure intuition.

  5. “Secretary of State Hilary Clinton made it clear that it took the US so long to take this step because Washington had been vetting the TNC leadership for signs it was actually committed to democratic elections and was free of radical Muslim tendencies.” It’s too bad there is no one to vet Washington for it’s commitment to due process, transparency, and rule of law. As revealed recently by Jeremy Scahill in “The Nation”, the US is involved in renditions, secret prisons, and torture in Somalia.

    • This thread is about Libya.

      Do you have anything to say about Libya – no rendition, no secret prisons – just a simple massacre of 1,300 political prisoners by Qadafi.

      Do you really care about prisoners, or more likely just want to bash America?

  6. I’m not all that sure that Jesus wasn’t

    “outside the bounds of the most hardline Traditional forms of Christianity”

    so I’m not sure what it is that you’re getting at, Ken.

    All this talk about tendencies running the country or even getting underfoot tends to sound like clap-trap.

  7. They myth of a stalemate comes from two places:

    1. People hoping to see the UN mission fail, because the United States is involved. It can’t be a good cause if the US has joined it, and the use of American military force overseas can never be in a good cause, and can never actually contribute to a positive outcome – by definition – in some people’s minds;

    2. A misreading of how wars in Libya work. Territorial gains aren’t what wins wars in Libya; ask the Germans. What matters is that one force is weakened and weakened until it collapses. While the front line near Brega may not have moved very much, the capacity of the Gaddhafi forces to keep up the fight has been eroded day by day. Their vehicles are being destroyed, and they can’t be replaced. They’re running out of fuel and ammunition. Meanwhile, the Free Libya forces have grown steadily stronger.

    For people looking at the location of the front lines, it’s going to look like a stalemate right up until the regime collapses, probably from an uprising in the capital itself.

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