Tuesday, March 13, 2012

487 Arab League/GCC report on Syria says "peaceful protesters" are in fact armed gangs conducting bombings

Arab League/GCC report on Syria says "peaceful protesters" are in fact
armed gangs conducting bombings

(1) After UN veto, Hillary calls for "friends of democratic Syria" to
support the armed uprising
(2) Arab League/GCC report on Syria says "peaceful protesters" are in
fact armed gangs conducting bombings
(3) 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, but most also want elections
(4) NATO is clandestinely engaged in Syria conflict, with Turkey the
U.S. proxy - Philip Giraldi
(5) British soldiers helped topple Gaddafi: special forces blended in
with rebel fighters
(6) Medecins Sans Frontieres reports torture by militias, as tribes feud
in "liberated" Libya
(7) C.I.A. drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan repeatedly
targeted rescuers
(8) Afghan Army killed US 'allies' over 30 times since 2007. Mutual
hatred is growing rapidly

(1) After UN veto, Hillary calls for "friends of democratic Syria" to
support the armed uprising


After UN veto, US proposes Syria coalition

Lee Keath and Matthew Lee

February 6, 2012 - 7:14AM


The United States has proposed an international coalition to support
Syria's opposition after Russia and China blocked a UN attempt to end
nearly 11 months of bloodshed, raising fears that violence will escalate.

Rebel soldiers say force is now the only way to oust President Bashar
al-Assad, while the regime is vowing to press its military crackdown on

The threat of both sides turning to greater force after Russia and China
vetoed a UN Security Council resolution raises the potential for Syria's
turmoil to move into an even more dangerous new phase that could
degenerate into outright civil war.

  The uprising inspired by other Arab Spring revolts began in March with
peaceful protests against Assad's regime, sparking a fierce crackdown by
government forces.

Soldiers who defected to join the uprising later began to protect
protesters from attacks. In recent months the rebel soldiers, known as
the Free Syrian Army have grown bolder, attacking regime troops and
trying establish control in pro-opposition areas. That has brought a
heavier government response.

Well over 5400 people have been killed since March, according to the UN,
and now regime opponents fear Assad will be emboldened by the feeling he
is protected by his top ally Moscow and unleash even greater violence to
crush protesters.

If the opposition turns overtly to armed resistance, the result could be
a dramatic increase in bloodshed.

At least 19 people were killed in new violence on Sunday, including five
children and a woman who was hit by a bullet while standing on her
balcony as troops fired on protesters in a Damascus suburb, according to
the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group.

Government forces firing mortars and heavy machine guns also battered
the mountain town of Zabadani, north of Damascus, a significant
opposition stronghold that fell under rebels' control late last month.
Bombardment in the past two days has wounded dozens and forced scores of
families to flee, an activist in the town said.

The commander of the Free Syrian Army told AP that, after the vetoes at
the UN, "there is no other road" except military action to topple Assad.

"We consider that Syria is occupied by a criminal gang and we must
liberate the country from this gang," Colonel Riad al-Asaad said,
speaking from Turkey.

"This regime does not understand the language of politics, it only
understands the language of force."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that chances for "a brutal
civil war" would increase as Syrians under attack from their government
move to defend themselves, unless international steps provide another way.

Speaking to reporters in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, she called the
double veto at the UN Security Council on Saturday "a travesty".

"Faced with a neutered Security Council, we have to redouble our efforts
outside of the United Nations," she said, calling for "friends of
democratic Syria" to unite "support the Syrian people's right to have a
better future".

The call points to the formation of a formal group of like-minded
nations to co-ordinate assistance to the Syrian opposition, similar but
not identical to the Contact Group on Libya, which oversaw international
help for opponents of the late deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

In the case of Libya, the group also co-ordinated NATO military
operations to protect Libyan civilians, something that is not envisioned
in Syria.

A deeply sensitive question is whether such a coalition would back the
Free Syrian Army. There appears to be deep hesitation among Western
countries, fearing further militarisation of the conflict.

Over the weekend, regime forces bombarded the restive central city of
Homs, apparently in response to Free Syrian Army attacks.

Activists said the bombardment was the deadliest incident of the
uprising, killing more than 200 people in a single day.

The regime denied any bombardment and there was no way to independently
confirm the toll.

On Sunday, gunfire continued to ring out in several neighbourhoods of
Homs, killing at least seven people, including two children, the
Observatory said.

Grisly video posted by activists on line showed a young boy said to have
been wounded in the shooting, his entire jaw torn away.

© 2012 AP

(2) Arab League/GCC report on Syria says "peaceful protesters" are in
fact armed gangs conducting bombings

From: Paul de Burgh-Day <pdeburgh@harboursat.com.au> Date: Sun, 5 Feb
2012 16:07:43 +1100

Exposed: The Arab Agenda in Syria

by Pepe Escobar

Asia Times

February 4, 2012


Here's a crash course on the "democratic" machinations of the Arab
League - rather the GCC League, as real power in this pan-Arab
organization is wielded by two of the six Persian Gulf monarchies
composing the Gulf Cooperation Council, also known as Gulf
Counter-revolution Club; Qatar and the House of Saud.

Essentially, the GCC created an Arab League group to monitor what's
going on in Syria. The Syrian National Council - based in North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) member countries Turkey and France -
enthusiastically supported it. It's telling that Syria's neighbor
Lebanon did not.

When the over 160 monitors, after one month of enquiries, issued their
report ... surprise! The report did not follow the official GCC line -
which is that the "evil" Bashar al-Assad government is discriminately,
and unilaterally, killing its own people, and so regime change is in order.

The Arab League's Ministerial Committee had approved the report, with
four votes in favor (Algeria, Egypt, Sudan and GCC member Oman) and only
one against; guess who, Qatar - which is now presiding the Arab League
because the emirate bought their (rotating) turn from the Palestinian

So the report was either ignored (by Western corporate media) or
mercilessly destroyed - by Arab media, virtually all of it financed by
either the House of Saud or Qatar. It was not even discussed - because
it was prevented by the GCC from being translated from Arabic into
English and published in the Arab League's website.

Until it was leaked.
Here it is, in full.

The report is adamant. There was no organized, lethal repression by the
Syrian government against peaceful protesters. Instead, the report
points to shady armed gangs as responsible for hundreds of deaths among
Syrian civilians, and over one thousand among the Syrian army, using
lethal tactics such as bombing of civilian buses, bombing of trains
carrying diesel oil, bombing of police buses and bombing of bridges and

Once again, the official NATOGCC version of Syria is of a popular
uprising smashed by bullets and tanks. Instead, BRICS members Russia and
China, and large swathes of the developing world see it as the Syrian
government fighting heavily armed foreign mercenaries. The report
largely confirms these suspicions.

The Syrian National Council is essentially a Muslim Brotherhood outfit
affiliated with both the House of Saud and Qatar - with an uneasy Israel
quietly supporting it in the background. Legitimacy is not exactly its
cup of green tea. As for the Free Syrian Army, it does have its
defectors, and well-meaning opponents of the Assad regime, but most of
all is infested with these foreign mercenaries weaponized by the GCC,
especially Salafist gangs.

Still NATOGCC, blocked from applying in Syria its one-size-fits-all
model of promoting "democracy" by bombing a country and getting rid of
the proverbial evil dictator, won't be deterred. GCC leaders House of
Saud and Qatar bluntly dismissed their own report and went straight to
the meat of the matter; impose a NATOGCC regime change via the UN
Security Council.

So the current "Arab-led drive to secure a peaceful end to the 10-month
crackdown" in Syria at the UN is no less than a crude regime change
drive. Usual suspects Washington, London and Paris have been forced to
fall over themselves to assure the real international community this is
not another mandate for NATO bombing - a la Libya. US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton described it as "a path for a political transition that
would preserve Syria's unity and institutions".

But BRICS members Russia and China see it for what it is. Another BRICS
member - India - alongside Pakistan and South Africa, have all raised
serious objections to the NATOGCC-peddled draft UN resolution.

There won't be another Libya-style no fly zone; after all the Assad
regime is not exactly deploying Migs against civilians. A UN regime
change resolution will be blocked - again - by Russia and China. Even
NATOGCC is in disarray, as each block of players - Washington, Ankara,
and the House of Saud-Doha duo - has a different long-term geopolitical
agenda. Not to mention crucial Syrian neighbor and trading partner Iraq;
Baghdad is on the record against any regime change scheme.

So here's a suggestion to the House of Saud and Qatar; since you're so
seduced by the prospect of "democracy" in Syria, why don't you use all
your American weaponry and invade in the dead of night - like you did to
Bahrain - and execute regime change by yourselves?

(3) 55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, but most also want elections

From: Kristoffer Larsson <krislarsson@comhem.se> Date: 20 January 2012

I am here forwarding two article on Syria. Let me emphasise that I am
not in any way supportive of Assad's crackdown on the protesters (quite
the contrary). I am, however, even more strongly opposed to bombing
Syria, which is why I'm forwarding these articles.


Assad's popularity, Arab League observers, US military involvement: all
distorted in the west's propaganda war

Jonathan Steele

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 17 January 2012 18.40 GMT

Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour
of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news?
Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about
the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more
newsworthy than the obvious.


Most Syrians back President Assad, but you'd never know from western media

Assad's popularity, Arab League observers, US military involvement: all
distorted in the west's propaganda war

Jonathan Steele

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 17 January 2012 18.40 GMT

Suppose a respectable opinion poll found that most Syrians are in favour
of Bashar al-Assad remaining as president, would that not be major news?
Especially as the finding would go against the dominant narrative about
the Syrian crisis, and the media considers the unexpected more
newsworthy than the obvious.

Alas, not in every case. When coverage of an unfolding drama ceases to
be fair and turns into a propaganda weapon, inconvenient facts get
suppressed. So it is with the results of a recent YouGov Siraj poll on
Syria commissioned by The Doha Debates, funded by the Qatar Foundation.
Qatar's royal family has taken one of the most hawkish lines against
Assad – the emir has just called for Arab troops to intervene – so it
was good that The Doha Debates published the poll on its website. The
pity is that it was ignored by almost all media outlets in every western
country whose government has called for Assad to go.

The key finding was that while most Arabs outside Syria feel the
president should resign, attitudes in the country are different. Some
55% of Syrians want Assad to stay, motivated by fear of civil war – a
spectre that is not theoretical as it is for those who live outside
Syria's borders. What is less good news for the Assad regime is that the
poll also found that half the Syrians who accept him staying in power
believe he must usher in free elections in the near future. Assad claims
he is about to do that, a point he has repeated in his latest speeches.
But it is vital that he publishes the election law as soon as possible,
permits political parties and makes a commitment to allow independent
monitors to watch the poll.

Biased media coverage also continues to distort the Arab League's
observer mission in Syria. When the league endorsed a no-fly zone in
Libya last spring, there was high praise in the west for its action. Its
decision to mediate in Syria was less welcome to western governments,
and to high-profile Syrian opposition groups, who increasingly support a
military rather than a political solution. So the league's move was
promptly called into doubt by western leaders, and most western media
echoed the line. Attacks were launched on the credentials of the
mission's Sudanese chairman. Criticisms of the mission's performance by
one of its 165 members were headlined. Demands were made that the
mission pull out in favour of UN intervention.

The critics presumably feared that the Arab observers would report that
armed violence is no longer confined to the regime's forces, and the
image of peaceful protests brutally suppressed by army and police is
false. Homs and a few other Syrian cities are becoming like Beirut in
the 1980s or Sarajevo in the 1990s, with battles between militias raging
across sectarian and ethnic fault lines.

As for foreign military intervention, it has already started. It is not
following the Libyan pattern since Russia and China are furious at the
west's deception in the security council last year. They will not accept
a new United Nations resolution that allows any use of force. The model
is an older one, going back to the era of the cold war, before
"humanitarian intervention" and the "responsibility to protect" were
developed and often misused. Remember Ronald Reagan's support for the
Contras, whom he armed and trained to try to topple Nicaragua's
Sandinistas from bases in Honduras? For Honduras read Turkey, the safe
haven where the so-called Free Syrian Army has set up.

Here too western media silence is dramatic. No reporters have followed
up on a significant recent article by Philip Giraldi, a former CIA
officer who now writes for the American Conservative – a magazine that
criticises the American military-industrial complex from a non-neocon
position on the lines of Ron Paul, who came second in last week's New
Hampshire Republican primary. Giraldi states that Turkey, a Nato member,
has become Washington's proxy and that unmarked Nato warplanes have been
arriving at Iskenderum, near the Syrian border, delivering Libyan
volunteers and weapons seized from the late Muammar Gaddafi's arsenal.
"French and British special forces trainers are on the ground," he
writes, "assisting the Syrian rebels, while the CIA and US Spec Ops are
providing communications equipment and intelligence to assist the rebel
cause, enabling the fighters to avoid concentrations of Syrian soldiers …"

As the danger of full-scale war increases, Arab League foreign ministers
are preparing to meet in Cairo this weekend to discuss the future of
their Syrian mission. No doubt there will be western media reports
highlighting remarks by those ministers who feel the mission has "lost
credibility", "been duped by the regime" or "failed to stop the
violence". Counter-arguments will be played down or suppressed.

In spite of the provocations from all sides the league should stand its
ground. Its mission in Syria has seen peaceful demonstrations both for
and against the regime. It has witnessed, and in some cases suffered
from, violence by opposing forces. But it has not yet had enough time or
a large enough team to talk to a comprehensive range of Syrian actors
and then come up with a clear set of recommendations. Above all, it has
not even started to fulfil that part of its mandate requiring it to help
produce a dialogue between the regime and its critics. The mission needs
to stay in Syria and not be bullied out.

(4) NATO is clandestinely engaged in Syria conflict, with Turkey the
U.S. proxy - Philip Giraldi

From: Kristoffer Larsson <krislarsson@comhem.se> Date: 20 January 2012


NATO vs. Syria

By Philip Giraldi | December 19, 2011

Americans should be concerned about what is happening in Syria, if only
because it threatens to become another undeclared war like Libya but
much, much worse. Calls for regime change have come from Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton, who several weeks ago predicted a civil war. That
is indeed likely if the largely secular and nationalist regime of Bashar
al-Assad falls, pitting Sunni against Shia against Alawite. Indigenous
Christians will be caught in the meat grinder. Ironically, many of the
Christians in Damascus are Iraqis who experienced the last round of
liberation in their own country and had to flee for their lives.

NATO is already clandestinely engaged in the Syrian conflict, with
Turkey taking the lead as U.S. proxy. Ankara's foreign minister, Ahmet
Davitoglu, has openly admitted that his country is prepared to invade as
soon as there is agreement among the Western allies to do so. The
intervention would be based on humanitarian principles, to defend the
civilian population based on the "responsibility to protect" doctrine
that was invoked to justify Libya. Turkish sources suggest that
intervention would start with creation of a buffer zone along the
Turkish-Syrian border and then be expanded. Aleppo, Syria's largest and
most cosmopolitan city, would be the crown jewel targeted by liberation

Unmarked NATO warplanes are arriving at Turkish military bases close to
Iskenderum on the Syrian border, delivering weapons from the late
Muammar Gaddafi's arsenals as well as volunteers from the Libyan
Transitional National Council who are experienced in pitting local
volunteers against trained soldiers, a skill they acquired confronting
Gaddafi's army. Iskenderum is also the seat of the Free Syrian Army, the
armed wing of the Syrian National Council. French and British special
forces trainers are on the ground, assisting the Syrian rebels while the
CIA and U.S. Spec Ops are providing communications equipment and
intelligence to assist the rebel cause, enabling the fighters to avoid
concentrations of Syrian soldiers.

CIA analysts are skeptical regarding the march to war. The frequently
cited United Nations report that more than 3,500 civilians have been
killed by Assad's soldiers is based largely on rebel sources and is
uncorroborated. The Agency has refused to sign off on the claims.
Likewise, accounts of mass defections from the Syrian Army and pitched
battles between deserters and loyal soldiers appear to be a fabrication,
with few defections being confirmed independently. Syrian government
claims that it is being assaulted by rebels who are armed, trained, and
financed by foreign governments are more true than false.

In the United States, many friends of Israel are on the Assad
regime-change bandwagon, believing that a weakened Syria, divided by
civil war, will present no threat to Tel Aviv. But they should think
again, as these developments have a way of turning on their head. The
best organized and funded opposition political movement in Syria is the
Muslim Brotherhood.

Philip Giraldi, a former CIA officer, is executive director of the
Council for the National Interest.

(5) British soldiers helped topple Gaddafi: special forces blended in
with rebel fighters

From: douglas schorr <douglas.schorr@gmail.com> Date: 28 January 2012


19 January 2012 Last updated at 12:38 GMT

Inside story of the UK's secret mission to beat Gaddafi

By Mark Urban

Diplomatic and defence editor, Newsnight

British efforts to help topple Colonel Gaddafi were not limited to air
strikes. On the ground - and on the quiet - special forces soldiers were
blending in with rebel fighters. This is the previously untold account
of the crucial part they played.

The British campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi's regime had its
public face - with aircraft dropping bombs, or Royal Navy ships
appearing in Libyan waters, but it also had a secret aspect.

My investigations into that covert effort reveal a story of practically
minded people trying to get on with the job, while all the time facing
political and legal constraints imposed from London.

In the end, though, British special forces were deployed on the ground
in order to help the UK's allies - the Libyan revolutionaries often
called the National Transitional Council or NTC. Those with a knowledge
of the programme insist "they did a tremendous job" and contributed to
the final collapse of the Gaddafi regime.

The UK's policy for intervention evolved in a series of fits and starts,
being changed at key points by events on the ground. The arguments about
how far the UK should go were thrashed out in a series of meetings of
the National Security Council at Downing Street. Under the chairmanship
of Prime Minister David Cameron, its key members were:

Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir David Richards

Defence Secretary Liam Fox

Foreign Secretary William Hague

Mr Cameron's chief of staff, Ed Llewellyn, was a key voice in urging
action following start of the Libyan revolution last February, say
Whitehall insiders.

The first significant involvement of British forces inside Libya was a
rescue mission mounted just a couple of weeks after the rising against
Gaddafi broke out. On 3 March, Royal Air Force C130 aircraft were sent
to a desert airstrip at Zilla in the south of the country to rescue
expatriate oil workers. Many had been threatened by gunmen and bandits.

This airlift of 150 foreigners, including about 20 Britons, to Valletta
airport in Malta went smoothly, despite one of the aircraft being hit by
ground fire soon after taking off.

Accompanying the flights were about two dozen men from C Squadron of the
Special Boat Service (SBS), who helped secure the landing zone. It was a
short-term and discreet intervention that saved the workers from risk of
abduction or murder, and caused little debate in Whitehall.

Events, though, were moving chaotically and violently onwards, with the
Libyan armed forces breaking up and Benghazi emerging as the centre of
opposition. The government sought to open contacts with the National
Transitional Council both overtly and covertly.

It was the undercover aspect of this relationship that almost brought
Britain's wider attempt to help the revolution to grief. The Secret
Intelligence Service, or MI6, sought to step up communications with some
of its contacts in the opposition. It was decided to send a pair of the
service's people to a town not far from Benghazi to meet one of these

MI6, say people familiar with what happened, decided to avoid the Royal
Navy frigate in Benghazi at the time, or any other obvious symbol of
national power as the base for this meeting. Instead, they opted to be
flown from Malta into Libya at night by Chinook helicopter in order to
meet local "fixers" who would help them get to the meeting.

In planning this operation, SIS chose to use a highly sensitive arm of
the special forces, E Squadron, in order to look after its people. Six
members of E Squadron, which is recruited from all three Tier 1 units
(SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance Regiment) duly boarded the Chinook
to "mind" the intelligence people.

They were equipped with a variety of weapons and secure communications
gear. In keeping with E Squadron's sensitive role, they were in plain
clothes or black jumpsuits (accounts vary), and carried a variety of

SAS 'captured near Benghazi'

The plan unravelled almost immediately. The landing of their helicopter
aroused local curiosity.

The Libyan revolution, like many others, was accompanied by a good deal
of paranoia about foreign mercenaries and spies, and the British party
could not have appeared more suspicious. They were detained and taken to
Benghazi, the men on the ground having decided that to open fire would
destroy the very bridge-building mission they were engaged in.

This debacle in Benghazi rapidly became even more embarrassing, as the
Gaddafi government released an intercepted phone call in which a British
diplomat pleaded with the NTC for the team's release.

As a result of what happened with E Squadron, those who would advocate
using special forces to help topple the regime were sidelined for
months. It also caused great difficulties for MI6, which had plans to
turn some key figures in Gaddafi's inner circle.

When, on 19 March, Colonel Gaddafi's tanks were bombed as they entered
Benghazi, the conflict entered a dramatically different phase.
High-profile military action was under way, and the leaders of the UK,
US, and France were increasingly committed to the overthrow of the
Libyan leader.

But the means that could be used would be tightly limited as a result
both of the unhappy experience of Iraq, and the terms of the UN
resolution that had authorised the air action.

Under UN Security Council Resolution 1973, countries were authorised to
use force "to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under
threat of attack". The text noted that the measures used to achieve this
aim excluded "a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of
Libyan territory".

The resolution authorised force but its limitations, both in avoiding
any mention of support to forces fighting Col Gaddafi's army and
apparently in ruling out "boots on the ground", defined much of British
government thinking.

Yet key figures in the Downing Street discussions were convinced that
air strikes alone would not achieve the result they wanted. At sessions
of the National Security Council, Gen Richards and Mr Fox made the case
for planning to provide training and equipment for the revolutionary
forces of the NTC.

At a meeting near the end of March, we have been told, authorisation was
given to take certain steps to develop the NTC's embryonic ground
forces. This involved the immediate dispatch of a small advisory team,
and the longer-term development of a "train and equip" project.
Ministers were advised, say those familiar with the discussion, that
this second part of the plan would take at least three months to implement.

When half a dozen British officers arrived at a seaside hotel in
Benghazi at the beginning of April, they were unarmed and their role was
strictly limited. They had been told to help the NTC set up a nascent
defence ministry, located in a commandeered factory on the outskirts of
the city.

The first and most basic task of the advisory team was to get the
various bands of Libyan fighters roaring around in armed pick-up trucks
under some sort of central co-ordination. As reporters had discovered,
most of these men had little idea of what they were doing, and soon
panicked if they thought Col Gaddafi's forces were attacking or
outflanking them.

There were a number of legal issues preventing them giving more help.
Some Whitehall lawyers argued that any type of presence on the ground
was problematic. Legal doubts were raised about arming the NTC or
targeting Col Gaddafi.

Once the air operation was put on a proper Nato footing, these issues
became even more vexed, insiders say, with the alliance saying it would
not accept men on the ground "directing air strikes" in a way that some
newspapers, even in late spring, were speculating was already happening.

The British government's desire to achieve the overthrow of Gaddafi
while accommodating the legal sensitivities registered by various
Whitehall departments led to some frustration among those who were meant
to make the policy work.

"It just seemed to me an unnecessarily muddled way of going about a
business that we all knew the underlying aims of," said one. "It was
almost as if we have lost the ability to define a clear objective and go
for it."

However, the accidental bombing of NTC columns by Nato aircraft in early
April provided those who wanted more direct assistance with a powerful
argument. British and French officers on the ground were permitted to
co-ordinate more closely with the NTC for the purposes of
"deconfliction" or preventing such accidental clashes from happening again.

Under the deconfliction rubric, British advisers made their way to
places like Misrata, then under siege, where the RAF was focusing its
air strikes. The stage was set then for months of bombing which, as it
progressed, both exhausted the stocks of precision weapons available to
some Nato allies and the patience of many politicians for what was going
on. Insiders say that, discreetly, they were soon doing more than
deconfliction, actually co-ordinating certain Nato air attacks.

Taking as his cue the March approval in principal for a training
programme, Gen Richards had started a series of low profile visits to
Doha, the capital of Qatar.

This Gulf emirate had taken a leading role in backing the NTC, and its
defence chief was by June brokering an agreement with the UK and France
to provide material back-up as well as training for the NTC.

France was to prove more forward-leaning than the UK in this, and by
August was providing weapons to NTC units in the Nefusa mountains of
western Libya. The UK, meanwhile, had agreed to focus its efforts in the
east of the country. It was as part of this new effort that British
special forces returned to Libya.

Although plenty of people in Whitehall still remembered the March
debacle, it was agreed to allow a limited number of British advisers to
take a direct part in training and mentoring NTC units in Libya. Sources
say the number of men sent from D Squadron of 22 SAS Regiment was capped
at 24. They were performing their mission by late August.

While France and Qatar were ready to provide weapons directly, the UK
was not. However, this made little practical difference since the SAS
was operating closely with Qatar special forces who had reportedly
delivered items such as Milan anti-tank missiles.

There were some suggestions from Whitehall that the training itself
should be conducted outside Libya in order to remain within the narrow
interpretation of the UN resolution, but the SAS was apparently soon
present at a base in southern Libya.

Decoding the special forces

British Army's Special Air Service (SAS), formed in 1941 to drop troops
by parachute behind enemy lines. Main role of its 400 members is to
gather intelligence on the ground, but also has history of tackling
perilous engagements - most famously storming the Iranian embassy in
London in 1980.

Special Boat Service (SBS), formed in 1940, is Royal Navy's equivalent,
and the two services have strong links. SBS specialises in operations at
sea and on river networks, but sometimes operates inland.

Special Reconnaissance Regiment (SRR), formed in 2005. Few details of
its function or personnel have been made public, but its main purpose is
to carry out covert surveillance operations, freeing SAS and SBS for combat.

During the months that this project had taken to come to fruition, the
slow grinding down of Gaddafi's forces by air attack had continued. Soon
after the foreign trainers arrived, NTC units swept into Tripoli.

Some people close to the Libyan revolution say that the Qatari chief of
defence staff claimed credit for coming up with the strategy of pushing
simultaneously towards the Libyan capital from different directions.
Certainly, the foreign special forces on the ground played a role in
co-ordinating the different columns.

The SAS had meanwhile strayed beyond its training facility, with single
men or pairs accompanying the NTC commanders that they had been training
back to their units. They dressed as Libyans and blended in with the
units they mentored, says someone familiar with the operation.

There had been concerns that they would be spotted by the press, but
this did not happen. "We have become a lot better at blending in," says
someone familiar with the D Squadron operation. "Our people were able to
stay close to the NTC commanders without being compromised."

Instead, as the revolutionaries fought their way into Gaddafi's home
town of Sirte, they were assisted by a handful of British and other
special forces. Members of the Jordanian and United Arab Emirates armies
had fallen in behind the Qataris too.

When, on 20 October, Gaddafi was finally captured and then killed by NTC
men, it followed Nato air strikes on a convoy of vehicles carrying
leading members of the former regime as they tried to escape from Sirte
early in the morning. Had British soldiers on the ground had a hand in
this? Nobody will say yet.

In keeping with its long standing policies on special forces and MI6
operations, Whitehall has refrained from public statements about the
nature of assistance on the ground. The Ministry of Defence reiterated
that policy when asked to comment on this story.

Speaking at a public event late last year, though, Gen Richards
commented that the NTC forces "were the land element, an 'army' was
still vital". He also noted that "integrating the Qataris, Emiratis and
Jordanians into the operation was key". He did not, however, allude to
the presence of more than 20 British operators on the ground.

Last October the Chief of the Qatar Defence Staff revealed that
"hundreds" of his troops has been on the ground in Libya.

British sources agree Qatar played a leading role - and accept it put
more soldiers in than the UK - but question whether the number was this
large. Around the more secret parts of Whitehall, the suggestion is that
the number committed on the ground by all nations probably did not
exceed a couple of hundred.

As for Britain's decision finally to deploy an SAS squadron, "they made
a fantastic difference", argues one insider.

It is part of the essence of troops of this kind that they often operate
in secrecy, providing their political masters with policy options that
they might not wish to own up to publicly.

But given that the UK's earlier relationship with Col Gaddafi and his
intelligence services caused great embarrassment, it could be that
attention will one day focus more closely on British assistance to the
NTC, particularly if the Libyan revolution comes unstuck.

{inset} Secret unit within the special forces

The existence of E Squadron is well known within the special forces
community but has not hitherto been discussed publicly. It was formed
five years ago to work closely with the intelligence service MI6, and is
mainly involved in missions where maximum discretion is required, say
Whitehall insiders.

Its role as a small, handpicked force operating with MI6 makes it the
modern-day successor to the shadowy cell sometimes referred to as the

While the existence of teams of this kind is a gift for thriller writers
looking to insert a hit team of hardened SAS men into their plotline,
the reality of E Squadron's operations has been a little more prosaic.

Last March's debacle, in which six members of the squadron were caught
in Libya, was highly embarrassing. The reason for their presence,
escorting two people from MI6, gives a clue to the facilitating role
they often play in foreign intelligence operations in risky places.

After 9/11, with major military commitments in Afghanistan and then
Iraq, MI6 stepped up its intelligence-gathering in many places that had
hitherto been off the radar or considered too dangerous.

It was often backed up by UK special forces, but the competing demands
on them to support special operations in Afghanistan and Iraq eventually
led to the creation of E Squadron.

According to special forces people, E Squadron is a composite
organisation formed from selected SAS, SBS and Special Reconnaissance
Regiment operators. It is not technically part of the SAS or SBS, but at
the disposal of the Director of Special Forces and MI6.

The squadron often operates in plain clothes and with the full range of
national support, such as false identities, at its disposal.

Whitehall sources suggest E Squadron was prepared to launch a rescue of
a British citizen kidnapped in the Sahara in 2009, but could not obtain
political clearance to do so before he was murdered by the hostage-takers.
{end inset}

Watch Mark Urban's full report on BBC Two's Newsnight on Wednesday 18
January 2012 at 22:30 GMT, or catch up with the BBC iPlayer and
Newsnight website.

(6) Medecins Sans Frontieres reports torture by militias, as tribes feud
in "liberated" Libya


Libya: Is a breakdown in order forcing NGOs out?

Mark Urban

27 January 2012 Last updated at 17:02 GMT

The decision by the French group Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) to
withdraw its fieldworkers from prisons in the Libyan city of Misrata is
an important and disturbing indicator of the situation in that country.

While some NGOs are guilty of trying to apply western 'best practice' in
unrealistic ways, or to put the safety of their own teams ahead of
project work, MSF's reputation, built over decades of operations in the
most inhospitable parts of the world, suggests they should be listened
to carefully both by the interim government in Libya and the western
countries that assisted it to overthrow Muammar al Gaddafi's regime.

According to the NGO, in a few months its field workers have treated 115
people in the city's jail for wounds arising from torture.

"Patients were brought to us in the middle of interrogation for medical
care, in order to make them fit for further interrogation", says MSF
director Christopher Stokes, "this is unacceptable".

When one considers that this is just one city, it is not unreasonable to
suppose that hundreds or even thousands of detainees have been abused in
this way.


Apparently those subjected to this treatment have been removed from
Misrata's prisons, taken to 'interrogation centres' run by various
militias or state agencies before being returned with bad bruises,
broken bones, and other signs of beating. Some are suspected of loyalty
to the Gaddafi regime, others of criminality, and with some it is
completely unclear.

Has Libya overthrown an oppressive, centralised, regime that relied upon
torture, with one that also uses brutal methods but is so diffuse and
divided along regional or tribal lines that it cannot run the country?

It is too early to write off the interim government, the revolution
still has huge support, and it is natural that it should take time to
establish a new democracy after 42 years of dictatorship.

However, the torture in Misrata and other places suggests that a great
deal of score-settling is going on - much of it along tribal or local
lines - and that it is not petering out in a way that many might have hoped.

Arbitrary detention and abuse now seem to be fuelling a new insurgency
among former regime supporters in places like Sirte, Abu Salim (a
neighbourhood of Tripoli), and Bani Walid, as well as feuds between tribes.

There have already been warnings to the Libyan government from the
Foreign Office and State Department about the mistreatment of people in

It does not appear that these have produced any effective action from
the authorities.

Rather the arbitrary nature of the arrests, who is being beaten by whom,
and the signs of new violence from former regime members and tribal
enemies all suggest a situation in which authority is fragmenting.

(7) C.I.A. drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan repeatedly
targeted rescuers

From: "Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics Earth Sciences)"
<sadanand@mail.ccsu.edu> Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2012 16


U.S. Said to Target Rescuers at Drone Strike Sites


Published: February 5, 2012

WASHINGTON — British and Pakistani journalists said Sunday that the
C.I.A.'s drone strikes on suspected militants in Pakistan have
repeatedly targeted rescuers who responded to the scene of a strike, as
well as mourners at subsequent funerals.

The report, by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism,
found that at least 50 civilians had been killed in follow-up strikes
after they rushed to help those hit by a drone-fired missile. The bureau
counted more than 20 other civilians killed in strikes on funerals. The
findings were published on the bureau's Web site and in The Sunday Times
of London.

The bureau's findings are based on interviews with witnesses to strikes
in Pakistan's rugged tribal area, where reporting is often dangerous and
difficult. American officials have questioned the accuracy of such
claims, asserting that accounts might be concocted by militants or
falsely confirmed by residents who fear retaliation.

But most other studies of drone strikes have relied on sketchy and often
contradictory news reports from Pakistan. The bureau's investigation,
which began last year with a detailed study of civilian casualties,
involved interviews with villagers who said they saw strikes, wounded
people and family members of those killed.

The bureau counted 260 strikes by Predator and Reaper drones since
President Obama took office, and it said that 282 to 535 civilians had
been "credibly reported" killed in those attacks, including more than 60
children. American officials said that the number was much too high,
though they acknowledged that at least several dozen civilians had been
killed inadvertently in strikes aimed at militant suspects.

A senior American counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition
of anonymity, questioned the report's findings, saying "targeting
decisions are the product of intensive intelligence collection and
observation." The official added: "One must wonder why an effort that
has so carefully gone after terrorists who plot to kill civilians has
been subjected to so much misinformation. Let's be under no illusions —
there are a number of elements who would like nothing more than to
malign these efforts and help Al Qaeda succeed."

Getting a full picture of the drone campaign is difficult. It is
classified as top secret, and Obama administration officials have
refused to make public even the much-disputed legal opinions
underpinning it.

But Mr. Obama spoke about the program in an online appearance last week.

"I want to make sure that people understand: actually, drones have not
caused a huge number of civilian casualties," he said in the forum on
YouTube. "For the most part they have been very precise precision
strikes against Al Qaeda and their affiliates." He called the strikes "a
targeted, focused effort at people who are on a list of active terrorists."

However, American officials familiar with the rules governing the
strikes and who spoke on the condition of anonymity said that many
missiles had been fired at groups of suspected militants who are not on
any list. These so-called signature strikes are based on assessments
that men carrying weapons or in a militant compound are legitimate targets.

(8) Afghan Army killed US 'allies' over 30 times since 2007. Mutual
hatred is growing rapidly

hatred is growing rapidly," said an Afghan Army colonel


Afghanistan's Soldiers Step Up Killings of Allied Forces

A report cites growing fiction between the ostensible allies.


Published: January 20, 2012

KABUL, Afghanistan — American and other coalition forces here are being
killed in increasing numbers by the very Afghan soldiers they fight
alongside and train, in attacks motivated by deep-seated animosity
between the supposedly allied forces, according to American and Afghan
officers and a classified coalition report obtained by The New York Times.

A decade into the war in Afghanistan, the report makes clear that these
killings have become the most visible symptom of a far deeper ailment
plaguing the war effort: the contempt each side holds for the other,
never mind the Taliban. The ill will and mistrust run deep among
civilians and militaries on both sides, raising questions about what
future role the United States and its allies can expect to play in

The violence, and the failure by coalition commanders to address it,
casts a harsh spotlight on the shortcomings of American efforts to build
a functional Afghan Army, a pillar of the Obama administration's
strategy for extricating the United States from the war in Afghanistan,
said the officers and experts who helped shape the strategy.

The problems risk leaving the United States and its allies dependent on
an Afghan force that is permeated by anti-Western sentiment and
incapable of combating the Taliban and other militants when NATO's
combat mission ends in 2014, they said.

One instance of the general level of antipathy in the war exploded into
uncomfortable view last week when video emerged of American Marines
urinating on dead Taliban fighters. Although American commanders quickly
took action and condemned the act, chat-room and Facebook posts by
Marines and their supporters were full of praise for the desecration.

But the most troubling fallout has been the mounting number of
Westerners killed by their Afghan allies, events that have been
routinely dismissed by American and NATO officials as isolated episodes
that are the work of disturbed individual soldiers or Taliban
infiltrators, and not indicative of a larger pattern. The unusually
blunt report, which was prepared for a subordinate American command in
eastern Afghanistan, takes a decidedly different view.

"Lethal altercations are clearly not rare or isolated; they reflect a
rapidly growing systemic homicide threat (a magnitude of which may be
unprecedented between 'allies' in modern military history)," it said.
Official NATO pronouncements to the contrary "seem disingenuous, if not
profoundly intellectually dishonest," said the report, and it played
down the role of Taliban infiltrators in the killings.

The coalition refused to comment on the classified report. But
"incidents in the recent past where Afghan soldiers have wounded or
killed I.S.A.F. members are isolated cases and are not occurring on a
routine basis," said Lt. Col. Jimmie E. Cummings Jr. of the Army, a
spokesman for the American-led International Security Assistance Force.
"We train and are partnered with Afghan personnel every day and we are
not seeing any issues or concerns with our relationships."

The numbers appear to tell a different story. Although NATO does not
release a complete tally of its forces' deaths at the hands of Afghan
soldiers and the police, the classified report and coalition news
releases indicate that Afghan forces have attacked American and allied
service members nearly three dozen times since 2007.

Two members of the French Foreign Legion and one American soldier were
killed in separate episodes in the past month, according to statements
by NATO. The classified report found that between May 2007 and May 2011,
when it was completed, at least 58 Western service members were killed
in 26 separate attacks by Afghan soldiers and the police nationwide.
Most of those attacks have occurred since October 2009. This toll
represented 6 percent of all hostile coalition deaths during that
period, the report said.

"The sense of hatred is growing rapidly," said an Afghan Army colonel.
He described his troops as "thieves, liars and drug addicts," but also
said that the Americans were "rude, arrogant bullies who use foul language."

Senior commanders largely manage to keep their feelings in check, said
the officer, who asked not to be named so he could speak openly. But the
officer said, "I am afraid it will turn into a major problem in the near
future in the lower ranks of both armies."

No comments:

Post a Comment