Prospects fade for military overthrow of Gaddafi
Libyan rebels said on Friday they repulsed a government assault on the besieged city of Misrata but prospects faded for a military overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi.
NATO leaders acknowledged the limits of their air power, which has caused rather than broken a military stalemate, and analysts predicted a long-drawn out conflict that could end in the partition of the North African oil producer.
Alliance officials expressed frustration that Gaddafi’s tactics of sheltering his armor in civilian areas had reduced the impact of air supremacy and apologized for a second “friendly fire” incident on Thursday that rebels said killed five fighters. (Reuters)
Ex-Libyan minister foresees more defections
Another former aide to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has sought asylum in Europe.
One-time Libyan energy minister Omar Fathi Bin Shatwan has fled to Malta.
In this first televised interview since the start of the rebellion, Bin Shatwan said time is running out for Gaddafi’s regime and more Libyan ministers would like to defect.
“Most of the people want to the same as Koussa and some others have done, but they cannot do it because they don’t have the chance to do it,” Bin Shatwan told euronews. (Euronews)
Torture and killing in Kenya – Britain’s double standards
This week, a British human rights lawyer backed by the Foreign Office managed to strong-arm an apology out of Libya’s revolutionary leadership for the actions of the man it is struggling to overthrow.
The apology and promise of compensation over Muammar Gaddafi’s supply of explosives used in IRA bombs and his role in blowing up the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie was made by the rebels in the name of the Libyan people as a whole – a move that astonished and offended many Libyans, who see no reason to take responsibility for the crimes of their oppressor.
But the Foreign Office shared the view of the British lawyer, Jason McCue, that saying sorry for something they had no hand in would somehow be good for the Libyan people as a whole by establishing a newfound commitment to human rights. The promise of money helps, of course.
The truth is that the revolutionary leadership, which has rather more pressing issues to hand such as keeping Gaddafi’s troops from overrunning Benghazi, felt it had to play along to bolster crucial support from the UK and the west. McCue even praised David Cameron for making the case a priority at the Foreign Office.
This demonstration of power politics is made all the more distasteful by the contrasting attitude of the British government at the high court toward victims of the most depraved torture, gruesome killings and mass hangings by Britain during Kenya’s struggle for independence.
Hiding behind legal contortions, the government is refusing to apologise or pay compensation for appalling abuses done in the name of and with the knowledge of the British state, with the intent of preserving a system of racist privilege for white settlers in the east African colony. (Chris McGreal)
Ban Ki-moon learns to love regime change
At U.N. headquarters, regime change has long been viewed as a toxic phrase.
Under former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, the U.N. brass cringed when American politicians and diplomats, both Republican and Democratic, revealed that their true aim in pursuing U.N. arms inspections and sanctions in Iraq was the downfall of Saddam Hussein.
But in the past two months, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki moon has reversed course, fully embracing the toppling of governments in Ivory Coast and Libya. On Monday, Ban authorized a U.N. military operation, backed by French military power, to strike at key military bases, and installations under the control of Ivorian strongman Laurent Gbabgo.
The operation — which included helicopter gunship attacks against army camps by blue-helmeted Ukrainian pilots — was ostensibly aimed at preventing Gbagbo’s forces from using their heavy weapons against civilians and U.N. personnel. But its impact on the conflict was decisive: The U.N. and French attacks had degraded Gbagbo’s last line of defense, clearing the way for a final offensive by followers of Ivory Coast’s president-elect Alassane Ouattara.
Within 24 hours, Gbagbo’s top generals had written to the United Nations with an offer to halt the fighting and surrender their weapons, together with a request that their fighters be protected. Gbagbo remained holed up in a bunker underneath the presidential residence, under attack by Ouattara’s forces.
The U.N. chief’s action in Ivory Coast is all the more surprising given his readiness throughout most of his term to accommodate some of the world’s most noxious governments, notably Burma, Sri Lanka and Sudan. Ban had bet much of his political capital upon his capacity to use personal, quiet diplomacy, to nudge the likes of Burmese junta leader Than Shwe, Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa and Sudanese leader Omar Hassan al-Bashir, to moderate their mistreatment of their own people. (Colum Lynch)