US-Saudi Blitz in Yemen: Naked Aggression, Absolute Desperation

US-Saudi Blitz in Yemen: Naked Aggression, Absolute Desperation

(Tony Cartalucci – NEO) – The “proxy war” model the US has been employing throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and even in parts of Asia appears to have failed yet again, this time in the Persian Gulf state of Yemen.

Overcoming the US-Saudi backed regime in Yemen, and a coalition of sectarian extremists including Al Qaeda and its rebrand, the “Islamic State,” pro-Iranian Yemeni Houthi militias have turned the tide against American “soft power” and has necessitated a more direct military intervention. While US military forces themselves are not involved allegedly, Saudi warplanes and a possible ground force are.

Though Saudi Arabia claims “10 countries” have joined its coalition to intervene in Yemen, like the US invasion and occupation of Iraq hid behind a “coalition,” it is overwhelmingly a Saudi operation with “coalition partners” added in a vain attempt to generate diplomatic legitimacy.

The New York Times, even in the title of its report, “Saudi Arabia Begins Air Assault in Yemen,” seems not to notice these “10” other countries. It reports:

Saudi Arabia announced on Wednesday night that it had launched a military campaign in Yemen, the beginning of what a Saudi official said was an offensive to restore a Yemeni government that had collapsed after rebel forces took control of large swaths of the country. 

The air campaign began as the internal conflict in Yemen showed signs of degenerating into a proxy war between regional powers. The Saudi announcement came during a rare news conference in Washington by Adel al-Jubeir, the kingdom’s ambassador to the United States.

Proxy War Against Iran 

Indeed, the conflict in Yemen is a proxy war. Not between Iran and Saudi Arabia per say, but between Iran and the United States, with the United States electing Saudi Arabia as its unfortunate stand-in.

Iran’s interest in Yemen serves as a direct result of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” and attempts to overturn the political order of North Africa and the Middle East to create a unified sectarian front against Iran for the purpose of a direct conflict with Tehran. The war raging in Syria is one part of this greater geopolitical conspiracy, aimed at overturning one of Iran’s most important regional allies, cutting the bridge between it and another important ally, Hezbollah in Lebanon.

And while Iran’s interest in Yemen is currently portrayed as yet another example of Iranian aggression, indicative of its inability to live in peace with its neighbors, US policymakers themselves have long ago already noted that Iran’s influence throughout the region, including backing armed groups, serves a solely defensive purpose, acknowledging the West and its regional allies’ attempts to encircle, subvert, and overturn Iran’s current political order.

The US-based RAND Corporation, which describes itself as “a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decision making through research and analysis,” produced a report in 2009 for the US Air Force titled, “Dangerous But Not Omnipotent : Exploring the Reach and Limitations of Iranian Power in the Middle East,” examining the structure and posture of Iran’s military, including its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and weapons both present, and possible future, it seeks to secure its borders and interests with against external aggression.

The report admits that:

Iran’s strategy is largely defensive, but with some offensive elements. Iran’s strategy of protecting the regime against internal threats, deterring aggression, safeguarding the homeland if aggression occurs, and extending influence is in large part a defensive one that also serves some aggressive tendencies when coupled with expressions of Iranian regional aspirations. It is in part a response to U.S. policy pronouncements and posture in the region, especially since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. The Iranian leadership takes very seriously the threat of invasion given the open discussion in the United States of regime change, speeches defining Iran as part of the “axis of evil,” and efforts by U.S. forces to secure base access in states surrounding Iran.

Whatever imperative Saudi Arabia is attempting to cite in justifying its military aggression against Yemen, and whatever support the US is trying to give the Saudi regime rhetorically, diplomatically, or militarily, the legitimacy of this military operation crumbles before the words of the West’s own policymakers who admit Iran and its allies are simply reacting to a concerted campaign of encirclement, economic sanctions, covert military aggression, political subversion, and even terrorism aimed at establishing Western hegemony across the region at the expense of Iranian sovereignty.

Saudi Arabia’s Imperative Lacks Legitimacy 

The unelected hereditary regime ruling over Saudi Arabia, a nation notorious for egregious human rights abuses, and a land utterly devoid of even a semblance of what is referred to as “human rights,” is now posing as arbiter of which government in neighboring Yemen is “legitimate” and which is not, to the extent of which it is prepared to use military force to restore the former over the latter.

The United States providing support for the Saudi regime is designed to lend legitimacy to what would otherwise be a difficult narrative to sell. However, the United States itself has suffered from an increasing deficit in its own legitimacy and moral authority.

Most ironic of all, US and Saudi-backed sectarian extremists, including Al Qaeda in Yemen, had served as proxy forces meant to keep Houthi militias in check by proxy so the need for a direct military intervention such as the one now unfolding would not be necessary. This means that Saudi Arabia and the US are intervening in Yemen only after the terrorists they were supporting were overwhelmed and the regime they were propping up collapsed.

In reality, Saudi Arabia’s and the United States’ rhetoric aside, a brutal regional regime meddled in Yemen and lost, and now the aspiring global hemegon sponsoring it from abroad has ordered it to intervene directly and clean up its mess.

Saudi Arabia’s Dangerous Gamble 

The aerial assault on Yemen is meant to impress upon onlookers Saudi military might. A ground contingent might also attempt to quickly sweep in and panic Houthi fighters into folding. Barring a quick victory built on psychologically overwhelming Houthi fighters, Saudi Arabia risks enveloping itself in a conflict that could easily escape out from under the military machine the US has built for it.

It is too early to tell how the military operation will play out and how far the Saudis and their US sponsors will go to reassert themselves over Yemen. However, that the Houthis have outmatched combined US-Saudi proxy forces right on Riyadh’s doorstep indicates an operational capacity that may not only survive the current Saudi assault, but be strengthened by it.

Reports that Houthi fighters have employed captured Yemeni warplanes further bolsters this notion – revealing tactical, operational, and strategic sophistication that may well know how to weather whatever the Saudis have to throw at it, and come back stronger.

What may result is a conflict that spills over Yemen’s borders and into Saudi Arabia proper. Whatever dark secrets the Western media’s decades of self-censorship regarding the true sociopolitical nature of Saudi Arabia will become apparent when the people of the Arabian peninsula must choose to risk their lives fighting for a Western client regime, or take a piece of the peninsula for themselves.

Additionally, a transfer of resources and fighters arrayed under the flag of the so-called “Islamic State” and Al Qaeda from Syria to the Arabian Peninsula will further indicate that the US and its regional allies have been behind the chaos and atrocities carried out in the Levant for the past 4 years. Such revelations will only further undermine the moral imperative of the West and its regional allies, which in turn will further sabotage their efforts to rally support for an increasingly desperate battle they themselves conspired to start.

America’s Shrinking Legitimacy 

It was just earlier this month when the United States reminded the world of Russia’s “invasion” of Crimea. Despite having destabilized Ukraine with a violent, armed insurrection in Kiev, for the purpose of expanding NATO deeper into Eastern Europe and further encircling Russia, the West insisted that Russia had and  still has no mandate to intervene in any way in neighboring Ukraine. Ukraine’s affairs, the United States insists, are the Ukrainians’ to determine. Clearly, the US meant this only in as far as Ukrainians determined things in ways that suited US interests.

This is ever more evident now in Yemen, where the Yemeni people are not being allowed to determine their own affairs. Everything up to and including military invasion has been reserved specifically to ensure that the people of Yemen do not determine things for themselves, clearly, because it does not suit US interests.

Such naked hypocrisy will be duly noted by the global public and across diplomatic circles. The West’s inability to maintain a cohesive narrative is a growing sign of weakness. Shareholders in the global enterprise the West is engaged in may see such weakness as a cause to divest – or at the very least – a cause to diversify toward other enterprises. Such enterprises may include Russia and China’s mulipolar world. The vanishing of Western global hegemony will be done in destructive conflict waged in desperation and spite.

Today, that desperation and spite befalls Yemen.


Russians Warn Arab Officials on the New Warfare: Is this the Beginning of a New Bipolar World Order?

Russians Warn Arab Officials on the New Warfare: Is this the Beginning of a New Bipolar World Order?

On May 23, 42 Arab military and security officials attending the third annual Moscow International Security Conference were briefed by a team of top Russian government officials on the growing danger of “color revolutions.”  The uniform message presented by the Russian speakers was that the United States and NATO have adopted a new mode of warfare, focused on the use of irregular warfare forces, religious fanatics, and mercenaries, combined with the heavy use of information warfare. In a series of English language power-point graphs and maps, presenters gave a detailed chronology of the past decade, highlighting Western regime change operations in Ukraine, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen.

Russian officials and several Belarus counterparts argued that the U.S. and Western allies have devised a new form of warfare which is cheaper than all former modes of large-scale conventional warfare, produces fewer casualties, but seeks to achieve the same regime change objectives.  They argued that this new form of irregular warfare violates the Geneva conventions, draws civilian populations directly into conflicts, and violates other traditional rules of war. They also asserted that the efforts have frequently failed, leading to widespread instability and the global spread of terrorism.  The Russian speakers argued that, while the US and other Western powers profess to oppose terrorism, the consequences of their “color revolutions” have frequently bolstered the very terrorist organizations they are simultaneously combating.

Russian speakers on the May 23 panel were among the leading military and diplomatic aides to President Vladimir Putin:  Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Chief of Staff of the Russian Armed Forces General Staff General Valery Gerasimov, Secretary General of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) Nikolay Bordirzha, Chief of the Main Operational Directorate of the Russian General Staff General Vladimir Zarudnitsky, and Deputy Foreign Minister Michael Bogdanov.  Belarus Minister of Defense Yury Zhadobin was also a prominent speaker.

RIA Novosti quoted Foreign Minister Lavrov warning:  “Regime change operations in sovereign states, various ‘color revolutions’ provoked by external forces, cause apparent damage to international stability.  Attempts to impose homemade recipes for internal changes on other nations, without taking into account their own traditions and national characteristics, to engage in the ‘export of democracy,’ have a destructive impact on international relations and result in an increase of the number of hot spots on the world map.”

Dr. Anthony Cordesman, the American military analyst who holds the Burke Chair on Strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, attended the Moscow conference and issued a 52-page report, based on his own notes with copies of many of the Russian power-point charts.  He titled his report “A Russian Military View of a World Destabilized by the US and the West.”  He said that American security officials must take careful note of the views expressed at the Moscow international conference because they inform Russian strategic moves, including a serious effort to re-establish strong ties to Arab regimes in the Middle East, starting with Egypt.  He warned American strategists that the Russian assessment marks a serious change on the part of Moscow:

“The end result is a radically different reading of modern history, of US and European strategy, their use of force, and US and European goals and actions from any issued in the West and in prior Russian literature. Western experts can argue the degree to which this represents Russian anger over the West’s reaction to events in Ukraine, Russian efforts at persuading developing nations and Asia to back Russia in a reassertion of its strategic role in the world, propaganda to cloak the character Russian actions in the Ukraine and near abroad, an effort to justify Russian action in Syria, very real Russian concern over US and European actions that have destabilized key MENA and Central Asian states, and a host of other possible motives and intentions.

“What is critical is that the US and Europe listen to what Russian military leaders and strategists are saying. These are not Russian views the US and Europe can afford to ignore.”

This harsh reassessment coincides with the development of Russia’s new strategic economic and security agreements with China.  If the Russia-China partnership matures and expands to encompass India and other nations of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) at the upcoming summit in Brazil in July, this could mean the beginning of a new bipolar world order.  Such a new bipolar system would be drastically different than the Cold War era, but would nonetheless mean a new period of strategic competition and simmering conflict.

Libya ranks first in the kidnapping-for-ransom in the world

Libya ranks first in the kidnapping-for-ransom in the world

According to a report on “Risk Map for the year 2014″ and prepared by the Foundation “Control Risks” world, according to the newspaper “Business Insider” American. Lebanon was not alone among the Arab countries covered by the report, as the solution to Iraq in tenth place, and was followed by Syria ranked in the top 11 , and knocked off the top 13-14-15, Yemen, and Libya. Egypt. scored report of the Asia-Pacific countries are among the most countries that got the cases of kidnapping-for-ransom was paid during the year 2013, and escalated risk in Africa as well as claimed the continent, especially Nigeria the highest in the kidnapping, where the most cases in place of fuel production in the Niger Delta. According to the report, Cases numerous recorded in the Middle East, I got because of the tenuous security environment generated by the war in Syria, pointing out that kidnapping for ransom is one of the common problems between Syria and Lebanon. Below is the list, which includes more than 20 countries where the kidnapping happened during the year 2013:
1 – Mexico.
2 – India.
3 – Nigeria.
4 – Pakistan.
5 – Venezuela.
6 – Lebanon.
7 – Philippines.
8 – Afghanistan.
9 – Columbia.
10 – Iraq.
11 – Syria.
12 – Gwatemala.
13 – Yemen.
14 – Libya.
15 – Egypt.
16 – Brazil.
17 – Kenya.
18 – Nepal.
19 – Malaysia.
20 – South Africa




I meet the General Manager of al QaedaNasser Wuhayshi, at a restaurant in Souq Waqif in Doha.

We order ‪.٢‬فحسة : المكونات ( لحم مبشور مع بهارات يمنية‪(‬

Nasser (alias Abu Basir) comes from Yemen and is apparently Jewish.

Yemeni Jews.

Nasser tells me that, in Yemen, the local population converted to Judaism at some point in the late fourth century.

Nasser is the boss of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)

Nasser explains that he once served as Osama bin Laden‘s secretary.

Al Qaeda’s plan is to weaken all Muslim countries by splitting them up.

One of Nasser’s CIA body guards brings to our table a bottle of Yarden wine, which comes from Israel’s vineyards on Mount Hermon.

As we eat our meal of meat, egg, rice and potato, I ask Nasser about al Qaeda’s plans for the future.

“We aim to split up all the Muslim countries,” says a smiling Nasser. “Libya is already split up. 

“Syria will soon have a Sunni state, an Alawite state, a Kurd state anda Druze city state.

“Iraq will have a Shit state and a Turd state.”

Al Qaeda’s plan is to weaken all Muslim countries, including Syria and Iraq, by splitting them up

I ask Nasser about the Arab Spring.

The point about the Arab Spring was that it allowed the CIA, Mossad and MI6 to get rid of the leaders in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and Yemen who had resisted al-Qaeda.”

Al Qaeda’s plan is to weaken all Muslim countries, including Saudi Arabia, by splitting them up.

Nasser continues: “We are working with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. Our aim is to break up Egypt.

We control almost all the rebels in Syria.

We are continuing to break up Iraq.

“Nearly a thousand civilians have been killed in Iraq in the last few months.”

Al Qaeda’s home base in Langley.

As we finish our salad of cucumber mixed with buttermilk, I raise the question of the ‘caliphate’.

“This is one of our objectives,” says Nasser, “to pretend that we’re fighting for a caliphate.

This helps us to recruit mad young fools from around the world.”

Brennan of the CIA, pretending to be a waitress.

I suggest that al Qaeda’s aim is to destroy the Muslim world.

“Exactly,” says Nasser. “We are creating an ‘arc of instability’ across the Sahara and the Sahel. We are causing chaos in Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Mali and elsewhere.

“Who gains? Israel and its friends.”

Zawahiri, crypto-Jew

I ask Nasser about Pakistan.

“Our main bases are still in places such as Langley, Tel Aviv and London. 

“However, we have bases of course in North Waziristan.”

Finally, I ask Nasser about reports that he is in fact dead.

“Yemeni military officials reported that I was killed in 2011. But, you must remember that all the guys who work for the CIA have their body doubles.”



NATO’s “Humanitarian War” on Libya: Prelude to a Humanitarian Disaster

NATO’s “Humanitarian War” on Libya: Prelude to a Humanitarian Disaster

By Global Research News

by Greg Shupak


The Libyan campaign not only caused extensive death and human rights violations, but it may usher in decades of more war.

Liberal interventionists thought they had this one.  Their doctrine had seemingly triumphed in Libya.  Not only were the usual suspects, the Christopher Hitchenses, the Bernard-Henri Levys, peddling the notion that NATO could be a global constabulary for the enforcement of human rights, but more careful commentators like Juan Cole and Gilbert Achcar had also backed Western intervention. If NATO’s war in Libya has now lost some of its initial luster, it is primarily because the murder of US Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other Americans brought worldwide attention to the nature of the forces the war unleashed and to the chaotic state in which Libyans now find themselves.

But the shine was, from the start, an illusion, as Maximilian Forte proves in his important new book,Slouching Towards Sirte. Forte thoroughly chronicles NATO’s bombing of Libya and the crimes against humanity for which NATO is responsible. The author takes us on a tour of Sirte after it had been subject to intense NATO bombardment by chronicling journalists’ impressions of the city in October 2011. Reporters observed, “Nothing could survive in here for very long,” that the city was “reduced to rubble, a ghost town filled with the stench of death and where bodies litter the streets,” that it was a place “almost without an intact building,” whose infrastructure “simply ceased to exist,” and resembled “Ypres in 1915, or Grozny in 1995,” or postwar “Leningrad, Gaza or Beirut.”

Forte describes numerous NATO operations which, he argues, rose to the level of war crimes. For example, he discusses a NATO strike on a farming compound in the town of Majer on 8 August 2011. A Human Rights Watch investigation concluded that NATO fired on the compound twice, the second time killing 34 civilians who had come to look for survivors —a tactic familiar to those who follow US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen—and found no evidence that the target had been used for military purposes. In its examination of five sites where NATO caused civilian casualties, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) found that at four of those sites NATO’s characterization of the targets as “‘command and control nodes’ or ‘troop staging areas’ was not reflected in evidence at the scene and witness testimony.” In view of these and other killings of civilians by NATO, Palestinian lawyer Raji Sourani remarks that the Independent Civil Society Mission to Libya of which he was a part has “reason to think that there were some war crimes perpetrated” by NATO. Through this method, Forte shows the fundamental contradiction of humanitarian wars: they kill people to ensure that people are not killed.

Racist Rebels


One lesson liberal interventionists should draw from the Libyan war is that the mere fact of opposing a tyrant does not indicate that a given rebel group values human rights. Forte persuasively demonstrates that the thuwar – the anti-Qadhafi fighters – had no such standards.  On October 21 2011, 66 bodies were found at the Mahari Hotel, at least 53 of whom were executed by a rebel militia.  An undetermined portion of these were Qadhafi loyalists who had been captured along with Qadhafi himself.  Those killed at the hotel were shot with rifles and many had their hands tied behind their backs and some can be seen on video being abused before their execution. NATO plainly shares responsibility for these crimes because before NATO bombing commenced, the insurgents were on the verge of defeat and could not have won the war without NATO air cover, arms, money, and diplomatic support.

The most serious indictment of NATO’s rebel allies is their violent treatment of black Libyans and migrant workers from countries in southern Africa.  For instance, when Tripoli fell to rebels in August 2011, a reporter for The Independent visited a makeshift hospital controlled by the insurgents and found the decomposing bodies of 30 men, many of whom had their hands bound behind their backs and almost all of whom were black. Hostility towards these groups has its origin in the rumor that Qadhafi employed large numbers of mercenaries from southern Africa, a notion popularized early in the rebellion, and spread throughout Western media and the pro-intervention Al-Jazeera English.  On this aspect of the war Forte quotes Jean Ping, chair of the African Union, as saying that the “NTC seems to confuse black people with mercenaries….They are killing people, normal workers, mistreating them.”

Other evidence confirms Forte’s account. For example, an Amnesty International report notes that the rebels “have ‘arrested’” many suspected African mercenaries “although such ‘arrests’ are better described as abductions.”  The UNHRC report notes, “From the beginning of the uprising in February 2011, dark-skinned migrant workers were targeted – including being killed” [sic]. It appears no mercenaries were used by Qadhafi, and even if he had used such fighters, it would not justify widespread discriminatory practices or pigment-based violent attacks. In any case, as Forte points out, executing captured mercenaries is prohibited by international law.

Forte pays particular attention to the experience of the black residents of Tawergha, a town adjoining Misurata.  Insurgents from Misurata depopulated Tawergha of virtually all of its 10,000-30,000 predominantly black residents and looted and vandalized their homes.  The officer in charge of the rebel garrison in the town said, “We gave [the Tawergha] thirty days to leave.  We said if they didn’t go, they would be conquered and imprisoned.  Every single one of them has left, and we will never allow them to come back.” The UNHRC supports Forte’s account.  It found that “thuwar have extra-judicially executed, otherwise unlawfully killed and tortured to death Tawerghans,” that they have “arbitrarily arrested Tawerghans in locations across Libya,” that “the continuing destruction of Tawergha in the post-conflict period has been done with the intent of . . . preventing the return of displaced Tawerghans,” that these activities constitute “a war crime” and that “the facts indicate crimes against humanity have taken place.”


A Propaganda Campaign


To the extent that the enduring conservative justification for militarism is that every world leader opposed to Western interests is another Hitler, the equivalent for liberal interventionists is the notion that any party to a conflict that they both side with, and deem  likely to lose, are the next Rwandan Tutsis.  The latter group is cast as an innocent, helpless and defenceless people who can only be saved by the might of benevolent and disinterested Western militaries. Thus the residents of Benghazi were put forth as the Tutsis in the Western imaginary – a claim with little basis in fact.

Hysterical claims that Qadhafi was on the verge of carrying out a genocide rang out in the Western press. However, these had little basis. Forte quotes Alan J. Kuperman, noting that, “The best evidence that Khadafy did not plan genocide in Benghazi is that he did not perpetrate it in the other cities he had recaptured either fully or partially — including Zawiya, Misurata, and Ajdabiya.”  During his 42 year rule, Qadhafi faced numerous coup attempts and armed revolts. Though he typically dealt with the alleged perpetrators in a brutal fashion, at no point did his regime behave in a genocidal manner.

Furthermore, the ground for instituting a no-fly zone over Libya through UN Security Council Resolution 1973 was the assertion that Qadhafi was bombing protestors from the sky.  Yet, as Forte demonstrates, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that he had no confirmation that Qadhafi fired on Libyans from the air.  Similarly, Al-Jazeera English, US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, and then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton circulated the claim that Qadhafi had fed his military Viagra so as to facilitate mass rape.  While it is clear that Qadhafi’s forces committed acts of sexual violence, Forte draws on Amnesty International and other sources to demonstrate that the dissemination of Viagra no more took place than did the Iraqi military’s killing of babies in Kuwaiti incubators in 1991.


The Legitimacy of Political Violence


 Underlying Forte’s accounts of the use of force are vital questions about the legitimacy of political violence. Forte rightly questions why the “international community” permits NATO to carry out a brutal counter-insurgency that is designed to keep Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s undemocratic regime in power instead of a ruthless insurgency but is indignant at the prospect of Qadhafi’s undemocratic regime doing the same to keep itself in power and ward off a ruthless insurgency. Liberal interventionists apparently believe that all violence enacted by NATO militaries or anyone on their side is legitimate, whereas the opposite is true for the violence of NATO’s antagonists. Part of what’s at play here is the question of how social change takes place.

Even in view of the troubles of “democracy” imposition in Afghanistan and Iraq, the liberal interventionists seem to assume that the best way that dark-skinned peoples in the global South can achieve “freedom” is under the tutelage of NATO bombs: “This is a bleak vision of humanity that has been erected by the ‘humanitarians,’” as Forte writes, “one at odds with history, sociology, and anthropology, which are rich with countless cases of people who have been able to fight, resist, and practice multiple forms of self-protection; indeed, local actors struggling for change often prefer their own solutions over those imposed by outsiders.”

Yet, on the question of the legitimacy of political violence, one could argue that Forte at times ensnares himself in a parallel trap.  Hostile readers of his book may come away with the impression that Forte believes Libyans had no right to undertake armed struggle against Qadhafi’s dictatorship under any circumstances – or perhaps even that he views the very idea of a Libyan uprising as something that is, even apart from NATO involvement, to be opposed.  What is needed is for debates about the legitimacy of political violence and intervention to be based on a consistent application of coherent principles and scrupulous attention to the particular details of each conflict, for there are no simple, one-size-fits-all answers to questions about the legitimacy of the use of political violence.

And while in the early stages of the Libyan conflict there was no guarantee that a protracted war would solve the issues under contestation, it should have been clear to any observer that prolonging combat would displace, kill and maim large numbers of civilians and destroy infrastructure.

For these reasons, the right position on the situation faced by Libyans in February-March 2011 would have been to seek the earliest possible end to armed hostilities. Ample opportunities for a negotiated settlement to the Libyan conflict existed, and Forte shows how NATO and its allies scuttled all attempts to facilitate a peaceful solution to the war.  Qadhafi’s five ceasefire offers were rejected out of hand, including one that was offered hours after the passage of UN Resolution 1973 authorized the use of “all necessary measures” to protect civilians. The African Union’s (AU) attempt at facilitating a ceasefire and negotiations in April was obstructed by NATO and its allies and in June a derivative of this plan was put forth by US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who later revealed that a peaceful settlement was on the verge of realization but officials in the US State Department deliberately de-railed it.


African Contexts


 The blockage of the AU plan is crucial because it offers some insight into the question of why the West fought its war in the Jamahiriya.  As Forte’s book clarifies, NATO’s war in Libya was at least in part a war for power and control in Africa, one which has hastened the militarization of the continent.  At the centre of what Forte calls a “new scramble for Africa” is the United States’ Africa Command (AFRICOM), an organization based in Germany, and in charge of US military relations with 53 African states.  The Qadhafi regime’s opposition to AFRICOM is a context in which NATO’s decision to intervene on the side of anti-Qadhafi forces must be understood. 

Citing cables from the US embassy in Tripoli, Forte documents American frustration with African governments, “mostly notably…Libya,” who prevented the U.S from establishing a base for AFRICOM operations in Africa and who viewed AFRICOM as a vehicle for “latter-day colonialism.” While the organization claims that its command is “indirect” and that it will collaborate with civilian agencies, Forte quotes AFRICOM commander General Ham as saying that this “does not mean we simply wait for others to ask for our support. I expect our Command to actively seek and propose innovative and imaginative approaches through which we may apply the considerable military capability of the United States to its best advantage.”

The rise and fall of the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD) is another key context.  CEN-SAD is a Tripoli-Based regional body, formed in 1998 to promote trade, free movement, telecommunications, and security among its member countries.  The organization, which included approximately half of the population and territory of Africa, was a building block of and a source of competition with the AU. Under Qadhafi, Libya was a major player in CEN-SAD as shown by the country’s launching and funding of the Sahel-Saharan Bank for Investment and Commerce (BSIC) and its establishing the Fund for Assistance and Support to Women, Children and Youths. In 2007, CEN-SAD issued a statement “categorically rejecting” AFRICOM and any foreign military presence in any member state. Because of this, US officials were irritated by CEN-SAD, and misrepresented it as a solely Libyan organization.  What CEN-SAD represented was an organization of African states that collectively had the potential to curtail US influence and to chart an independent path for much of the continent.

In view of this, it will come as no surprise that in the month of Qadhafi’s murder, the U.S announced it was sending troops to the Central African Republic, Uganda, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. With Qadhafi’s regime gone, AFRICOM announced before Libya could have an election that a new military relationship had been established between AFRICOM and a post-Qadhafi Libyan government that was appointed by the NTC.  Furthermore, the U.S established an Office of Security Cooperation at the U.S Embassy in Tripoli to “help coordinate security assistance, international military education and training and other security cooperation.” CEN-SAD, meanwhile, is all but defunct.

Another key background point to the war on Libya is China’s ongoing competition with Western interests for access and influence in Africa. In 2009, China surpassed the U.S. as Africa’s largest trading partner. The continent supplied China with a third of its imports and was its second largest source of oil. Africa is a continent rich with not only oil but also strategic minerals. The U.S is heavily import-dependent on materials such as columbium, chromium, and cobalt for its weapons manufacturing. Mozambique, South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Congo are major sources of these. Consider in this context Forte’s account of the African Oil Policy Initiative Group, an organization involving Congressional representatives, oil industry lobbyists, and members of the military.  As far back as 2002, this group was calling for an increased American military presence in Africa as a means of securing control of resources, and it identified China and Libya as barriers to this goal.

As NATO’s war in Libyan played out, it was primarily understood within two narratives – a humanitarian one, as well as that of the so-called Arab Spring. Both conceptions suffer from their lack of understanding of the war’s African contexts, which suggest that the continent is at risk of again becoming a global hotspot over which foreign powers battle.  Self-described humanitarians would do well to consider how their advocacy of the Libyan campaign not only caused extensive death and human rights violations but may prove to have helped usher in decades of more war in this continent.