But it's all pretty flimsy, isn't it? Leaving aside the intelligence, National or otherwise, of a Washington insider who doesn't know the difference between an earmark and a hallmark, just because something looks like an al-Qaeda attack doesn't mean it is one, particularly if the accusation is that the Syrian regime has dressed it up to look like one. (Note - a defector has already claimed that is was done by Assad now, and at the time, there were reports that the area was cordoned off by regime forces.)
The reality is that, as The Telegraph has reported consistently in recent years, there is growing evidence of collaboration between the Iranian government, Assad's backers, and al-Qaeda, some of whose members (including Bin Ladens) have been "guests" of Tehran since fleeing Afghanistan in 2001.
In Libya too, the evidence for actual, rather than incipient chaos is not as strong as it might appear "if anything, the fighting appears to be getting worse, as the country breaks into hostile armed fractions a fertile hunting ground for al-Qaeda," says Oborne. Yet this is demonstrably untrue. There are squabbles and fights between different (largely city-based) militias, in which some die, and that is indeed a worrying portent for the future. But the deaths are small compared to the shootings of the early days of the uprising, let alone the war that followed. The absence, not presence, of al-Qaeda is the most startling aspect of the new Libya. Amnesty International rightly pointed the other day to the barbarous behaviour of the once heroic Misrata brigade, and the prisoners they have tortured and, in 12 cases, killed. That is damnable; but it is a figure that would be regarded as "great progress" in the case of our other Middle East ventures, and that is not as sick a thought as it seems to anyone who witnessed the horrors of Gaddafi and his brood. I will not quickly forget the sight of the remains of the scores killed and cremated by Khamis Gaddafi in a single incident in a shed-prison as he fled Tripoli in August.
Commentators talk of the Arab Spring as unleashing a poison across the Middle East. The ghastliness of the mixed metaphor is enough to show how flawed is the thought it expresses. The poison was there. It was created, or at least nurtured, by the dictatorships, the same dictatorships that are now bombing their own people in their homes and seizing children off the streets, cutting out their genitals, and murdering them. Are we really to turn a blind eye? The politics of the Arab Spring are just as complicated as Oborne suggests, but a simple principle remains of overwhelming importance. Can Europe really urge democracy on the world, while consigning our neighbours to the rule of psychopaths?
Really good article - cuts through the nonsense.
Rami died while he was filming the massacre that took place today in Bab Amr area. He was riding in a car with 4 others and documenting with his camera when they all came under fire from Syrian regime forces. Rami uploaded 831 videos on YouTube. And before he died he sent out a message, this is what it said (Translated by @Basma_):
Rami was also responsible of the live streaming coming out from Homs, he used the live streaming website BAMBUSER despite that fact that it was blocked in Syria. He overcame the blockage and showed the entire world what is going on while syrian regime politicians are denying that anything is happening in Bab Amr area.
The absence of a state structure to address sexual violence exacerbates the situation. According to Islamic laws, four witnesses are required for persecution. The head of the International Criminal Court, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, confirms the rape campaign that took place in Libya, and reports that often the evidence has to be based on a soldiers confession and not on a victim's testimony.
Until now, there have been only a few cases of women who have stood up to their husbands and families and gone public with their stories. Now they have no choice but to live abroad, and none of the perpetrators have been prosecuted so far. The real test for the international community is whether we will overcome the common belief that rape is an inevitable and unpunishable part of every conflict.
No wonder the evidence was difficult to come by. And those, who say that "we know" that rape did not occur - typical holier-than-thou cr@p.
A light mist of cold rain started falling on us from the moment we reached the cemetery. If I hadn't felt it on my face, I probably wouldn't have even noticed it, as the hardscrabble stretching throughout the grave yard appeared just as parched as one might expect in a desert country.
I had driven to the southern outskirts of Benghazi to visit the grave of a friend - a virtual friend who I had never met in person, and quite honestly, had only interacted with on a limited basis. His name was Mohamed "Mo" Nabbous, and he was the first independent journalist to come out of Libya's revolution.
At the start of the revolution one year ago today, as it happens Mo set up a satellite Internet connection in the heart of Benghazi. Protesters were getting killed on the streets around him, yet Mo and a small group of friends had the composure and courage to begin streaming live video from the scene.
Over the next four weeks, Mo, his friends and online volunteers from around the world turned his video stream into the most important real-time source of news coming out of Libya. For part of that time, it was the only reliable source of live video, as journalists from the outside had yet to enter the country.
Haythem Dharat says:
November 13, 2011 at 10:44 PM
I am from Misurata City and I was there from day one of the revolution. We went out with sticks & rocks & that same night as the author wrote, we were met with bullets. Actually it wasnt Gaddafis men who were shooting but it was young kids from Tawergha who were given AK47s to shoot demonstrators. Misurata city was being bombed for months and attacked by at least 12 Gaddafi brigades. But the worst brigade was the Tawergha brigade and everybody knows that. Tawergha had its own brigade and there are videos on youtube to prove that. I am a businessman and I had an assistant from Tawergha and he manages my warehouse. We just unloaded goods worth $200,000 to the warehouse so I called him and his reply was shocking. I asked him about his whereabouts & if hes ok and I was worried about him because I havent seen him for a couple of days. We used to treat him like part of the family. From having nothing, after working with me he got a car, he got married etc. Anyway, his reply was something like this You people from Misurata will all die, we are coming to kill you, rape your sisters, wives & mothers and he started cursing. I was just shocked, I thought to myself maybe someone else stole his mobile. I called him by his name to make sure its him. And he said yes its him and I recognized the voice. I asked him if he was serious or joking and of course he wasnt joking. He replied soon I will know if hes serious or not and that my warehouse is on fire as we speak! I freaked out and I drove to my warehouse and it was on fire. After that day, we know that most of Tawergha people were going to be against us. They were promised that Misurata will be divided amongst them if Misurata falls. They were also promised by the dead tyrant, money, political positions etc. They got what they deserved, now running for their lives. My other business friends had similar stories with their Tawergha staff. They all looted their goods and fled then joined the Gaddafi forces to attack Misurata. We were really surprised because these people lived amongst us and we treated them as family & friends. One of my brothers best friends is from Tawergha and that guy also fled and joined the Gaddafi forces. We still cant believe what most of these people did. They thought it was going to be an easy task to take over Misurata but we proved them wrong.
Anyone who says that all Libyans were anti-Black, do not know what the F**CK they are talking about. It is as stupid to say that all Whites in South Africa were anti-Black.
A note from Ambassador Ford on recent events in Syria
Satellite image taken February 6, 2012
(Please note - I broke up one large paragraph into many)
First, like people around the world, my colleagues and friends are watching the video coming out of Homs and some of the other Syrian cities in the last days with horror and revulsion. I hear the devastating stories about newborns in Homs dying in hospitals where electricity has been cut and when we see disturbing photos offering proof that the regime is using mortars and artillery against residential neighborhoods, all of us become even more concerned about the tragic outcome for Syrian civilians.
The Arab League protocol, which received wide support from the international community, called for the Syrian military to withdraw from residential areas, to stop firing at peaceful protests and to release prisoners arrested due to the unrest. The film coming out of Homs and elsewhere in Syria shows the Syrian government's real response. And we have never heard of the armed opposition firing artillery for example. It is odd to me that anyone would try to equate the actions of the Syrian army and armed opposition groups since the Syrian government consistently initiates the attacks on civilian areas, and it is using its heaviest weapons.
I also want to say a word about our suspending the work of the American Embassy in Damascus. I can say without exaggeration that February 6 was the most emotionally taxing day of my career as a Foreign Service Officer. Due to the elevated security risks we confronted in Syria, the Government of the United States had to suspend operations at our Embassy in Damascus, and I had to depart with my American colleagues and say goodbye to our Syrian colleagues and friends who face a very uncertain future.