25 August 2011 — Stop NATO
- Operation Mermaid Dawn: ‘NATO Played Big Role In Liberating Tripoli’
- South African Deputy President Calls On ICC To Investigate NATO Commanders
- Interview: Return Of The NATO, Cruise Missile Left And Liberal Imperialism
- Video And Text: John McCain Says ‘Fire Of Uprisings’ Should Move To Syria, Russia, China
- Arab World: U.S. Chooses Which Dictators To Embrace
- Cam Ranh Bay: First U.S. Navy Port Visit In Vietnam In 38 Years
- ‘Too Delicate’ To Discuss New Zealand NATO Role In Afghanistan Post-2014
Operation Mermaid Dawn: ‘NATO Played Big Role In Liberating Tripoli’
August 24, 2011
Rebels tell story of plan to take Tripoli
By Hadeel Al-Shalchi
BENGHAZI, Libya: They called it Operation Mermaid Dawn, a stealth plan coordinated by sleeper cells, Libyan rebels, and NATO to snatch the capital from the Moammar Gadhafi’s regime’s hands.
It began three months ago when groups of young men left their homes in Tripoli and traveled to train in Benghazi with ex-military soldiers.
After training in Benghazi, the men would return to Tripoli either through the sea disguised as fishermen or through the western mountains.
‘They went back to Tripoli and waited; they became sleeper cells,’ said military spokesman Fadlallah Haroun, who helped organize the operation.
He said that many of the trained fighters also stayed in the cities west of Tripoli, including Zintan and Zawiya, and waited for the day to come to push into the capital.
Operation Mermaid Dawn began on the night of August 21…
Haroun said about 150 men rose up from inside Tripoli, blocking streets, engaging in armed street fights with Gadhafi brigades, and taking over their streets with check points.
He said another 200 men from Misrata.
Haroun said NATO was in contact with the rebel leadership in Benghazi and were aware of the date of Operation Mermaid Dawn.
‘Honestly, NATO played a very big role in liberating Tripoli — they bombed all the main locations that we couldn’t handle with our light weapons,’ said Harouin.
Analysts have noted that as time went on, NATO airstrikes became more and more precise…indicating the presence of air controllers on the battlefields.
…An increasing number of American hunter-killer drones provided round-the-clock surveillance as the rebels advanced.
Diplomats acknowledge that covert teams from France, Britain and some East European states provided critical assistance.
The assistance included logisticians, security advisers and forward air controllers for the rebel army, as well as intelligence operatives, damage assessment analysts and other experts, according to a diplomat based at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels…
Foreign military advisers on the ground provided key real-time intelligence to the rebels, enabling them to maximize their limited firepower against the enemy. One U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the Qatari military led the way, augmented later by French, Italian and British military advisers…
Bolstering the intelligence on the ground was an escalating surveillance and targeting campaign in the skies above. Armed U.S. Predator drones helped to clear a path for the rebels to advance.
Baja said as the time for Operation Mermaid Dawn came close to execution, NATO began to intensify their bombing campaign at Bab al-Azizya and near jails where weapons were stored and political prisoners were held.
Al-Shalchi reported from Cairo.
South African Deputy President Calls On ICC To Investigate NATO Commanders
The Times (South Africa)
August 25, 2011
Probe Nato commanders, Motlanthe urges court
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe has urged the International Criminal Court to investigate Nato commanders for possible crimes against humanity during the organisation’s bombing operations in Libya.
He was replying to questions in parliament on the volatile situation in the North African country.
Motlanthe said the court – which has issued warrants of arrest for the embattled Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and some of his close associates – should extend its investigation to the role played by Nato forces in assisting the rebels in their bid to topple the Gaddafi regime.
‘We note they [Nato] are attempting to create the impression that the rebels are acting on their own in their attacks into Tripoli but there are clear links and co-ordination at that level.
‘The question is whether the [court] will have the wherewithal to unearth that information and bring those who are responsible to book, including the Nato commanders on the ground,’ he said.
In Johannesburg, a group of ‘concerned Africans’ addressed an open letter to Nato saying Africa ran the risk of being ‘re-colonised’.
One of the signatories, University of Johannesburg head of politics Chris Landsberg, said Nato had ‘violated international law . they had a regime-change agenda’.
Interview: Return Of The NATO, Cruise Missile Left And Liberal Imperialism
August 24, 2011
The Return of the Cruise Missile Left
The laptop bombardiers are happy with the results in Tripoli. But it requires a framework that supports intervention in order to invade a country. Maximillian Forte takes us on a journey through ‘liberal imperialism,’ and the ‘NATO left.’
Video And Text: John McCain Says ‘Fire Of Uprisings’ Should Move To Syria, Russia, China
August 25, 2011
Russia needs democracy just like Libya does – Senator McCain
US Senator and former presidential candidate John McCain has lashed out at Russia, saying it could be the next country to experience a Libya-style uprising.
But Senator McCain has a very far-fetched outlook, believes RT’s Washington correspondent Gayane Chichikyan.
McCain is sure that the Arab Spring will rage on and will make it to countries like China and Russia, which according to him ‘need democracy’ just as Libya does.
At some point he even said that Libya has already achieved democracy, which is far from reality according to the situation on the ground.
Even as the National Transitional Council takes over in Tripoli, it is not the government chosen by the Libyan people. And many Libyans are outraged by the fact that foreign powers have essentially made this choice for them.
And looking back to Egypt, people there too do not seem to have achieved what they were fighting for.
As far as democracy is concerned in these countries, there are still a lot of questions, but according to McCain ‘It is all great and the fire of uprisings should move on to other countries.’
And according to him the ‘next stop’ is Syria. ‘After Gaddafi it is Bashar Assad who is next to fall,’ McCain said.
With his statements, Gayane says, McCain is seen as a mouthpiece for those forces in Washington who would want to see some countries, especially rich and strategically important ones, go upside down.
It is quite interesting that Senator McCain is pointing at some of the world’s richest countries and basically calling for revolutions in those countries, presuming that their ‘livelihood is so bad, that they need to rebel immediately.’
Meanwhile, polls show that most Americans are not happy with where their economy is going. And following McCain’s logic the question arises: does this mean that Americans too need to take to the streets and revolt?
Arab World: U.S. Chooses Which Dictators To Embrace
Stars and Stripes
August 24, 2011
Democracy, stability or just opportunity? Washington chooses which dictators to embrace
By Kevin Baron
Photograph: On a Persian Gulf tour promoting stability early in the Arab Spring, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Manama, Bahrain, Feb. 24, 2011.
WASHINGTON: President Barack Obama praised Libyans this week for being the latest Middle Easterners to prove that ‘the universal pursuit of dignity and freedom is far stronger than the iron fist of a dictator.’
It helps when the Washington does not support the dictator. First, the U.S. backed the downfall of Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak, then Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi and now Syria’s President Bashar Assad. So, why not more?
In the name of ‘stability,’ U.S. military leaders since the start of the Arab Spring have continued unapologetically backing undemocratic regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Qatar and United Arab Emirates.
It’s tradition. Since the early 20th Century, America has embraced autocrats who permitted a strategic foothold in the region. The U.S. military, coldly, must deal with the foreign leaders and military officers they are dealt, officials say.
Look to Bahrain, where the royal family tolerated protestors until the day after former Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the al-Khalifa regime in Manama. Then that regime’s iron fist turned deadly, firing military-grade weaponry on peaceful protestors and imprisoning human rights activists.
Bahrain is home thousands of Americans and the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet. Last November, the U.S. established a new forward-deployed headquarters for Marines in Central Command. And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is already telling troops he expects a high-tempo of counterterrorism operations requiring the U.S. to maintain a forward-deployed presence across the region.
So, while rebels in Tripoli have received four-months of legitimizing U.S. rhetoric and thousands of NATO sorties overhead, protestors in other countries fend largely unaided.
‘To me, opportunism is a good word in foreign policy, not a bad word,’ said Greg Gause, Middle East professor and chairman of the political science department at the University of Vermont. ‘I want my foreign policy to be opportunistic.’
The White House was right, Gause said, to wait before jumping on the Arab Spring bandwagon until oppositions in some countries showed they had gained a foothold, instead of trying to lead revolutionary change. He disagreed with Obama’s decision to involve the U.S. military in Libya.
‘I don’t think we should lead on Syria, I think we should follow,’ he said. ‘And if the regime collapses, it collapses and we’ll deal with what comes next. … But I don’t think that it’s worth spending any of our capital and certainly no military force to push a political change in Syria.’
Just look at the Bush administration, he said, which pushed for Palestinian democracy in Gaza only to legitimize a Hamas electoral victory.
Obama seems content avoiding a one-size-fits-all approach. Bahrain’s protestors have never shown serious signs of toppling the royal family, which has agreed to some reforms.
Saudi Arabia’s rulers prevented the Arab Spring from awakening there by promising a bloodbath on demonstrators should Saudis get any ideas about self-determination. Still, both Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen made it a point to stop in Riyadh this year before retiring.
Further south, in Yemen last year, Gen. David Petraeus publicly courted President Ali Abdullah Saleh with millions in military aid and counterterrorism forces after discovering the attempted Christmas ‘underwear bomber’ went through that country. Critics were glad the U.S. gave more attention to Yemen’s fomenting extremism. But they questioned Petraeus’ hasty visit that put the U.S. on the same side with a deeply unpopular autocrat, stirring anti-U.S. sentiment where none previously existed.
Saleh on Tuesday returned to Sanaa for the first time since a June bombing, Yemen is flailing, and the U.S. remains a marginal player.
‘There’s always going to be complaints about double-standards in U.S. foreign policy,’ Gause said, ‘because liberals in the Arab world want us to force governments to be more liberal. On the other hand, nobody in the Arab world wants to be seen as a client of the United States.’
Andrew Cordesman, the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ prolific Middle East security expert, warned this week: ‘We need to consider the very real risk – and probability – of elections [in Libya] that trigger deep political divisions and elect leaders with little real political experience and no experience in governance.’
In other words: instability.
Cam Ranh Bay: First U.S. Navy Port Visit In Vietnam In 38 Years
August 24, 2011
Military Sealift Command Ship Completes First U.S. Navy Ship Visit to Vietnam port in 38 years
By Edward Baxter, Military Sealift Command Far East Public Affairs
CAM RANH BAY, Vietnam: Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Richard E. Byrd left Cam Ranh Bay in southern Vietnam Aug. 23, marking the end of a historic visit – the first by a U.S. Navy ship to the port in more than three decades.
Byrd spent seven days at Cam Ranh Shipyard for routine maintenance and repairs…
Cam Ranh Bay is 180 miles north of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly called Saigon. From 1965 to 1973, Cam Ranh Bay was one of the largest in-country U.S. military facilities during the Vietnam War.
MSC Ship Support Unit Singapore routinely contracts shipyards throughout Southeast Asia to conduct maintenance and repairs on the command’s Combat Logistics Force ships. The Navy saves both time and money by using multiple commercial shipyards throughout the region, reducing transit times to more distant shipyards, and thereby also reducing the amount of time these ships are off-mission.
‘Working at Cam Ranh Bay provides the U.S. Navy with an additional option to repair our ships efficiently and in a cost effective manner,’ said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Mike Little, officer in charge of MSC SSU Singapore. In addition, these ship visits foster positive relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.
‘The U.S. Navy’s return to a port symbolic of the Vietnam conflict proves that our two countries have come a long way in building relations over recent years,’ said Byrd’s civil service master Capt. Lee Apsley. The U.S. normalized diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1995.
Cam Ranh Bay is a deep-water and sheltered harbor which can easily accommodate larger naval vessels with deep drafts. Byrd measures more than 680 feet in length and displaces more than 41,000 tons.
Byrd’s repairs in Vietnam are the third such repairs on MSC vessels in that country over the last two years: rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50)completed repairs at Saigon Shipmarin Shipyard near Ho Chi Minh City in September of 2009. Cam Ranh Shipyard performed maintenance on Byrd in March of last year, but the work was performed at Van Phong Bay, located about 80 miles north of Cam Ranh Bay.
Work was completed Aug. 22 and Byrd got underway today out of the harbor to return to normal duties as one of U.S. 7th Fleet’s primary supply vessels operating in the Western Pacific.
Byrd is one of MSC’s eleven dry cargo/ammunition ships that operate worldwide delivering ammunition, provisions, stores, spare parts, potable water and petroleum products to U.S. Navy ships at sea.
MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, U.S. merchant mariner-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world, and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.
‘Too Delicate’ To Discuss New Zealand NATO Role In Afghanistan Post-2014
August 25, 2011
‘Too delicate’ to discuss future of NZ troops in Afghanistan
By Lloyd Burr
Britain’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan is remaining tight-lipped today about the outcome of discussions he had with the defence minister.
Mark Sedwill met with Defence Minister Wayne Mapp last night to discuss the role of NATO combat forces beyond 2014 when they are expected to withdraw.
But Mr Sedwill is coy about the details of the conversation and says ‘it’s too delicate to talk about detail in public’.
But he could give a general overview of the discussion, ‘we discussed two things – one is the transition between now and 2014 and a lot of that was sharing experience…the second was what our commitment should be after 2014’.
‘It’s not for me to make announcements about our own or your announcements after that,’ he says.
‘People are always going to welcome the presence of a force with the skills that New Zealand can bring to it…It’s not about the size of the deployment but the effect and the effect New Zealand is achieving is one you should be proud of.’
And while he is not explicitly asking for help, he says NATO will be approaching all coalition forces about ongoing funding for security.
‘Every country can make its own decisions, it’s too early for any of us to be making decisions about that, we are certainly not planning to so we certainly wouldn’t be urging the Government of New Zealand to do so either.’
He says the New Zealand Government is looking at security threats and issues New Zealand faces in the southern hemisphere.
He also paid tribute to Corporal Douglas Grant, a New Zealand SAS soldier who was killed by insurgents last week.