Category - Libya

New Benghazi report says security flaws were known, but not why Stevens was there

McClatchy, By Nancy A. Youssef, November 21

Washington — A House Intelligence Committee investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi concludes that while the Central intelligence Agency had properly secured its compound in the Libyan city, the State Department knew its security precautions were inadequate at the U.S. Special Mission where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens died.

But the report, while offering rich and previously unknown details about the hours-long attack on the two facilities, still leaves unanswered a key question: If, as the report states, the CIA station chief in Tripoli, State Department diplomatic security agents and CIA contractors in Benghazi knew the mission wasn’t properly secured, why was Stevens allowed to stay there for what was supposed to be a four-day visit?

Indeed, security appeared lax even after 80 attackers had stormed the sprawling four-building complex when CIA contractors arrived to offer assistance, the report said. “The CIA security team observed that some, perhaps all, of the [diplomatic security] agents were unarmed and one of them was not wearing shoes,” the report said.
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Don’t Look Now But Libya Is Falling Apart

Foreign Policy, By Siddhartha Mahanta, August 21

Amid renewed fighting in Gaza, a militant land grab in Iraq, a pseudo-war between Russia and Ukraine, an Ebola outbreak in West Africa, and unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, Libya is coming apart at the seams too. Not that many seem to notice.

The militias who deposed Muammar al-Qaddafi in 2011 are now battling for control of the country and its plentiful oil reserves. Some groups, like the militias in Zintan, are more moderate, while those in Misrata are reportedly aligned with the Islamists.

The government has no army with which to suppress them, and is relying on its own militias. The United States has proposed several plans to train Libyan security forces. But those efforts have collapsed due to the country’s inability to pay for such training and develop the bureaucracy necessary to manage it. Other countries, including Morocco, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and Italy, are also reportedly training Libyan forces.

Amid all this, fighting has only grown more intense over the summer, raising questions about whether Libya is on the fast track to civil war — or already in one.

Bonus FP: North Korea to John Kerry: You’re a Hideous Wolf

‘Freewheeling Militia Violence’ Forced US to Evacuate Embassy in Libya, Kerry Says

ABC News, By Ali Weinberg, July 26

The U.S. State Department was forced to suspend operations at its embassy in Libya because of “freewheeling militia violence” there, Secretary of State John Kerry said today.

Kerry, who spoke to reporters before a meeting with the Turkish and Qatari foreign ministers about Gaza, made the comments after the State Department announced it evacuated its staff in Tripoli.

He blamed the “freewheeling militia violence,” caused by jihadist groups which have only grown in power since the ouster of former president Muammar Gaddafi, for creating an environment in which the diplomatic activities at the Libya embassy had to be suspended.

“A lot of the violence is around our embassy but not on the embassy, but nevertheless it presents a very real risk to our personnel,” Kerry said.

Bloomberg: U.S. Evacuates Embassy as Americans Urged to Leave Libya
CBC News: U.S. evacuates embassy in Libya amid clashes
Reuters: Libya seeks ceasefire as south Tripoli a militia ‘war zone’

NYT Special – Novella like report on Benghazi Murders

U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and other U.S. personnel murdered in Benghazi, Libya

U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and other U.S. personnel murdered in Benghazi, Libya

“To this day, some militia leaders offer alibis for Mr. Abu Khattala [the perpetrator of the attacks and deaths of U.S. personnel].  All resist quiet American pressure to turn him over to face prosecution. Last spring, one of Libya’s most influential militia leaders sought to make him a kind of local judge.” A Deadly Mix in Benghazi By David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, Dec 28

This is the thanks the United States gets from the beneficiaries of the Libyan revolution, the extremist, often Al Qaeda aligned military movement that the U.S. and NATO dragged across the finish line to achieve their goal of regime change in Libya – the removal of Gaddafi.  The thugs in charge of Benghazi won’t even allow the arrest of the individual identified as the culprit in the deaths of Ambassador Stevens and other U.S. personnel.  That, in itself, is a profound lesson about any form of military intervention and the good it does us, as a people.

The New York Times published an extensive, novella-like investigative report on the 2012 incident in Benghazi, Libya.  When reading the report, it is useful to recall the following:

  • Benghazi, a major port city of 650,000 on the border with Egypt, was the point of origin for the attack on the Gaddafi government.
  • Pose revolution research published recently by the Belfer Center at Harvard revealed the following:  “Libya’s 2011 uprising was never peaceful, but instead was armed and violent from the start. Muammar al-Qaddafi did not target civilians or resort to indiscriminate force.  NATO’s action magnified the conflict’s duration about sixfold and its death toll at least sevenfold, while also exacerbating human rights abuses, humanitarian suffering, Islamic radicalism, and weapons proliferation in Libya and its neighbors.” Alan Kuberman, September 2013  Read More

Assassination pushes Libya towards civil war two years after Gaddafi death

Fighting rages in Benghazi as Tripoli braces for fallout from the kidnapping of prime minister Ali Zaidan.

The Observer, By Chris Stephen , October 19

Tripoli – Libya marks the second anniversary of the death of Muammar Gaddafi with the country on the brink of a new civil war and fighting raging in the eastern city of Benghazi, birthplace of its Arab spring revolution.

Violence between radical militias and regular forces broke out on Friday night and continued yesterday, while the capital Tripoli is braced for fallout from the kidnapping earlier this month of prime minister Ali Zaidan. Federalists in Cyrenaica, home to most of Libya’s oil, open their own independent parliament in Benghazi this week, in a step that may herald the breakup of the country.

For months, radical militias and regular forces in Benghazi have fought a tit-for-tat war. Last week two soldiers had their throats slit as they slept in an army base. But Friday’s killing of Libya’s military police commander, Ahmed al-Barghathi, shot as he left a mosque, has became the trigger for wider violence. Hours after an assassination branded a “heinous act” by US ambassador Deborah Jones, armed units stormed the Benghazi home of a prominent militia commander, Wissam Ben Hamid, with guns and rockets.

Fighting continued into the night, with army units heading for the home of a second militia commander, Ahmed Abu Khattala, indicted by the US for the killing of US ambassador Chris Stevens last year. There, they were turned back by powerful militia units.

U.S. forces carry out raids in Somalia and Libya targeting terror suspects

Los Angeles Times, By David S. Cloud, October 5

Washington – Navy SEALs carried out a predawn raid Saturday against a suspected Shabab leader in Somalia who is believed to have planned the group’s deadly attack last month on a shopping mall in Kenya, two U.S. officials said.

Also Saturday, a Libyan Al Qaeda leader wanted in connection with the 1998 bombings of two U.S. embassies in East Africa was reportedly captured in Tripoli, Libya.

A U.S. official said the Somalia raid involved commandos storming a beachfront house in a town not far from Mogadishu. It remained unclear whether the target of the raid was killed or even was present.

“At this point we can’t confirm his status. He may not have been there, or could have been killed or injured,” a U.S. official said.

The operation was one of the most significant by the U.S. military in Somalia in years and it indicates that the Obama administration considers the Shabab, a militant group that pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda last year, a growing threat to the U.S. and its allies in Africa. The group claimed responsibility for the Sept. 21 attack at a Nairobi shopping mall that left almost 70 people dead.

The prospects of far greater violence in post-coup Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood and police, Cairo

Muslim Brotherhood and police, Cairo

Army has ousted two president in two years and done so in a manner that has made it fairly popular, at least for a while. The generals are likely to try to restore the old oligarchy with a populist façade and a lot of Saudi money. This popular base is unlikely to last long; not even Riyadh’s money can bring prosperity and employment to the huge number of young people in Egypt – some 50% under twenty-one years of age. Further, its popular base consists of two antithetical groups which are temporarily united in opposing the Muslim Brotherhood: democratic liberals and authoritarian Salafis. The former group may already be rethinking their part in ousting Morsi; it has served to bring the return of the oligarchy and it may lead to protracted violence.
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The Soft Bigotry of Short Attention Spans

I realize conservatives have to strike while the iron is hot, but this is pure stupidity:

And they’re off: With no defined field of candidates and the last election just six months in the rearview mirror, American Crossroads on Sunday aired the first attack ad of the 2016 presidential campaign, panning Hillary Clinton for her role in the “cover-up” of an attack last Sept. 11 on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The 90-second paid spot – manufactured by the Karl Rove-founded “super PAC” – was posted Friday online and ran Sunday morning on CBS during a broadcast of “Face the Nation.” Previewing the ongoing saga that’s likely to haunt Clinton’s White House ambitions for the next three years, the ad implicates the former secretary of state – Democrats’ top-billed contender to succeed President Obama – in the wildly varying accounts of how administration officials reacted last fall in the wake of the strike.

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History Doesn’t Exist

I’m so old I remember when military intervention in Libya helped to destabilize Mali (h/t):

Equipped with heavy weapons from Muammar Gaddafi’s looted arsenals, the Tuareg-led rebels who assaulted the town of Aguelhoc in northern Mali last month overwhelmed the remote garrison.

Fighters hardened by combat in Libya swelled the ranks of the desert insurgents who in their first attack on January 18 surrounded the local army base with machinegun-mounted four-wheel drive vehicles. They destroyed army communications, local cellphone towers and laid down a barrage of mortar fire.

After cutting off water supplies and ambushing resupply convoys, they came back a week later to overrun the base.

[…]

As the anniversary of the February 17 uprising against Gaddafi approaches, Mali and other states to the south are paying a price for the revolution by Western-backed insurgents in Libya.

The flood of weapons and fighters out of Libya has now added to an arc of insecurity across West Africa, stretching from Boko Haram Islamists behind a spate of lethal bombings in Nigeria to al Qaeda allies who have targeted Westerners and armed forces in the Sahel all the way to Mauritania in the north.

Mali is no stranger to rebellions – this is the fourth led by the Tuareg nomads of the north since independence from France in 1960. The last ended only in 2008.

But this time the turbaned rebels’ arsenal includes SA-7, SA-24 and Milan portable missile systems, according to the Malian soldier who faced them.

And rather than just melting back into the desert after an attack, the new firepower has emboldened them to take on the army on three fronts and resist helicopter gunships.

A Malian defense ministry official, who also asked not to be named, said the rebels were equipped “just like Libya’s army”, with heavy machine guns on four-wheel drive vehicles, anti-tank and anti-aircraft rockets as well as light weapons.

“In other rebellions, they have been under-equipped,” said Jeremy Keenan, a Sahara expert who has long studied the Tuareg.

“These guys back from Libya have heavier arms and they know how to use them,” he said of the MNLA, or National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad.

Robert Caruso nails it:

Related:

Women Embattled

A curious nexus of two stories occured yesterday, each of which reinforces the other.
 
First, it was let slip that today, outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta would authorize women to serve in combat.
 
Hardly earthshattering, I know. Women have served on the front lines for a decade or more in Afghanistan and Iraq…just ask Tammy Duckworth how she lost her legs. Still, a de jure codification of what is de facto is a welcome development.  
 

Right Tries Turning The Benghazi Hearings Into A Single Clinton Phrase

Rightwing bloggers are all twitchy about Hillary Clinton’s Benghazi testimony on the Hill today.  The trouble is, there’s no real there there. That some early details were reported incorrectly by the Obama administration, in a fast-moving story, has been blown up into a massive conspiracy theory.

Clinton finally got testy with one moron Republican questioner who kept trying to score political points on this flimsy basis.

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans. Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information.”

The right, to no-one’s surprise, is honing in only only one sentence in all that.

Steve M:

They have a new “you didn’t build that,” a new “spread the wealth around,” and they’re going to wring everything they can out of it.

…Now, sometimes these things never attain any more than shibboleth status — they’re secret codewords right-wingers use whenever they talk about a particular Antichrist of theirs. This will definitely attain that status — years from now, when Hillary publishes her memoirs or announces a run for president, folks on winger message boards will write “What difference does it make?” and not even bother to put the phrase in context, because all the like-minded readers will just know.

But sometimes these things do more damage. Sometimes they really do color how a story is covered outside the right-wing bubble. Will that happen this time? Will the wingers be able to turn this decontextualized soundbite into a deceptive sign of Secretary Clinton’s indifference?

They’re certainly going to try as hard as they can to tar Clinton with an out of context phrase.

Mali Factor

Remnants of European imperialism are on display this year in Africa, as France (and eventually NATO) draws itself deeper into the morass of Mali:

SEGOU, Mali — Malian and French forces were reported in control of two important central Malian towns on Tuesday after the French Defense Ministry said they recaptured them on Monday, pushing back an advance by Islamist militants who have overrun the country’s northern half.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the defense minister, hailed the advance on Monday as “a clear military success for the government in Bamako and for French forces intervening in support of these operations.”

The developments in Diabaly, about 275 miles north of Bamako, and Douentza, on the eastern bank of the Niger River, some 300 miles to the north-east of the Malian capital, represented a reassertion of government control in areas where a lightning strike by Islamist forces last week prompted France to intervene, initially with air strikes to halt the rebel advance.

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An Interventionist Model For Disfunction

Just looking at a few days worth of news from Libya shows that the country is a far cry from a peaceful democratic paradise, over a year after Gaddafi’s death.

Libya’s largest parliamentary coalition is boycotting the national congress, protesting at delays in forming a committee to draft the country’s first constitution.

– Assailants tried to kill a prominent Libyan Islamist leader suspected of involvment in the Benghazi US embassy attack by planting a bomb under his car. They botched the attempt and one was killed. A formal investigation into the US embassy attack has not even been opened in Libya – and likely never will  be.

Attackers also tried to kill Libya’s interim president, opening fire on the hotel he was staying in. The gun battle raged for over three hours.

A senior officer from Gaddafi’s old internal security services was found shot dead on his farm in Benghazi. Benghazi’s not exactly stable. Recently, as the UPI lists:

Four policemen were killed in December in Benghazi. The city’s police chief was  assassinated in November and, last week, Abdelsalam al-Mahdawi, the interim head  of criminal investigations in Benghazi, was kidnapped at gunpoint while he  traveled to his office.

The Libyan government continues to place national security in the hands of its militias, funding them instead of a national military force and sending them out as legally-approved vigilanttes even to shell and attack whole towns.

I understand that these are in many ways still early days for the new Libyan government, but none of these trends are pointing in the right direction. However, the “Libya model” is the one now held up by the D.C. beltway consensus of interventionists as the right way to do things, as iraq and Afghanistan are the wrong way. The Libyan intervention, now being strenuously advocated by “liberal” hawks as a model for Western-led and funded intervention in Syria and across Africa, may cost the U.S. and the West less in terms of blood and treasure at the time, but there’s no indication whatsoever that it is any better for those living there or that it will deliver better outcomes for the West itself in the long run. When will we learn the real Pottery Barn rule? It’s best not to break stuff “to help” at all, but instead to leave the store owners to break or fix their store as they see fit.

Rice Burners

It strikes me that the Republicans are being a little disingenuous in their efforts to derail the not-even-announced nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice to Secretary of State, replacing the resigning Hillary Clinton.

Her CV, for one, suggests an intelligent and gifted person who would be adept at managing foreign affairs for the Obama administration, perfect for the job. In this, she would outshine the presumptive second choice, Senator John Kerry, which is no easy feat.

The controversy, as you know doubt know ad nauseam, is Rice’s comments in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the Benghazi compound of the American ambassador there.

The facts are pretty clear: an organized attack occured on the compound on September 11. Either coincidentally or in a coordinated misdirection, there was also a protest in Egypt over some bloody idiot’s idea of a prank on the same day. It doesn’t really matter how Egypt played into this, except it also made a convenient excuse to buy a little time if needed.

Rice went on the Sunday talk shows, and implied that the Egypt attack may have been a part of the Libyan massacre, even if tangentially. This was the talking point the CIA had handed up to the administration, which greenlighted it as an interim explanation, even thoough it was clear fro mthe get-go this was a terrorist attack.

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