These are the militia thugs and this is what they do… lovely folks, aren’t they?
The New York Times came out with interesting revelations about the details of the attack against the American mission in Benghazi. The American officials whom the newspaper quotes confirm that the CIA used the two American compounds in Benghazi, including the one where the American ambassador J. Christopher Stevens died of smoke inhalation, for “secret missions”. Meanwhile, Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the head of the Libyan National Council and the interim head of state, issued an order disbanding all militias and ordering them to pull out of the army’s barracks and other public property before Tuesday. However, experts question the ability of Libya’s new government to re-establish order in the country in such a brief period.
From the latest reports, it also became clear that the CIA had a big staff in Libya, in particular, in Benghazi. In an interview to the Wall Street Journal, Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Mustafa A.G. Abushagur expressed his surprise at the scope of the CIA’s operations in Benghazi, which became apparent to him only when a “surprisingly large number of Americans showed up at the Benghazi airport to be evacuated”. The Wall Street Journal quoted Mr Abushagour as saying, “We have no problem with intelligence sharing or gathering, but our sovereignty is also key”. The New York Times reports that CIA operatives listened to Libyans’ phone conversations; they intercepted and analysed a huge amount of e-mail messages, SMS messages, and other personal information.
These facts, coupled with worrying reports on militia activities in Syria, Libya, and Mali, pose some more general questions, whose significance goes well beyond the borders of Libya alone. How conscious is the USA of the real aims of the forces that surfaced in Arab countries thanks to the so-called Arab Spring? How could it happen that a massive CIA presence didn’t clarify the situation enough for the American authorities to predict the dangers that faced their own diplomatic staff? If the reports about the inner divisions inside these militias and their infiltration by Islamists are true, then, aren’t these militias a greater danger to their countries’ populations than the “dictatorships” that these militias claimed to fight?
Obviously, the USA pressed hard on the new Libyan authorities to do something about this terrible and, amongst other things, humiliating incident, what with the American ambassador being killed there. The government is making “all the right moves”… or, so it seems from the official reports. Mr al-Magarief, the official head of state, issued an order on disbanding militias, a move, that, according to expert opinions, would require the use of force. According to a report by the French newspaper Le Figaro, at least 10 people were killed on the first day of the “new peaceful order”, i.e. before al-Magarief’s ultimatum actually expired. The newspaper reports that the two militias where Islamist presence is at its strongest… Ansar al-Sharia and Abu Slim… prudently evacuated their facilities in Benghazi long before the government clamped down on militias. Instead of raiding the Islamists, people whom the New York Times calls “an angry mob demanding law and order” attacked the barracks of the more-or-less loyalist brigade of the local militia leader Rafallah Sahati. However, Le Figaro suspects that it wasn’t law and order, but Rafallah Sahati’s arms depots that the mob was after. That’s especially so if one bears in mind that the attack started at dawn… a time when “normal” mobs aren’t at their most active.
Would the situation in Syria be any different from what we’re now seeing in Libya? Georges Malbrunot, a veteran French reporter on Middle Eastern affairs, wrote in his blog on the “growing influence of radicals” in the so called Free Syrian Army, which announced today it was moving its operating headquarters from Turkey to Syria. Malbrunot noted that the FSA, created soon after the start of the “peaceful” rebellion in Syria, in June 2011, is now “just a label behind which rag-tag anti-régime militias hide”. The French journalist added that this armed force, actively supported by money and arms from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Western countries, “is torn apart by internal divisions”. The official FSA commander, Colonel Riad al-Assad (no relation to the ruling Syrian president), is reported to channel all the Saudi aid and arms to his loyalists inside Syria. Malbrunot quoted his sources amongst the Syrian rebels as saying, “He created his own militias inside Syria, and, now, he wants to be better placed in a fight for power in the long run… in a post-Bashar Syria”. Unfortunately, this description repeats word-for-word not-so-distant developments in Libya. That means that if the current American strategy succeeds, the world, including the USA, would see an increasingly insecure and violent Syria, torn by militia strife very much in the same way Libya is torn now.
24 September 2012
Voice of Russia World Service