. (By “we,” I mean America as an organized society.)
The NATO commander Gen. Sir David Richards says that the only way to defeat Kaddafi is to expand NATO’s list of targets and destroy Libya’s infrastructure. That’s how the West “protects Libyan civilians,” by destroying Libyan infrastructure, thus revealing the complete dishonesty and absurdity of the Obama-initiated UN authorization of the Libyan intervention. (And who will be paying for the re-building of Libya? Probably America.) The article also references the recent unsuccessful attempt to kill Kaddafi in his Tripoli bunker. According to Richards, the bombing of Kaddafi’s bunker was within the original UN mandate to protect civilians from slaughter.
Remember the “good” democratic revolution in Tunisia that drove out that country’s dictator Ben Ali and started the “Arab Spring”? Whoops. The Times tells us that since Ben Ali’s departure in January, “the Islamists of the once-banned Ennahda Party have emerged from obscurity, returned from abroad and established themselves as perhaps the most powerful political force in post-revolution Tunisia.” Gosh. Just like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. What a shock.
“A clash between Coptic Christians and Muslims left 55 injured late Saturday night in the second outbreak of sectarian violence in seven days, officials said.” In fact, this recent “clash” and other “clashes” mentioned in the article were all precipitated by Muslim attacks on the Christian minority. Also notice how every one of these neutral-sounding “clashes” results in churches being burnt, never in a mosque being burnt. Why the dishonest description of Muslim anti-Christian attacks as “clashes”? It’s not just the usual liberal/neocon protocol of covering up the crimes of Muslims; more specifically, it is the liberal/neocon protocol of concealing the actual results of Muslim “freedom.” When you give Muslims freedom, you don’t get liberal democracy, you get jihadism. This is the reality that the liberal West will keep concealing and will never voluntarily recognize, because to recognize it would mean that there are unbridgeable differences between Muslims and us, which would mean that the liberal dream of a single unified mankind is false. It is as false now as it was at the Tower of Babel. But liberal man, man who rejects God and worships man, will never give up the hope of building that tower whose top may reach into heaven, where men will have one language, and where nothing will be restrained from them which they have imagined to do.
May 15, 2011
British Commander Says Libya Fight Must Expand
By JOHN F. BURNS
TRIPOLI, Libya—Two months into the NATO bombing campaign against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, Britain’s top military commander has said that the Libyan leader could remain “clinging to power” unless NATO broadened its bombing targets to include the country’s infrastructure.
The comments, by Gen. Sir David Richards, came at the end of a week that saw NATO step up its airstrikes, with an accelerated tempo of attacks on the capital, Tripoli. In the predawn hours of Thursday, a volley of heavy bunker-busting bombs that struck Colonel Qaddafi’s underground command headquarters in the city appeared to have narrowly missed killing him.
Colonel Qaddafi’s defiant audio message after that attack, telling NATO he was “in a place where you can’t get me,” appears to have played a part in galvanizing opinion among NATO commanders, particularly in Britain and France, the nations carrying out the bulk of the bombing.
Britain, in particular, with heavy combat commitments in Afghanistan and mounting costs for the Libyan air campaign straining its military budget, has been concerned that the conflict could be settling into a long-running stalemate.
Under the United Nations Security Council resolution approving the Libyan air campaign, NATO was empowered to use “all necessary means” to protect the country’s civilian population from attack by pro-Qaddafi forces, which hold Tripoli and much of western Libya, while rebel forces control much of the country’s eastern region. That mandate has been stretched beyond attacks on tanks, artillery and other units engaged in front-line combat to a wide range of targets in Tripoli and elsewhere that have been identified by NATO as “command-and-control” centers, including Colonel Qaddafi’s Tripoli bunker.
But with the war now at the end of its third month and the two sides skirmishing in battle zones spread across hundreds of miles, there has been growing concern in NATO capitals that the strategy needs a game-changing adjustment that might bring a rebel victory closer.
NATO officials have made no secret of their belief that this would most likely come with attacks that weaken Colonel Qaddafi’s hold on Tripoli, ideally attacks that spread a sense of despondency among Qaddafi forces and lend an impetus to a rebel underground that has roots in some quarters of the city.
General Richards, chief of the defense staff in Britain, spoke in an interview at NATO’s southern headquarters in Naples, Italy, which has served as a command center for the attacks. “The vise is closing on Qaddafi, but we need to increase the pressure further through more intense military action,” he said in the interview, published in The Sunday Telegraph. “We now have to tighten the vise to demonstrate to Qaddafi that the game is up.”
He added that the bombing campaign, which has involved more than 2,500 sorties since it began March 19, had been “a significant success.” But he added: “We need to do more. If we do not up the ante now there is a risk that the conflict could result in Qaddafi clinging to power.”
The general suggested NATO should be freed from restraints that have precluded attacking infrastructure targets; other NATO officials have suggested in recent weeks that these could include elements of the electrical power grid in government-held areas, and fuel dumps. And he defended attacks seemingly aimed at Colonel Qaddafi himself, saying that “if he was in a command-and-control center that was hit by NATO and he was killed, that would be within the rules.”
A tally of NATO attacks given by alliance spokesmen in Brussels gave a measure of how the bombing had already been intensified, with a strong focus on Tripoli. NATO said that alliance aircraft struck 39 “key targets” in and around the capital in the first four days of last week, including the strike Thursday on Qaddafi headquarters in south-central Tripoli. The Tripoli targets, NATO said, included seven “command-and-control” centers, compared with only three similar strikes in the 10 days before then.
But the increased tempo of the attacks has shown little sign, so far, of seriously destabilizing Colonel Qaddafi’s rule. For weeks, there has been a heavily dispirited atmosphere in Tripoli, with many ordinary Libyans eager to pull Western reporters aside to say they yearned for Colonel Qaddafi to be ousted. NATO bombing attacks have often been followed by outbreaks of automatic fire in neighborhoods in central Tripoli, apparently started by hit-and-run attacks by elements of the anti-Qaddafi underground.
General Richards’s call for a widening of the bombing targets prompted a dismissive reaction from the Qaddafi government. Khalid Kaim, a deputy foreign minister, said the airstrikes had been aimed at infrastructure from the start, and he cited a string of attacks on what he described as civilian targets in several cities. As for attempts to kill Colonel Qaddafi, he said that NATO had conducted four airstrikes aimed at Libya’s leader, the latest on Thursday. Further attempts to kill him, he said, would be “a waste of time.”
Airstrikes have also remained intense against pro-Qaddafi forces attacking rebellious cities, with new bombing reported Sunday around the western city of Misurata and another rebel stronghold, Zintan.
May 15, 2011
Tunisia Is Uneasy Over Party of Islamists
By SCOTT SAYARE
TUNIS—Accused as subversives or terrorists, they bore the repressive brunt of the Tunisian dictator’s reign—two decades of torture, prison or exile.
But since the dictator, President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, fled in January, the Islamists of the once-banned Ennahda Party have emerged from obscurity, returned from abroad and established themselves as perhaps the most powerful political force in post-revolution Tunisia.
Despite repeated assurances of their tolerance and moderation, their rise has touched off frenzied rumors of attacks on unveiled women and artists, of bars and brothels sacked by party goons, of plots to turn the country into a caliphate. With crucial elections scheduled for July 24, Ennahda’s popularity and organizational strength are of growing concern to many activists and politicians, who worry that the secular revolution in this moderate state—the revolt that galvanized the Arab Spring—might see the birth of a conservative Islamic government.
And just as the protests in Tunis heralded the revolt in Cairo, analysts are looking to Tunisia as a bellwether for the more broadly influential developments to come in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood enjoys similar advantages and has stirred similar misgivings.
“How do you want us to go up against Ennahda?” asked an exasperated strategist for the Republican Alliance, a secular party. “They’re prepared to do anything.”
With years of organizational experience, a vast membership and decades of credibility as a sworn enemy of Mr. Ben Ali, Ennahda has proved to be better-equipped than any other party—most have existed only for a matter of weeks—to step into the political void. The Republican Alliance strategist called for the elections to be delayed.
“July 24 is a favor to Ennahda,” he said, requesting anonymity for fear of attacks by the party’s supporters. “It’s suicide.”
With Ennahda in power, he said, “It would be Iran.”
The party says such fears are unfounded. “We aspire to a free, open, moderate society, where each citizen will have the same rights,” said Abdallah Zouari, a member of Ennahda’s executive committee and a party spokesman, adding that the party called for equal rights for men and women, Muslims and non-Muslims.
“We are not in agreement with the secularists who want to force others to be secular,” he said, “the same way we are against the Salafists who want to force others to be Muslim.”
He spoke with a visitor at a modest new party branch on the third floor of a shabby Tunis office building, the rooms still echoing and empty but for some tables and chairs, the white walls dirty and scuffed.
Mr. Zouari—who bears the dark callus on his forehead caused by frequent bowed prayer, common among the devout—was himself imprisoned for more than a decade as a party member.
“The religious sentiment of the Tunisian people is so deep that certain people cannot understand,” he said.
Polling suggests that Ennahda—the renaissance, in Arabic—enjoys broader support than any of the country’s other 60-odd authorized political parties. The party’s weekly newspaper, The Dawn, resumed publication in April after a 20-year hiatus and now sells about 70,000 copies per week, party officials say.
The July vote will create an assembly assigned the task of rewriting the Constitution. In anticipation of the elections, the party has opened dozens of local offices, and imams are said to be promoting Ennahda in mosques across the country.
But mistrust of the party remains widespread. “They’re doing doublespeak, and everyone knows it,” said Ibrahim Letaief, a radio host at Mosaique FM, a popular station where he offers withering criticism of the Islamists. Ennahda, he said, has only tempered its rhetoric in a bid to win votes, but in power would impose strict Islamic law.
It is a common refrain here, despite having first been popularized by the reviled Mr. Ben Ali. Opponents have made similar claims, anti-Ennahda Facebook groups have drawn tens of thousands of supporters, and protesters have denounced the party throughout Tunisia. Some of the fear seems to stem from uncertainty about who, exactly, will lead the party; the group’s longtime leader, Rachid Ghannouchi, has said he will not seek office.
A democratic Tunisia depends on the banning of Ennahda, Mr. Letaief said, though he acknowledged, “I’m not going to seem democratic, here.” Still, he said, “Islam is very much anchored in society.”
The first article of the now-suspended Tunisian Constitution decreed Islam the national faith, and 98 percent of the country’s 10.6 million inhabitants are Muslim. Public schools dispense religious instruction. Yet religious leaders have never played a role in government.
Habib Bourguiba, the father of Tunisian independence and the country’s first president, was a staunch secularist who banned polygamy, legalized abortion and once sipped orange juice on television during the Ramadan fast in an affront to the faithful.
Ennahda has pledged to maintain Mr. Bourguiba’s social reforms, and voted in favor of a rule requiring equal numbers of men and women on electoral lists in July. Party leaders compare Ennahda to Turkey’s tolerant Islamic ruling party. Other Tunisian Islamist groups have rejected Ennahda as being too secular, and many analysts consider the party to be distinctly moderate.
Still, Ennahda worries that many Tunisians have renounced an “Arab-Muslim identity,” said Mr. Zouari, the party leader, noting that high school math and science are often taught in French, not Arabic. Ennahda would not force women to veil themselves, Mr. Zouari said, nor would it immediately seek to ban alcohol, which Islam forbids. He admitted that a ban might be a goal in years to come. Asked about widespread accusations that Ennahda supporters had attacked unveiled women, he replied hotly: “When? Where? What names?”
Ennahda is strong in the impoverished interior, a reflection of the cultural gulf between the “very Westernized elite” in Tunis and other coastal cities—many of whom lived well under Mr. Ben Ali—and much of the rest of the country, said Kader Abderrahim, a researcher at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris.
“The question,” Mr. Abderrahim said, is whether the elite “are ready to accept that there is a part of the population that lives in a different way, and that has other convictions.” Political stability “will not happen without the Islamists,” he said.
Nour Ayari, 19, said she would back Ennahda in the elections. Ms. Ayari, who sells traditional silver marriage boxes from her family’s stall at the Blaghjia souk in Tunis, wore a diaphanous white hijab, a veil banned under Mr. Ben Ali but legalized since his departure. Women may now also appear veiled in official identification photographs, she noted.
“It’s thanks to this party,” she said, referring to Ennahda.
She dismissed concerns that the party might be cloaking fundamentalist intentions behind a moderate front. “Why would they change their tune afterward?” she asked. Ennahda’s opponents, she said, still have a “reflex of fear” instilled under Mr. Ben Ali.
Mr. Abderrahim, the researcher, called it “paranoia.”