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Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Libya is not Iraq: Three Victories in Tripoli

As is often noted, we all have a tendency to fight the previous war. Just as the ‘quagmire’ of Vietnam led to reluctance to intervene in Bosnia (at the cost of hundreds of thousands of lives), so too the successes of Kosovo led to the peremptory and ill planned interventionism of Iraq.

But Libya is not Iraq. As jubilant crowds fill Green Square, the fall of Tripoli to the rebels is a victory on many counts

A Victory for the Libyan People

The revolutions in the Mashriq and Maghreb were not inspired by sleeper cells or CIA plotting. They were the spontaneous cry from the street. And on the night when the crowds are filling the streets of Tripoli, taking back their city, let us both celebrate their joy, and remember the many brave men and women who have lost their lives.

Back in March, one of the figures who inspired me to believe in the Libyan people’s struggle, and to support the Nato led intervention, was a young brilliant man,  Mohammed Nabbous.

The Voices from the Street

One of those I’ve been listening to is the brave young journalist from Benghazi, Mohammed Nabbous, an important figure in the February 17th Revolution, who ran his own website Libya Alhurra. ‘

Here’s one of his messages “Tell the World”

‘Mo’ as he was known, with his perfect slightly Oxbridge inflected English, was a champion of democracy. He stayed up night and day to inform the world about the repressions going on in his homeland. He became a victim of those same forces when he was shot dead by Gaddafi’s snipers in Benghazi yesterday, leaving a widow and an unborn child.

Below is the devastating soundtrack of his last ever report by phone. Someone who risked and lost his life in the service of transparency and truth

Mo’s memory has been vindicated tonight. Mo’s memory has been vindicated tonight. Thanks to Lawrence in the DKos comments for this update:

Thank you so much for writing about Mo. (2+ / 0-)

He has been on my mind all weekend.

So has his wife Perditta, and his beautiful daughter Maya, whom he tragically never had the pleasure of getting to know.

I would like to add a video here that is dedicated to Mo by his wife:

Above all, tonight is a victory for the Libyan people, people like Mo, who risked so much, and lost so much, taking on a fearsome dictatorship, with a massive arsenal and all the apparatus of secret police, false imprisonement and torture accumulated over 40 years. They’ve carried the same chant in Arabic that has been heard in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Syria.

“The people want the fall of the regime”

A Victory for Responsibility to Protect and International Law

Encouraged by the Arab League, and against the wishes of many dictators in the area, the UK, France and the US (mainly led by Samantha Power and Hilary Clinton) pushed for multilateral intervention in March – as Benghazi was about to be overrun by Gaddafi’s truth – on the carefully crafted and proportionate Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, ratified by the UN in 2009

1. Principle One stresses that States have the primary responsibility to protect their populations from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity (mass atrocities).

2. Principle Two addresses the commitment of the international community to provide assistance to States in building capacity to protect their populations from mass atrocities and to assisting those, which are under stress before crises and conflicts break out.

3. Principle Three focuses on the responsibility of international community to take timely and decisive action to prevent and halt mass atrocities when a State is manifestly failing to protect its populations

Though the apparent success of the Libyan intervention helps to remove the stain of the Iraq fiasco from our recent history, it does set down a precedent. You cannot murder the citizens of your own country en masse with impunity.

Security Council Resolution 1973 was the first time this principle underpinned a military intervention.

BREAKING: Saif Gaddafi is reported arrested, and hopefull will be handed over to the ICC to meet the same fate as Milosevic, Karadzic and Mladic in the Hague.

I hope the same fate befalls his father. That would be another victory for international law and the UN>

A Victory for Post Intervention Planning

Over the long six month campaign, many things have been going on in the background, beyond the air campaign. There have been furious negotiations behind the scenes, with the transitional government, and figures from previous regimes, but another thing that makes this so different from Iraq is the level of post conflict planning that has gone on. The Australian was one of the few papers to cover the details of this

Iraq haunts plans for post-Gaddafi Libya

WESTERN governments have helped prepare a blueprint for a post-Gaddafi Libya that would retain much of the regime’s security infrastructure to avoid an Iraq-style collapse into anarchy.

The 70-page plan, obtained by London’s The Times, charts the first months after the fall of the Gaddafi regime. The document was drawn up by the National Transition Council in Benghazi with Western help.

Officials say the blueprint draws on lessons from the disastrous regime change in Iraq in 2003 and the rebel takeover in eastern Libya in March.

The plans are highly reliant on the defection of parts of the Gaddafi security apparatus to the rebels after his overthrow. This is likely to prove not only risky, but controversial, with many rebel fighters determined to sweep away all vestiges of the regime.

The document includes proposals for a 10,000-15,000 strong “Tripoli task force”, resourced and supported by the United Arab Emirates, to take over the Libyan capital, secure key sites and arrest high-level Gaddafi supporters.

It cla
ims 800 serving Gaddafi government security officials have been recruited covertly to the rebel cause and are ready to form the “backbone” of a new security apparatus.

The blueprint contains plans for about 5000 police officers now serving in units not ideologically committed to the Gaddafi regime to be transferred immediately to the interim government’s forces to prevent a security vacuum.

If this is true, expect to see the tremendous scenes of celebration in Tripoli ending up very differently to scenes in Baghdad eight years ago.


  1. We’ll see.

    The TMC has also drawn up an impeccably liberal constitution. Freedom of the press, of religion etc.

    Rarely has a revolutionary movement come to power with such a thought through approach to the future.  

  2. HappyinVT

    Thanks for posting here.

    We are a long way from knowing how this ends but I have hope that the TNC took note of Iraq, Algeria, and Egypt.  Each case is certainly different, and the military action is not yet complete, but there are lessons to be learned.

    I am also heartened by the TNC’s ability to coordinate with sympathizers in Tripoli~not quite as inept as perhaps they seemed.

  3. fogiv

    Obambi is on teh vacay!!!!11!!!1!!

    From Frum (who at some point decided, Fuck it, I’mma stay sane, mmkay?):

    How do you score partisan points against a president who looks to have won a military victory in Libya at very low cost? Simple: Attack him for being away from Washington at a summer house when the victory was won.

    That line of attack was tested by some Republican talkers and bloggers this weekend. I wonder if we’ll hear more of it in the coming days.


    The president of the United States never gets a vacation, not really. The nuclear football follows wherever the president goes. He receives the daily intelligence briefing every morning, including Christmas. The decisions never stop, the cares of state never lighten, the burden of responsibility is never lifted.

    When a president goes “on vacation,” here’s what happens:

    1) He or she is spared the ceremonial parts of the job: the state dinners, the meetings with the girl who sold the most Girl Scout cookies that year, that kind of thing;

    2) The other members of the first family are liberated from living inside the White House, aptly described by Harry Truman as “the crown jewel of the federal prison system.”

  4. anna shane

    situation is getting tenser. If it’s that Quadafi is holed up nearby, or that some underground tunnel simply makes the hotel high value, it seems that the journalists are in real danger (from fighting, or as captives for some yet unstated purpose).  They should let them go.   It’s starting to be mentioned.  This is really scary.  

  5. HappyinVT

    BorowitzReport Andy Borowitz

    An anchorwoman on Libyan state TV threatens viewers with a gun. She has a bright future on Fox.

  6. HappyinVT

    with little or no resistance.  Part of that was made possible by Nato strikes taking out a wall.  Can we stop pretending Nato was neutral?

    41 countries now recognize the TNC as the legitimate government, including Germany, Nigeria and Iraq.

    I doubt all the fighting ends until Gaddafi is either demonstratively dead or captured.  Saif showing up made the burden of proof that much higher.

  7. In this photo by Reuters photographer Louafi Larbi, a Libyan rebel poses with a hat belonging to Muammar Gaddafi at Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli. The rebel, identified only as al-Windy, has told Britain’s Sky News that he will give the hat to his father:

    I just went inside his room, Gaddafi’s bedroom, and I was really, I was like ‘Oh my God’. I am in Gaddafi’s room. Oh my God. Then this thing happened. I found this, oh my goodness … I am going to give this to my dad as a present because he has suffered a lot from Gaddafi and from Gaddafi followers … I am really proud for this moment that the Libyans have waited for 42 years.

  8. HappyinVT

    1 hour 23 min ago – Libya

    Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has vowed death or victory in fight against  “aggression”, in an address on al-Orouba TV, according to Retuers.

    Gaddafi has also said that the Bab al-Aziziya compound has been levelled to the ground by 64 NATO air strikes and that his withdrawal from his Bab Al-Aziziya compound in Tripoli was a tactical move.

    Details to come.

    1 hour 13 min ago – Libya

    Reuters reports that Gaddafi’s speech was on a local Tripoli radio station, broadcasted by Al-Orouba TV in conjunction with Al-Rai TV.

    Seems like he’s going to go the Saddam Hussein route and be found at some future time in some nasty little hole.

  9. anna shane

    Seems Gaddafi has a crush on condi:

    He liked the way she was with the racist world leaders, and so did I.  Well, that was all l liked about her, but the way she dressed in school marm, so prim and hygienic, and those world leaders having to treat her with respect.

    Which makes me think of the French rapist, and how he felt free to rape an African woman, and he was working with the African leaders on their debts, kind of screwing them, and maybe actually too.  Am I too suspicious?  One way to predict what someone will do is to look back at what he did before?  History may only be repeating?  


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