and associated upheaval in Middle East and North Africa

It is not surprising that the US will not supply leadership to deal with the atrocious events which may take place.
It is up to Europe and the Arab states to act to prevent civil wars and restore civil law, even if a peraiod of martial law is inevitable on occasions.
These events are due to the failure of established regimes in the region to understand the effect of modern communications and education
combined with the partial collapse of the credit-based world economy, resulting in a growing number of young educated people with no prospect of
 employment and in some countries not enough affordable food to eat.

In the case of Libya, we should have acted on February 21st. Now, it is a disaster whatever the outcome.

On March 17th, nearly a month too late, we start to act. There are still the luxury-minded who think we can do nothing unless we get it perfectly right.
Sorry, its an imperfect world for very good reasons. All you guys do is stop us acting in time, stop us preparing in time, and then complain when it's a mess.
It's a mess anyway. There is an attack now on Benghazi with air strikes.
Get it into your heads. Iraq was right, both times, as was Afghanistan. A big mess, yes, because of no rational, coherent, collective, timely, authoritative policy.
That's democracy folks, don't you love it? This will be another big mess, but that's our fault as usual.
Still got to do it.

JANUARY 14th 2011

A state of emergency has been declared in Tunisia amid protests over corruption, unemployment and inflation.

The immediate problem is that the violent protestors are interested only in the government and the President resigning, right now. The President has done so.

The Prime Minister is seeking a unity government to prepare for elections.

These protestors are mainly young and many of them educated sufficiently to have expectations that in the present circumstances are unlikely to be fulfilled in the Tunisian economy. But they are not interested in discussing any political or economic programme or jobs created by the government. Their opinion of the credibility of the government and their President is such that they are intent now on bringing the establishment to its knees, but it is far from clear that they have the ways and memans to replace it. They are 'fed up with broken promises', mainly, it appears, because while promising better times the establishment has lived high on the hog.

Here is a classical case for the validity of multi-party politics, where a rational and credible opposition is needed.

As we know, communist parties have been feared in many countries ever since communism was associated not just with revolution but the end of free elections through instituted totalitarian dictatorship. The promise of better times through market economics and continual growth has therefore held the ring for many decades now; but the sharing of wealth through trickle-down was ever more dependent on growth regardless of the availability of resources and the ability of the environment to supply them and absorb the waste. Top-down application of tough management and a return to the economics of the shopkeeper will now see what is happening in Tunisia as a risk to be faced in a number of countries where the leadership cannot carry its people with it through the next decade as the world adjusts to a new phase, but the Communist label is unlikely to be the banner under which any future revolution will achieve political ascendance.

In Tunis, if there are political parties who can unite the country, they should be given the chance to produce programmes and a manifesto, not arrested.

The family of a detained Tunisian leftist still has no news of his fate two days after police snatched him from his home and now fears for his life, his daughter told AFP on Friday.
Hamma Hammami, 59-year-old leader of the banned Tunisian Workers' Communist Party (POCT), was grabbed on Wednesday amid mounting street protests against President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's authoritarian regime.
"We still have no news of my father. We fear for his life and for that of one of his lawyers, Mohamed Mzem, who was taken at the same time as him," said Nadia Hammami, speaking to AFP during a visit to France.

A critical moment has arrived and it has to be said that the Thomas Cook and Thompson travel companies are right to extract their customers.


JANUARY 15th 2011
A new PM is sworn in but chaos reigns

JANUARY 17th 2011
The international media has been surprisingly on the ball in recognising the significance of what is happening in Tunisia and how it could take a number of different turns, as well as triggering events in other middle eastern countries where regimes are repressive and the trickle-down of wealth not satisfying to new generations exposed to global access to education and views via the Internet. The combination of rising food prices, unemployment and corruption are the trigger but it is the situation as a whole as new global forces come into play that powers the events.

JANUARY 27th 2010

TUNIS (AFP) – Tunisia braced Friday for public reactions to a shake-up of the cabinet aimed at quelling huge daily protests that have called for a clean break with the regime of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.


Meanwhile the protests in Egypt against the regime, a direct consequence of events in Tunisia, have not yet been joined by the working population that has employment and less spare time for protests or belief in their efficacity to bring them relief from the narrow financial margins on which they live. But this may change.


JANUARY 28th 2011
The events in Cairo have now reached a point where President Mubarak must now address the nation. If his resignation were to bring peace, even temporarily, that might be seen in a positive light, but whoever takes over will have to have a presence and a policy that will in some way command support across a wide perspective and maintain order. Unless an individual or a party can rise to the occasion and communicate both hope and authority, that will be difficult.

Unfortunately the genuine distress of a significant part of the population is capable of being exploited by those who want to take power and impose a regime that would allow less freedom than they already have, and those who wish to gain from the disturbances by looting. There must be a better way, and it can be achieved.

JANUARY 31st 2011 (midnight)
I am much more optimistic now that the worst can be avoided. It just could be that what is happening is the least bad option. To put in place a new political system must, however, be done in two stages. The future regime will have to be a coalition, created to take over temporarily so that it can preprare the country for elections. That cannot be rushed, but the first stage must be put in hand urgently, with the support for its security ensured by the army and the police, but without their political domination, so that President Mubarak can retire.

FEBRUARY 1st 2011
9:40pm BST
President Mubarak has finally addressed the nation, stating that he will be standing down but before that he will instruct parliament to put in place the political reforms demanded and organise a peaceful transition of power after new elections. Unfortunately he has taken so long to understand what he should have done earlier that much has been said, and happened, to make the intervening period difficult. There is, it has to be said, a level of paranoia in the public mind in some urban centres as well as legitimate grievances. On the other hand there are plenty of sound minds among the general citizenry. Like many leaders who have been surrounded by a system they have created and kept in power, Mubarak may well have been unaware of some of the systemic abuse that has grown under his presidency. Whether he will be allowed to leave with dignity and had over rather than be ousted is still far from certain.

FEBRUARY 2nd 2011
It was a mistake of those who support Mubarak's proposals of a constitutional process of reform, elections and a new regime to confront the protesters in the central square. The police and army should have kept them apart, though that would admittedly not have been easy when the army and police had decided in public not to get involved in the political dispute. However, the suggestion by Jim Muir, a BBC correspondent, that the Mubarak supporters who were throwing missiles were criminals who had escaped from jails makes very little sense, however long he may have lived there. The peaceful ones were more likely to be people, including government employees, who realised that unless people got back to work there could be no progress in any direction. More violent may have been those whose homes  and business had been looted and working people whose jobs are being wrecked. Violence was likely to be inevitable, as before all the people in the square were broadly on the same side of the argument.

The fact remains that there was an element of tyranny in the Mubarak regime and the lesson of history is that tyranny is always, sooner or later overthrown, even if the aftermath for some time afterwards is chaos, anarchy and danger. A lot depends on whether tomorrow sees progress or more demonstrations.

600 were injured, one or two killed. The population of Egypt on February 2nd 2011 is approximately 77,156,667 most of whom were not present in demonstrations or involved in any way.

Meanwhile the Whitehouse spokesman in Washington seems to have difficulty stringing two words together. Funny appointment by a President who certainly can.

I don't myself see a danger for the region from this, other than the global danger emerging as the 'trickle-down' effect that allowed capitalism and free-market economics to share wealth fails due to the credit crunch and perceived and real limits on growth. Egypt's economy is dependent on tourism and its own agriculture. Democracy doesn't pay the rent or food bill. So yes, the whole region and the world are at risk, but this is nothing new.

From 2004 to 2008 Egypt aggressively pursued economic reforms to attract foreign investment and facilitate GDP growth, but has been postponing further economic reforms because of global economic turmoil. The international economic downturn slowed Egypt's GDP growth to 4.5% in 2009, predominately affecting export-oriented sectors, including manufacturing and tourism. Unemployment is rising. In 2009 the government implemented a $2.7 billion stimulus package favoring infrastructure projects and export subsidies, and is considering up to $3.3 billion in additional stimulus spending in 2010 to mitigate the slowdown in economic growth. The government of Prime Minister Ahmed NAZIF will need to restart economic reforms to attract foreign investment, boost growth, and improve economic conditions for the broader population. Despite high levels of economic growth over the past few years, living conditions for the average Egyptian remain poor.
  - extract from CIA docs.

FEBRUARY 3rd 2011
The UK media are as usual obsessed by the concept of 'power', and of leaders supposedly having it, wanting it and refusing to give it up. It seems to be the very nature of journalists that they resent humanity's 'managers' and cannot believe any motive other than the desires for fame, control and domination. Hosni Mubarak is so obviously a man motivated a simple aim - to do the job properly whatever it may be, that he could not conceivably be interested in hanging on to his job any longer than the constitution and good sense demands. There is no doubt he should have been far more of public figure, responding to his public, earlier, earning their confidence; but that has not been his way. He is a modest, serious, patriotic man. If his rule ends up with the army having to fire on civilians it will be a tragedy. Americans should remember, however, that they have had to fire on themselves from time to time when things go pear-shaped. They should also remember that one man's tyrant can be another man's saviour. Wasn't "Sic semper tyrannis" the remark of the man who shot Lincoln?

FEBRUARY 4th 2011
The opposing supporters are being kept apart. In spite of an apparent stalemate I am confident progress will be made in a handover of power. I will take some negotiations. If the Muslim Brotherhood do not take part, then they will not be to thank for the transition, but maybe their hands are tied. Mohamed ElBaradei
launched a bid for the presidency on Wednesday night out of a sense of duty and annoyance at the failure of Mubarak to ensure no violence between his supporters and opponents. But he does not want the Presidency if he can avoid it and still help to bring about a democratic system. We should remember that citizens can always elect a dictatorship but in these circumstances I am confident they will not.

FEBRUARY 6th 2011
I hear The Muslim Brotherhood joined  the negotiations yesterday. (see previous entry).

FEBRUARY 10th 2010
OK now we are getting some clarity. Mubarak is and has always been, as I imagined, only too ready to go if this would lead to a viable outcome not worse for more people than the status quo. But this is not the issue for the demonstratiors in the public square(s). They want regime change and a civilian populated regime.

But, excuse me if I have missed something obvious, is it not essential to have an election of some sort before you can appoint people to offices of state and the executive? Or do the 'negotiating parties' who have managed to get together with the current regime to discuss this intend to have it done behind closed doors, or if not behind closed doors at least without the approval of anyone other than the unemployed (I assume they ARE unemployed or on official leave or holiday) demonstrating in the squares, this approval being officially registered as given if they go home or back to work on hearing the news?

A million or two demonstrators decide they are satisfied and go home and that constitutes the election of an interim government? I don't think so. Constitutional methods are required, or martial law to keep the peace. The first is what we need, not the second. Then an election once everything to make it peaceful, free and fair has been put in place. If Mubarak were to resign the presidency, who would be president that would satisfy the demonstrators? They do not want the army to take over, nor are they ready to say who they wish to replace him, nor are they organised to run an election themselves. It is impossible to replace an entire power structure without well organised elections. People ask if the army will support Mubarak, burt the army just support peaceful, organised process to an election.

As for the US, the US President and the CIA, they should shut up and sit down.

FEBRUARY 11th 2011
Mubarak has officially resigned. Hardly surprising in the circumstances. At this point I would have done the same. If the crown in the streets are now happy, then it menas all they were after was punishment - punishment of a man who sat in the top chair while his state machine kept order in what they considered a cruel, repressive enforcement of authoritarian bureaucracy favouring his supporters while the latter and president got rich.

The 'High Council of the Armed Forces' are now charged with taking control. The strange thing is that they will not have any more idea of what to do next than Mubarak other than to announce that they will prepare the country for elections. The 'crowd is jubilant' we are told. If that is true and they go back to work then it is clear thatall they wanted was to punish and shame Mubarak. Revenge. That is what we have just witnessed. That won't get the pigs in, as they say in Ambridge. Democarcy can build stability if, as a bi-product, it builds an economy. That's a big 'if' in the current circumstances, but not impossible if the country and all its talents unite in the task.

It is said that Mubarak has put over 50 billion dollars, enough to pay off Egypt's foreign debt, into Swiss banks. If that is so, he has managed the economy rather better than other national leaders. It must have been obvious to him that in these circumstances the bank would deal with the funds according to any government succeeding his, so they will inherit a situation that is the reverse of David Cameron's in the UK: a destroyed political and social infrastructure but billions in the bank!

FEBRUARY 13th 2011
The news is on the whole good. The protestors have tidied the square, many have now left. The army has said they will prepare for proper elections, I think they will. Things are going to be rough, economically, but if there is some national unity they are better off with the freedoms they will have with a new regime.
Unemployment is the major problem, as it is becoming world-wide. In the UK we have been inclined to say education is the solution, but now we find our university graduates are unemployed as there are too many of them with too modest level of achievement and no growth in jobs that require them. The same applies to Egypt. It is good that Egyptians have opened up so they can debate the problems freely and take responsibility, but they will now join the biggest revolution in the history of humanity as we move to a different way of managing everything - finance, production, consumption, travel and communication of all kinds. Since this cannot be imposed from the top down (except by nature) we have to feel our way towards it as the pressures come into play. I wish Egyptians all the best, and hope they realise what lies ahead. When times are really tough, law enforcement can be come very brutal, no matter who is charged with enforcing it, unless the structure of society is coherent and inclusive and employs the talents of its citizens.  Egyptian police are hated already. There will have to be a police force in the future too. To re-staff and re-train it may mean re-financing it too if it runs on corrupt lines.

FEBRUARY 14th 2011

Egypt's new military authorities say they are dissolving parliament and suspending the constitution.

Hard to see what else they can do if they wish to be able to change anything or allow any ad hoc legal assembly to do so.
They call for an end to strikes. Yep, that makes sense. We'll see now how much sense the strikers have.

Meanwhile in Iran protest rising in sympathy is crushed, Algeria is under pressure though their history may deter another adventure, so painful have the past ones been.

FEBRUARY 15th 2011
Bahrain is now in trouble. That will need very careful handling. A demographic analysis is needed before any prognosis is possible.

FEBRUARY 16th 2011
Violence in Benghazi. Note: Gaddafi is sometimes spelt Gadaffi. Either way he's in trouble

FEBRUARY 18th 2011
While the upheaval has a both mixed an common sources, with the Internet playing a key role, the Sunni/Shia dispute a factor in some areas, not in others, American support for Israel as Democracy devalued by what has been seen as abuse of the peace process by both sides, a new educated youth movement with demands for jobs, the credit crunch affecting non-oil producers differently to others, all we can expect is for these upheavals to work themselves out. There will be deaths as in some cases law and order is enforced. I find it rather ironic when it is undubtedly preferable to be tear-gassed than shot that the UK should be criticized for exporting tear-gas. Should we have told them to buy tasers? The idea that all demonstrators are peaceful, bent on replacing autocratic regimes by benevolent democracies is just bollocks. On the other hand police who go in firing are unlikely to get a good result for their leaders.

I am still optimistic about the outcome in Egypt, but where are jobs and participation in the economy to come from? In Bahrain, rich from oil, how is this wealth to be shared? Should it be given away to the poor, should the dilapidated areas be taken over and repaired by the government and people told they can live there for free if the oil industry cannot employ them, or any commercial or agribusiness either? The competitive drive for efficiency hardly matches a growing world population without a new frontier and space is not that for the foreseeable future.

The material universe is fundamentally a free-lunch system based on inflation. Human economy and its principles are epiphenomena of the physical structure. We have to understand that and master it. That includes a phase change now on the surface of this planet. Every country in the world will be in deep doo-doo soon and I hope that will cause pennies to drop.

FEBRUARY 20th 2011
Libya moves toward civil war? That makes it a little clearer, civilians become soldiers and the population squares off - in theory that is. In practice, many people are not surrounded by people on the same side. Ideological cleansing or forced recruitment takes place. Whatever happens it will be painful.
If Libya goes tribal and the tribes unite against Gaddafi, his regime must fall. His son's address to the nation on TV did not go down well. The general opinion is that he repeated information fed to him by army and police commanders that was far from the truth. The difficulty in replacing a corrupt, repressive regime is how to replace the repression and corruption with a legitimate alternative hierarchy based on merit  and competency to keep the wheels of trade and commerce turning. The danger is that one bunch of cronies will be replaced by another and the disruption will mean inefficiency, cost inflations and strife. Nevertheless, these upheavals are inevitable even if the timing was not foreseen.

FEBRUARY 21st 2011
The Libyan representatives at the UN have publicly announced they no longer support Gaddafi and called for international action to protect the population. That must give very great support for those in the country calling for him to go but it is far from evident what can be done other than call for calm from all sides.

FEBRUARY 22nd 2011
Gaddafi finally goes on TV to fight back. It is clear he has been surrounded up to now by people who have not dared to speak the truth to him.

Sir John Holmes (
From January 2007 to August 2010 Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, ) was very clear when interviewed by the BBC on the limitations on any action that can be taken militarily on behalf of the UN to stop Gaddafi taking violent repressive action if he is not deposed by his own citizens. A no-fly zone is not something that can be put in place quickly and an invasion is equally impossible. Nor is it a good idea to give Gaddafi any excuse to plead raising national defence the reason for his 'cleansing the nation house by house' to remove rebels.

It seems to me that Gaddafi is cut off from reality, unaware of what is going on because none of those around him dare to talk to him. It could well be that those who are supposedly acting on his orders to fire on 'rebels' are not under his control, and that the army and police he now intends to use are no longer loyal to him but those who are fighting are concerned with their own survival. Let's face it, G is mad as a hatter. He was when he was a charismatic young man and he is worse now. He did quite a lot for Libya because he whipped it into economic health. Look what H did for Germany.


Sean O'Grady writing in the Independent puts the reason for all these troubles to come to the boil right now as clealry as anyone: it's economy and youth - the mismatch.

The current consensus seem to be that Gaddafi could try to take Tripoli down with him in a last stand. It will be up to his erstwhile supporters to prevent this.

It is perhaps a good moment to clear up a few misconceptions about the UK's relations with Gaddafi over the years.

After he took control in 1969 in a coup he took the post of Prime Minister but relimquished it in 1972 to become "Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" or "Leader and Guide of the Revolution". There was no question of his being overthrown by any western government coalition of the willing, diplomatically or otherwise, even if the US tried to 'take him out' at one point. Their efforts only contributed to his continued support of random terrorism against the UK.

Blair's aproach, initially derided by the US as impossible, was to convince Gaddafi his interests were best served by cooperation with the international community, which would remove sanctions if he abandoned his nuclear ambitions. Blair succeeded. I do not consider this to have been appeasement. It was in the very best interests of all the international community. [While on the subject of appeasement it should be noted that Neville Chamberlain was responsible for preparing Britains air defences while he was talking with Hitler and without the time he bought us we should have lost the Battle of Britain.]  Blair performed a great service also for the people of Libya. That they are now in a position to get rid of Gaddafi, hopefully without him destroying Libya or another country as well, is due to his achievement. The UK has nothing to apologise for, least of all to our American cousins over the Al Magrahi case which I have covered elsewhere, and not to the Libyan people either.

There is however no nationwide structure to take over. It will be hard to distinguish between mindless looters and those working to arm and sustain themselves so as to form a responsible citizenry for a new order. In this chaos there will be places where a bloodbath may be instigated by any armed goup of Gaddafi loyalists.

FEBRUARY 23rd 2011
On Feb 20th I wrote: "If the tribes unite against Gaddafi, he must fall". The corollary inverse is true: if Gaddafi continues with his policy of divide and rule, he can survive and in a civil war wreak terrible vengeance. Some years ago, Goerge Bush Senior encouraged the citizens of Irak to rise up against Saddam. They paid a terrible price when they did but got no help from outside. This shame was one of the drivers of Bush junior's determination to redeem the American reputation. Now, with the agony of Iraq and the world's criticism bearing down on them, American's are not going to go to war again to remove a tyrant in a hurry. America and Britain are cursed for intervention, cursed for negelect, and cursed for inventing and using the technology that needs the oil that brings these countries the only wealth in the last few centuries they have ever known, destroying as it did the agriculural and artisan based economies of previous cesturies and now eating the heart out of the economy and environment of the west and soon, China.

Many years ago a man called Aesop wrote some great fables. The lessons have to be learned again and again at every level of technological evolution. It's what we are here for!


FEBRUARY 24th 2011
As the Libyan financial system seizes up, Gaddafi's control of the tribal leaders who are dependent on his financial support is preventing them uniting. The old fox is using the tactics he mastered years ago. He is accountable to no constitution or social order other than the one he bankroles. That is why he was free to order the Lockerbie Bombing, even if it was to revenge the fatal, if unintentional, shooting down of an Iranian airliner by the American when it ignored a no-fly zone and was mistaken for a military movement. Handing over Al Magrahi went wrong for Gaddafi as he was unexpectedly found guilty and it became a priority for Gaddafi to get him back. His release, nonetheless, was legitmate on other grounds and in the view of many, including relatives of British victims, correct.

Perhaps those who think the removal of Saddam Hussein, BEFORE he had gained the kudos from the otherwise inevitable withdrawal of all coalition forces from the  area when the UN lost its nerve, was the worst of all choices, will now understand that it was the least bad of some really hideous alternatives. The Iraqi no-fly zones and sanctions could not have been maintained indefinitely and Saddam, richer and more dangerous than Gaddafi, with his sons to follow, would have presented the situation we have now in Libya in spades. As it is, what may happen in Libya now is not good. Those calling for air strikes should realise even those on the ground do not know who is the enemy.

FEBRUARY 25th 2011
Anti-government protesters in Tripoli have come under heavy gunfire, latest reports from the Libyan capital say.

Whatever needs to be done in UK interests for UK Nationals, or for the wider international community, or for the citizens of Libya, it might have been useful for us to have a carrier in the vicinity with a variety of helicopters and other aircraft. Elsewhere on this web site I have said that we should plan to have 2 carriers or at least, with the French, 3 between us. I assumed then that the carrier hiatus was temporary and I still take that for granted. Finding the finance for what is essential is never a problem. I also trust that this episode will help some of our media commentators to understand why Saddam Hussein had to go. It was necessary, so it was done. It was not in the economic interest of the US, as critics pretended; just necessary.

FEBRUARY 26th 2011
Now we have a hiatus and a stand-off. Gaddafi and his followers hold most of Tripoli. They have arms and funds, no matter what is frozen in foreign banks. The rest of the country is substantially in the hands of those who have rejected his authority and his credibility. Neither side can accept defeat and both fear the vengeance of the other should they ever surrender. While there is talk of referring matter to the International Criminal Court it seems to me this is an internal matter and the only way out to avoid a violent end is for the Gaddafi faction to formally request an official international intervention with UN forces to hold the ring temporarily.
This is unlikely. It is also hard to see any country being able to offer Gaddafi asylum.

Evacuations continue: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12588947

FEBRUARY 27th 2011
Speaking on the BBC Andrew Marr programme, Mr Hague said: "Of course, it is time for Colonel Gaddafi to go, that is the best hope for Libya."

Quite so. The problem is how to arrange this. A man in charge of a capital city, even if he has lost control of a country, will want to do a deal a bit better that asking to be arrested and taken to the ICC in handcuffs. How do you separate the responsibility of a leader from his followers and from the rest of the country when it comes to holding them responsible for things that have gone wrong to the point of being classified as crimes? The judges of Nuremburg were lucky to have their scarificial goats and a dictator who had already taken his own life.

The human rights absolutists who bay for blood have never known the burden of power. The wooly minded liberal journalists who see, with what they believe are their sharp eyes, the end of a western capitalist empire that supported dictators in the name of trade and raw materials are in denial of their own involvement up to their necks over the whole of history, and denial of the role of all the trade and exploitation in bringing the only prosperity that could ever have been achieved. Jeremy Bentham, you should be living at this hour to see the twisted chortles of the chatterati as they stand on the sidelines, unable to answer the riddle you posed, and I must resist the temptation to stand on the sideline of the sideline ridiculing them as the cliff they are standing on gives way.

The UK Government has done a good job with the evacuation, just as it did a good job dealing with Gaddafi over the years, at every stage, as those who were paying attention at the time were well aware, whether it was Tory or Labour.

Gaddafi's family is not, I venture to say, the same terrorist based clique as Saddam's. Those who ridicule Tony Blair's phone calls to the old man should realise that if there is a chance of a less than bloody end to this tale it should be the one to choose while choice remains. Gaddafi junior has his hands full. All the international community can do in this stand-off is an arms embargo, freezing funds and travel bans
where appropriate, get the adrenaline level down and give humanitarian help. Gaddafi's supporters will desert him and those who are needed to run things can start to return. That's the best case scenario. There are others.


Although I am dependent on our media for my intelligence, as they have the people on the ground, protected by the conventions that protect journalists though more these days get killed, the media criticism of government operations added to the media's disregard for the secrecy need to make our military and civilain rescue operations secure is pretty annoying. But that's life, I guess, only those in the actual hot seats know the real heat. The chatterati fuckwits are something we will always live with - and sometimes die with.

FEBRUARY 28th 2011
There is a live BBC site reporting from Libya: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-12307698

This came to my attention:

Glenn Greenwald - Writing in SALON - Monday, Feb 28, 2011 09:29 ET

U.S. shields foreign mercenaries in Libya to protect Bush officials


Having read what Greenwald has to say In my opinion there is a lot more than self-defence in the US insistance on protecting 'mercenaries' from the absolute jurisdiction of the ICC that such a resolution would imply. Soldiers thrown into battle at the bidding of coalitions or the UN or their own government are an easy target for recriminations when plans go pearshaped and a well planned use of force gives way to all-out scraps for survival on the ground. The concept of total war is denied by many current international agreements, and we have some pride in this. The theory of nuclear deterrence is based on the implicit acknowledgement of the inhumanity of a nuclear strike. But the standards we expect of the leaders of democratic states can result in too much being expected of those at the coal-face sent to fight on behalf of others. The United Nations is hard pressed to find troops that can manintain its own ideals.

The buck stops at the top. The protection of executive heads of state with whom the buck stops is assured only by democratic systems where there is freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. That is why Tony Blair and George Bush are not war criminals any more than their countrymen or political supporters or opponents. 

Now that we have a stand-off situation acknowldeged in Libya I hope that preparations for a no-fly zone have been progressing. It is not something that can be imposed without a lot of planning and UN approval and cooperation.

MARCH 2nd 2011
While Col Gaddafi can play any game he chooses and adopt any tactics that suit his strategy, the international community is strangled by its own liberal lawyers and media who disapproved of Saddam's removal, who have crippled the only armed forces available to enforce UN resolutions with political correctness, and therefore leave the citizens of any country now to the mercy of whatever loonies, spurred on by their own self-belief and personal ambition, can hold the ring. It is not just the caution of China and Russia in approving intervention - their caution is perfectly reasonable. It is the knowledge that all the deluded dictators have that now even the US has its hands tied that gives then a free hand. The result could even be that Libya is stuck with Gaddafi for some time in a civil war that drags on for weeks or even months. While Gaddafi claims to hold now power himself he has made damned sure nobody else does either or dares to take it while he is around. Divide and rule was his method. That is why we have a situation where his pilots are sent off to bomb targets and miss them, while other forces which have arms carry out various raids to retake towns and sirfields lost to those rising in revolt. Those involved have no alternative but to go along with whatever crowd they find themselves in, motivated by fear of the mob or of the ICC or the revenge of tribal rivals. Personally I hope all the armchair
international lawyers are going to be taught one hell of a lesson, though many our suffering for it to be learned. Giving Gaddafi no way out, with a travel ban and and arrest warrant all we offer, while we can do nothing on the ground or in the air, is not clever.

Also in my sights are those commentators who blame British 'interference' in the Middle East and Africa for problems arising today. I think history will judge our policies and actions in these areas as the best ever in their history. If we have been seen to support dictatorial rulers, that is because they have been the best available. If wealth has come to these places it has been due to the successful exploitation iof their assets. If these have not been equitably shared due to a lack of education, literacy or women's rights, that has not been due to any UK cultural pressures, quite the reverse. If we have made mistakes, they have been few, though probably under pressure and with disproportionately spectacularly public results. There was for instance no reason for Nasser to seize the Suez canal and if it hadn't been for the appalling Eisenhower he would have given it back pretty quickly. We have been blamed for 'assembling' states with mixed tribal, ethnic and religious populations - yes, we did that. There was very little alternative and more good than ill came of it. It should be noted that the people fleeing the troubles in Libya now, the people who have been making things run, are of a great mix of races, religions and nationalities.

Gaddafi is now saying his supporters will fght to the last man. What the hell for? As far as he is concerned it is for him. But suddenly he is calling for freedom of speech, and freedom of participation in government. Let's face it, he has built a system he can't handle, rather like the Wizard of Oz, with no structure, built on his control of the wealth to satisfy the loyalties of the other tribes. We now need as much calm as possible. He will aim to get a settlement with all the defecting elements. They will want his resignation. He holds the best arms and trained soldiers. In spite of his claims ot the contrary he is charge of his side of this divide.

MARCH 3rd 2011
Here is some essential reading if you want to get a grip on what is going on in Libya

It is important to appreciate that there is no absolute right on any side in these social upheavals. Peaceful protests are never wholly peaceful, they are always joined by every shade of citizenry ranging from the innocent oppresed to violent criminals. One man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist, one man's dictator is another man's guarantee of security. Every police force contains its hidden torturers, every army its bullies. The rule of law is a numbers game at the end of the day and Gaddafi has been thrown to the wolves by the Arab League and the UN, the EU and western media, all wanting to be on the right side of history.

There is no need to be cynical about these things, but it helps to understand that illusion and delusion play a big part. There is nobody around to take over from the leaders of old-fashioned regimes based on traditional, authoritarian principles that have descended from family and tribal authority and associated military structures. The history of Athens and Sparta, Rome and Carthage and all of history since then should be sufficient to stop us jumping to conclusions other than if there is something to be done, 'twere best done quickly. That is no longer allowed in the current political environment so we shall have to suffer the consequences of a drawn-out series of half-hearted mistakes on all sides.

We would do well to recall that Aesop was a slave, not a celebrity, and that pride comes before a fall - certainly Colonel Gaddafi is a monument to that.

MARCH 6th 2011
Observers say the overall balance of power is difficult to assess as the struggle for control over Libya continues
I have no recommendations to make, as I am sure none of my recommendations on anything would be acceptable to public opinion and these days, the public are in charge.

MARCH 7th 2011
On March 3rd I mentioned the possibility of some half-hearted mistakes we would probably make. Here's one we got wrong:

MARCH 10th 2011
The headline in The Independent is WHY WON'T THE WORLD HELP US!

The answer is because the world is run by people who, to get elected, have fawned and crept and begged to 'the people', the loudmouthed ignorant masses and the loudmouthed ignorant celebrities and our appalling media who have to be placated nowadays in every democracy, people who expect their children to be employed in an army that never puts them in harms way, who think that existing international law, always based on past experience, should be the guide as to how to deal with NEW situations and the next dictator who knows how impotent it will be.

The 'World' they are calling out to is run by lawyers, trade unionists, liberals, so called 'teachers' and experts who set themselves exams and promote their friends and beliefs in economics and politics as if they were truths. Who repeat such idiocies as "All men are created equal" when what they mean is "all men should be equal before the civil and criminal law, and equality of opportunity should be the aim of society". Who thought Iraqis alone should be able to get rid of Saddam, and that he and his unnacountable wealth and modus operandi was not a threat to world peace in th future. Who think the wretched Tony Bair is a war criminal. Who think,when awful things happen, things could have been better if they had done nothing.

France has had the guts to recognise the National Transitional Council as the legitimate leadership of Lybia. That's because France has a President who is a leader and couldn't give a stuff what the French think about him or about anything else, and so they will dump him when his term ends and I think he will be happy to move on. I congratulate him. I would not vote for anyone that a majority in the UK or France would now vote for. My contempt for the majority public opinion these days is beyond measure. Meantime we have to wait for the UN to approve any help for Libyans, while those who won't intervene urge them on to slaughter.

My fellow world citizens, you are a sickening lot. I hope climate change does for you all - no, just the excess. That does not include the many lovely, realistic, brave, imaginative people I know and make my life a joy. But you should all stop blaming politicians of left or right or centre for what happens on this planet. It is you, the public, that sit there in for instance the audience I have just watched in Edinburgh while the awful David Dimbleby plays to the camera, applauding or not on matters you don't understand at all, who have put the planet's affairs at home and abroad where they now are. This evening a silly woman complained that the Duke of York was 'not accountable' and his volunteering work was worthless and his behaviour unacceptable. For once there were a few people on the panel to suggest politely that maybe she didn't know what she was talking about - not that the panel were making much sense either on most items.


MARCH 12th 2011
My congratulations to the BBC's JOHN SIMPSON on his superb musings on Radio 4's "From Our Own Correspondent", in which he pointed out how our western liberal democracies, with their sensibilities about the loss of any human life, were the effective agent of bringing down benevolent if less than democratic leaders while giving a free line to the ones who don't give a fig who they massacre to keep their rule intact and free from any obligations.
All revolutions are different. Each has it's own character. But a large part of their success or failure often hinges on whether the army stays loyal to the regime. And in Libya much of the military has indeed stood by Colonel Gaddafi. There's a growing sense that he's there to stay. Right up on the front lines, John Simpson has been watching this drama play out....and he reflects now on some of the defining rhythms of revolutions....

My congratulations again to France and President Sarkozy. If there was a decent coalition of the willing we should ignore the rest of the world, and ignore the casualties and sort the place out. The country can't function anyway until all the foreign workers go back in, as nobody else will do any manual work in what is required. However, we are stymied by the people our universities have turned out over the past decades so there is no chance.

Incidentally, setting up a no fly zone need not start by taking out all the Libyan defences. Gaddafi can be given options. Air defences and airfilelds can be taken out as and when he uses them to target his own people or allied air forces. I don't agree with the modern American approach of destroying everything you know about before taking any patrols.

MARCH 15th 2011
Gaddafi is taking Ajdabiya, massacring indescriminately.
Residents of the city of 140,000 streamed out, fleeing toward Benghazi, 140 miles (200 kilometers) to the northeast. But warplanes and artillery were striking roads in and out of Ajdabiya, several witnesses and fighters said. Some reported private cars had been hit, but the reports could not be independently confirmed. They spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation from Gadhafi' regime.
As if anything else could conceivably have happened once Gadaffi knew we hadn't the will or the perceived self-interest to stop him.
Now the fools of political correctness who think there are international laws that tyrants respect will impose sanctions and more misery on the wretched inhabitants of Libya.

Now Bahrain is in serious trouble due to poor handling of the situation by the government. This is because they had absolutely no appreciation of the combined effect of the Internet and the global financial crash on their populations, increasingly educated after a fashion and increasingly unemployed except by al Qaida.

Meantime our glorious Independent newspaper has come out with a leader saying we can do nothing in Libya without full UN approval. Bollocks. I mysekf have written that we should have that before even promising it, but we are not going to get it so stuff it. My message to the Independent is this:

Your leader on Libya and International Law represents all that is truly appalling about the UK and public opinion today. International law has never and will never stop anything from happening.

It does have a use. It can as always be written in hindsight and used to show, like litmus paper, when it is being flouted. It can never be applied against a transgressor who has, by definition, decided to flout it in its latest version, other than by a coalition of the willing and the decent.

Your position would be tenable only if you, and our politicians, refused to comment on any rebellion against abusive and undemocratic regimes until an international position had been agreed that international law would be enforced in the case at issue. International law, just as domestic, is only valid if enforced by the sovereign power - in this case the UN [see Hobbes]. As it is you despicably side with people you are not prepared to help and encourage them to suicide.

With this leader your paper has irrevocably joined the rest of the media pack of despicable whores, but now you are the most shameful. I am glad now I refused to be talked into a subscription by the pleasant young lady from your marketing department who spent 10 minutes on the phone. In future I shall never buy your paper and when I wish to get a printed copy to see what more sickening stuff you write I shall steal one.

Up yours.

In your leader you write: "The risks [of a no fly zone] cannot be underestimated". Oh yes they can, only to easily.

Perhaps you mean the risks cannot be overestimated (if you mean they are great), or should not be underestimated (if you think they could be and probably are being).

If you are going to write a mixture of obvious wisdom and ignorant rubbish, at least get the grammar write so that we can tell which is which. But then I guess you went to university so have an excuse.

MARCH 16th 2011
Conflicting reports on
Ajdabiya: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12756874
Benghazi threatened: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20110316/ts_nm/us_libya
State of emergency in Bahrain: http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/King_of_Bahrain_declares_state_of_emergency

MARCH 17th 2011 - am.
As Gaddafi mops up in the west and launches an assault with air-strikes on Benghazi, we wait for permission from the Security Council.
Some council, some security.
William Hague, who I thought was a waffler, is coming through but late. In the US Richard Lugar, who I always greatly respected since back in the 1980s, is waffling. Relax, Richard. It's not your call. It's not the US leading. You are called on by a coalition of the willing and will provide all the key stuff as ever. We hope for full Security Council support but we are going anyway. Will we get it right? Probably not. Expect a mess. It has got to be a no-drive and no-fire zone of course, that was a given once Gaddafi got his army on the move.

Midnight - at last the UN Security Council comes up with the required resolution.

The UN Security Council has backed a no-fly zone over Libya and "all necessary measures" short of an invasion "to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas".

The UK, France and Lebanon proposed the council resolution, with US support.

That was the right way to do it, but it is also important to understand that the Security Council went along because they all realised that if they had not, we would have done it anyway. The global social contract is valid only if enforced. If those fuckwits who are asking 'if here, why not everywhere' are still asking and are really too dim to figure it out, the answer is because it is not possible to do it everywhere at once, and not possible find the means in particular places or the people to do it, but everywhere it is possible the appropriate action should be taken. This is the appropriate action in this case in Libya. It is very late because well-meaning ignoramuses make it so difficult to do the right thing at the right time in the right place. That is because their conception of life, the universe and everything is less than childish - indeed that is an insult to children.

All the caveats and problems are well understood, and Gaddafi will threaten us all with terror and revenge from now to eternity, I have no doubt. He could do no other. By his own lights he is doing the right thing.

There will now be a chorus from those who say it will be impossible to know how much force the UN has sanctioned by those acting under its resolution. Regime change, they will say, is not the aim. So if Gaddafi pulls his cease-fire stunt, can we take out his tanks? The answer is obviously yes, as he is going to use them against his own people, nobody else. There is no way any other country is going to invade Libya, the UN would happily approve its defence by the same players now defending its civilians. Libya is not going to invade any other country. So until Gaddafi decides to renounce terrorism publicly his tanks could be taken out if they are seen to pose a threat, such as they would if they went anywhere near Benghazi or anywhere else in Libya other than their own bases.

Rory Stewart wants a coalition including Brazil, India, etc etc. If they wish to join and give support, fine. But most countries just want to keep their heads down. The aim, in this case, is regime change unless the regime stops threatening crazy behaviour. At the moment that is the reverse of the actual position. The ceasefire declared by a spokesman for the Libyan 'regime' is not happening.

Media gurus are desperate to claim along with Cameron that this is nothing like Tony Blair's 'Iraq adventure'. In fact, it is far more precipitous and unplanned. Never has an action been more discussed than the invasion of Iraq. Unfortunately because of those who did not approve of it, no postwar planning was permitted while there was a chance of calling off the invasion itself. This operation risks being a cock-up because it is too sudden and too late, due to the crippling stupidity of the same lawyers who think criminals, or the more than averagely deluded, or those with nothing to lose, give a tuppenny damn for the law if it is not enforced when it clearly can be. Cock-up or not, it needs to be done.

MARCH 18th 2011
Gaddafi is given an ultimatum

MARCH 19th 2011
Thanks to the delay over the past weeks in taking any significant action, Gaddafi has managed to get tanks into the urban areas and now it seems even into Benghazi. They can be attacked from the air there only with great difficulty and risk of collateral damage, a route we are only too familiar with in other cases. This means that 'all necessary action' as required by the UN could mean retaliation against Gaddafi's assets outside urban areas, wherever they are, until his tanks are withdrawn back to their bases.

Those who claim that there is a clear plan, an end-game strategy, and an objective that will define success are still dreaming of a world they were taught as obedient pupils in business school or the military. Great ideas to aim for whenever possible; but join the real world and learn how it came into being. It is a great enterprise, not subject to the level of thinking that gets either applauded or booed by the audience of Question Time. There is a chance now for skills and courage to make the best of the worst of times but the local, the individual and the short  term future are always uncertain.  As for those physicists who say that somewhere there is a version of the world where it all goes well, or really disastrously, regardless of the one you experience, dear reader, they are mistaken. Watch and learn or, if you are in the thick of it, good luck.

[While on the subject of UN intervention, it is painfully obvious that Mugabe in Zimbabwe should have been dealt with with UN authority on the grounds that he was murdering and torturing and wrecking his whole country; but it was and is impossible because (a) there is no way to separate the combatants, (b) the political lead at the UN cannot be taken by ex-colonial powers, whose 'guilt' of some sort is assumed on the grounds that their behaviour fell short in the past of ideals set by a mix of academics in ivory towers and those who claim to have been dispossessed of something they either never had in the first place or had lost anyway and (c) 'boots on the ground' that could be trusted are hard to find these days in the numbers required, let alone a command structure to control them in Zimbabwe. That leaves a coalition of willing African states, and where there's a will there's a won't.].

Gaddafi's reponse to an attack on his military is to threaten civilians, throughout Europe and America, as well as in Libya. In these circumstances it is hard to understand see how claims of hypocrisy agains the UN or the coalition hold up. It looks to me as if the right thing is being done everywhere it can be. If you look back to the entry here on Fen 28th you will see that I trusted the no-fly zone was being prepared out of sight so it could be ready when the political mood was right. It was.

Attacks on Gaddafi's air defences and other military targets commence.
As expected, he claims innocence, victimhood and that invaders are after Libya's oil, somehow forgetting the world pays for the oil and Libya gets the money, it's up to the Libyan government who they contract with to extract it and on what terms, and the Libyans will be able to choose their government once he steps down, even if it takes a while to run elections.

MARCH 20th 2011
I assume the worst case scenario now is that Gaddafi somehow manages to keep control, through finance and fear, of his regime. He could try to cutt off food, electricity and water from urban centres held by opponents. He will arm those who claim to support him and encourage them to terrorise and snipe against there opponents and destroy their assets. That, plus attempted revenge terrorism against assets of UN members supporting the UN resolution, constitutes a typiclal bad case scenario which needs to be faced. A better case is that his supporters take a positive view to a new interim constitution and a period in which order can be regained and elections prepared with UN help and full support from the international community. That would require some tribal cohesion and a rapid reorganisation of state fiinance to keep things running. Unfortunately, many key people who could manage that may have left the country. As I have already said, this will be a big mess whatever the scenario, but the current stage had to be reached even if there is stalemate for a bit.

Gaddafi vows a 'long war'.

After an attack by French planes, some 14 bodies were lying near destroyed military vehicles outside the rebel-held city of Benghazi, Reuters says.

The head of the Arab League has criticised the bombardments.

His comments are significant because the Arab League's support for the no-fly zone was a key factor in getting UN Security Council backing for the resolution authorising the move.

"What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians," said Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

Hmmm... I would have though the people next to the destroyed military vehicles attacking Benghazi would be military, not civil, unless they were captured humn shields strapped to the vehicles, or civilian bodies placed there by Gaddafi's troops to produce the desired evidence. They have plenty of bodies to put there after all. Before the UN force was operations Gaddafi's forces were killing civilians in Benghazi.

On verra...

French aircraft resume enforcement of the no fly zone. There are no unauthorized flights.
but we can expect all and every desperate measure from those who are tied, willing or unwilling, to Gaddafi's support and destiny. He will have no rules to play by so we can expect the worst.

10pm:  In yet another contradiction Gaddafi's army spokesman announces yet another ceasefire:

TRIPOLI (AFP) – Explosions rocked Tripoli Sunday as allied forces tightened enforcement of a UN resolution aimed at halting Libyan leader Moamer Kadhafi's attacks on civilians in suppressing a month-long uprising.

As warplanes took off from Italian bases and anti-aircraft guns roared in the Libyan capital, Kadhafi's army announced a new ceasefire, saying it was heeding an African Union call for an immediate cessation of hostilities.

"I sincerely hope and urge the Libyan authorities to keep their word," United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a swift reaction during a visit to Libya's eastern neighbour Egypt.

"They have been continuing to attack the civilian population. This (offer) has to be verified and tested," he told a news conference in Cairo.


Although this was reported on the BBC Radio News, the BBC news web site has not yet featured this lateswt ceasefire. I take trhis to be an indication of the scepticism with which it is treated. Meantime Gaddafi has got his tanks into Misrata, rendering them safer from coalition attack. He is aiming for a standoff and a war of nerves and propaganda. How fitting that we should just have been treated on TV to a rerun of Powell and Pressburgers wonderful Colonel Blimp film with its lessons on how to deal with an enemy who does not play fair, surrounded by supporters whose hands he has steeped in blood and now dare not change sides. It's a tale as old as time, but ever since Nuremburg there has been a way to deal with the leaders without revenge on the followers.

There was a moment in the last century when some in the US decided they should wait to see who came out on top in Europe and then make friends with them. There are commentators in the UK who think today we should have stood back and waited to see who survived in Libya once again and then make friends, even if it was Gaddafi again. Foreign policy has to be heartless, they say, that is the only decent ethical position. And then again there are those who disagree - not on blind obstinate principle but in considered judgement and choice and an eye to the future. These have won the argument this time, for the moment; and against the argument "if in Libya why not elsewhere or anywhere" they have the counter-argument: "in Lybia, now, so as not to have to do it everywhere, endlessly". Humans, the intelligent ape, still learn by imitation.

Gaddafi's men will be using civilian human shields in places, because that is what they do. Free will is a state of mind that has to be achieved. Only then can it be put to the service of a reasonable cause beyond the narrow confines of the ego. Mindful of the trap Gaddafi was setting, British Tornado pilots and their command aborted a bombing raid last night at the last minute.

6:00pm BST
Oh thats's a swell idea from Gaddafi! Voluntary human shields!!! Poor sods. There is a chance if you do the shield job you could surive. If you refuse, you are toast. He must be flooded with volunteers. As for targetting Gaddafi personally, its not a practical possibility. However, if it was and doing it could stop the war, of course it would be permitted under the existing resolution. That is not the case at the moment though, so the generals are right. It's strictly off limits. Why is it so difficult for BBC news presenters to understand this? It is so, so very simple.

MARCH 22nd 2011 Mid-day
The inhabitants of Misrata are now in hell. That is not good. But barring boots on the ground from a seaborne invasion it is hard to see how to get a grip. Gaddafi has cut off foo, water and electricity as he was certain to do.That is not to say that if we had done nothing it would have been better. Far from it. Gaddafi will encourage civil war with mastery, knowing that those he arms will stick together like glue, murdering even their previous friends if they can keep alive by so doing.     He has flattened a mosque in Misrata. An American fighter has crashed an hour's drive out of Benghazi due to mechanical trouble. Crew are OK.

MARCH 23rd 2011
The commander of British aircraft operating over Libya has said that Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's air force "no longer exists as a fighting force".


Maybe so, and very efficiently done, but don't forget we are in the era of asymmetric warfare.

MARCH 24th 2011
NATO takes over the No Fly operations. Other measures to try to protect the civilian population remain the prerogative of the ad-hoc coalition as now, which appears to be able to work together quite well. More than 350 planes involved in the whole operation.

MARCH 25th 2011

Nato will be able to take over command of the entire military operation in Libya within days, according to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague.

He said he had "every expectation" the alliance would assume full command, instead of enforcing only the no-fly zone and the arms embargo.

Coalition forces are into a seventh day of military action over Libya to enforce the UN resolution.

Mr Hague insisted there was no split in the international community.

"If the Gaddafi regime think the international will and unity on this is faltering in any way, they are in for quite a surprise," he said.


MARCH 26th 2011 - evening
Libyan rebels have pushed on westwards after recapturing the key oil town of Ajdabiya from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces.

March 27th 2011
Libyan rebels have recaptured three more towns and are moving quickly towards Muammar Gaddafi's heartland.

Now we get to a difficult and dangerous moment. Difficult and dangerous in the short term and in the longer term. In the interests of the country the Gaddafi 'regime', if that is the right expression for it, should negotiate. It should not expect its soldiers to take part in a civil war in which one side has air cover and the other not, and where its soldiers are at risk if they obey orders, while they (the regime) murder those who do not support them and pretend the UN and its enforcement agents are responsible. What happens next at Sirte will give a guide to what could be done. They have to look forward to a Libyan population that is reconciled personally and tribally and defended by a unified army that can defend the country from external intrusion by terrorists or other hostile elements. It's a big place, but its manageable for a number of reasons due to, as well as in spite of, limited roads and structural assets.

NATO takes full charge of air operations over Libya
I hope it goes well and casualties are held to the minimum. I hope that those who took part the discussions on the EIES system in New Jersey in the 1980s, when such NATO operations were anticipated, will remember what was said. The point was made that if we succeeded as some of us intended to end the Cold War, NATO would have to remain until an even wider based organisation was formed to enforce UN resolutions. Gaddafi's spokesman pretends the operations are no longer necessary as their army is no longer attacking. However, this not true for Misrata in the west and since key oil ports and refineries in the east are now in the hands of the rebel provisional authorities and troops we must assume they intend to attack in due course if they have the means to do so. If they were to declare otherwise publicy at the UN, that would be another matter.

MARCH 28th 2011
I am not in the least surprised that Sirte has stopped the rebels in their tracks. None of the other towns they 'took' had any Gaddafi supporters anyway. Sirte probably has nothing but Gaddafi supporters, since they are relatwed to him utterly dependent on him and have been doing OK by him. If the rebels want to go in and talk, unarmed, they may be welcomed. They might well decide that was far too dangerous and they would never be able to leave. But NATO can't help them here.

Indeed the BBC's Ben Brown's absurd triumphalist reporting of how NATO has been effectively the rebel airforce has served to really mislead the rebels and the international community. NATO could now have to defend civilians in Sirte and Tripoli if they were shelled by the rebels!

However, I am quite sure the 'rebels' have no intention of doing that. They wish only to have their country freed from a ruthless dictator who, far from being unpredictable as pundits and politicians keep repeating, is only too predictable. He intends to continue to rule the tribes of Libya and the various social layers of Libya, and to ignore any move to the type of constitution that exists in other countries, while pretending to be the powerless supporter of the Libyan people, enshrined by their love. Misrata is now the place where a crucial stage in this civil war is to be resolved.

Once again, media reporting and media perceptions play an unwanted role in publicly estimating the rectitude or inappropriateness of military actions and thereby affecting the motivation of the unfortunate people caught in the crossfire, usually causing casualties on both side, prolonging and fostering distrust and enmity, all in the cause of having their brave reporters bring the world the news. I can just about take John Simpson, but not much else.


MARCH 29th 2011
It is quite obvious that unless and until Gaddafi's army deserts him, the no-fly operation can only ensure a stand-off. Even a no-drive zone cannot get Gaddafi to go if his army remains loyal and other citizens cannot undermine it. This is the point I have made from the start.

Jock Stirrup has made the point today: the UK needs to limit its commitment to allow for other contingencies, so this no-fly zone cannot go on indefinitely with the resources now allocated for UK defence forces as a whole.

The London conference today on the Libyan question will no doubt address the problems.


Strikes on Libya will continue until Col Gaddafi meets UN terms, stops attacking civilians and pulls back his forces, the US's Hillary Clinton tells a meeting of allied leaders in London

I have to say that the gung-ho media reporting and what looked like on-the-ground approval and encouragement of hopelessly undermanned and underequipped Libyan citizens has caused them to be overstretched and now as a result they have had cruel reverses and lost some small towns they had gained.

As I write this, William Haig has just finished a very competent intoduction to the news-conference at the end of the London Conference. He has introduced the PM of Qatar, who summed up the position, thanked the countries enforcing the UN resolution 1973. 40 countries are represented here.

The questions which followed were extremely well, and fully answered by both the UK Foreign Secretary and the Qatar Prime Minister.

The illegitimacy of the Gaddafi regime was agreed by all those who supported the UN resolution, all at the conference and naturally all the countries involved in the implementation. Sweden, not a NATO member, has today joined the last category. That is why, in spite of great difficulties, the policy is not falling apart.

Next we heard from Hillary Clinton, who pronounces the T in parTners as a T, I am glad to report, thereby presenting a reasonably cowboy-free face of America. The fact that most of her other Ts are Ds is of course necessary for any US public speaker trying to come over as cool, powerful but kind, polite but not to be messed with.

She also fielded question very well. Asked for a timeline, or a definitive future for Gaddafi other than arrest and trial at the very end, Mrs Clinton admitted there were too many unknown elements to give any certain answers to those questions. On the arming of the Libyan opposition she said the International Community was just getting to know the Provisional Transitional Council representing free Libya; that the UN resolution did not forbid arming or financing but at the moment there was an arms embargo that was holding firm and there had been no discussion at the conference on supplying arms.

One reality remains, which I will repeat one more time: the Libyan population is not politically united, tribally or otherwise. Unless steps are taken to design a better outcome, with dialogue that leads to a new constitution, the country that was united under a tyranny will remain in civil war one way or another even if Gaddafi were to go. We should not forget that all the worlds democracies emerged from bloody civil wars - and latterly they were bombed into democracy. There is no other way. All we can hope for is to get it over with as quickly as possible in this modern age, as 100 years wars are out of date given modern technology. As a pacifist at heart, I have never been as deluded as those who thought there was ever another way to peace but war until we reach a new level of awareness.

MARCH 30th 2011
If, as according to NATO/US/Coalition forces, Gaddafi's "Command and Control has been seriously degraded or destroyed", it doesn't seem to make much difference. Are we on the same planet here?

by Marc Burleigh Marc Burleigh11:30 am

UQAYLA, Libya (AFP) – Loyalist forces overran the Libyan oil town of Ras Lanuf on Wednesday, scattering outgunned rebels as world powers debated arming the rag-tag band of fighters seeking to oust Moamer Kadhafi.

AFP reporters quoting rebel fighters said Kadhafi's troops swept through Ras Lanuf, strategic for its oil refinery, blazing away with tanks and heavy artillery fire soon after dawn.

Panicked rebels fled in their hundreds through Uqayla, 20 kilometres (12 miles) east of Ras Lanuf, calling for coalition air strikes on Kadhafi's forces.

"We want the French to bomb the (Kadhafi) soldiers," said fighter Ali Atia al-Faturi, as the sound of shelling and gunfire grew louder. Hundreds of cars and pickup trucks sped from Uqayla towards Brega, the next main town, some 240 kilometres (150 miles) south of the rebel stronghold Benghazi.

"We are facing a big problem. We are pulling back," said another one fighter, Salama Dadida.

"Kadhafi's troops are firing rockets and tank shells," he said.


This is now a complex situation. If Gaddafi's forces are 'blazing away with tanks and heavy artillery' to retake Ras Lanuf, were there no civilians their to protect?

It would seem to me that these forces should have been informed by air-drop that the should desist or be halted by airborn attack. It was folly to encourage the rebel forces to remove the lightly armed garrison only to have it replaced by an imprgenable, heavily armed one. Again, this encouragement did not come from our armed forces, it would appear, but by the blasted media.

Gaddafi's personal fate is up to his own countrymen and women

MARCH 31st 2011
A propos of my last remark, we now have an extreme example: Moussa Koussa, a man previously not only close to Gaddafi but involved in his security service, a man who by following Gaddafi's lead has (allegedly) approved of extra-judicial executions, has decided to jump. He took a private flight from Tunis and handed himself in to the UK government.

Due to the history with which he is connected dating back quite a few years now, he is being held in secure surroundings during his interrogation. He is not being offered immunity and asylum or freedom in the UK, but he is offered the protection of the law. What does that mean? He will not be treated brutally in any demeaning way but may, depending on the case he makes prima facie, be detained until he is brought before a national or international judge, charged with specific crimes. From my point of view, if this was the man who negotiated with the UK to bring Libya out of the nuclear danger zone, he has a lot that can be said in mitigation. As a Libyan he was working patriotically for his country and many a man has made a few mistakes doing that. If he helps to avoid unnecessary strife and death now, it would be perverse to punish him unduly.


Meanwhile back in Libya, the freedom-fighters and their cause are still suffering from the catastrophically foolish advances they made when they had not the slightest chance of consolidating and holding the towns and ports that welcomed them, misled by the usual American guff of premature victory based on 'degradation of the command and control' of Gaddafi's military. When will these pompous prigs learn that terror and self-interest overrule any technological command and control system, and when will they stop encouraging simple suffering inhabitants of the Old World from rushing to their destruction, prematurely following daft American dreams.

I have no doubt that through the 'fell chance of circumstance' and 'bludgeonings of chance' a greater freedom and democracy will emerge across the Old World. But as the good Al Haig once reminded us, "America was spawned in violence". It seems they are intent on others emerging into the new world in similar pain. They have not even learned the lesson of Vietnam - a great success they see as a failure, carried out with a total lack of comprehension of what was happening or why, with, as a result, incredible human and ecological damage to both sides. I am not saying it could have happened any other way, just that the lesson was never understood - that technology alone is powerless. They are doing the right thing, and they are as so often, doin' it wrong. It can of course come through OK.

APRIL 1st 2011
Civilian casualties: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12931731
Moussa Koussa profile: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12915987

It should be obvious to anyone with half a brain that Moussa Koussa has been a man who throughout his whole life has done what he believed to be the right thing. He thought the IRA were 'the good guys', as did many who saw only the errors made at times by the protestant majority in the North of Ireland, or by the British army who went to protect the Catholics and ended up, under pressure, firing mistakenly on the unarmed. The situation, historical perspective and emotional position of individuals is subjective to a degree dependent on the intensity of their experience.

No doubt in the 1970s and for some time after he saw Gaddafi as the only hope for a united Libya, the lesser of far from ideal or democratic options. Over the years, he learned a lot and became a sadder, wiser man. He talked Gaddafi into compensation for Lockerbie, offering up a man for trial, and agreeing to cease a nuclear programme. But after publicly announcing a ceasefire during the current civil war, only to see it broken by the man he represented, it was clear he continued only under protest and ended up withdrawing his support for Gaddafi and his followers. No man starting out in life as Moussa Koussa, living and remaining in Libya and doing his best, could have achieved very much more in the circumstances.

APRIL 3rd 2011
As a reminder of the subjectivity of the human experience, it is useful for the reader to peruse the following, whiuch refers to the current happenings in Cote d'Ivoire which I have made a point of not commenting on. There are those who are for ever talking about 'double standards', and ask why there is intervention in Libya but not simultaneously in all the other  places on the surface of the planet where civilians are under threat from soldiers, or their governments, or even themselves.

Ivorian state TV, which is controlled by Mr Gbagbo, accused French troops of preparing a genocide like the one in Rwanda in 1994, when more than 800,000 people were killed.

A strap line on state TV on Sunday read: "[French President Nicolas] Sarkozy's men are preparing a Rwandan genocide in Ivory Coast. Ivorians, let us go out en masse and occupy the streets. Let us stay standing."

Mr Sarkozy has called a cabinet meeting for Sunday afternoon to discuss the crisis in Ivory Coast.


I make no comment other than to observe interventions that have to be approved and second-guessed domestically by the spoiled citizens of the developed western countries, whose governments are held to account by the world as well as their own electorates, are unsurprisingly kept to a minimum. It is also worth while remembering that anywhere a reasonably stable multiparty democracy exists today, it has been either the outcome of civil wars fought to a standstill or an external bombing campaign, or both. However, the international community is actually FAR MORE involved in the Ivory Coast than it is in Libya and has been for some time, with UN forces on the ground. The result is still chaos, civil war and massacres. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-12951990

APRIL 3rd 2011
A Turkish hospital ship is treating the wounded from Misrata

APRIL 6th 2011
Gbagbo is now holed up in his cellar, still refusing to admit he lost the election, ready to surrender only on his own unacceptable terms and asking for UN protection. The reply will be a major assault in the building to get him out, alive if possible.

In Libya, Misrata is suffering. I am afraid we were so slow off the mark Gaddafi manged to get too much armour into the town and/or hidden. This is going to be a tough one. Gaddafi's troops are disguiding themselves as rebels. Meanwhile we hear from the ICC:

The government planned to crush protests by killing civilians even before the uprising in Libya broke out, the International Criminal Court says.


On Wednesday afternoon, it reported that British jets had hit targets around Sirte and Misrata, attacking armoured fighting vehicles and tanks.

APRIL 7th 2011
The commander of Libya's rebel forces has said Nato apologised for mistakenly hitting a column of rebel tanks near the eastern town of Ajdabiya.

Even though NATO was informed of the movement of these troops, the news apparently did not get to the pilots.
Why? Inadequate communications systems.


Nato has refused to apologise for a "friendly fire" attack on rebel tanks in eastern Libya that killed at least four people.

Rear Adm Russ Harding said that, until Thursday's incident, Nato had not been aware that rebel troops had started to use tanks.

I find that hard to understand. The whole world knew they had a few tanks. There is clearly a failure to set up proper intelligence and communication systems.
in any event, actively refusing to apologise, thereby blaming it on those on the ground failing to communicate clearly, is going much too far in the other direction. Soldiers are not necessarily diplomats, The Rear Admiral in question should be removed from all microphones, if he is to remain in command. That is if.

APRIL 10th
24 Tanks were destroyed by NATO in the past 24 hrs, as they attaccked Misrata and Ajdabiya. I think we got the right ones this time; but the battles continue.
Calls for a cease-fire grow.

Late night news: Gaddafi in talks with African leaders has accepted term for a possible cease fire and a 'roadmap' for ending the conflict. The African delegation will travel to Benghazi tomorrow to meet the Interim Provisional Authority.

APRIL 11th 2011
Gbagbo has at last been found and arrested.
There is now a chance, at least, of peace and reconciliation.

APRIL 13th 2011
Mubarak is detained and accused of embezzlement of state funds in Egypt. He denies this. In Ivory Coast the recently elected leader has taken control and the arrested Gbagbo has advised his supporters to cease hostilities and work for reconciliation.

In Lybia, matters are more complex. A conference has been called in Qatar for representatives of the region, NATO etc who wish to see Gaddafi go to discuss the next stages. The BBC's James Robbins says it a concisely as possible:

There are three main areas of discussion in Qatar. Firstly to intensify pressure on Col Gaddafi to leave office. Britain, France and others would like to see specific language in the documents from this meeting saying that he has to go. The last meeting in London merely said that he had lost legitimacy. Getting agreement on that could be quite difficult.

The second thing is to look further into Libya's future and give more active encouragement to political development by the opposition - so they can offer a more fleshed-out alternative to Col Gaddafi. The third thing is the possibility of setting up an international fund so countries can donate money directly to help support essential services in rebel-held cities.

See the BBC's fuller report: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13058694

Later: The Qatar meeting calls for Gaddafi to go: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13058694

AJDABIYA, Libya – NATO launched new airstrikes Wednesday on targets held by Moammar Gadhafi as rebel leaders urged a stronger air campaign that will allow them to advance on Gadhafi's territory.

APRIL 14th 2011

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev reiterated Moscow's view that the UN resolution on Libya did not authorise the use of force.

He was speaking at a meeting of the "Brics" group of five emerging nations - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

After the meeting in China, the five said they shared "the principle that the use of force should be avoided".

I don't agree. The UN resolution authorises the measures necessary to prevent Gaddafi's forces from carrying out his declared objective of invading all the towns that resist his un-ligitimised and now illigitimate rule, and killing or imprisoning (killing was what he advocated) all of the inhabitants. That, in my book, is not just the 'use of force' by Gaddafi. It is using tyranny and terror to maintain an illigitimate regime. He will have his supporters, no doubt, who he has kept financed. Nobody in Tripoly is going to stand up just now either as an alternative leader or to head a rebellion, it would be folly. Such is the nature of tyranny and terror.

Meanwhile NATO Foreign Ministers meet in Berlin.

They say they need more planes and pilots - have a look here

APRIL 16th 2011
In my opinion the gloves have to come off now. I do not think a further resolution is required, or any more parliamentary discussion. It is obligatory to stop Gaddafi. UN approval would be nice, and would bring credit on the UN, but it its absence is not excuse for moral turpitude by Britain France and the US.
and we would be guilty of that if we hid behind the paralysis of of the UN. I would be the first to admit that without our boots on the ground it is very difficult. So, what's new about that?

APRIL 17th
Cameron has confirmed once again that we are not going to put boots on the ground. That means we are going to be a lot smarter in the air and in our financial and technical support for those on the ground opposing Gaddafi. It is rather difficult these days to distinguish between stupidity and lack of legitimate self-interest. The international community is dependent on its world-wide security in trade, these days, to provide a level of employment that maintains the peace, domestically as well as internationally. Our liberal-minded lawyers believe that (for example) making piracy illegal will prevent it happening. When are they going to be put out to grass so that we can get to grips with the real world? There are no deterrents that work against people who have no safe haven if they follow the law. The social contract, domestic and international, is only valid if it is enforced by the sovereign power. The way to deal with pirates is to blast them, not arrest them. The same will apply in other circumstances on land. The really appalling error is in waiting foir things to get out of hand before enforcing this. As a result hundreds, maybe thousands of innocent people will die, as collateral damage on the sea and on land.

APRIL 18th
Misrata fears massacre: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13102164
All the UK can do is help evacuate some wounded and migrant workers: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13115874

APRIL 19th
British military officers will be sent to Libya to advise rebels fighting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's forces, the UK government has said.
That will not help them much in Misrata. In Benghazi it could help with communications and logistics.
No doubt we will hear complaints about 'mission creep' and 'lack of an exit strategy' now from people who have not only no real political or military knowledge but need to be told that the whole of life on this planet and evolution itself is mission creep, that there IS NO EXIT STRATEGY, and that is the beginning of wisdom. 'Doing the right thing' will always be costly. We could lose. But if we want to build on our European heritage of an attempt at civilization, we must see it through, whatever it takes and however long.

APRIL 21st 2011
For some reason Gaddafi's spokesman has apologised for the death of a British and a US cameramen/reporter. Hard to understand, when they have been slinging shells and mortars around regardless of who they hit. There has been some progress by the rebels near the Tunsiam border, and the US has approved the use of drones, which give a better low-level close-up view of embedded and hidden positions of Gaddafi's troops and material.

APRIL 22nd 2011    Here is the problem I foresaw on February 20th. If the tribes unite against Gaddafi, he must fall. If they do not, it is another ball game altogether

Libya crisis: Misrata tribes 'may fight rebels'

 Fighting in Misrata has claimed hundreds of lives with no sign of a breakthrough for either side

Tribes loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi have said that if the army cannot drive rebels from the besieged port city of Misrata, they will, a senior official says.


But perhaps they might join the rebels if what they want is for trade and commerce to recommence.

Why is it that western politicians and military advisers appear to be oblivious of the consequences of the disruption to trade and commerce caused by military interventions. Misrata, sitting where it does next to Tripoli as a major commercial hub and port, has been brought to a standstill. The tribal chiefs of western Lybia and their followers cannot  maintain their economic structure, so even if they would be glad to see the back of Gaddafi, like Mussolini he keot the trains runs running. Fascism and tryranny, 'if it gets the pigs in', is better than war at a stalemate. The only solution the west ever had in a hiatus like this was American Money, to hold the fort till Misrata is back on-line. But America doesn't have any of its own these days, so that would be the IMF?. Looks like time for Germany to come up with a Mars(c)hall plan - trouble is Germany is still dithering on whether to save the EU...... Yes, you are right, we just have to stop talking 20th century economics and think global, while keeping the accounts properly and never again à la Grèque or Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac.

The big Libyan question now is this: do the tribes whose economic existence is threatened by the disruption in Misrata just want the disruption to cease, or do they want Gaddafi to remain? Gaddafi has conflated the two, to confuse us.

If Gaddafi were to withdraw his troops and the tribes/tribal representatives were welcomed in, unarmed, and commerce in Misrata to recommence, that would satisfy their real needs - unless Gaddafi has them on a system of payola that genuine trade and commerce cannot continue to provide. If that is the case, an unsatisfactory temporary financial hiatus has to be fudged to maintain the peace, as has been done elsewhere, until a real economy builds. Because Libya has oil, this is however quite possible. The support plan would be only temporary. We should call Gaddafi's bluff on this. To get Libya 'running' again all those who left will have to return. Gaddafi cannot keep the rtribes happy if Libya is not fully functional, and it cannot be fully functional again now unless he goes.

APRIL 25th 2011
An attack on Gaddafi's headquarters is, as far as NATO is concerned, obviously a legitimate target as long as he persists publicly in launching attacks on the people of Misrata. It is hard to see how it can be regarded as personal. All he has to do to avoid NATO strikes is to stop the attacks on Misrata. It seems he was not there anyway, but the aim to deny it as an operations base has been achieved. Another aim would have been to tell all those who assemble to plan attacks on Misrata that they are a target wherever they are.

APRIL 29th 2011
There is nothing to write here about the wretched happenings in Syria. Without a powerful confident leader to control the police and army, and speak properly to the people in language they can understand, the events that are occurring are hardly surprising. There is little action the EU, the UN or others can do at this juncture.

The problem the Syrian regime has is easily demonstrated here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economy_of_Syria

The regime does not have a solution, the population, growing rapidly in numbers and exopectations are rebelling against their rulers, whose only response is to enforce order through force and fear.

APRIL 30th 2011
A Nato spokesman said the strike had hit a "known command and control building in the Bab al-Azizya neighbourhood".

Libya says it was an attack on Gaddafi and family. Reporters ay it was an armed bunker but was equipped for habitation.


Be in no doubt Gaddafi knows exactly what places are likely to be struck by NATO, which places are ambiguous, and where he decides to put himself and members of his family so as to either survive or act as shields or as a propaganda weapon. The NATO targets are sites directly implicated in directing the mass killing of civilian populations. All this could stop tomorrow of course if Gaddafi used his authority to cease these deliberate killings.

MAY 16th 2011
So, where have we got to?
Misrata has been through terrible times but may be turning the corner. Unfortunately the dilemmas facing NATO and the countries supporting the relevant UN resolution have not diminished. The military planners say we have to increase the pressure now, significantly, to avoid settling into a stalemate. We have to make it easy for the Libyan people to see Gaddafi will not be their leader at the end of this and that it is time to face reality and move to a better future. There is political backing for this in the NATO countries involved in active strikes who do not want a longer continued conflict. On the UN side, there are voices wishing to avoid any further suffering by the civilian population, who call for a cease fire to allow access to supply medical aid and food. This would be ideal, but Gaddafi has shown what he does in a cease-fire so he would have to make the first move. There is a third movement stemming from the ICC that intends to issue an arrest warrant for Gaddafi, which is why he has now gone to ground where, he says, he cannot be found except in the hearts of his loving people.

If we rule out the future being a Libya returned to the control of Gaddafi and his economic management of tribes and supporter through offers they can't refuse, then the sooner we bring courage to the population that the alternative outcome is the only one that will bring adequate peace and stability. If infrastructure of strategic value to Gaddafi has to be destroyed, the sooner any infrastructure necessary for a return to economic stability is repaired, and the key personnel who have fled the country can return, the better.

Gaddafi's regime obviously intends to ignore any ICC warrant, not being a signatory.

MAY 26th 2011
Gaddafi's people are trying to sell a new plan for peace after a continuation by NATO allies of the pressure on his military installations. They will get some support from Russia no doubt. The G8 summit, expected top deal with important global issues, will have it attention now diverted to managing the fallout of the Arab Spring as it is now known. The money needed to fund the emergent Arab societies is, unfortunately, in the bank-accounts of the old Arab societies or the cofferes of the new growth nations that are not in the G8! That is quite funny (for those with a sense of humour) and quite a headache for the IMF and associated organastions. Christine Lagarde has always been the top of my list. Nobody is more realistic yet imaginative or competent. I hope she is elected.

They also have an E-G8 to discuss the Internet, of which I approve. Freedom is not anarchy. The technocrat Internet enthusiasts believ technology, not regulation, can solve the problems of abuse. Those of us with experience of the real world (remarkably lacking amongst some young technos as we have witnessed) know that technology can ONLY solve problems in a non-anarchic context. With some wisdom, even better and freer. In France there has never been the Two Cultures divide to the same extent as in parts of the anglo-saxon world. We should listen and learn. It's a two-way-plus dialogue. I am a Sarkozy supporter - that means talking and doing imaginative things and in so doing avoid later regulation to correct a position wrecked by negelect.

MAY 27th 2011

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – Russia joined Western leaders on Friday in urging Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi to step down and offered to mediate his departure, in an important boost to NATO powers seeking to end his 41-year rule.

It was a striking change in tone from Kremlin criticism of NATO air strikes in Libya, which are officially intended to protect civilians in a civil war but have effectively put the West on the side of rebels seeking Gaddafi's removal.

Good. A careful but important and helpful move.
and more....
G8 has got a broad combination of countries to save the new democratic regimes from financial collapse. It's essential.

JUNE 4th 2011
British Apaches and French airborne forces put in some precision attacks on Gaddafi's key facilities, while Hague is in Benghazi talking to the 'rebels' about the political roadmap.

JUNE 7th 2011
Here, in a nutshell, is the problem with Gaddafi. First he announces he has no choice but to stay in his country, dead or alive. Well that's fine. All he has to do is declare a real cease fire and agree conditions that he can be taken into protective custody of his choosing under some international supoervision, as he steps down from his position which is, although he denies it, head of state and and commander of the army - and has been for just a bit too long. However, he then says he wants to fight to the death.


and here is why Gaddafi has his supporters: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110608/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ml_libya_pro_gadhafi_women

As is all such instances, all over the world, support goes largely on the 'what's in it for me' basis.

JUNE 11th 2011                SYRIA
Turkey has risen to the occasion magnificently to offer sanctuary to refugees from Syria, where Assad has clearly lost control to his ruthless brother and the group who do not believe in relinquishing their autocratic rule and will stop at nothing to impose it. It is never easy to accept change when centuries of history have piled up evidence against the suitability of western style democracy for eastern or middle-eastern countries. Nevertheless, now the world has a global cultural interconnection through cyberspace, change is inevitable. Unfortunately successful progress is far from assured.
I do not know how the above link will update, but Turkey is expanding it refugee camps as I write and equipping them to a high standard.

JUNE 12th 2011
I am very glad to hear on BBC's World at One on BBC Radio 4 today that it is understood that the absence of economic and cultural progress in depth, in formerly suppressed countries, has not prepared them for an instant social-democratic, sustainable  future. In the hiatus, al Qaida and other destructive and violent movements can cause serious trouble. As long as this is fully understood, the international community can act sensibly and supportively through what looks a really rough period.

June 16th 2011
Jeremy Bowen on The World at One (BBC Radio 4) said it all in just a minute or two. There is no going back, it will take time, it is still going to hurt. 5-10 years before free and fair elections can lead to a functioning democracy in most of these places. 7 days left to listen: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b011x1q1
Meanwhile in the immediate scene:

TRIPOLI, Libya – Hours after NATO airstrikes pounded the area near Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound again before dawn Thursday, Russia's envoy to Libya turned up at a bombing site while on a visit to Tripoli for talks on ending the civil war.

Italy's foreign minister, meanwhile, said his government was calling together tribal leaders from all parts of Libya for a meeting to promote reconciliation.


JUNE 17th 2011
Morocco -
Syria - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-13812882
Libya - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-13815393

JUNE 19th 2011    Libya Summary

Nato has flown more than 11,000 sorties since operations began, including almost 4,400 strike attacks against government targets across Libya.

Its mission - to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to protect civilians using "all necessary measures" short of a ground invasion - began in March in response to Col Muammar Gaddafi's violent response to an uprising.

It was mandated by the UN, and led by France, Britain and the US until the end of March, when Nato took over.

Having initially been given 90 days - which would have run out on 27 June - the mission has been extended for a further 90 days.

Libyan rebels hold a third of the country in the east and pockets in the west, including Misrata, although Tripoli remains under government control.


Nato has admitted "a weapons systems failure" may have led to civilian casualties in Sunday morning's air strike in the Libyan capital, Tripoli.



JUNE 20th 2011
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad maintains a tough line in the face of anti-government protests, but says a national dialogue on reform will begin.

It is very hard to get inside the heads of the different players in the Syrian drama. It started from a position of rigidity and historic stasis into which the 'modern' world intruded interactively. Each group has reacted to this unplanned intrusion and its outcomes. It will take time and a fair amount of hurt before anything better emerges but dialogue, or jaw-jaw as Churchill called it, is better than war.

JUNE 24th 2011
The Libyan rebels in the east are in close contact with an underground network of opponents of Col Muammar Gaddafi in Tripoli, the BBC has learnt.

JUNE 27th 2011
The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi, accusing him of crimes against humanity.

JULY 2nd 2011
Gaddafi intends to strike back by sending urban guerillas abroad. This was to be expected. The moment the international community took sides in Libya's internal war, those who implemented to aerial support took this risk on board. Listening to Gaddafi trying to launch this initiative over loudspeakers in public, we heard the voice of a man who has lost all restraint. He has lost family and friends in this conflict, which for him has always been a matter of life and death. It was ever thus.

JULY 27th

William Hague has said the UK will recognise the Libyan rebel council as the "sole governmental authority", as Gaddafi-regime diplomats are expelled.

The Libyan charge d'affaires was called to the Foreign Office earlier to be told he and other diplomats must leave.
Instead the UK will ask the National Transitional Council to appoint a new diplomatic envoy.
It follows similar moves by the US and France. The UK previously said it recognised "countries not governments"


We have military and political stalemate just now but I am optimistic on the outcome. The problem is Gaddafi himself. Now indicted by the International Court, internal refuge for him in Libya is theoretically ruled out. Exile is a problem as he refuses even if there were a country happy to take him and ignore the International Court. So troubles still lie ahead.

JULY 30th 2011
Two days ago...

Libyan rebel commander Gen Abdel Fattah Younes was shot dead by a militia linked to his own side, a rebel minister has said.

Ali Tarhouni said Gen Younes was killed by members of the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade, which is an Islamist group.

It has taken 2 days to establish the facts, whch indicate the rebel command is infltrated by Islamic hard-liners, enemies of both Gaddafi and a new secular state. Their aim is to discredit European and world support for a new Libya free from tyranny of any sort. Gaddafi will use the episode to claim that he alone can hold Libya together. He could even have sponsored the attack by a backdoor route. Up to the rebels now to get it together.

AUGUST 2nd 2011
The expression being endlessly repeated is that 'there is no appetite for international intervention in Syria'. Why is this so? Because unfortunately there is no coherent opposition, just a lot of frightened, rebellious citizens facing a coherent, brutal miltary machine, being wielded by an equally frightened ruling class. There is no call from the Arab states for help, either. There is effective civil war in places. The hope is, however, that peaceful resistance will eventually topple the regime. There is some common ground in the UN Security Council but very little idea of what to do. The answer is a completely united approach to Assad with a reform plan that the whole UN will back politically, and financially through the IMF and World Bank. Far too bold I am afraid to get approval.

AUGUST 3rd 2011
Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak has denied charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters, on the opening day of his trial in Cairo.

So once again we are looking at deniability, responsibilty and the removal of those in power from the brutality of the coal-face which supports the civilization they claim the credit for. The Egyptian people will be dealing their own. They will be able to show us how they do it in the 21st century. Hosni Mubarak is no Saddam Hussein. They will have to decide what he could and should have done, and the things he ought not to have done, given the time, the means and the men at his disposal.

AUGUST 17th 2011
Lybian forces loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi are fighting rebels for control of a coastal oil refinery in Zawiya, just 50km (30 miles) west of Tripoli.
We are reaching the critical stage when Tripoli may become beseiged. That will be the moment its inhabitants must make up their mind. They will have to join a non-Gaddafian future, or fight it out. That would mean either retaking lost towns outside Tripoli or a bloody struggle for Tripoli itself.

AUGUST 18th 2011

Syria unrest: World leaders call for Assad to step down


AUGUST 20th 2011
Explosions and sustained gunfire have been heard in parts of Tripoli, as rebels close in on the Libyan capital.

AUGUST 21st 2011
In Tripoli, there are up to 100.000 soldiers bound to defend Gaddafi until they get different orders. There are a great many people whose bread is buttered by a Gaddafi-led regime. There are tribal loyalties that bind as well as those that confront, and after all, in Tripoli we must expect to find the crews that would rather go down with the ship as they fear for their future in a Gaddafi-free world.

It would be great if there could be a cease fire, but it looks like the only way to get it would be a long, drawn out seige of the city, offering free passage to all who chose to leave. That would require the setting up a substantial reception area and a massive support program until a consensus and modus vivendi is retored in the capital. Quite possible in the global financial scenario of a decade or two ago, but in a world where economists don't understand politics and the public is totally confused as the mathematics is way beyond them as is the politics, that's not so easy to set up.

But it seems to be going much better than I thought!

A convoy of Libyan rebels has rolled into central Tripoli past celebrating crowds after a day of heavy fighting in and around the capital.

They appeared to meet little resistance and civilians emerged to cheer them, waving flags and firing celebratory shots as they passed in their pick-ups.

AUGUST 22nd 2011

 Fighting rages near Gaddafi compound

It is not over yet. Gaddafi, having warned life will be hell if the rebels take over, will now make sure it is, through terror and sabotage. However, he may well start to lack followers.

AUGUST 23rd 2011
Libyan rebels have taken over Col Muammar Gaddafi's compound in Tripoli, one of the final areas under the Libyan leader's control.

It is quite possible that many mercenaries and other Gaddafi supporters have gone off to the mountains. There is a lot of ammunition still around somewhere. Tripoli is looking calmer now and more under control of the rebels, now recognised as the interim administration by many countries. But Gaddafi is not a man to go quietly. There are miles of underground tunnels connected to the compound.

AUGUST 24th 2011
Gaddafi is offered free passage out of the country by the National Transitional Council (NTC). That's a good move. Better out than in.
There is also a million dollar bounty on his head, dead or alive. That's a good alternative. Choice is good, we all think these days.
The NTC is due to come from Benghazi to establish an interim government but no doubt they will wait for a bit more security before arrival.

AUGUST 26th 2011
British Tornado jets fired precision-guided missiles against a large bunker in Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi's hometown of Sirte, the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.

AUGUST 27th 2011
A week ago I pointed out that unless a different approach to invading and bringing Tripoli to its knees was adopted, there would be some problems. The breakdown of government, water supplies, electricity and many communications systems just for starters. I am not saying the approach adopted was not the least bad option, but the problems now encountered could hardly be unexpected. If the running of Tripoli depended on people who are now dead or have resigned to look after whatever hidden wealth they may have accumulated, they will need to be replaced or return to their posts. Were there once again no proper plans, or were better plans impossible?

AUGUST 30th 2011
It transpires that the lack of water in Tripoli is due to the cutting of electrical power at a key town where the pumping station brings water from the underground aquifer in the desert to the south. The location is still held by Gaddafi loyalists. They are presumably now playing a bargaining game.

Meanwhile Gaddafi supporters in Sirte are still refusing to surrender. They will have to if a heavy death toll is to be avoided.

SEPTEMBER 1st 2011
Libya's fugitive ex-leader Col Muammar Gaddafi says he will continue to fight his enemies, in an audio message carried by a loyalist TV channel.
Meanwhile, senior diplomats are meeting in Paris for a major international conference on Libya's future.

The conference is well timed - perfectly timed in fact. We have to give Cameron and Sarkozy top marks. It made it easy for the NTC to give Sirte another week to come to sense. If Gaddafi is not actually in that town, they can be given time to realise on their own the conflict must cease. All that is needed is that the process continue and the NTC move steadily to establish law and order, some economic norms and the essential utilities, particularly power at the pumping stations.

In calling for his followers "to fight a guerilla war" Gadaffi has effectively acknowledged in public that he has lost all legitimacy and majority civilian support.

SEPTEMBER 5th 2011
The new provisional government is being delayed by the hospitality (ha ha) being offered to Gaddafi's sons in Bani Walid, a city of some 50,000 inhabitants 150km (95 miles) south-east of Tripoli. Col Gaddafi is reputed to have a lots of support there, though the city is mixed in its make-up. It is a stronghold for the Warfalla tribe. In his defiant audio message on 1 September, the fugitive leader referred to it as "an armed fortress".

The enforcement of the 'law of hospitality' is of course just a form of terrorism, like any mafia boss uses. As soon as they can get rid of the key Gaddafi loyalists the inhabitants will accept the new interim government.  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-14751660

Meanwhile there are complaints raised that when Gaddafi renounced nucear weapons it was still a mistake for the UK security services to cooperate with him, knowing that he did not share our scruples on how to treat prisoners or suspects. The current head of the NTC's military forces wants an apology for his delivery by MI6 to the hands of the man whose overthrow we now approve. I guess an apology of sorts is in order, but in the circumstances any security service faced with the option of a non-nuclear Gaddafi as a friend as opposed to a nuclear one as an enemy should expect their choice to be accepted as a reasonable option. This probem has arisen with every country we have to dea with. Because of our incrediby lax and vague system of identity, immigration and residence law, we are known to be the sfe haven for thousands of people regarded elsewhere as either terrorists or criminals or individuals dedicated to the overthrow of governments we recognise as legitimate. There are no clear answers here to satisfy all sides.

SEPTEMBER 6th 2011

An armed convoy of at least 50 vehicles from Libya has crossed over the southern desert border into Niger.

The convoy is believed to be carrying mainly Tuareg fighters recruited by fugitive Libyan leader Col Muammar Gaddafi to fight for his regime.The new Libyan authorities say the convoy was carrying gold and money.

SEPTEMBER 13th 2011
The NTC is now established in Tripoli.
While this is not the end of the process it is now irreversible and war may continue with Gaddaffi supporters this file is closed barring exceptional events.

SEPT 17th 2011

OCTOBER 3rd 2011

Hundreds of residents flee Sirte


OCTOBER 17th 2011

NTC forces claim Bani Walid advance


Syria: 'Renewed deadly clashes in Homs'


The events in Syria are truly appalling. The regime is treating its citizens with contempt. But in this confused history the misunderstandings on all sides are immense and catastrophic.

OCTOBER 20th 2011

Muammar Gaddafi killed in Libya


Now we hear from victims how all the evils, murders, rapes and corruption were his responsibility and can now cease, forgetting that he was just one man, a man who led and had followers. When will people learn about themselves and what can happen to so many of them if they don't wise up. John Simpson says "There were two Gaddafis....."  Yes, we are told there were two Hitlers.... The truth is power is given by followers and though few can handle it, some are more worthy of it than others - very much so.

OCT 21st
I was about to congratulate the French Air force on wiping out Gaddafi's convoy and reducing him to hiding in a drain when we learn it was an accidental bonus. They did not realise he was in it, they were just carrying out their UN job of taking out an armed contingent that was a risk to civilians and the new provisional government.

Now we have the UN concerned about how Gaddafi died - whether it was in a military confrontation or of he got into the hands of those bent on his death, as painful and undignified as possible. Personally, I would find it difficult to criticise in the heat of the moment.

This morning we had Richard Harries, retired Bishop of Oxford and a very dear old boy, telling us (in this context for some reason) how 'unfair' the world is, and how the great religions believe that God will administer justice and 'put everything right' in the end. I really must disagree about this concept of a faulty and unfair world.

What we do have is what appears in some aspects an unforgiving world, and one in which humans can find themselves in very great distress through, apparently, no fault of their own. But any decent analysis of the human condition reveals something much more complex and consequential than a faulty or unfair matrix. It reveals a journey of nature in which the possibilities are commensurate with the burdens. Where these are offered and where they fall is, I am happy to say, beyond the casual fathoming of those involved on a calculable basis. On the matter of forgiveness we, as individuals, can be forgiving if we choose. I suggest we should be discriminating in our forgiveness and relate it to our powers and obligations. I have always thought The Lord's Prayer was a remarkable piece of work, the deepest understanding of which would stretch to the very extremes of space and time

OCTOBER 22nd 2011
Contrary to this report
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15412529 it is perfectly clear what happened to Gaddafi. he was dragged wounded out of the drain where he was hiding and set upon by the local militia. Gaddafi supporters surrounding the position engaged in a firefight, the militia commander was not fully in control of a very fast moving situation and by the time he extracted Gaddafi frpm the melee the latter had taken one or two more shots which proved fatal. Although he was alive in the ambulance and taken non-stop to hospital he was there pronounced dead.

It it quite obvious that although he should ideally have been taken alive this outcome is by far the best, as the charges against him and the victims of his years in power are so many that to have a selection of them grandstanding in court would have been inappropriate and to have had all of them impractical. Enough - let us move on. The commander of the militia involved, an electrician turned soldier for the purpose of the liberation, has quite correctly taken reponsibility for Gaddafi's death. I am impressed, and I expected no less.

OCTOBER 24th 2011

Libya's new rulers declare country liberated


NOVEMBER 13th 2011
The Arab League votes to suspend Syria from its meetings and impose other sanctions over its failure to end a government crackdown on protester

NOVEMBER 20th 2011
In Cairo, the first election, for a parliament, is due in a week; but the people are divided, impatient, and some believe the Army will not be able to hand over to a credible civil authority.

NOVEMBER 22nd 2011
There is no meeting of minds in Cairo. The military do not believe that Egyptian youth really understand the facts of life. The youth, do not understand the reservations of the old school. At the interface in the squares of Cairo, the police are faced with violent rioters who may or may not be genuine or planted by vested interests. One thing is certain, it has taken too long for the Cairo intelligent youth for the election to come, even if in historical terms it has been a rush job. To what extent the hot-house of Internetted Cairo reflects all-Egypt it is hard to say, but we have a big mess. There is a generation gap as well as all the other gaps possible.

Egypt military pledges to speed up power transfer


NOVEMBER 26th 2011
My diagnosis of a generation gap between the Egyptian military establishment and the Egyptian youth has been confirmed. They are in a different world.

NOVEMBER 28th 2011
Large numbers of Egyptians have turned out to vote in the first elections since former President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown in February.

While some Egyptians are sceptical and believe the Army will remain in control, it may well be that more than 50% hope that the Army will indeed remain in control even while civilian democracy learns to develop and implement policy.
The election seems to have gone off well. The result will not be known for some time

DECEMBER 19th 2011
Things are not going well in Egypt. As pointed out 3 weeks ago the country is divided, largely it has to be said between the young and the Internetted and the mature and old (including some Internetted). It was inevitiable. Accelerating history in catchup mode is going to come at a cost, and there is a lot for those who are not the recipient of a good education in history, geography and the sciences to understand - the first being that a good education in history, geography and the sciences will not necessarily guarantee you a job in a free market economy. Democracy does not guarantee employment. Things will not get easier, as there is no reason they should for the moment unless everyone goes home and gets on with whatever they should for the moment. The implementation of constitutional changes should be in the hands of a body that can accept proper questions and give proper answers as to progress, plans and timing.

JANUARY 7th 2012
While Syria is in bloody turmoil despite an ongoing visit from the Arab League, in Lybia progress is maintained.

Libyan students return to Gadhafi-free schools

By BEN HUBBARD, Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — More than 1 million Libyan students returned to school Saturday to start the first year in which the whims, politics and wacky philosophies of Moammar Gadhafi will not drive the curriculum.

Gone are the days when history books lauded Gadhafi's accomplishments while blasting "Fascist" Italy, the "Zionist" United States and the "devilish" West, Libyan officials said.


JANUARY 11th 2012
A member of the Arab League delegation to Syria has resigned describing their situation as a farce and condemning the actions of the Syrian regime.
The Syrian President remains defiant. The awful truth is that he sees no possibility of an opposition government resulting in less bloodshed than his own. The ineffective presence of the Arab League observers has increased the violence. The only achievement has been to further publicise the awfulness of the process.

JANUARY 18th 2012
I have no answer to what to do next in Syria except to work for a coherent UN Security Council position. The Arab league have done all they could but without any success. Very difficult to know who is doing what and why in that country.

There is some lately released news of what went on in Lybia during the overthrow of Gaddafi, not that it could possibly apply to te Syrian case

JANUARY 28th 2012
The Arab League monitors have withdrawn to their hotels for safety reasons.
Jeremy Bowen, the BBCs most well informed correspondent on Middle Eastern matters, is not optimistic that a serious civil war can be prevented. If so, this could be an example of civil unrest that may be more common in a coming period of upheaval and an incentive for those who develop weapons technology to turn their talents to means of non-lethal restraint of violence.