Saturday, April 30, 2011

Libya News Bulletin: NATO Strike Assassinates Libyan Leader's Son, Grandchildren

Nato strike 'kills Gaddafi's youngest son'

Libyan government spokesman says air strike kills Saif al-Arab Gaddafi and three of the Libyan leader's grandsons

Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, the youngest son of the Libyan leader, and three of his grandchildren have been killed in a NATO air strike, a Libyan government spokesman said.

Gaddafi and his wife were in the Tripoli house of his 29-year-old son, Saif al-Arab Gaddafi, when it was hit by at least one missile fired by a NATO warplane late on Saturday, according to Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim.

"The house of Mr Saif al-Arab Gaddafi was attacked tonight with full power. The leader with his wife was there in the house with other friends and relatives.

"The leader himself is in good health, he wasn't harmed," the spokesman said, adding that Muammar Gaddafi's wife was also unharmed but other people in the house were injured.

"This was a direct operation to assassinate the leader of this country. This is not permitted by international law. It is not permitted by any moral code or principle.

"What we have now is the law of the jungle," Ibrahim told a news conference.

"We think now it is clear to everyone that what is happening in Libya has nothing to do with the protection of civilians."

Ibrahim would not give the names of the three children, who he claimed were killed, except to say they were nieces and nephews of Saif al-Arab and that they were younger than 12. He said they are not releasing the names yet to protect the privacy of the family.

He said the compound that was hit was in the Garghour neighborhood.

"It seems there was intelligence that was leaked. They knew about something. They expected him for some reason. But the target was very clear, very, very clear. And the neighbourhood, yes of course, because the leader family has a place there, you could expect of course it would be guarded, but it is a normal neighbourhood. Normal Libyans live there," he said.

The 29-year-old Saif al-Arab Gaddafi is the most unknown of the Libyan leader's children, Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Tunisia, said.

"He's one of the low-profile of his children and has been largely invisible since the conflict began", she said.

"He hasn't been visible in any significant form. He hasn't appeared on TV or made any speeches, he hasn't been on any crowd-rallying marches."

Ibrahim said Saif al-Arab was a civilian and a student who had studied in Germany.

Report questioned

Ibrahim had earlier taken journalists to the remnants of a house in Tripoli, which Libyan officials said had been hit by at least three missiles. Given the level of destruction, it is unclear that anyone could have survived.

Benghazi rebels, who control a vast swathe of the east of the country, say they cannot trust Gaddafi.

Al Jazeera's Sue Turton, reporting from Benghazi, said there were "an awful lot" of suggestions in Libya that the news of the deaths could be fabricated.

"One of the main spokesmen for the Transitional National Council, Abdul Hafez Goga, is saying he thinks it could all be fabrication, that it may well be Gaddafi is trying to garner some sympathy," she said.

"Back in 1986, Gaddafi once claimed that Ronald Reagan, then US president, had launched a strike on his compound in Tripoli and killed his daughter. Many journalists since then dug around and found out that the actual child that had died had nothing to do with Gaddafi, that he sort of adopted her posthumously."

Three loud explosions were heard in Tripoli on Saturday evening as jets flew overhead. Volleys of anti-aircraft fire rang out following the first two strikes, which were followed by a third.

NATO statement

In a press release issued early on Sunday, NATO said it had staged air strikes in Tripoli's Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood but did not confirm Libyan claims that strongman Gaddafi's youngest son and three grandchildren were killed.

"NATO continued its precision strikes against Qaddafi regime military installations in Tripoli overnight, including striking a known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood shortly after 1800 GMT Saturday evening," the statement said.

"All NATO's targets are military in nature and have been clearly linked to the... regime's systematic attacks on the Libyan population and populated areas. We do not target individuals," said Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO's Operation Unified Protector.

Bouchard said he was aware of unconfirmed reports that some of Gaddafi's family members might have been killed in the strike, adding: "We regret all loss of life, especially the innocent civilians being harmed as a result of the ongoing conflict."

Rifle fire and car horns rang out in Benghazi as news of the attack spread.

Cars whizzed by the sea front beeping their horns and shouting "God is greatest" as the night sky was lit up by red tracer fire.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies

Libya front line turns quiet as rebels regroup

By Leila Fadel,
Saturday, April 30, 8:07 PM
Washington Post

AJDABIYA, Libya —The halls of the main hospital here are eerily quiet, the mattresses rolled up on folding beds. Stretchers are stacked in storage closets. Doctors and nurses sit and wait.

Over the past two weeks, Al Magaryaf Hospital emptied out as a city that was once an intense battleground became a ghost town.

Rebel fighters are now lying in wait in pockets of the city. Others stand watch at Ajdabiya’s western gate, and farther west along the highway, scouting for signs that forces loyal to Moammar Gaddafi might be headed their way.

Some of the volunteer warriors who had rushed to join the uprising have moved back to Benghazi, the de facto capital of the opposition-held east of the country, for the training they badly need.

Their positions mark a shift in strategy for those seeking to depose Gaddafi. In the early weeks of this conflict, rebels fought erratically along a coastal road, progressing unevenly against better-armed government-backed forces. The fighting, which took a heavy human toll and depleted ammunition reserves, plunged the country into a bitter stalemate.

Now, the rebels are regrouping, getting the training they need to prepare fresh advances, opposition leaders here say. But the lull in fighting could also mean that Gaddafi’s forces are themselves regrouping on the other side of the battle lines.

“Basically [the rebel fighters] are sorting out their house and putting everything in perspective,” said Jalal el-Gallal, a rebel spokesman in Benghazi.

The rebels are digging trenches to fortify their positions, finding vantage points on hilltops to watch Gaddafi’s forces and putting together a reliable communications system. Gallal said he hopes the past is behind them now, when untrained fighters made decisions to advance independently, with no plans to take and hold ground.

“In the past, going forward has always meant being pushed back,” he said.

Western observers say a military victory for the rebels is unlikely. There isn’t enough time to train these men who before the conflict had never carried weapons. Instead, the rebels are hoping that NATO firepower and sanctions will chip away at Gaddafi’s inner circle, making it untenable for the leader to remain in power, a Western observer in Benghazi said on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.

“One has to conclude: They will never win this war using their military,” the observer said.

After weeks of deafening battles, the rattle of artillery and gunfire has mostly ceased in this strategic city, which serves as the final frontier before the largely Gaddafi-controlled west of the country.

About 20 miles west of Ajdabiya, rebel fighters scout the road but have not advanced toward Gaddafi’s forces, which are stationed in the oil hubs of Brega and Ras Lanuf. Defectors from the Libyan military who now belong to the rebel-run Libyan National Army guard the main road on the city’s western edge. These soldiers persuaded the roughly 5,000 volunteers who haphazardly had been advancing west to return to Benghazi for training, said Col. Hamed al Hassi, the first commander to defect from Gaddafi’s military.

“We had a problem with the young men at the [western] gate. They would just move west and engage,” he said. Now only seasoned soldiers are gearing up for battle, he said.

Hassi stood on the dusty road just outside the gate surrounded by charred tanks from Gaddafi’s military that were hit last month by a NATO airstrike. Rebel fighters have since destroyed the green arch that marked the western entrance to the city, worried it was being used as a target.

“Now it’s a timeout that seems to have been imposed on both sides,” Hassi said.

The last direct combat was a week ago, in Brega, he said. Now Gaddafi’s forces are inside that city, and the rebels remain on the outside. “We’re patiently waiting.”

At the hospital, Suliman Refadi, 41, a volunteer doctor from the eastern city of Darna, padded along the empty, fluorescent-lit hallway in blue scrubs. For 56 days he has treated gunshot and shrapnel wounds, and counted the dead from the battles in Ajdabiya and farther west.

“We are ready for an emergency,” he said. “Now it’s completely calm and we have no patients.”

Military commanders have instructed ambulance drivers not to go more than 20 miles outside Ajdabiya, where a gas station marks the midpoint between the city and Brega, worried they would take fire from Gaddafi’s forces. The only recent patients suffered from appendicitis and heart palpitations. Only one rebel, with a shrapnel wound, has been brought in during the past 10 days.

The rebel army has ordered its fighters not to move until they get new orders, the doctor said. “Two weeks ago there was no control and now finally the Libyan National Army is taking control,” Refadi said.

The fighting will be even bloodier when it resumes, he said. “This is the calm before the storm.”

NATO raids on Libya "a form of new colonialism": S. African expert

JOHANNESBURG, April 30 (Xinhua) -- Ongoing NATO airstrikes on Libya represent a form of new colonialism and the Libya crisis risks evolving into a prolonged conflict with even more bloodshed and chaos, a South African expert on international affairs says.

NATO's operations in Libya could not continue forever, Anna Alwes, a research fellow at the South African Institute of International Affairs, said in an interview with Xinhua. "The world's nations knew this well and they must be careful in not pushing it too far."

The Western powers justified their intervention with allegations that Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi killed many civilians, Alwes said. But "are we sure there were really so many thousands of deaths as the Western media has reported?" she asked.

One month after NATO nations launched military operations in Libya, pro- and anti-government forces in the country are still locked in a seesaw battle.

Echoing views from many other fellow experts from around the world, Alwes believes the Libya crisis now risks turning into a prolonged conflict.

"I see no immediate solution to the conflict between NATO forces and the Libyan rebels on one side, and Muammar Gaddafi on the other. The ongoing civil war is fated to become an internal cancer that will destroy territorial unity and lead to a partition," she said.

She said that it appears Gaddafi would fight till the very end, while rebels of the Transitional National Council (TNC) were also unlikely to give up resistance, though they would not be able to oust Gaddafi on their own.

Under these circumstances, while "the best solution (for the West) would be that Gaddafi is killed during a raid," it sounds "quite unrealistic" for two reasons, she said.

First, it's hard to locate where the Libyan leader actually is, she said. Secondly, the rising opposition from the international community against NATO's intervention makes the intensification of the military operations even more difficult.

Alwes ruled out the possibility the Western countries might sell weapons to the rebels or deploy ground troops. A possible exit strategy from the crisis would be through intense negotiations, which, however, would simply lead to "a division of territory and natural resources between the TNC and Gaddafi, monitored by the interests of Western nations."

"Whether Gaddafi stays or goes, the turmoil-wracked country is likely to be in for more of a rough time. Whichever way this goes, I think there's going to be a good amount of chaos," she said.

Even if the Western nations succeeded in removing Gaddafi from power, the expert said, Libya still faces an uncertain future, with the same ingredients that led to long conflicts as in the case of Iraq and Afghanistan.

She predicted more bloodshed if Gaddafi steps aside. "We could see some tribal uprisings" as competing groups seek a share of Libya's oil wealth, she said, describing the likely scenario as "not very pretty."

1 comment:

ryanshaunkelly said...

Pure Mass Murder.
Blowback will expose 9/11 & 7/7