Posts Tagged ‘Kadhafi’

Iraq’s Sadr warns Assad could share Kadhafi’s fate — Calls for Assad to resign

April 11, 2017


Image result for Moqtada Sadr, photos

Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr — Al-Sadr is the most revered name in Shia Iraq and a friend if Iran and Russia

NAJAF (IRAQ) (AFP) – Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr on Tuesday warned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he risked suffering the same fate as slain Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi if he did not step down.

The maverick cleric had last week condemned the suspected deadly use of chemical weapons by Assad’s forces against civilians, becoming a rare Shiite leader to openly challenge the Syrian president’s legitimacy.

Sadr issued a new statement on Tuesday that reiterated his position.

“I have urged him to step down to preserve the reputation of the Mumanaa and to escape a Kadhafi fate,” he said, using a word that refers to a so-called anti-Western “resistance front” that includes Lebanon’s Hezbollah, Iran and Syria.

The Libyan strongman was captured and brutally killed in 2011 after 42 years in power while trying to flee Sirte, his hometown, as NATO-backed rebels closed in.

A chemical attack which has been widely blamed on Assad’s regime killed 87 civilians, including 31 children, in the rebel-held Syrian town of Khan Sheikhun on April 4.

The United States subsequently fired a barrage of 59 cruise missiles at Shayrat air base in Syria to punish Damascus, despite its denials of responsibility.

Sadr, who led a militia that fought the US occupation of Iraq, also condemned the American missile strike, urging all foreign parties involved in the Syria conflict to withdraw.

He had similar advice for two other leaders: President Abedrabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen and Bahrain’s King Hamad.

“I have not only called for the resignation of Bashar, but I had already called for Abedrabbo and the ruler of Bahrain to step down because they are still oppressing their people.


Sarkozy hit by fresh claims of Kadhafi campaign funding

November 15, 2016


© AFP / by Clare Byrne | Nicolas Sarkozy (left) was welcomed by Moamer Kadhafi during a 2007visit to the Libyan capital Tripoli

PARIS (AFP) – Nicolas Sarkozy’s links with the late Moamer Kadhafi came under fresh scrutiny Tuesday after a businessman admitted delivering three cash-stuffed suitcases from the Libyan leader toward the Frenchman’s first presidential bid.

In an interview with the Mediapart investigative news site, Franco-Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine said he had made three trips from Tripoli to Paris in late 2006 and early 2007 with cash for Sarkozy’s campaign.

Each time he carried a suitcase containing between 1.5 and 2.0 million euros in 200-euro and 500-euro notes, Takieddine told the site in a video interview, saying he was given the money by Kadhafi’s military intelligence chief Abdallah Senussi.

Sarkozy, who is bidding to recapture the presidency in next year’s election, has for years been dogged by allegations that he accepted millions from Kadhafi during his successful 2007 run for the top office.

During questioning in a separate case, Takieddine accused Sarkozy of having been in Kadhafi’s pocket in 2006-07 but he had never previously claimed to be the bagman.

The allegations against Sarkozy first emerged in March 2011, when the French leader was campaigning for the NATO-led military intervention that helped overthrow Kadhafi.

“Sarkozy must first give back the money he took from Libya to finance his electoral campaign,” Kadhafi’s son Seif al-Islam, who is now in jail in Libya, demanded.

A year later, as Sarkozy was campaigning for a second term, Mediapart published a document signed by former Libyan intelligence boss Musa Kusa referring to an agreement for 50 million euros ($54 million at current rates) in backing from Tripoli.

Sarkozy, who lost his 2012 re-election bid, vigorously denied the allegations, claiming the document was a fake.

Takieddine’s video testimony comes five days before Sarkozy goes up against former prime minister Alain Juppe and other rivals in a primary to choose the candidate of the French right in next year’s presidential vote.

– ‘Mafia state’ –

The first round of the two-stage primary takes place on Sunday.

Takieddine said he delivered the cash directly to the interior ministry, which Sarkozy headed at the time.

He said he was received on the first two occasions by Claude Gueant, Sarkozy’s then cabinet chief whom he later made his interior minister.

The businessman, who said he wanted to tell all about “the mafia state in which we are living”, said he set down the cases in Gueant’s office but did not discuss the contents with him.

On the third occasion, he was received by Sarkozy himself in an apartment on the first floor of the ministry, he claimed.

After setting down the case, he said Sarkozy spoke to him briefly about a group of Bulgarian health workers imprisoned in Libya whose liberation Sarkozy negotiated later that year.

But he studiously avoided the topic of the briefcase.

In 2012, Senussi, who is also imprisoned in Libya, told investigators he “personally supervised” the handover of 5.0 million euros towards Sarkozy’s campaign.

But despite several other such former high-ranking members of Kadhafi’s regime making similar claims, French investigators have yet to find any evidence of illegal campaign funding, according to AFP’s sources.

Sarkozy has brushed off the allegations as the claims of vindictive Libyan regime members, furious with him for leading the intervention that ended Kadhafi’s 41-year rule.

The 61-year-old right-winger, who is trailing presidential frontrunner Juppe in opinion polls, is embroiled in several scandals.

He has been charged with influence peddling in a separate affair and with illegal financing of his 2012 campaign. Sarkozy has accused the judiciary of trying to stymie his comeback ambitions.

by Clare Byrne

Libyan revolution and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011 “gave way to something much worse” — The Arab Spring had turned into the age of jihad

April 21, 2016


© AFP/File | Since the downfall of Gaddafi, who was killed in a popular uprising, Libya descended into near-anarchy, ruled by rival militias vying for power while the Islamic State group has gained influence in the country

In the fourth excerpt from his new book, Patrick Cockburn recalls the aftermath of the Libyan revolution and the overthrow of Colonel Gaddafi in 2011. Hopes were soon to be dashed, as a barbaric regime gave way to something much worse

By Patrick Cockburn
The Independent

I was sceptical from an early stage about the Arab Spring uprisings leading to the replacement of authoritarian regimes by secular democracies. Optimistic forecasts I was hearing in the first heady months of 2011 sounded suspiciously similar to what I had heard in Kabul after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 and in Baghdad after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. In each of the three cases, there was the same dangerous conviction on the part of the domestic opposition, outside powers and the international media that all ills could be attributed to the demonic old regime and a brave new world was being born.

This seemed very simple-minded: I was very conscious that these police states – be they in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen or Bahrain – were the product as well as the exploiters of threats to their country’s independence from abroad as well as social, sectarian and ethnic divisions at home. Journalists, who earn their bread by expressing themselves freely, were particularly prone to believe that free expression and honest elections were all that was needed to put things right.

Rebels fire a rocket-propelled grenade at a Libyan air force fighter jet near the Mediterrannean town of Ra’s Lanuf, 2011 Getty Images

Explanations of what one thought was happening in these countries were often misinterpreted as justification for odious and discredited regimes. In Libya, where the uprising started on 15 February 2011, I wrote about how the opposition was wholly dependent on Nato military support and would have been rapidly defeated by pro-Gaddafi forces without it. It followed from this that the opposition would not have the strength to fill the inevitable political vacuum if Gaddafi was to fall. I noted gloomily that Arab states, such as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies, who were pressing for foreign intervention against Gaddafi, themselves held power by methods no less repressive than the Libyan leader. It was his radicalism – muted though this was in his later years – not his authoritarianism that made the kings and emirs hate him.

This was an unpopular stance to take on Libya during the high tide of the Arab Spring, when foreign governments and media alike were uncritically lauding the opposition. The two sides in what was a genuine civil war were portrayed as white hats and black hats; rebel claims about government atrocities were credulously broadcast, though they frequently turned out to be concocted, while government denials were contemptuously dismissed. Human rights organisations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch were much more thorough than the media in checking these stories, although their detailed reports appeared long after the news agenda had moved on.

Muammar Gaddafi at the UN General Assemblyv in New York, 2009 (Getty)

Whatever their other failings, the rebels ran a slick and highly professional press campaign from their headquarters in Benghazi. Spokesmen efficiently fended off embarrassing questions and crowds waved placards bearing well-thought-out slogans in grammatical English in front of the television cameras.

My doubts about many aspects of the Libyan uprising, as it was presented to the world, are open to misinterpretation. There was nothing phony about people’s anger against a man and a regime that had monopolised power over them for 43 years. As in other Arab military regimes turned police states, Gaddafi had once justified his rule as necessary to defend Libyan national interests against foreign states and oil companies. But as the decades passed, these justifications became excuses for a Gaddafi family dictatorship that stifled all dissent.

Just how claustrophobic it was to be a Libyan at this time was brought home to me by Ahmed Abdullah al-Ghadamsi, an intelligent, able and well-educated man whom I met by accident after the fall of Tripoli and who worked for me as a guide and assistant. He came from a family and a district in Tripoli that was always anti-Gaddafi, and he had been on the edge of the resistance movement before we met. He was good at talking his way through checkpoints and winning the confidence of the suspicious militiamen who were manning them.

We shared a feeling of exhilaration now that the old regime was gone. I remember Ahmed saying to me with amused exasperation that “books used to be more difficult to bring into the country than weapons”. Seven weeks later, he was dead. He had felt he must play some active role in the revolution rather than just making money, had volunteered as a fighter and was shot through the head in the last days of the civil war.

In the early months of the uprising, a good place to judge the rebel movement was close to the front line in the largely deserted town of Ajdabiya, two hours’ drive south of Benghazi. Here the military stalemate of sudden advances and retreats was very visible: in the restaurant of the local hotel waiters started to ask journalists to pay their bills before they ate. The urgency on the part of the hotel management reflected their bitter experience of seeing journalists – their only customers – abandon meals half-eaten and leave, bills unpaid, because of a sudden and unexpected advance by the pro-Gaddafi forces.

On the outskirts of Ajdabiya, rebel pick-ups and trucks, with heavy machine guns welded to the back, rushed backwards and forwards, the speed of their retreats so swift as to endanger any camera crews or reporters standing nearby. I had an ominous feeling, as I drove about Ajdabiya, Benghazi and the hinterland of Cyrenaica, that all would not turn out well. “It would take a long time to reduce Libya to the level of Somalia,” I wrote on 13 April 2011, “but civil conflicts and the hatreds they induce build up their own momentum once the shooting has begun. One of the good things about Libya is that so many young men – unlike Afghans and Iraqis of a similar age – do not know how to use a gun. This will not last.”

Nor did it. But it was not the militarisation of Libyans that broke the stalemate but the intervention of Nato air forces. The shape of things to come was already becoming clear: on 22 May I described how flames were billowing up “from the hulks of eight Libyan Navy vessels destroyed by Nato air attacks as they lay in ports along the Libyan coast. Their destruction shows how Muammar Gaddafi is being squeezed militarily, but also the degree to which the US, France and Britain, and not the Libyan rebels, are now the main players in the struggle for power in Libya. Probably Gaddafi will go down because he is too weak to withstand the forces arrayed against him. Failure to end his regime would be too humiliating and politically damaging for Nato after 2,700 air strikes. Once he goes, there will be a political vacuum that the opposition will scarcely be able to fill. The fall of the regime may usher in a new round of a long-running Libyan crisis that continues for years to come.”

By August, Gaddafi had fled and I was in Tripoli touring the abandoned palaces, villas and prisons of the ruling family that had so recently abandoned them. I tried not to be a professional pessimist, pointing out hopefully that, unlike Iraqis and Afghans, Libyans had a high standard of living, were well educated and were not split by age-old ethnic and sectarian divisions. But even this upbeat summary concluded plaintively as I added: “All the same, I wish the shooting outside my window would stop.”

Rebels battle government troops in Ra’s Lanuf, 2011 (Getty)

It never really did stop. Tripoli was full of checkpoints that reminded me of Lebanon during the civil war of 1975 to 1990. The arrival of the new transitional government from Benghazi did not fill me with confidence since one of its first measures was to announce the end of the ban on polygamy introduced by Gaddafi. I had periodically visited Tripoli in the 1980s and 1990s and had noticed that, as in the oil states of the Gulf, most of the work was done by migrants from poor countries that were Libya’s African neighbours. To find out what was happening in Libya at that time, I would go for a walk in the marketplace and fall into conversation with bored Ghanaians or Chadians, all migrants on their day off, who would tell me more about the real state of the country than any Libyan official or Western diplomat.

But with the fall of Gaddafi, all black faces were regarded with suspicion by the new rulers as likely supporters of the fallen leader. They were often accused of being “pro-Gaddafi mercenaries”, interrogated, jailed and occasionally murdered. Life for the migrant and indigenous black population was to get steadily worse in the coming years as Libya disintegrated, and by 2015 Ethiopian and Egyptian Christians were being executed by Islamic State’s Libyan clone. Meanwhile, the West Europeans were reaping what they had sown by destroying the Libyan state: migrant labourers, who had once found jobs in Libyan markets and building sites, were now risking their lives as they sailed in over-crowded and unseaworthy boats across the Mediterranean in a desperate attempt to reach Europe.

My fears about the “Somalianisation” of Libya, first expressed in March 2011, had turned out to be all too true. Four years later, Libya was ruled, in so far as it was ruled at all, by two governments, one based in Tripoli and the other in Tobruk, while real authority lay in the hands of militias that fought each other for power and money. Demonstrators in the streets of Tripoli were shot down by anti-aircraft machine guns whose large calibre bullets tore apart the bodies of protesters; Tripoli International Airport was destroyed in fighting between rival militias; torture was ubiquitous; and the country split between east and west. For all his quirky personality cult and monopoly of power, life in Libya under Gaddafi had not been as bad as this. The demonisation of Gaddafi had an unfortunate effect in ensuring the opposition had no real programme other than his replacement by themselves.

Libyans were relieved at the end of 2011 to find that they no longer had to study the puerile nostrums of Gaddafi’s Green Book – in the knowledge that if you failed the exam devoted to this work, you had to retake the entire course. But Libyans also found to their horror that they had lost a haphazard but functioning state, and with it personal security in the sense of being able to walk the streets in safety. They were now at the mercy of predatory militiamen who were paid out of Libya’s diminished oil revenues. I remember a fellow journalist upbraiding me politely in 2011 for stressing the failings of the Libyan rebels, saying: “Let’s remember who are the good guys.” A few months later, as the revolution turned sour, good and bad in Libya were ever more difficult to tell apart.

This was a common experience in the six countries most affected by the Arab Spring. By 2015, three of these – Libya, Syria and Yemen – were being ravaged by warfare and two others – Egypt and Bahrain – were ruled by authoritarian governments more brutal and dictatorial than anything that had gone before. Only in Tunisia, where it had all started, did an elected civilian government cling on, though increasingly destabilised by massacres of foreign tourists by Isis training camps in Libya. The Arab Spring had turned into the age of jihad.

This is an extract from ‘Chaos and Caliphate: Jihadis and the West in the Struggle for the Middle East’ by Patrick Cockburn, published by OR Books, price £18. The discount code readers can use for 15% off ‘Chaos and Caliphate’ is: INDEPENDENT



Obama calls Libya his ‘worst mistake’

April 11, 2016


© AFP/File | Since the downfall of Kadhafi, who was killed in a popular uprising, Libya descended into near-anarchy, ruled by rival militias vying for power while the Islamic State group has gained influence in the country

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Barack Obama says the biggest mistake of his presidency was the lack of planning for the aftermath of the fall of late Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi, with the country spiraling into chaos and grappling with violent extremists.Reflecting on his legacy in a Fox News interview aired Sunday, Obama said his “worst mistake” was “probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”

Last month, Obama made a searing critique of British Prime Minister David Cameron and former French leader Nicolas Sarkozy for their roles in the bombing campaign they led in Libya.

Cameron became “distracted” and Sarkozy wanted to promote his country during the 2011 NATO-led military intervention, Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic magazine.

Since the downfall of Kadhafi, who was killed in a popular uprising, Libya descended into near-anarchy, ruled by rival militias vying for power while the Islamic State group has gained influence in the country.

The head of a UN-backed unity government arrived earlier this month in Tripoli to begin garnering support for his government.

Obama also reflected on some of the best moments of his tenure as president — due to end in January — in the Fox News interview.

“Saving the economy from a great depression” was his biggest accomplishment, he said.

As for the best day in the White House?

“The day that we passed health care reform,” Obama said.

“We sat out on the Truman Balcony with all the staff that had worked so hard on it and I knew what it would mean for the families that I’d met who didn’t have health care.”

The president said his worst day in the White House was when he traveled to Newtown, Connecticut, after a gunman shot 20 young children and six adult staff members at an elementary school in December 2012.