Saturday, March 26, 2011

Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links

Libyan rebel commander admits his fighters have al-Qaeda links - Telegraph
In an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore, Mr al-Hasidi admitted that he had recruited "around 25" men from the Derna area in eastern Libya to fight against coalition troops in Iraq. Some of them, he said, are "today are on the front lines in Adjabiya".

Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters "are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists," but added that the "members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader".

His revelations came even as Idriss Deby Itno, Chad's president, said al-Qaeda had managed to pillage military arsenals in the Libyan rebel zone and acquired arms, "including surface-to-air missiles, which were then smuggled into their sanctuaries".

Mr al-Hasidi admitted he had earlier fought against "the foreign invasion" in Afghanistan, before being "captured in 2002 in Peshwar, in Pakistan". He was later handed over to the US, and then held in Libya before being released in 2008.

US and British government sources said Mr al-Hasidi was a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which killed dozens of Libyan troops in guerrilla attacks around Derna and Benghazi in 1995 and 1996...

-bth: this may be true but I'd take with caution reports from the UK Telegraph as they are likely carrying a political agenda.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Est. by Nightwatch. If correct then Pashtun Taliban has grown 50% in a year

NightWatch 20110323 - KGS
Afghanistan: Almost 5,000 Taliban insurgents laid down their weapons or are moving toward doing so, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan General Petraeus said on 23 March. About 700 former Taliban have officially completed the steps to reintegrate into society, Petraeus said. He said another 2,000 insurgents are taking steps toward reintegration and others have laid down their weapons entirely.

Comment: The statistic is interesting because only a fraction of the anti-government fighters have reconciled to the government, based on the daily number of clashes and engagements. Most have been in northern districts where logistics support from Pakistan is barely sustainable. Petraeus also did specify the time frame for his data.

NightWatch data in November 2010 and January 2011 show the number of ralliers increased, but the number of clashes increased at a much greater rate. Several developments can explain the data. First, the anti-government forces appear to be replacing losses at a rate much faster than the rate of rallies. That can only happen if the populace supports the recruitment effort and that means the fight in Afghanistan is a Pashtun tribal uprising, not an insurgency. Second, the ralliers do not remain reconciled, but rejoin the fighting after a period of rest. The spring anti-government offensive should provide insight into the rate of recidivism. Third, the numbers are spread over such a long period as to be meaningless in evaluating the success or failure of the Coalition efforts. And there are others.

Without more context, the statement about ralliers looks like cheer leading.

So how many anti-government fighters are there, considering that more 5,000 have rallied over some indeterminate period and thousands have been killed and detained annually, but the level of fighting continues to increase? Conservatively, NightWatch estimates, based on the fighting data, there are more than 35,000 part time fighters. For key events, they can swell their number to more than 50,000.

Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant

Neutron beam observed 13 times at crippled Fukushima nuke plant | Kyodo News
Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Wednesday it has observed a neutron beam, a kind of radioactive ray, 13 times on the premises of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant after it was crippled by the massive March 11 quake-tsunami disaster.

TEPCO, the operator of the nuclear plant, said the neutron beam measured about 1.5 kilometers southwest of the plant's No. 1 and 2 reactors over three days from March 13 and is equivalent to 0.01 to 0.02 microsieverts per hour and that this is not a dangerous level.

The utility firm said it will measure uranium and plutonium, which could emit a neutron beam, as well.

In the 1999 criticality accident at a nuclear fuel processing plant run by JCO Co. in Tokaimura, Ibaraki Prefecture, uranium broke apart continually in nuclear fission, causing a massive amount of neutron beams.

In the latest case at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, such a criticality accident has yet to happen.

But the measured neutron beam may be evidence that uranium and plutonium leaked from the plant's nuclear reactors and spent nuclear fuels have discharged a small amount of neutron beams through nuclear fission.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Nightwatch comments on Libya

NightWatch 20110322 - KGS
...Libya: Situation Highlights. Despite Coalition air attacks, Qadhafi's ground forces intensified their attacks against Misrata. At least 40 civilians died in the attacks, according to new reports. Qadhafi's forces continued to hold Ajdabiya, southeast of Tripoli and fought in Zintan.

A Libyan government aircraft was shot down in eastern Libya. Reporting does clarify whether it was a combat aircraft, but its destruction is a good indicator that the no-fly zone is working.

The commander of Libya's Al-Nusur Brigade was killed on 22 March near Tripoli, Al Jazeera reported. Hussein al-Warfalli reportedly was one of the most prominent commanders of the Qadhafi brigades, according to the report.

Comment: This is a single source report. What has been striking about Libyan forces in the past month is their initial utter incompetence, compared to their effectiveness in the past two weeks. Qadhafi's cohorts include, or included, some very competent tactical commanders, not including any of his sons.

By comparison, the rebels during this time have shown no capability to overthrow the Qadhafi regime, even with modern air support. Most are untrained, probably untrainable and resist leadership.

The news reports consistently show the opposition fighters as an ignorant mob that persists in wasting ammunition for the news cameras.

Unless tribal leaders put pressure on Qadhafi to leave, the opposition, at best, will succeed in fragmenting Libya, provided modern air support continues.

Coalition air forces have provided the anti-Qadhafi opposition a second chance at overthrowing the regime or at fragmenting the state. The opposition has yet to create a command structure or even designate a single spokesman. If the opposition fails now, then its revolution never had a chance.

The Coalition can disband, knowing it saved lives and created conditions for either a successful revolution or for a negotiated power-sharing arrangement. The Libyans must create the revolution because air forces cannot do more than create conditions for success, which they have. Aircraft cannot hold ground.

US: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told ABC News that she is aware of some people allegedly reaching out on behalf of Libyan leader Qadhafi to explore his options. Clinton said some of these actions are "theater," but some of are genuine.

France: Military operations over Libya will cease when Qadhafi's forces return to the barracks, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said 22 March. France will "take the initiative in organizing peace," as it did in organizing the military intervention, Juppe said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will comment on the Libyan peace in the coming days, he said. Juppe said Libya's future political regime is up to the Libyans and that the intervention aims to allow the Libyan people to express themselves freely and to have the choice of a democratic transition.

Comment: The French explanation of the end state and the ultimate political objectives of the military operations are succinct and clear: Qadhafi forces in barracks and a free and fair transition to democracy. Those define a successful operation....

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Westerwelle defends Germany's abstention amid Libya military action

Westerwelle defends Germany's abstention amid Libya military action - Monsters and Critics
Berlin - Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on Sunday defended Germany's decision not to deploy troops to help enforce a United Nations-mandated no-fly zone in Libya.

As one of the largest NATO states, Germany would have been called upon to contribute troops for the Libyan mission if it had voted in favour of the UN resolution, Westerwelle noted.

Germany, along with China, Brazil, India and Russia, abstained from Thursday's UN vote.

Westerwelle said his country will respect the resolution, noting that US troops can use their bases in Germany to implement it. But the German army 'will not be sent to Libya.'

Westerwelle dismissed the suggestion that Germany stood alone in its decision. Other countries in Europe and the international community have shown understanding for the move, he argued, pointing to Poland.

At the same time, he called on Libyan leader Moamer Gaddafi to abide by a ceasefire demanded by the international community. 'Colonel Gaddafi must stand down,' he said. He also suggested that sanctions against Gaddafi be expanded.

Westerwelle announced that Germany would provide 5 million euros (7 million dollars) in humanitarian aid for people in the Libyan border areas.

A French fighter jet launched the first attack Saturday evening, with US and British ships later firing more than 100 Tomahawk cruise missiles at air defences in a bid to stop Gaddafi from attacking anti-government rebels and civilians.

-- bth: useless.  Some say that Germany will provide money behind the scenes and other support, but if you look it over, $7 million is about 7 missiles and we've fired over 100.  Germany takes a powder. 

Negotiations appear to be going on with MQ in Tunisia

Libyan envoy's secret visit to Tunis exposed | Al Jazeera Blogs
Muammar Gaddafi has sent a top diplomat to Tunisia in what was supposed to be a secret visit.

Ali Treki, Libya's former foreign minister, is staying at the same hotel where Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary-General, is booked when he arrives on Tuesday.

When Nazanine Moshiri, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tunisia, uncovered Ali Treki's visit to Tunis, the Libyan diplomat responded with a burst of rage.

Treki, who was president of the UN General Assembly until September, berated the Al Jazeera team when they filmed him in the lobby of the Regency Hotel in Gammarth, a suburb north of Tunis, on Saturday afternoon.

"You animal, stop shooting," Treki told Samir Gharbiah, Al Jazeera's cameraman, as his security personnel attempted to block Al Jazeera from filming.

Security staff at the hotel, at the request of Treki, tried to destroy Al Jazeera's camera, and to confiscate the footage of Treki. They manhandled Gharbiah and producer Youssef Gaigi, pushing them out into the hotel carpark.

They refused to allow the Al Jazeera team to leave and physically prevented Moshiri from getting in the car, holding the journalists captive in the parking lot for nearly an hour.

It was only after the Tunisian police intervened that Moshiri and her team were freed, tapes in hand. The hotel’s manager apologised and tried to insist that no mention be made of the Regency in any reports about the incident, saying that it dampen the UN Secretary-General’s willingness to stay at the hotel during his coming visit.

Gaigi said the hotel manager’s change of stance came only after Al Jazeera had contacted the interior ministry.

"I believe he was under pressure from different people." Gaigi said.

Word had already spread on Twitter, and around 30 Libyan protesters arrived to demonstrate against the hotel's treatment of the journalists.

Apparently backing away from its support for Treki once the protesters arrived, the hotel permitted the protesters to raise the pre-Gaddafi Libyan flag that has been adopted by the Libyan opposition.

Gaddafi appointed Treki as his UN envoy on March 4, after Libya's previous representatives to the UN, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shelgham, and Ibrahim Dabbashi, distanced themselves from Gaddafi and played an instrumental role in passing Resolution 1970.

The US refused to allow Treki to travel to New York to take up the post. Treki must present himself in person to the Secretary-General in order to be accredited as his country's new ambassador.

In the meantime, Gaddafi has no representative at the UN, meaning he has no legal way to lobby support against block any resolutions concerning Libya.

Further evidence Canada isn't maintaining it's armed forces

PARIS (Reuters) – Canada backs the idea of taking swift military action in Libya but it would need two days to prepare its military aircraft for an operation, a government spokesman said during international talks in Paris.

"While Canada supports quick action, Canadian fighter jets have just reached the region and will require two days to prepare for any mission," a spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Reuters by email.

Earlier, a source close to the talks said France, Britain and Canada could launch a first wave of air strikes as soon as talks wind up on Saturday afternoon, with the aim of halting Muammar Gaddafi's latest advance on rebels.

- bth: pretty amazing that this country can't get fighters into the fight despite plenty of forewarning that something was going down.