Updates on Libyan war/Stop NATO news: July 21, 2011

21 July 2011 — Stop NATO

  • NATO’s Four-Month Bombing Campaign Has Cost Libya $50 Billion
  • Romanian Warship Returns From NATO Libyan Blockade Mission
  • Afghan War: At Least 1,560 U.S. Soldiers Killed, Almost 13,000 Injured
  • Pakistan: This Year’s Death Toll From U.S. Drone Strikes Over 400
  • NATO Chief: Military Cuts ‘Will Leave China As World’s Policeman’
  • Guatemalan President Calls For ‘Central American NATO’
  • U.S., Australian Troops Stage Normandy Beach-Type Assault

NATO’s Four-Month Bombing Campaign Has Cost Libya $50 Billion


July 20, 2011

Libyan government bemoans a prosperous future lost to civil war
By Ivan Watson

Tripoli, Libya: The Libyan government in Tripoli estimates the grinding conflict that has been tearing the country apart for the past five months has cost the national economy some $50 billion.

‘The cost is colossal,’ said Abdulhafid Zlitni, planning and finance minister for the Tripoli government. In an interview with CNN, Zlitni said the suspension of oil and gas exports had accounted for a huge chunk of the losses.

‘The income foregone because of the stoppage of the export of oil is something like $20 billion,’ he said.

This has brought an end to what had been a surge in prosperity for the North African country.

Last year, Libya’s economy was booming, with gross domestic product surging 10.3%, according to the International Monetary Fund.

And in a report published February 15, the IMF’s executive board concluded, ‘The outlook for Libya’s economy remains favorable.’

But two days later, protests against Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s 41-year rule erupted in the eastern city of Benghazi.

Today, the country is split into territories controlled by loyalists and opposition rebels. A NATO military alliance is now into the fourth month of a campaign of airstrikes…

The civil war has all but shattered ambitious plans to upgrade transport, housing and infrastructure in a country that had long been isolated from the international community.

‘The main objective was to create capacity for the economy to stand on its feet away from oil and gas production,’ recalled Zlitni somewhat wistfully, as he described a five-year, $170 billion plan to modernize Libya.

In March, the legions of foreign workers who had been contracted to build railroads, airports, apartment buildings and telecommunications networks began fleeing the rapidly escalating conflict by the tens of thousands. The exodus included large numbers of engineers, construction and oil workers from China, Turkey, Egypt, and the Philippines, who crossed the western border with Tunisia on foot…

Left behind were mammoth construction projects that still dot the Libyan landscape. Many of these unfinished structures were apartment buildings being built for an estimated 50,000 families across the country.

‘So many infrastructure projects…were carried out by international companies,’ Zlitni said. ‘Yet the stoppage of these projects could be felt in the economy. Particularly in the building sectors, the transportation sectors, the communication sectors.’

NATO is enforcing a no-fly zone over Gadhafi-controlled territory as well as a virtual blockade of Libyan ports.

The sanctions have created huge fuel shortages. Long lines of cars now wait at service stations.

This week, the government in Tripoli announced it was intervening to control rising prices of basic commodities.

‘In a crisis situation like this traders tend to profit more than they should, and therefore there is an intervention by the ministry of foreign trade for the prices of consumer goods,’ Zlitni said.

The minister said the government was fixing prices of rice, flour, meat, eggs, sugar and edible oils to prevent hardship among lower-income families.

‘We subsidize, basically,’ Zlitni said, ‘with large amount of funds.’

He pointed out that foreign countries have frozen tens of billions of dollars in Libyan government assets that had been carefully invested overseas in ‘treasury bills, bonds, stocks and investments in various international markets, whether in Europe, the USA or Asia.’

Zlitni compared Libya’s dwindling government coffers to the edible meat on an animal.

‘This shouldn’t last long, otherwise we’ll be eating the fat and meat. And we’ll very soon arrive to the bones.’

Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced Washington formally recognized the council in Benghazi as Libya’s legitimate governing authority. State department officials said this could potentially give Benghazi access to some $30 billion in frozen Libyan funds in the United States.

‘This is against international rules. The international monetary system cannot withstand action in this manner,’ Zlitni said. ‘If you are freezing through United Nations Security Council action funds for any country, then you can’t confiscate it. There are legal obligations of the banks.’

But when asked what recourse Tripoli would have if the U.S. government went through with its threat, Zlitni conceded there are few options.

‘We should file litigation against them,’ he said.


Romanian Warship Returns From NATO Libyan Blockade Mission


Romania Insider
July 20, 2011

Romania’s Ferdinand frigate returns after tasks conducted in the Mediterranean Sea

Romania’s ‘Regele Ferdinand’ frigate will return to the country on Thursday this week, after finishing its tasks in the Mediterranean Sea during the ‘Unified Protector’ operation to impose the embargo on Libya. A military ceremony is planned in the military port of Constanta, according to the Romanian Ministry of Defence.

Since its entry into the Romanian Navy service, the ‘Regele Ferdinand’ frigate had a series of missions, the most important being ‘Active Endeavour’ operations held in 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010 in the Mediterranean, the ‘Breeze-CERTEX’ exercise in 2007, 2008 in Bulgaria, the ‘Noble Midas’ exercise held in Croatia in 2007 and in 2008 in Italy.

During the mission held in the NATO naval group operating in Libya, the frigate covered over 17,400 nautical miles and performed about 770 specific tasks.


Afghan War: At Least 1,560 U.S. Soldiers Killed, Almost 13,000 Injured


Associated Press
July 19, 2011

At least 1,560 US military deaths in Afghanistan since 2001

As of Tuesday, July 19, 2011, at least 1,560 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP count is two more than the Defense Department’s tally, last updated Tuesday at 10 a.m. EDT.

At least 1,295 military service members have died in Afghanistan as a result of hostile action, according to the military’s numbers.

Outside of Afghanistan, the department reports at least 99 more members of the U.S. military died in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Of those, 11 were the result of hostile action.

Since the start of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan, 12,593 U.S. service members have been wounded in hostile action, according to the Defense Department.


Pakistan: This Year’s Death Toll From U.S. Drone Strikes Over 400


Xinhua News Agency
July 21, 2011

U.S. drone attack kills 4 in NW Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: At least four people were killed Wednesday when a U.S. drone targeted the North Waziristan tribal area in northwest Pakistan, local sources said.

The pilotless aircraft fired two missiles at a house in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan which borders Afghanistan, they said.

The identities of the killed are not immediately known…

Since the start of 2011, the U.S. drones have launched at least 44 times (counted on daily times) of strikes in Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas, reportedly killing over 400 people in total.


NATO Chief: Military Cuts ‘Will Leave China As World’s Policeman’


Daily Mirror
July 20, 2011

Defence cuts will leave China as the world’s policeman, warns Nato chief
by James Lyons

-The director [secretary] general said: ‘For the first time in the history of Nato we have seen an operation not led by the Americans.’

Defence cuts across Europe will diminish Nato’s global role and leave China as the world’s policemen, the alliance chief warned yesterday.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen praised Britain and France for taking the lead on the Libya conflict but said they could not have done it without US help.

And he claimed the slashing of troops by European leaders will hit military transport and intelligence.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen spoke out just days after Defence Secretary Liam Fox unveiled plans to cut the Army by 17,000.

The director [secretary] general said: ‘For the first time in the history of Nato we have seen an operation not led by the Americans.

‘The Europeans couldn’t do this on their own and in that respect it is of course a matter of concern that we have seen substantial defence cuts in nearly all Nato allied nations. If the current development continues, the influence of Europe on the international scene will decline because of lack of critical transport capabilities, critical intelligence gathering capabilities and because of this Europe will not be able to participate in international crisis management.

‘The gap will be filled by emerging powers like China and India, that’s a fact.’

Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy also warned about the ‘imbalance’ between the US and Europe.

In a Washington speech, he said: ‘Europe must pull its weight in Nato, or Nato will have little future. We’re either in this together, committed to playing our parts, or we’re not an alliance that will last.’

The Labour MP added: ‘It is important for the UK to make this case since we gain power and influence in our relations across the world through our being a strong partner with European nations.’


Guatemalan President Calls For ‘Central American NATO’


Financial Times
July 20, 2011

Guatemala calls for Nato-style regional force
By Adam Thomson in Guatemala City

Central American nations straining to contain the threat from violent and well-armed drugs cartels should push for the creation of a regional Nato-style military force, Guatemala’s president has said.

In an interview with the Financial Times, centre-left President Álvaro Colom insisted that only a significant improvement in security intelligence combined with a regional project to combine military strength would rid Central America of the vicious gangs.

‘What good is it if the forces of one country are pursuing drug traffickers who cross a river but then have to stop to avoid an international incident?’ he said. ‘Why not have a type of Central American Nato?’


U.S., Australian Troops Stage Normandy Beach-Type Assault


Stars and Stripes
July 20, 2011

U.S., Australian troops storm the beach during Talisman Sabre
By Matthew M. Burke

SASEBO NAVAL BASE, Japan: U.S. Marines and their Australian counterparts stormed Freshwater Beach along the eastern coast of Australia on Tuesday as a part of Talisman Sabre 2011.

One of the biggest and most comprehensive operations of the ongoing exercise, the amphibious assault featured a beach assault and an airfield seizure complete with obstacles, such as enemy ambushes to simulated IED blasts.

Elements of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit aboard the USS Germantown and the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade took part in the assault, according to 31st MEU spokesman Capt. Caleb Eames. The U.S. and Australian troops were opposed by elements of the U.S. Army’s 2nd Infantry Division, Eames said in an email to Stars and Stripes.

‘Executing a large operation such as this also brings the need for careful consideration of battle space management, ensuring your indirect fire from naval ships and from possible artillery assets are carefully coordinated with movements of forces on the ground and supporting aircraft,’ Eames said.

‘This Amphibious Assault is essentially the same type of operation that was conducted at Normandy – a forcible entry from the sea,’ Eames said. ‘Of course, we now have modern technology that can give us a far clearer picture of what to expect ashore, aviation assets that can reach farther and faster in support of our guys on the ground, and a well-armored and well-equipped infantry force these days, but the basic concept remains the same.’

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