On April 14, 1986, the United States launches air strikes against Libya in retaliation for the Libyan sponsorship of terrorism against American troops and citizens. The raid, which began shortly before 7 p.m. EST (2 a.m., April 15 in Libya), involved more than 100 U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft, and was over within an hour. Five military targets and “terrorism centers” were hit, including the headquarters of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.
During the 1970s and ’80s, Qaddafi’s government financed a wide variety of Muslim and anti-U.S. and anti-British terrorist groups worldwide, from Palestinian guerrillas and Philippine Muslim rebels to the Irish Republican Army and the Black Panthers. In response, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Libya, and relations between the two nations steadily deteriorated. In 1981, Libya fired at a U.S. aircraft that passed into the Gulf of Sidra, which Qaddafi had claimed in 1973 as Libyan territorial waters. That year, the U.S. uncovered evidence of Libyan-sponsored terrorist plots against the United States, including planned assassination attempts against U.S. officials and the bombing of a U.S. embassy-sponsored dance in Khartoum, Sudan.
In December 1985, five American citizens were killed in simultaneous terrorist attacks at the Rome and Vienna airports. Libya was blamed, and U.S. President Ronald Reagan ordered expanded sanctions and froze Libyan assets in the United States. On March 24, 1986, U.S. and Libyan forces clashed in the Gulf of Sidra, and four Libyan attack boats were sunk. Then, on April 5, terrorists bombed a West Berlin dance hall known to be frequented by U.S. servicemen. One U.S. serviceman and a Turkish woman were killed, and more than 200 people were wounded, including 50 other U.S. U.S. intelligence reportedly intercepted radio messages sent from Libya to its diplomats in East Berlin ordering the April 5 attack on the LaBelle discotheque.
On April 14, the United States struck back with dramatic air strikes against Tripoli and Banghazi. The attacks were mounted by 14 A-6E navy attack jets based in the Mediterranean and 18 FB-111 bombers from bases in England. Numerous other support aircraft were also involved. France refused to allow the F-111Fs to fly over French territory, which added 2,600 total nautical miles to the journey from England and back. Three military barracks were hit, along with the military facilities at Tripoli’s main airport and the Benina air base southeast of Benghazi. All targets except one were reportedly chosen because of their direct connection to terrorist activity. The Benina military airfield was hit to preempt Libyan interceptors from taking off and attacking the incoming U.S. bombers.
Even before the operation had ended, President Reagan went on national television to discuss the air strikes. “When our citizens are abused or attacked anywhere in the world,” he said, “we will respond in self-defense. Today we have done what we had to do. If necessary, we shall do it again.”
Operation El Dorado Canyon, as it was code-named, was called a success by U.S. officials. Qaddafi’s 15-month-old adopted daughter was killed in the attack on his residence, and two of his young sons were injured. Although he never admitted it publicly, there is speculation that Qaddafi was also wounded in the bombing. Fire from Libyan surface-to-air missiles and conventional anti-aircraft artillery was heavy during the attack, and one F-111, along with its two-member crew, were lost in unknown circumstances. Several residential buildings were inadvertently bombed during the raid, and 15 Libyan civilians were reported killed. The French embassy in Tripoli was also accidentally hit, but no one was injured.
On April 15, Libyan patrol boats fired missiles at a U.S. Navy communications station on the Italian island of Lamedusa, but the missiles fell short. There was no other major terrorist attack linked to Libya until the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland. All 259 passengers and crew of that flight were killed, and 11 people on the ground perished. In the early 1990s, investigators identified Libyan intelligence agents Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi and Lamen Khalifa Fhimah as suspects in the bombing, but Libya refused to turn them over to be tried in the United States. But in 1999–in an effort to ease United Nations sanctions against Libya–Colonel Moammar Gadhafi agreed to turn the suspects over to Scotland for trial in the Netherlands using Scottish law and prosecutors. In early 2001, al-Megrahi was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, although he continues to profess his innocence and work to overturn his conviction. Fhimah was acquitted.
In accordance with United Nations and American demands, Libya accepted responsibility for the bombing, though it did not express remorse. The U.N. and U.S. lifted sanctions against Libya; the country then paid each victim’s family approximately $8 million in compensation. In 2004, Libya’s prime minister said that the deal was the “price for peace,” implying that his country only accepted responsibility to get the sanctions lifted, angering the survivors’ families. He also admitted that Libya had not really accepted guilt for the bombing. Pan Am Airlines, which went bankrupt as a result of the bombing, is still seeking $4.5 billion in compensation from Libya in civil court.
Qaddafi surprised many around the world when he became one of the first Muslim heads of state to denounce al-Qaida after the attacks of September 11, 2001. In 2003, he gained favor with the administration of George W. Bush when he announced the existence of a program to build weapons of mass destruction in Libya and that he would allow an international agency to inspect and dismantle them. Though some in the U.S. government pointed to this as a direct and positive consequence of the ongoing war in Iraq, others pointed out that Qaddafi had essentially been making the same offer since 1999, but had been ignored. In 2004, U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Libya, one of the first western heads of state to do so in recent memory; he praised Libya during the visit as a strong ally in the international war on terror.
In February 2011, as unrest spread through much of the Arab world, massive political protests against the Qaddafi regime sparked a civil war between revolutionaries and loyalists. In March, an international coalition began conducting airstrikes against Qaddafi strongholds under the auspices of a U.N. Security Council resolution. On October 20, Libya’s interim government announced that Qaddafi had died after being captured near his hometown of Sirte.
Top American Brass: What Libya Needs Is More U.S. Bombs
The U.S. and its NATO slaughter forces have already taken a thriving, peaceful country, destroyed it, and turned it into a feeding ground for terrorism. Readers won’t be surprised to learn therefore that it looks like the same U.S. and NATO forces are beating the drum for even more war on Libya and its people.
Two top U.S. military commanders have recently expressed grave concern about Daesh/IS/ISIS/ISIL using Libya as a stronghold for their expansion. General Joseph Votel, head of the U.S. Special Forces Command, announced that his command was looking for ways to keep the Islamic State from growing more powerful in Libya. Yesterday, Sputnik reported:
Military commanders have intensified their warnings recently regarding a threat coming from members of the Daesh extremist group in Libya. The head of US Special Forces Command, General Joseph Votel, said there have long been concerns that the militants were expanding their presence in the country.
“There is a concern about Libya,” he said at a conference in Washington this week, adding that, “It can’t all be about Iraq and Syria.”
In October, a Defense Intelligence Agency expert said that Libya has become a new target for Daesh, and is intended to be used as “the hub to project themselves across all of North Africa.”
There have been reports that Daesh sent its key leader in Iraq, Abu Omar, to Libya to enhance the terrorist group’s influence in the town of Sirte as well as to prepare a potential asylum for Daesh leaders currently in Syria and Iraq. Recruits have reportedly been pouring into the country weekly since Turkey tightened its border with Syria.
Votel, who has been nominated to take over US Central Command, said at the conference that American special operators will continue conducting reconnaissance missions and collecting data, as part of an effort to keep Daesh from growing more powerful in the region.
“In order to address this threat holistically, we do have to do activities and pursue objectives that allow us to tamp down on it,” he said, including to, “prevent it, and destroy it in areas where it is not wholly grown or beginning to metastasize so that we can bring that area back to legitimate local control.“
On January 22nd, General Joseph Dunford Jr., Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs, warned of the Islamic State using the country as a staging area to organize activity across Africa:
Decisive military action is needed to halt the spread of Islamic State in Libya, the top U.S. military officer said on Friday, warning the group wanted to use the country as a platform to coordinate activity across Africa.
General Joseph Dunford said he believed the U.S. military leadership owed President Barack Obama and the U.S. defence secretary ideas about the “way ahead” for dealing with the militant group’s expansion in Libya.
He described it as an “immediate imperative”.
“Unchecked, I am concerned about the spread of ISIL in Libya,” Dunford, using an acronym for Islamic State, told a small group of reporters traveling with him in Paris.
“You want to take decisive military action to check ISIL’s expansion and at the same time you want to do it in such a way that’s supportive of a long-term political process.”
The U.S. has fabricated so many lies to justify their wholesale destruction of a sovereign Libya, including murdering its beloved spiritual leader Muammar Gaddafi, we have to wonder what a psycho warmonger like the head of US Special Forces Command actually means by ‘legitimate control’, and what ungodly political process the U.S. military will be supporting long term. After all, the only reason ISIS is increasing its presence in Libya is because Syria is fast becoming a no-ISIS zone, and Libya presents the perfect refuge for the U.S.’s mercenary force.
Readers should not forget that vast amounts of weapons and “ISIS” mercenaries were sent from Libya to Syria in the immediate aftermath of the US/NATO bombing of that country. In effect, by bombing and destroying Libya and killing its President, the US/NATO set the stage for ISIS mercenaries to rampage across Syria. Coincidence?
Interestingly, just last month, Libya requested military assistance from Russia in their fight against terror. Those relentless Russians have been pounding the phoney-Islamic head-choppers to a pulp, killing them by the hundreds and driving them out of Syria. So it makes sense that many of them would go back to the place from whence they came: NATO-destroyed Libya.
James and Joanne Moriarty recently reported that several terrorist organizations, including the Islamic State, gathered in Sirte for meetings in December of last year. Have the Islamic State and their sister terror organizations become a liability to the intelligence agencies that created and support them? In other words, has the time come when the U.S. will turn on its assets and begin its war on (its own) terrorists in earnest? Don’t hold your breath. This is the same strategy that US warmongers have used for decades: covertly fund and arm terrorist army – set them loose in a country – claim they are a “terror threat” and then attack them to attack your real target: the legitimate government of that country. Easy!
Having said that, there are probably factions in the U.S. government who really do want to fight ISIS, or who consider them a complete liability and want them eliminated. But there are others who want to continue to control their Frankensteinesque terror creation and keep them on the leash for future escapades of ‘democracy’. Boots on the ground in Libya is one way of doing just that.
Whatever way they spin it, any anti-ISIS operation conducted by the U.S. is doomed to fail, but those in control of the US military and its covert ops (think CIA) have everything to gain from the continued existence of “Muslim terrorism” and everything to lose if it somehow disappears.
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“Belmokhtar has a long history of leading terrorist activities as a member of (al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb), is the operational leader of the al-Qaida-associated al-Murabitun organization in northwest Africa and maintains his personal allegiance to al-Qaida.”
A U.S. official said two F-15 fighter jets launched multiple 500-pound bombs in the attack. The official was not authorized to discuss the details of the attack publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. Authorities say no U.S. personnel were on the ground for the assault.
But this isn’t the first time authorities have claimed to have killed Belmokhtar, a militant believed to be 43 who reportedly lost his eye in combat and fought in Afghanistan. He was one of a number of Islamist fighters who have battled Algeria’s government since the 1990s, later joining al-Qaida.
Libya Is the Next Stop for the U.S. Bombs-Away Policy
The United States and European allies are planning to launch surgical air attacks on the Islamic State and affiliated radical militias in Libya. The hope is to ease military pressure on a reconstituted government there and eliminate a new terrorist outpost of the Islamic State.
Although the Islamic State's rise in Libya is more a direct threat to Europe than the US, European countries lack the technical, logistical and intelligence capability to mount prolonged attacks. Hence, the absolute need for US help.
Bombing would be centered on the city of Sirte, once a political stronghold of the assassinated Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi and now the center of Islamic State support, a senior NATO intelligence official told me. Readers may remember that Sirte was the last holdout against rebel forces during the 2011 civil war and is home to Gaddafi's tribe, the Qadhafha.
It should surprise no one that a marriage of convenience between Gaddafi loyalists and the Islamic State has emerged. The same thing happened in Iraq between Baathist supporters of Saddam Hussein and ISIS. In Syria, to the dismay of Western governments, rebel groups of all sorts are more eager to fight the cruel government of Bashar al-Assad than the pitiless Islamic State.
In Libya, the EU and US plan to hit other terrorist and recalcitrant anti-government groups with the help of ground spotters who will choose the targets, the NATO official said. Italy and France are the biggest promoters of the plan: Italy because Libya has become a jumping off point for thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa seeking to reach European shores France because of last year's terror attack on Paris.
The limited war strategy envisioned by the US and European allies in Libya is not new. It's been tried with variations in other Middle East conflicts, ranging from Afghanistan to Iraq to Syria. In theory, military action is to go hand-in-hand with wider political reconciliation brought about by democratic, competent government. It hasn't happened.
The first application took place in Afghanistan, where US and British forces, including ground troops, battled the Taliban movement for more than a decade. The effort failed to wipe out the Taliban in part because of the endemic corruption of the Afghan government and, after years of training, the unwillingness of Afghan security forces to fight. Moreover, the Taliban enjoyed a rear area in Pakistan that was effectively off-limits to allied ground forces.
Afghans complained that the US focus on battling the Taliban and its al-Qaeda supporters eclipsed the meticulous nation-building effort needed to put Afghanistan on its feet.
The US applied a similar strategy of foreign military intervention and domestic political reconciliation to Iraq, where the Islamic State occupies a large swathe of territory. Since the summer of 2014, jets from the US and United Kingdom have bombed the Islamic State in support of Iraqi forces. Meanwhile, the central government in Baghdad was supposed to become "inclusive" and reach out to the disgruntled Sunni minority population that supports the Islamic State and other insurgents.
But the Baghdad government is dominated by parties representing the country's Shiite majority and has done little to reconcile with Sunnis. Longer-range prospects for sectarian peace are dim. And despite the bombing campaign, the war to recover territory from the Islamic State has been slow.
In Syria, a variation of the dual strategy is also in progress. The US has been hitting the Islamic State from the air while, it was hoped, "moderate" rebels would unseat the dictatorship of Bashar al-Assad.
That possibility, always a long shot, has run into two inconvenient realities. First, it has always been unclear that there were enough so-called moderates to do the job. In the five years of civil war, the most effective rebel forces have belonged to extremist Islamic groups, of which the Islamic State is only one. In addition, Iran's continuing financial and armed support for Assad, along with Russia's military intervention (by air) on the side of his government, has ensured Assad's survival. The war is in a destructive stalemate.
Now comes Libya. The United Nations has worked out a deal in which two rival, warring governments agree to put aside their differences, unite and politically pacify the fractious country. To reduce armed opposition, this new government could then invite foreign military action to fight the Islamic States. The foreigners would bomb and end the Islamic State threat.
That's the theory. Unfortunately, internal Libyan political conflicts have already derailed a national unity agreement forged this month. And even if the new government is finally formed, it is no sure thing that Libyan ground forces, even backed by air power, have enough cohesion, discipline and firepower to hold territory now under Islamic State control.
Planning is going ahead anyway. The Obama Administration wants to look tough on the Islamic State. Europe is desperate to halt the flow of refugees and reduce the terror threat from Libya. Foreign military occupation--the alternative to limited air action--is not under consideration. What's left is pin-point bombing and a hope and a prayer that Libyan politics can work out a post-Gaddafi order. Success would be a major break with the past series of flops.
3 BOMBS MISSED TARGETS, U.S. SAYS
WASHINGTON -- Three U.S. bombs went astray in weekend strikes in Afghanistan, landing in a residential neighborhood northwest of the capital, Kabul, and near a home for the elderly outside the city of Herat, Pentagon officials said Tuesday.
The two incidents were the latest examples of precision-guided weapons going awry in the U.S.-led military campaign -- mistakes that could hurt Washington's efforts to win support in some Islamic countries for its war on terrorism.
U.S. fighter jets and heavy bombers continued to strike forces loyal to the Afghan Taliban regime north of Kabul on Tuesday. Opposition fighters watched the strikes closely, hoping the bombardment will open the way for their advance on the capital.
Pentagon officials also reported that a U.S. helicopter came under fire in Pakistan on Saturday. The aircraft's crew was trying to retrieve the wreckage of a Black Hawk helicopter that had crashed in support of a U.S. commando raid into Afghanistan earlier in the day.
The retrieval crew returned fire and left the area no U.S. forces were hurt in the incident. It was the first time a U.S. aircraft involved in the campaign has been shot at outside Afghanistan, Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke said. Many Pakistanis oppose their country's role in the U.S. campaign.
Clarke said the Pentagon had no information on civilian casualties in the weekend bombing mistakes, in which a Navy F-14 dropped two 500-pound bombs on a residential area near Kabul on Saturday night and a Navy F/A-18 Hornet dropped a 1,000-pound bomb near a home for the elderly near Herat on Sunday morning.
There was some confusion about what had been hit in Herat. In Pakistan, a U.N. spokeswoman said U.S. air attacks had destroyed a military hospital on the eastern outskirts of Herat, according to reports from U.N. staff in the area. The spokeswoman said the hospital was on a military compound.
Clarke said she was uncertain whether the U.N. report referred to the home for the elderly, which was 300 feet from a vehicle storage facility at an army barracks that had been the bomb's intended target.
Taliban officials had claimed Monday that a hospital in the Herat area had been bombed, killing about 100 people. They asserted Tuesday that the civilian death toll since the U.S. air attacks began Oct. 7 has surpassed 1,000.
Clarke dismissed the Taliban claims as "outright lies" and said civilian casualties have been "extremely limited."
Rear Adm. John D. Stufflebeem, a senior official with the Joint Chiefs of Staff, called the errant bombings "rare errors."
He also said he has seen evidence suggesting that some Taliban forces may be hiding in residential neighborhoods, aware of the efforts by the U.S. military to avoid hitting such areas.
The U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator's office supported that theory Tuesday. The office said its representatives inside Afghanistan have reported that residential areas are becoming more dangerous because Taliban troops have moved into them. The office said reports from Kabul indicated that several bombs have hit residential areas close to health and feeding centers.
Stufflebeem said bombing continued Tuesday throughout Afghanistan.
About 80 U.S. fighter jets and bombers struck 11 target areas Monday, he said, including airfields, radar installations, military garrisons, military training facilities, bunkers and moving targets such as tanks.
Many of the attacks, he asserted, focused on Taliban forces fighting opposition groups in northern Afghanistan.
As the airstrikes continue, Stufflebeem said evidence is emerging that supply lines for Taliban troops and their allies in the al-Qaeda terrorist network have been disrupted, as have their housing and training facilities.
He also charged that Taliban forces have taken over several Red Cross warehouses loaded with food and that they appear to be using the stored food to feed troops rather than civilians. British Secretary of Defense Geoff Hoon said Tuesday that the military strikes on Afghanistan have destroyed nine of Osama bin Laden's terrorist training camps and severely damaged nine airfields and 24 military garrisons.
The bombing, however, seemed only to make the Taliban forces more aggressive. As U.S. jets thundered overhead, Taliban gunners opened up with mortars, rockets and artillery on the lines of the opposition Northern Alliance.
One Taliban rocket slammed into the public market at Charikar, 30 miles north of Kabul, killing two people -- including a 60-year-old vegetable vendor -- and injuring 14 others.
In Washington, Attorney General John Ashcroft said Tuesday that investigators have concluded there are "extensive" ties between three hijackers from the Sept. 11 attacks and three men who are suspected of being part of a terrorist cell in Hamburg, Germany.
For the first time, Ashcroft acknowledged that the suspects from Germany also are being sought by the United States for helping plan the worst act of terrorism in U.S. history. The three accomplices previously had been named only in arrest warrants by German authorities.
The FBI has dispatched 12 agents across Germany to help authorities investigate the terrorist cell. Ashcroft said the three fugitives "are all wanted for membership in a terrorist organization that has existed since at least 1999 in both Germany and the United States."
"Their connections to the hijackers are extensive," said Ashcroft, who appeared at a news conference with German Interior Minister Otto Schily.
Justice Department officials declined to name the terrorist organization or explain what connection it had to al-Qaeda.
Germany has been a target of the investigation for several weeks. But Ashcroft's comments Tuesday confirmed the extent to which authorities are studying potential German links to the terrorist attacks.
The three hijackers identified by Ashcroft -- Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi and Ziad Jarrahi -- are believed to have piloted the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The three men were roommates when they attended school in Hamburg in the 1990s, Ashcroft said.
Authorities said the three fugitives -- Said Bahaji, Ramzi Binalshibh and Zakariya Essabar -- also had extensive links to the men during college.
On 19 February 2016, the United States conducted a large series of bombings in Sabratha. ⎼] The United States had claimed that ISIS training camps were the target. The strike killed Noureddine Chouchane, a Tunisian resident who was blamed for having links to the 2015 Sousse attacks in Tunisia. ⎽] The Pentagon later released a statement in which it claims that the intention was to weaken the chances of ISIS continuing the construction of new training camps and the ability to recruit new members. ⎾]
On 2 August 2016 The Pentagon released a statement that the United States would begin to collaborate with Libya's GNA in an effort to free the city of Sirte from Islamic State affiliated groups that had captured the city in March 2015. ⎿] The United States assured that this was done under the request of the Libyan government and that it was necessary to enable the Libyan forces to have strategic advantages for the offensive. The operations begsn a day before the announcements with precision airstrikes around Sirte. ⏀]
The United States continued airstrikes and military support from August to December. Ώ] ⏁]
Originally the Libyan forces were to lead the offensive, while support provided by U.S AV-8B Harrier jets and AH-1W Super Cobra attack helicopters striked militant strongholds inside the city. However, according to American field commanders, the GNA forces became "overwhelmed" attempting to enter Sirte and had become desperately in need of heavier support. The US granted then granted fighter jets permission to use defensive weapon strikes against militants. ⏂]
On 6 December 2016, Libyan forces and US Special Forces had officially liberated the city of Sirte. ⏃]
1986 West Berlin discotheque bombing
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1986 West Berlin discotheque bombing, also called La Belle discotheque bombing, attack carried out on April 5, 1986, in West Berlin, in which Libyan agents detonated a bomb at the La Belle discotheque, a nightclub frequented by U.S. soldiers stationed in Germany during the Cold War. The bomb, packed with plastic explosives and shrapnel, killed two American soldiers and a Turkish woman and injured 229 others, some of whom lost limbs and were permanently disabled.
U.S. Pres. Ronald Reagan quickly accused Libya of the bombing of La Belle. Citing intercepted communications between the Libyan embassy in East Berlin and Tripoli, Libya, Reagan ordered U.S. air raids on Libya. One of the U.S. bombs, dropped 10 days after the La Belle attack, hit Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi’s home, killing one of his children.
The case of the La Belle discotheque went unsolved for years. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, however, German investigators discovered a wealth of evidence in former East Germany. Files seized from the headquarters of the Stasi, the East German secret police, led to the arrest of five suspects in 1996. More than 15 years after the bombing, a German court convicted a former Libyan diplomat and three accomplices on murder charges in the La Belle bombing.
During the four-year trial, prosecutors showed that the diplomat, Musbah Eter, worked with Yasser Chraidi, a Palestinian employee of the Libyan embassy in East Berlin, to carry out the attack. The men recruited Ali Chanaa, a German man of Lebanese descent, and his German wife, Verena Chanaa, to carry out the bombing.
Verena Chanaa planted the bomb, carrying the explosives into the nightclub in a travel bag. Chanaa’s sister went with her to the nightclub and left with her five minutes before the blast but claimed to have known nothing of the plot. Chanaa was imprisoned for 14 years on the charge of murder, while the others were sentenced to between 12 and 14 years in jail for attempted murder or aiding and abetting attempted murder. Verena Chanaa’s sister was acquitted for lack of proof that she knew a bomb was in the travel bag.
President Barack Obama launched an air campaign against Libya on this day in 2011. The decision to order the strikes came after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution, spearheaded by his administration, that authorized military intervention in Libya.
Obama said the military action sought to save the lives of peaceful, pro-democracy protesters who found themselves the target of a crackdown by Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
Two days after the U.N. acted, the United States and other NATO countries, including Britain and France, enforced a no-fly zone over Libya by Gadhafi’s air force while starting to bomb his assets. Seven months later, in October 2011, after a military offensive backed by a group of Western powers, rebel forces conquered the North African country, located Gadhafi and killed him.
According to Alan J. Kuperman, writing in the March-April 2015 issue of Foreign Affairs: “Not only did Gadhafi endanger the momentum of the nascent Arab Spring, which had recently swept away authoritarian regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, but he also was poised to commit a bloodbath in the Libyan city where the uprising had started.”
Obama declared: “We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi—a city nearly the size of Charlotte—could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.” In the Rose Garden speech after Gadhafi’s death, Obama noted, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.”
Trump’s Bad Deal with the Taliban
By THOMAS JOSCELYN AND BILL ROGGIO
Speaking on March 28 at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama said: “The United States and the world faced a choice. Gadhafi declared he would show ‘no mercy’ to his own people. He compared them to rats and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day.”
“It was not in our national interest to let that [massacre] happen. I refused to let that happen.”
But Kuperman, an associate professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, held in his article that the NATO allies’ assessment turned out to be premature.
As he put it: “In retrospect, Obama’s intervention in Libya was an abject failure, judged even by its own standards. Libya has not only failed to evolve into a democracy it has devolved into a failed state. Violent deaths and other human rights abuses have increased severalfold.
“Rather than helping the United States combat terrorism, as Gadhafi did during his last decade in power, Libya [began to serve] as a safe haven for militias affiliated with both al-Qaida and the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS). The Libya intervention has harmed other U.S. interests as well: undermining nuclear nonproliferation, chilling Russian cooperation at the U.N., and fueling Syria’s civil war.”
SOURCE: “This Day in Presidential History,” by Paul Brandus (2018)
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Why is U.S. bombing Libya – again?
The U.S. military resumed bombing of the North African country of Libya on Aug. 1.
President Barack Obama approved the airstrikes, which were recommended by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Although U.S. warplanes have struck before, this attack marked the beginning of a “sustained campaign.”
Western countries’ special forces teams have been on the ground in eastern and western Libya for months. In July, France said three of its soldiers had been killed south of the eastern city of Benghazi. (Reuters, Aug. 1)
Airstrikes were launched in support of the current U.S.- and U.N.-approved Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA). Their forces are supposedly trying to drive the Islamic State group (IS) from Sirte, a city halfway between Tripoli and Benghazi. Libya’s largest oil field and oil port are in the Sirte area. The struggle for control of this vital resource has been a source of continuing conflict among competing factions and militias.
There are two rival Libyan governments: the Tobruk-based House of Representatives government allied with the Libyan National Army and the Tripoli-based National Salvation Government. Many competing militias with shifting loyalties are locked in struggle for resources and territory.
Oil production in the past five years has crashed to less than 20 percent of the 1.65 million barrels pumped in 2010.
Excuse for expanding U.S. war
The reason given for the present bombing is that the strikes are targeting the advance of IS forces. Along with bombing Libya, U.S. forces and aircraft are bombing sites in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. Predator drones continue to strike targets in these four countries and in Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Mali, the Philippines and Pakistan.
Since the 2011 U.S. destruction of Libya, U.S. bases have been established throughout Africa — in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Seychelles, Uganda, Mauritania, and Burkina Faso. More bases are planned.
In this expanding U.S. war, deaths and injuries are uncounted and dismissed as collateral damage. Totally ignored is the trauma of the millions of people whose lives have been disrupted, their jobs lost and their schooling cut short. As displaced refugees, every shred of their security has been destroyed.
Claiming to target IS, the U.S. military command, along with an alliance of 13 other uninvited countries, have bombed Syria for more than two years. But when Russian aircraft, in response to the Syrian government’s urgent appeal, targeted the very forces the U.S. military claimed it wanted to defeat, suddenly Washington denounced the strikes, claiming that U.S.-backed “democratic opposition” forces were being hit.
Presidents George W Bush and Obama claimed that no congressional approval is needed for these endless, undeclared acts of war. Supposedly, the Authorization for Use of Military Force legislation that was rammed through Congress in 2001 gives presidents the authority to bypass the Constitution.
In the past 15 years, U.S. imperialism has bombed 14 countries, always claiming to be fighting al-Qaida, IS or other “shadowy” terrorists.
U.S. bombs destroyed Libya
The U.S./NATO war on Libya in 2011 was directly responsible for the chaos and devastation in Libya today. For more than seven months, from March to October, U.S. aircraft targeted Libyan cities and its modern infrastructure.
Before that war, Libya was the most modern country in Africa. U.N. figures show it had the highest standard of living — measured by life expectancy, education level, health care, diet and housing. Well-designed cities along the Mediterranean Sea —Tripoli, Sirte, Benghazi, Misrata and Tobruk — were designed with blocks of modern apartments, wide boulevards and plazas as well as beautiful hotels, cultural centers and schools.
This development was possible because Libya broke free of Wall Street domination. Following the 1969 revolution that overturned the corrupt U.S.-British-supported monarchy of King Idris, Libya nationalized its rich oil and gas deposits. Libya asserted sovereignty over its resources and invested in complex pumping, container and port facilities.
Moammar Gadhafi, a 27-year-old army officer, led the revolution that transformed Libya, which was renamed the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.
Oil nationalization earned Wall Street’s enmity
Libya is a largely desert country only 1 percent of the land is arable. More than 80 percent of the population live on a thin 1,200-mile coastal strip of land along the Mediterranean Sea. In the world’s largest water development project, Libya tapped the underground aquifer and built an underground river to provide irrigation to new farmland and industries and to bring potable water to its growing cities.
The government subsidized development projects in some of the poorest African counties. Hundreds of thousands of workers throughout the continent found employment in Libya’s infrastructure development and oil fields.
When U.S., French, British and Italian imperialists began their bombing campaign, Libya had announced a bold venture to underwrite an African currency with more than 143 tons of gold reserves held in the Central Bank of Libya. This independent development was threatening to Western imperialist banks and oil and gas corporations.
For 42 years, Libya survived and prospered, despite decades of U.S. sanctions. Every construction project was a challenge. Continual sabotage, assassination attempts, media demonization and destabilization efforts went on. But, as a still developing African country, Libya could not withstand more than 26,500 bombing sorties — over 120 sorties per day for seven months.
IS: battering ram against sovereignty
IS has gained a foothold in Libya due to the chaos that U.S. imperialism created there and throughout the region. Every social and political institution was destroyed. Aerial bombing was carried out while weapons and large amounts of cash and bribes were liberally spread around.
Death squad militias assassinated hundreds of government officials and political leaders. Tens of thousands of government loyalists and supporters of the Jamahiriya or Green movement were rounded up and imprisoned in detention camps. The worst abuse and purges were aimed at Black Libyans and Sub-Saharan African workers.
In the vacuum caused by such extreme social dislocation and destruction, the most extreme and fanatical forces, foreign fighters and mercenaries — trained and equipped by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Israel and U.S. Special Operations Forces — seized control. Now rival factions dominate competing cities, regions and oil production facilities.
The existence of IS in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere is caused by U.S. war and imperialist policies of instigating sectarian hatred, racism and ethnic divisions.
This tactic has been used frequently since Washington armed and funded extremist groups against the socialist-oriented revolution in Afghanistan in 1979.
Before U.S. wars, these fanatical forces had no roots or any social basis in these countries. It is now U.S. policy to rely on these reactionaries as a battering ram to break down all forms of national sovereignty and all secular and progressive states.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took credit for making the call to go to war in Libya. When informed of Gadhafi’s brutal lynch-mob execution in Sirte, she clapped her hands, laughed and told a reporter in front of a camera, “We came, we saw, he died.” (CBS News, Oct. 20, 2011)
A WikiLeaks cable in 2012 quoted an email with Secretary Clinton writing, “Arming Syrian rebels and using Western airpower … is a low-cost, high-payoff approach.”
IS forces have recently been pushed back in Syria and, according to U.S. media reports, also in Libya. Increasingly, reports say that Libya’s Jamahiriya movement is reasserting itself in the small, ruined, oil cities of the desert south and in the coastal cities.
In April France 24 News reported that Saif Al Gadhafi, Moammar Gadharfi’s son, was released, not executed. There is speculation that this reprieve was based on fear of the re-emerging movement.
Pro-Gadhafi demonstrators were fired on by IS fighters in Sirte, though the city is in the hands of IS militias. In the capital of Tripoli and other cities, masses of people who supported Gadhafi’s government are reorganizing.
A BRIEFING ON THE HISTORY OF U.S. MILITARY INTERVENTIONS
By Zoltán Grossman, October 2001
Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, most people in the world agree that the perpetrators need to be brought to justice, without killing many thousands of civilians in the process. But unfortunately, the U.S. military has always accepted massive civilian deaths as part of the cost of war. The military is now poised to kill thousands of foreign civilians, in order to prove that killing U.S. civilians is wrong.
The media has told us repeatedly that some Middle Easterners hate the U.S. only because of our “freedom” and “prosperity.” Missing from this explanation is the historical context of the U.S. role in the Middle East, and for that matter in the rest of the world. This basic primer is an attempt to brief readers who have not closely followed the history of U.S. foreign or military affairs, and are perhaps unaware of the background of U.S. military interventions abroad, but are concerned about the direction of our country toward a new war in the name of “freedom” and “protecting civilians.”
The United States military has been intervening in other countries for a long time. In 1898, it seized the Philippines, Cuba, and Puerto Rico from Spain, and in 1917-18 became embroiled in World War I in Europe. In the first half of the 20th century it repeatedly sent Marines to “protectorates” such as Nicaragua,Honduras, Panama, Haiti, and the Dominican Republic. All these interventions directly served corporate interests, and many resulted in massive losses of civilians, rebels, and soldiers. Many of the uses of U.S. combat forces are documented in A History of U.S. Military Interventions since 1890:http://academic.evergreen.edu/g/grossmaz/interventions.html
U.S. involvement in World War II (1941-45) was sparked by the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, and fear of an Axis invasion of North America. Allied bombers attacked fascist military targets, but also fire-bombed German and Japanese cities such as Dresden and Tokyo, party under the assumption that destroying civilian neighborhoods would weaken the resolve of the survivors and turn them against their regimes. Many historians agree that fire- bombing’s effect was precisely the opposite–increasing Axis civilian support for homeland defense, and discouraging potential coup attempts. The atomic bombing of Japan at the end of the war was carried out without any kind of advance demonstration or warning that may have prevented the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians.
The war in Korea (1950-53) was marked by widespread atrocities, both by North Korean/Chinese forces, and South Korean/U.S. forces. U.S. troops fired on civilian refugees headed into South Korea, apparently fearing they were northern infiltrators. Bombers attacked North Korean cities, and the U.S. twice threatened to use nuclear weapons. North Korea is under the same Communist government today as when the war began.
During the Middle East crisis of 1958, Marines were deployed to quell a rebellion in Lebanon, and Iraq was threatened with nuclear attack if it invaded Kuwait. This little-known crisis helped set U.S. foreign policy on a collision course with Arab nationalists, often in support of the region’s monarchies.
In the early 1960s, the U.S. returned to its pre-World War II interventionary role in the Caribbean, directing the failed 1961 Bay of Pigs exile invasion of Cuba, and the 1965 bombing and Marine invasion of the Dominican Republic during an election campaign. The CIA trained and harbored Cuban exile groups in Miami, which launched terrorist attacks on Cuba, including the 1976 downing of a Cuban civilian jetliner near Barbados. During the Cold War, the CIA would also help to support or install pro-U.S. dictatorships in Iran, Chile, Guatemala, Indonesia, and many other countries around the world.
The U.S. war in Indochina (1960-75) pit U.S. forces against North Vietnam, and Communist rebels fighting to overthrow pro-U.S. dictatorships in South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. U.S. war planners made little or no distinction between attacking civilians and guerrillas in rebel-held zones, and U.S. “carpet-bombing” of the countryside and cities swelled the ranks of the ultimately victorious revolutionaries. Over two million people were killed in the war, including 55,000 U.S. troops. Less than a dozen U.S. citizens were killed on U.S. soil, in National Guard shootings or antiwar bombings. In Cambodia, the bombings drove the Khmer Rouge rebels toward fanatical leaders, who launched a murderous rampage when they took power in 1975.
Echoes of Vietnam reverberated in Central America during the 1980s, when the Reagan administration strongly backed the pro-U.S. regime in El Salvador, and right-wing exile forces fighting the new leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Rightist death squads slaughtered Salvadoran civilians who questioned the concentration of power and wealth in a few hands. CIA-trained Nicaraguan Contra rebels launched terrorist attacks against civilian clinics and schools run by the Sandinista government, and mined Nicaraguan harbors. U.S. troops also invaded the island nation of Grenada in 1983, to oust a new military regime, attacking Cuban civilian workers (even though Cuba had backed the leftist government deposed in the coup), and accidentally bombing a hospital.
The U.S. returned in force to the Middle East in 1980, after the Shi’ite Muslim revolution in Iran against Shah Pahlevi’s pro-U.S. dictatorship. A troop and bombing raid to free U.S. Embassy hostages held in downtown Tehran had to be aborted in the Iranian desert. After the 1982 Israeli occupation of Lebanon, U.S. Marines were deployed in a neutral “peacekeeping” operation. They instead took the side of Lebanon’s pro-Israel Christian government against Muslim rebels, and U.S. Navy ships rained enormous shells on Muslim civilian villages. Embittered Shi’ite Muslim rebels responded with a suicide bomb attack on Marine barracks, and for years seized U.S. hostages in the country. In retaliation, the CIA set off car bombs to assassinate Shi’ite Muslim leaders. Syria and the Muslim rebels emerged victorious in Lebanon.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, the U.S. launched a 1986 bombing raid on Libya, which it accused of sponsoring a terrorist bombing later tied to Syria. The bombing raid killed civilians, and may have led to the later revenge bombing of a U.S. jet over Scotland. Libya’s Arab nationalist leader Muammar Qaddafi remained in power. The U.S. Navy also intervened against Iran during its war against Iraq in 1987-88, sinking Iranian ships and “accidentally” shooting down an Iranian civilian jetliner.
U.S. forces invaded Panama in 1989 to oust the nationalist regime of Manuel Noriega. The U.S. accused its former ally of allowing drug-running in the country, though the drug trade actually increased after his capture. U.S. bombing raids on Panama City ignited a conflagration in a civilian neighborhood, fed by stove gas tanks. Over 2,000 Panamanians were killed in the invasion to capture one leader.
The following year, the U.S. deployed forces in the Persian Gulf after the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which turned Washington against its former Iraqi ally Saddam Hussein. U.S. supported the Kuwaiti monarchy and the Muslim fundamentalist monarchy in neighboring Saudi Arabia against the secular nationalist Iraq regime. In January 1991, the U.S..and its allies unleashed a massive bombing assault against Iraqi government and military targets, in an intensity beyond the raids of World War II and Vietnam. Up to 200,000 Iraqis were killed in the war and its imemdiate aftermath of rebellion and disease, including many civilians who died in their villages, neighborhoods, and bomb shelters. The U.S. continued economic sanctions that denied health and energy to Iraqi civilians, who died by the hundreds of thousands, according to United Nations agencies. The U.S. also instituted “no-fly zones” and virtually continuous bombing raids, yet Saddam was politically bolstered as he was militarily weakened.
In the 1990s, the U.S. military led a series of what it termed “humanitarian interventions” it claimed would safeguard civilians. Foremost among them was the 1992 deployment in the African nation of Somalia, torn by famine and a civil war between clan warlords. Instead of remaining neutral, U.S. forces took the side of one faction against another faction, and bombed a Mogadishu neighborhood. Enraged crowds, backed by foreign Arab mercenaries, killed 18 U.S. soldiers, forcing a withdrawal from the country.
Other so-called “humanitarian interventions” were centered in the Balkan region of Europe, after the 1992 breakup of the multiethnic federation of Yugoslavia. The U.S. watched for three years as Serb forces killed Muslim civilians in Bosnia, before its launched decisive bombing raids in 1995. Even then, it never intervened to stop atrocities by Croatian forces against Muslim and Serb civilians, because those forces were aided by the U.S. In 1999, the U.S. bombed Serbia to force President Slobodan Milosevic to withdraw forces from the ethnic Albanian province of Kosovo, which was torn a brutal ethnic war. The bombing intensified Serbian expulsions and killings of Albanian civilians from Kosovo, and caused the deaths of thousands of Serbian civilians, even in cities that had voted strongly against Milosevic. When a NATO occupation force enabled Albanians to move back, U.S. forces did little or nothing to prevent similar atrocities against Serb and other non-Albanian civilians. The U.S. was viewed as a biased player, even by the Serbian democratic opposition that overthrew Milosevic the following year.
Even when the U.S. military had apparently defensive motives, it ended up attacking the wrong targets. After the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa, the U.S. “retaliated” not only against Osama Bin Laden’s training camps in Afghanistan, but a pharmaceutical plant in Sudan that was mistakenly said to be a chemical warfare installation. Bin Laden retaliated by attacking a U.S. Navy ship docked in Yemen in 2000. After the 2001 terror attacks on the United States, the U.S. military is poised to again bomb Afghanistan, and possibly move against other states it accuses of promoting anti-U.S. “terrorism,” such as Iraq and Sudan. Such a campaign will certainly ratchet up the cycle of violence, in an escalating series of retaliations that is the hallmark of Middle East conflicts. Afghanistan, like Yugoslavia, is a multiethnic state that could easily break apart in a new catastrophic regional war. Almost certainly more civilians would lose their lives in this tit-for-tat war on “terrorism” than the 3,000 civilians who died on September 11.
Some common themes can be seen in many of these U.S. military interventions.
First, they were explained to the U.S. public as defending the lives and rights of civilian populations. Yet the military tactics employed often left behind massive civilian “collateral damage.” War planners made little distinction between rebels and the civilians who lived in rebel zones of control, or between military assets and civilian infrastructure, such as train lines, water plants, agricultural factories, medicine supplies, etc. The U.S. public always believe that in the next war, new military technologies will avoid civilian casualties on the other side. Yet when the inevitable civilian deaths occur, they are always explained away as “accidental” or “unavoidable.”
Second, although nearly all the post-World War II interventions were carried out in the name of “freedom” and “democracy,” nearly all of them in fact defended dictatorships controlled by pro-U.S. elites. Whether in Vietnam, Central America, or the Persian Gulf, the U.S. was not defending “freedom” but an ideological agenda (such as defending capitalism) or an economic agenda (such as protecting oil company investments). In the few cases when U.S. military forces toppled a dictatorship–such as in Grenada or Panama–they did so in a way that prevented the country’s people from overthrowing their own dictator first, and installing a new democratic government more to their liking.
Third, the U.S. always attacked violence by its opponents as “terrorism,” “atrocities against civilians,” or “ethnic cleansing,” but minimized or defended the same actions by the U.S. or its allies. If a country has the right to “end” a state that trains or harbors terrorists, would Cuba or Nicaragua have had the right to launch defensive bombing raids on U.S. targets to take out exile terrorists? Washington’s double standard maintains that an U.S. ally’s action by definition “defensive,” but that an enemy’s retaliation is by definition “offensive.”
Fourth, the U.S. often portrays itself as a neutral peacekeeper, with nothing but the purest humanitarian motives. After deploying forces in a country, however, it quickly divides the country or region into “friends” and “foes,” and takes one side against another. This strategy tends to enflame rather than dampen a war or civil conflict, as shown in the cases of Somalia and Bosnia, and deepens resentment of the U.S. role.
Fifth, U.S. military intervention is often counterproductive even if one accepts U.S. goals and rationales. Rather than solving the root political or economic roots of the conflict, it tends to polarize factions and further destabilize the country. The same countries tend to reappear again and again on the list of 20th century interventions.
Sixth, U.S. demonization of an enemy leader, or military action against him, tends to strengthen rather than weaken his hold on power. Take the list of current regimes most singled out for U.S. attack, and put it alongside of the list of regimes that have had the longest hold on power, and you will find they have the same names. Qaddafi, Castro, Saddam, Kim, and others may have faced greater internal criticism if they could not portray themselves as Davids standing up to the American Goliath, and (accurately) blaming many of their countries’ internal problems on U.S. economic sanctions.
One of the most dangerous ideas of the 20th century was that “people like us” could not commit atrocities against civilians.