Monthly Archives: August 2011

Communist Bloc Military Updates: Ukrainian armed forces to join Belarus and Russia in first “post”-Soviet trilateral war game in September; Medvedev woos Lukashenko, Yanukovich in Sochi; Kiev: Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian mercenaries may be fighting for deposed Qaddafi

Last week, Russia’s Chief of the General Staff, Nikolai Makarov, former commander of the Group of Soviet Forces in (East) Germany, announced that this year Ukraine will for the first time participate in the regular Russian-Belarusian military exercise known as Union Shield.

“With great pleasure I want to announce that for the first time in the post-Soviet time, a [airmobile] unit of the Armed Forces of Ukraine will take part in the joint maneuvers,” Makarov told journalists on August 26. He noted that Russia and Ukraine participate in the annual joint naval exercise Farvater Mira (Fairway of Peace). “I think it’s time to go to a new level of cooperation,” he added, no doubt remembering his career in the multi-national Soviet Armed Forces.

This year’s Russian-Belarusian military drill, Union Shield 2011, will take place between September 16 and 22, and will involve 12,000 servicemen, among them 7,000 from Russia and 5,000 from Belarus, as well as up to 50 airplanes and helicopters and 200 pieces of military hardware, including 100 tanks. The joint exercise will be held at the Gorokhovetsky training ground in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region and the Ashuluk training ground in the Astrakhan region. The program of the maneuvers was prepared by the General Staffs of Belarus and Russia, together with the staff of the Russian Armed Forces’ Western Military District.

In order to allay the fears of NATO states that the Union Shield drills target the West, Makarov soothed: “One must stress that we have made a decision to hold the exercise called Union Shield 2011 on the territory of the Russian Federation, far from the borders with NATO member states to demonstrate the Union State’s transparent and peaceful policy and confirm the defensive nature of the [Belarusian-Russian] Regional Group of Forces.”

Together, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus comprised the European nucleus of the Soviet Union, which in December 1991 the Communist Party deceptively dismantled as part of a stealthy, long-range plan for global conquest. Founded in 1996, the Union State of Russia and Belarus is one of several international organizations that have incrementally restored some of the political, economic, and military alliances that once bound the 15 Soviet republics. A proposed flag for the Union State, pictured above, was consciously modeled on that of the USSR.

On August 11, President Dmitry Medvedev received Ukrainian counterpart Viktor Yanukovich in Sochi, the Russian leader’s subtropical getaway on the Black Sea. There the two “ex”-communists considered several bilateral issues, such as the relationship between Ukraine and the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and between Ukraine and the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, both of which Kiev has yet to join.

Medvedev and Yanukovich also focused on “strengthening the legal framework” of the presence of the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet on the territory of Ukraine (Sevastopol, Crimea). The Sochi summit was an important step in the preparation for the next meeting of the Ukrainian-Russian Intergovernmental Commission. The Russian and Ukrainian presidents also addressed the issue of the arrest on corruption charges of Ukraine’s ex-prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, like Medvedev a graduate of the old Soviet Komsomol.

On August 22, it was the turn of Medvedev’s embattled Belarusian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, to show up in Sochi. There for two and a half hours, Medvedev and Lukashenko, another “ex”-communist, discussed the transformation of the Customs Union into the Common Economic Space of Belarus, Russia and Kazakhstan, starting January 1, 2012. The heads of state agreed to hold the Supreme Council of the Union State in November. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, Medvedev’s mentor, is chairman of the Union State’s Council of Ministers.

Medvedev and Lukashenko also discussed Rosatom’s construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus, which to this day suffers from the deadly radioactive effects of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Rosatom lately constructed a NPP in the Kaliningrad exclave, wedged between Poland and Lithuania.

Medvedev and Lukashenko then turned their attention to details related to the equipping of a rapid response force for CSTO, as well as the conditions of hosting foreign (US) military bases on the territory of the CSTO states. They also considered the prospects of Ukraine’s pro-Moscow government leading that former Soviet republic into CSTO membership, a prospect definitely improved through Ukraine’s participation in Union Shield 2011.

Finally, Lukashenko related the details of his recent visit to the Arabian country of Qatar, and the prospects of cooperation with Communist Venezuela, a close ally of both Russia and Belarus. Loans from the Moscow-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States prop up Belarus’ Soviet-era command economy, while the International Monetary Fund has demanded that Lukashenko release all political prisoners as a stipulation for receiving financial aid from the West. The Belarusian KGB regularly intimidates and incarcerates the dictator’s political opponents.

Meanwhile, Anatoliy Hrytsenko, head of the Ukrainian parliament’s Committee for National Security and Defense, former defense minister and leader of Ukraine’s Civil Position Party, does not rule out the possibility that Ukrainian, Russian, or Belarusian mercenaries are fighting on behalf of deposed Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi. “The state of Ukraine hasn’t sent its soldiers or civilians to fight on either side, that’s for sure,” the legislator said in an interview with Interfax-Ukraine. Hrytsenko continued:

Can there be theoretically mercenaries from Ukraine? Yes, there can be, but just as likely, or even more likely, there may be Russian or Belarusian mercenaries. Because, there have been cuts in their armies by hundreds of thousands, and many people, so called migratory birds, are trying to find a job on all continents.

A rebellion that began in mid-February, backed by UN-sanctioned NATO air strikes, toppled Qaddafi’s 42-year-old terrorist regime last Tuesday, the third Arab dictatorship to fall this year as a result of the so-called Arab Spring uprisings. Shortly after the war began, reports surfaced that Qaddafi was importing mercenaries from Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as guerrillas from Western Sahara, to fight for his tottering government. About the same time, the 69-year-old strongman’s Ukrainian nurse fled to her homeland, leaving a trail of questions concerning Qaddafi’s long-time links to the old Soviet Bloc.

Africa File: Iran invites Libya’s victorious rebel chief to Tehran; TNC accuses Algeria of “aggressive act,” harbouring Qaddafi’s wife, children; NATO warplanes pound Sirte as National Liberation Army surrounds loyalist stronghold; Qaddafi still on the run

- Libya’s Rebel-Turned-Interim Government Fears Qadaffi Clan May Flee from Algeria to Eastern Europe

- Ousted Dictator May Have Fled to Southern Loyalist Stronghold of Sabha

- Rebel Military Officer Reaffirms Demise of Qaddafi’s Two Most Powerful Offspring, Special Forces Commander Khamis and Intelligence Chief Abdullah al-Senussi

- Rebel Troops Release 10,000 Political Prisoners of Qaddafi Regime, 50,000 Libyans Still Missing, Arrested during “Arab Spring” Uprising

- Tripoli Faces Second Week without Running Water and Electricity as Libyans Explore Qaddafi Clan’s Mansions, Appalled by Opulent Lifestyle of Self-Styled Socialist Revolutionary

Pictured above: The de facto ruler of Libya, Mustafa Abdel Jalil, chairman of the Transitional National Council, addresses a news conference in Benghazi, on August 30, 2011. On Tuesday, Libya’s interim rulers issued a four-day deadline for forces loyal to deposed Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi to surrender or face military force.

In another disturbing sign that the Islamo-Nazi regime in Iran views the victorious Libyan rebels as ideological kin, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akabr Salehi has invited Mustafa Abdel Jalil, president of the Libyan rebels’ Transitional National Council (TNC), to Tehran. “In a phone conversation [on August 29] with the NTC head, Salehi congratulated the victory of the Muslim people of Libya and stressed (the desire) to deepen bilateral ties,” said a statement from Iran’s foreign ministry.

On Sunday, Salehi admitted Iran had “discreetly” provided humanitarian aid to the Libyan rebels before the fall of Tripoli on August 21. For his part, Jalil “thanked the Iranian government for its humanitarian aid and assistance during tough times,” and called for the return of Iran’s ambassador to Libya. From 2007 until his resignation on February 21, 2011, Jalil was Qaddafi’s minister of justice. On February 22, he claimed in an interview with Swedish newspaper Expressen that he had proof Qaddafi personally ordered the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

The phone conversation marked the first official contact between Iran and the TNC since Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi’s capital was overrun by rebels on August 21 and he went into hiding. Iran, though, has not officially recognized the TNC. Other countries that have withheld recognition are Algeria, Russia, Red China, India, South Africa and Brazil, all of which are varying degrees of open or covert communist/socialist control.

Since the Libyan uprising erupted in mid-February, Iran has both criticized Qaddafi’s party-less socialist regime, while at the same time condemning NATO’s military intervention. Relations between Shiite majority Iran and Libya soured in 1978, after the disappearance in Libya of Iranian-born Imam Moussa Sadr, who was considered a spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Shia Muslims.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Libya’s rebel-turned-interim government accused Algeria of committing an “aggressive act against the Libyan people’s wishes” by providing safe haven for Qaddafi’s wife Safia, daughter Aisha, as well as sons Mohammed and Hannibal. “We are determined to arrest and try the whole Gadhafi family, including Gadhafi himself,” Mahmoud Shammam, TNC information minister, rumbled late Monday night. “We’d like to see those people coming back to Libya.” The official Algeria Press Service admits that Qaddafi’s family entered Algeria early Monday morning.

Over the past few months, Algeria’s long-ruling National Liberation Front has covertly supplied the embattled Qaddafi regime with arms, mercenaries, and Polisario guerrillas from Western Sahara. In defending its decision to harbor the Qaddafi clan, Algeria’s United Nations envoy Mourad Benmehidi told BBC News there is a “holy rule of hospitality” in the desert region. Quite.

“The fact that his family has moved on through the border to Algeria is very significant,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s Susan Ormiston opined from Tripoli. “It means that they recognize that they no longer have any protection inside Libya — that forces and loyalists loyal to Gadhafi cannot protect the family so this is another step the slow toppling of the dynasty here.”

“I would argue the Algerian regime is making a major blunder, miscalculating monstrously,” warned Fawaz Gerges, an analyst at the London School of Economics, in an interview with the BBC. “The Algerian regime itself is not immune from the revolutionary momentum taking place in the Arab world.”

In a related story, Algeria has closed the southern part of its border with Libya due to the “precarious situation” there, Algeria’s El Watan newspaper reported, citing diplomatic sources. Jalil called on the Algerian government to hand over the Qaddafi clan. Qaddafi himself is believed to have fled to the southern desert city of Sabha, which is still loyal to the dictator.

The Libyan rebels’ National Liberation Army, however, now controls most of Tripoli and most of the country. Their political wing, the TNC, rightly fears that, unless he is captured, Qaddafi could rally a counter-insurgency. “We have promised to provide a just trial to all those criminals and therefore we consider this an act of aggression,” said Shammam. “We are warning anybody not to shelter Gaddafi and his sons. We are going after them … to find them and arrest them,” he promised, suggesting the Qaddafi clan might try to flee from Algeria to another country, perhaps in Eastern Europe.

Rebel forces have converged on the coastal city of Sirte, but have stopped short of a full-blown assault in hopes of arranging a negotiated surrender of Qaddafi’s birthplace. On the night of August 28-29, NATO targeted 20 surface-to-air missile canisters and two surface-to-air missile systems in Sirte, as well as five multiple-rocket launchers in Ras Lanuf, home to one of Libya’s largest refineries.

With Qaddafi on the run, rebel fighters now sleep in the bedrooms of their former ruler, whose gated compounds boast tennis courts, football pitches, and magnificent sea views. A visit to a Tripoli beach compound used by Qaddafi’s family and henchmen revealed a life of opulence and privilege foreign to most Libyans. Saadi Qaddafi’s chalet, for example, was strewn with designer clothes, including some unworn suits, and about 100 pairs of shoes. Aisha’s house boasted 13 bedrooms and gold-plated cutlery.

By contrast, a week after Qaddafi’s downfall, Tripoli’s two million people remain without running water or electricity, presenting a potential humanitarian crisis for the Libyan capital. Banks, pharmacies, and many other stores are still closed. The stench of rotting garbage and sewage pervades the city.

Men in jeeps crying “Allahu Akbar [God is greatest]” drive through neighborhoods, handing out containers of potable water from the local governing council. A council spokesman said the pumping station for Tripoli’s water supply is not only damaged but also situated in the pro-Qaddafi town of Sabha. The sizable military force needed to escort a repair team of engineers is not available.

Rebel officials insist that Qaddafi’s two most powerful offspring, special forces commander Khamis Gaddafi and former intelligence chief Abdullah al-Senussi, were both killed last Saturday. “We have almost certain information that Khamis Gaddafi and Abdullah al-Senussi were killed on Saturday by a unit of the National Liberation Army during clashes in Tarhouna [90 km southeast of Tripoli],” related military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Omar Bani. A US official said he could not independently confirm Khamis’ death but similar information was received from “reliable sources.” Khamis has already been reported killed twice during the uprising, only to re-emerge.

Even though he is apparently dead, International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo said he may seek an arrest warrant for Khamis. The Hague-based ICC has already issued warrants for Qaddafi and his sons Saif al-Islam and Senussi for alleged crimes against humanity. Human Rights Watch reports members of the Khamis Brigade appeared to have killed dozens of prisoners whose burned bodies were found in a Tripoli warehouse. Physicians for Human Rights reports it had found evidence of crimes including “murder, torture, rape, forced internment and disappearance” by Qaddafi loyalists during their siege of Misrata earlier in the civil war.

On Sunday, Libyan rebels announced they have freed over 10,000 prisoners arrested by the Qaddafi regime, but insist nearly 50,000 others are still missing. Rebel spokesman Bani said that beside the thousands who have been freed since the rebel forces seized control of Tripoli, between 57,000 and 60,000 citizens were arrested by Qaddafi’s henchmen during the uprising.

In another development, Bani said that Libya’s natural gas pipeline to Europe had been repaired.

Africa File: Long-time ally Ortega offers refuge to Qaddafi, even as Libyan strongman eludes ousters; loyalists stage counter-offensive at Bab al-Azizya barracks; Russia frets over Libyan investments, switches support to rebels; Iran praises rebel victory

- Special Forces from Britain, France, Jordan, and Qatar Intensify Operations in Tripoli and Other Libyan Cities (source)

The “Arab Spring” uprisings have claimed their third socialist dictator in eight months.

With the whereabouts of Libyan strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi still unknown, an adviser to Nicaragua’s past/present Marxist dictator, Daniel Ortega, said Tuesday that the Sandinista government would consider granting asylum to the ousted colonel. “I do not know how Gadhafi could get here from Libya, because we do not have an embassy in Libya,” confided Bayardo Arce to Nicaragua’s Channel 63 television.

Pictured above: On August 24, 2011, gunmen of Libya’s National Liberation Army trample on a portrait of Qaddafi in Tripoli’s Rixos Hotel, where 40 foreigners, including journalists, were held captive by loyalist troops.

Ortega and Qaddafi first cemented their personal relationship 30 years ago, during the chilly depths of the Cold War, on the basis of a pro-Moscow, anti-Washington ideological line. Ortega has visited Libya at least once since returning to power in 2006.

“If someone asks us for asylum, we would have to consider it positively, because our people got asylum when the Somoza dictatorship was killing us,” Arce continued, referring to Sandinista leaders Daniel and Humberto Ortega and Tomas Borge, who sought refuge in Cuba to plot the overthrow of dictator Anastasio Somoza, which finally took place in 1979. Although constitutionally banned from running for a consecutive presidential term, Ortega, who enjoys unprecedented widespread popular support on the shoulders of a resurgent economy, has announced his candidacy for Nicaragua’s November election.

In Libya, NATO-backed rebels overran Tripoli on Sunday, raising the flag of the internationally recognized “Libyan Republic” over Qaddafi’s command center yesterday, only to repel a loyalist counter-offensive on Wednesday. The rebel flag last flew over Libya in 1969, when a cabal of leftist military men under Qaddafi’s leadership ousted King Idris. A few years later, Colonel Qaddafi proclaimed the Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya (“State of the Masses”).

By the 1980s, the Libyan strongman had established his reputation as a state sponsor of terrorism, issuing a contract on the head of US President Ronald Reagan in 1981, surviving a US Air Force raid over his territorial claims in the Gulf of Sidra in 1986, orchestrating the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, and training Liberian and Sierra Leonean rebels as late as the 1990s. Strident “anti-imperialist” Qaddafi was also an ardent champion of African integration, leading the African Union as chairman between 2009 and 2010.

In addition to neo-Sandinista Nicaragua, the communist governments of Cuba, Venezuela, and Bolivia have steadfastly stood by Qaddafi during fifth months of punishing NATO air strikes. In late February, after Qaddafi’s government began cracking down on the uprising, Ortega acknowledged he had telephoned the Libyan leader to express his solidarity.

On August 24, loyalist troops staged a counter-offensive against the rebels near the Bab al-Azizya military barracks. Thick smoke hung over the complex where rebels and Qaddafi’s forces exchanged fire with light weapons, heavy machineguns, rocket propelled grenades, and mortars. Fighting also spread to the nearby Abu Slim district, where loyalist troops were on the attack, in marked contrast to Tuesday’s battle for Bab al-Azizya, when they fled as rebels stormed the gates. Rebel commanders vowed to push loyalists out of the area. Two powerful blasts thought to be caused by an air raid rocked the capital early Wednesday as a NATO warplane flew overhead.

Many streets were deserted in downtown Tripoli, but dozens of pro-Qaddafi snipers had apparently taken up positions. “There are snipers above and around the perimeter of Bab al-Azizya; there are dozens of them but we don’t know where they are,” warned rebel commander Nuri Mohammed. In spite of the loyalist counter-offensive, rebel military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Bani insisted that “Bab al-Azizya is fully under our control now. Colonel Gaddafi and his sons were not there; there is nobody. No one knows where they are.”

Electricity, temporarily cut, has been restored, but food and water remain scarce in Tripoli, while mobile phone signals are weak.

Although in hiding, Qaddafi (or someone purporting to be him) managed to convey several messages to supporters. In a speech carried early Wednesday by the website of a television station controlled by his son Seif al-Islam, the Libyan dictator justified his flight from his HQ as a “tactical withdrawal.” “Bab al-Azizya was nothing but a heap of rubble after it was the target of 64 NATO missiles and we withdrew from it for tactical reasons,” he said. The speech gave no indication of his whereabouts.

In another audio message on the Syria-based Arrai Oruba TV station, Qaddafi boasted that he had taken to the streets of Tripoli without being caught. “I walked incognito, without anyone seeing me, and I saw youths ready to defend their city,” the strongman gloated. Referring to the rebels, he urged “the residents, the tribes, the elderly to go into the streets… and cleanse Tripoli of rats.”

Rebels have encountered pockets of resistance in other parts of Libya. Opposition fighters were deployed on August 22 to areas south of Zliten, 150 kilometers southeast of Tripoli, while loyalists in Qaddafi’s hometown of Sirte fired missiles at the hotly contested coastal town of Misrata. Qaddafi’s forces also launched an unguided, short-range missile at the eastern city of Brega two days ago, for the first time during the conflict.

On Wednesday, at the Libyan embassy in Manila, diplomats and students smashed portraits of the colonel, ripped up copies of Qaddafi’s Green Book, shouted “Game over!” and hoisted the rebel flag. Libyan consul Faraj Zarroug said at least 85 per cent of his country’s 165 diplomatic missions worldwide now recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC). “It’s game over for Mr. Qadhafi!” Zarroug told the Associated Press. “Probably in a few days, everything will be over, hopefully. I’m very happy.”

Libyan diplomats abroad have been pledging allegiance to the rebels gradually for months, but defections spiked this week. The missions to Switzerland and Bangladesh, for example, switched sides soon after the rebellion erupted in February, while Libyan embassy officials in Japan and Ethiopia replaced the government flag with the rebels’ tricolor on Monday.

In a troubling development, the Islamo-Nazi regime in Tehran has praised the rebel victory in Libya, clearly signally Iran’s ideological solidarity with any new government in the North African state. On Tuesday, the Iranian Foreign Ministry released a statement that said:

Iran congratulates the Muslim people of Libya for the latest developments that arose from their months-long resistance and stand as another symbol of the popular movements in the region. The popular uprising in Libya shows once more that meeting people’s rightful demands and respect for their opinions are undeniable necessities.

[Libyans must] prevent foreigners, especially yesterday’s oppressors and those which have claims today, from meddling with their fate.

Iranian authorities have also applauded the ouster of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak and Tunisia’s Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Although their ruling parties were committed to Arab socialism, both Mubarak and Ben Ali are portrayed in the Iranian media as “US puppets.” Iran has also expressed support for Bahrain’s mostly Muslim Shiite protesters. Following the disputed 2009 presidential election that led to a second term for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Muslim fundamentalists who rule Iran have cracked down on domestic opposition. Mass protests in June of that year and a string of demonstrations in the following months left dozens dead and thousands initially jailed.

In Moscow, President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia would recognize the Libyan rebels if they “unite the country,” while warning that Qaddafi, the Kremlin’s old ally, still retained influence. “Despite the successes of the rebels, Gaddafi and his supporters still have a certain influence and military potential. We want them to sit down at the negotiating table and reach agreements on future peace,” urged Medvedev, a graduate of the Soviet Komsomol.

During the Cold War, Soviet Russia viewed its Arab allies as ideological partners against the capitalist West. Russia’s “ex”-communist leaders have toned down their Marxist-Leninist rhetoric, but Moscow’s important investments in North Africa and the Middle East still prompt the Kremlin to soften international denunciations of the region’s brutal regimes. The neo-Soviet leadership is therefore warning the West against affecting “regime change” in Syria, where the ruling Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party has ruthlessly crushed dissent in a number of cities since spring.

“I would advise all countries thinking about Syria to keep in mind the negative example of Libya,” growled Konstantin Kosachyov, chief of the State Duma’s foreign affairs committee, in a telephone interview from Moscow this week. “The risk of civil war there is even greater than in Libya, which would lead to the collapse of the country.”

Russia, which maintains a Soviet-era naval supply base in Tartus, Syria, rejects demands from the USA and European Union for President Bashar al-Assad to resign. Russia has weapons contracts with Syria worth at least US$3 billion, according to Ruslan Pukhov, director of the Moscow-based Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies. Syrian orders include Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, MiG-29 fighter jets, and Pantsir short-range air defense systems, all of which challenge the regional supremacy of the Israeli Defense Forces.

In March, the Kremlin, which wields veto power on the United Nations Security Council, abstained from a vote authorizing a NATO air campaign to halt Qaddafi’s crackdown.

“Russian companies will lose everything,” bemoaned Aram Shegunts, head of the Arab-Russian Chamber of Industry in Moscow. “NATO countries spent billions of dollars on this campaign and they won’t give our companies a slice of the action.” Russian weapons exporters may lose contracts worth US$4 billion, Sergei Chemezov, head of state-owned Russian Technologies Corp., fretted on March 3, after the UN imposed an arms embargo on Libya.

Potential civilian contracts in Libya, including the construction of a railroad network, are worth “billions of dollars,” Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko worried on March 22. Energy companies such as Kremlin-run gas giant Gazprom and oil producer Tatneft have sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into Libya.

Libya’s new rulers have pledged to honor all existing international contracts, but only after investigating whether corruption was involved in those deals. This caveat gives the TNC considerable leeway, given that the Qaddafi clan or cronies of the deposed strongman were party to nearly every deal concluded during his 42-year rule.

Africa File: Libyan capital falls quickly after insurgents seize strategic oil town, elite forces and air bases; NATO-backed rebels pour into Tripoli on Sunday, occupy Green Square, arrest three Qaddafi sons; rumors circulate concerning Qaddafi’s flight to Algeria, loyalist counter-offensive

- Below the MSM “Radar”: Algeria’s National Liberation Front Regime, Fearing Spread of “Arab Spring” Unrest, Throws Its Weight behind Qaddafi, Transports Arms, Mercenaries, Polisario Guerrillas to Libya

- Looters Steal Vehicles from Algerian Embassy in Tripoli, Supporters of Libya’s Rebel Government Raise Flag of Transitional National Council over Embassy in Algiers (source)

- South African Air Force Plane on Standby in Tunisia to Ferry Qaddafi to Non-ICC Signatory Country Like Cuba, Venezuela, or Russia (source)

- Experts Caution “Tough Urban Battle” May Lie Ahead between Lightly Armed Rebels and Government Forces Held in Reserve for Defense of Tripoli

The “Arab Spring,” which toppled the socialist regimes in Tunisia and Egypt earlier this year, also provoked revolutions in Libya, Syria, and Yemen, leading to civil war in the first country, a bloody government crackdown in the second, and an internationally mediated transfer of power, now underway, in the third. Pictured above: Smoke billows above neighborhood in Tripoli, on August 22, 2011.

In Libya, especially, NATO-backed rebels who began their insurgency with anti-regime protests in mid-February, entered the capital Tripoli on Sunday, pouring in from the south, east, and west. Hundreds of rebel fighters occupied the city’s Green Square, only to pull back from the latter on Monday upon word that Qaddafi loyalists were organizing a counter-offensive in the capital. Strongman Muammar al-Qaddafi’s forces, according to CNN, remain in control of at least three sites in the city: the Bab al-Aziziya military barracks, which have sustained severe damage from NATO air strikes, a hospital, and the Rixos Hotel, where international journalists are housed.

The military situation is fluid in Libya. Rumours abound concerning Qaddafi’s whereabouts , possibly in a bunker under Bab al-Aziziya or somewhere in Algeria, where the government has openly backed the strongman’s defiant anti-West stance. Executive intelligence reports like Austin-based Stratfor assert that the country’s internationally recognized successor regime, the Transitional National Council (TNC), is waging its own disinformation campaign against Qaddafi, ahead of a full-scale assault upon Tripoli (“Libyan Rebels Closing in on Tripoli,” August 20, 2011; email update).

Last Wednesday, Libya’s rebels seized an oil refinery near Zawiya, a town just 30 miles west of Tripoli. Heavy gunfire could be heard after rebels in cars loaded with large-calibre ammunition converged around the refinery. Rebel fighter Abdulkarim Kashaba said that his comrades in arms had taken “control [of] the gates of the refinery” and were planning an assault on the town. Although much of the fuel used by the Libyan army has been smuggled across the border from Tunisia and Algeria, the Zawiya refinery supplies Tripoli, where the strongman has been holed up since the initial uprising.

At the time, BBC correspondent Matthew Price predicted that the fall of Zawiya would be both a “strategic and psychological blow” to the 42-year-old socialist regime of Colonel Qaddafi. This prediction appears to have been accurate. Since then, Qaddafi loyalists have lost territory to rebel forces in the country’s west.

After seizing Zawiya, insurgents pushed rapidly east , capturing an important military base that is home to the Khamis Brigade, an elite force led by Khamis Qaddafi. One of the strongman’s seven sons, Khamis has in the past carried out military exchanges in Belarus, where the Qaddafi clan enjoys the support of President Alexander Lukashenko. “Exultant” rebel troops seized weapons from the base and were seen hauling away boxes of brand-new Belgian munitions, as others sped away in trucks bristling with confiscated weaponry.

By Sunday, rebel forces reached the Tripoli suburb of Janzour, where witnesses said Qaddafi loyalists had earlier abandoned their posts. Residents took to the streets to cheer the rebels as they swept past in their pickups into the southern fringes of the city. At the same time, rebels advancing along the eastern coastal highway were reported to have linked up with opposition fighters in the eastern suburb of Tajura, long a stronghold of opposition to Qaddafi, effectively cutting off the capital from external supply lines.

Rebels also secured Tripoli’s seaport, where several hundred reinforcements for the opposition arrived by boat, and evicted Qaddafi loyalists from the Mitiga air base on the eastern outskirts of the city.

Reporters traveling with the insurgents related how Qaddafi’s defenses were “melting away faster than had been expected.” There were reports of entire regular army units disintegrating as rebels approached the capital, with Qaddafi loyalists inside the city “tearing off their uniforms, throwing down their weapons and attempting to blend into the population.”

“I never thought I’d see a day like this; it’s like our independence day,” rejoiced Tripoli resident Adel Bibas. “This is the end of the colonel,” he added confidently, referring to Muammar al-Qaddafi.

In light of reports that rebels now hold 95 percent of Tripoli, NATO member state leaders are once again demanding Qaddafi’s surrender. British Prime Minister David Cameron urged: “Qaddafi must stop fighting, without conditions — and clearly show that he has given up any claim to control Libya. His regime is falling apart and in full retreat. There will undoubtedly be difficult days ahead.”

NATO air strikes against the Libyan army, which began on March 19 with the intent of enforcing a United Nations no-fly zone, will continue, Cameron vowed, “as long as it is needed.” The British PM acknowledged that he had spoken to Mustafa Abdel Jalil, president of the rebel council, last week. Foreign Secretary William Hague, he explained, will coordinate British support for the TNC in the upcoming weeks.

Joining British calls for Qaddafi’s unconditional surrender were Germany, Italy, and other European Union countries, which also urged the rebels to “respect human rights and not to exact revenge on Gaddafi supporters.” In the rebel capital, Benghazi, in the country’s east, huge crowds gathered to celebrate what they hoped was the imminent collapse of regime forces in Tripoli.

While there is a “big question mark” about Qaddafi’s whereabouts, Al-jazeera reports that his “all powerful” brother-in-law and intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi had been killed, whether by rebels or NATO air strikes is not clear.

Over the weekend, the TNC revealed that its forces in Tripoli had arrested three of Qaddafi’s sons, including Saadi, a businessman who has invested in Hollywood movies. When the insurgency erupted in mid-February, former soccer player Saadi returned to his homeland to command his father’s special forces units.

In 2010, the Hollywood media reported on the strange alliance between producer Matty Beckerman and Saadi in their formation of Natural Selection, a company with plans to make five movies over the next 20 years. Saadi has invested US$100 million in the company, which by last year had allocated US$12 million toward the movie The Experiment, and fully financed the US$3 million Isolation, a thriller directed by Steven Kay (The Shield). Natural Selection’s operations have been “paralyzed” since the Libyan civil war began.

The rebels’ governing body acknowledged that its officials had also arrested another Qaddafi offspring, Saif al-Islam, while a third, Muhammad, surrendered to rebel fighters who stormed his residence in Tripoli. CNN states that the International Criminal Court held talks on Monday with the TNC on transferring Saif al-Islam to its custody. He is wanted on a war crimes charge for allegedly having ordered attacks on unarmed anti-regime protesters.

Elsewhere in the region, last Friday night Tunisia’s armed forces repelled a group of armed Libyans who had infiltrated the smaller North African country by vehicle. The fighting, which continued into Saturday, resulted in several casualties. A Tunisian military source could not confirm whether the Libyan infiltrators were Qaddafi loyalists or rebels. In recent days, the Tunisian army has reinforced its presence along its border with Libya. As a result of rebel advances in western Libya, Qaddafi’s forces near Tunisia have been cut off from their supply lines to Tripoli.

It is possible that this skirmish between Tunisian and Libyan forces represented an attempt by Qaddafi loyalists to smuggle their leader out of the country to Algeria. Some reports suggest that the Libyan strongman is in fact hiding near the Algerian border. The long-ruling National Liberation Front (FLN) regime in Algiers is openly supporting Qaddafi, no doubt in order to thwart the spread of the populist “Arab Spring” to Algeria.

Like the Libyan strongman, Algeria’s FLN has for nearly 50 years been committed to Arab socialism and a vigorous pro-Moscow, anti-Washington ideological line. Algerian leaders surely remember with trepidation the 1988 riots and civil war against Islamists in the 1990s, both of which threatened to topple their military-backed dictatorship.

Recently, Algeria’s opposition Socialist Forces Front accused the FLN of “operations meant to destabilize the transitional democratic government in Tunisia, and also of undermining the Libyan resistance.” In the last two weeks, Algeria denied accusations that a Libyan ship offloaded armaments, destined for Qaddafi’s troops, at the port of Djen Djen, 267 kilometres east of Algiers. Libya’s rebel government insists that the ship, sailing under Qaddafi’s plain green flag, arrived at Djen Djen on July 19 and then the shipment was conveyed across the land border into Libya.

Abdulhafidh Ghoga, TNC vice president, has denounced the “duplicity” of the FLN and accused the Algerian government of backing Qaddafi both militarily and politically. He asserts that Chad, Mali, Zimbabwe, and Kenya have dispatched regular troops to participate in Qaddafi’s defense of Tripoli and that “there is evidence that the government of Algeria is taking part in this.” The Algerian opposition in exile in Europe, moreover, alleges that there are Algerian armed forces in Libya. TNC spokesman Shamsuddin Abdulmollah reports that rebels have captured 15 Algerian “mercenaries” in western Libya.

There is additional evidence that Algeria has sent its proxy forces in the Polisario Front to bolster the Libyan strongman. Mario Diaz-Balart, a Republican Respresentative in the US Congress, has pointed to evidence that combatants from the Algerian-backed Western Saharan guerrillas are among the forces fighting for the Libyan regime. Edward Gabriel, former US ambassador to Morocco, alleges that “hundreds of Polisario mercenaries are being paid $10,000 (Dh 36,700) each by Qaddafi to fight in Libya.” Algeria has used the Polisario Front to wear down its old foe Morocco, which claims Western Sahara.

In April, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé challenged Algiers about its connection to an arsenal that Qaddafi’s troops had abandoned on the battlefield, which was discovered by French military advisers to Libya’s rebels.

On the diplomatic front, Algerian officials have worked assiduously at the United Nations, European Union, and Arab League to limit or terminate NATO involvement in the Libyan civil war. Algeria and Syria are the only two Arab countries that opposed the UN-imposed no-fly zone over Libya. Algerian authorities contend that the Libyan rebels have close links with Al Qaeda in the Maghreb and, therefore, refuse to recognize the TNC. Instead, the Algerian government has endorsed an African Union “peace” plan that would leave Colonel Qaddafi and his sons in power.

When on May 8 Algerian parliamentarian Saddek Bouguettaya attended a meeting in Tripoli of Libyan tribes supporting Qaddafi, he described the strongman’s efforts to remain in power as “valiant and praiseworthy” and condemned NATO for its “bombing of the civilian population.” Bouguettaya is a member of the FLN Central Committee. For his part, Abdelaziz Belkhadem, the FLN’s secretary general and personal representative of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, has called the Libyan rebels “agents of foreign powers who receive orders from the West.” In addition, Daho Ould Kablia, Algeria’s interior minister, affirmed on a recent talk show that “future relations with Libya would be strained in case the rebels [TNC] take over power in Tripoli.”

Red Terror File: Neo-fascist killer built two bombs, second device 1.5 times as powerful as Oslo blast, ready for deployment; Breivik linked to Oslo branch of Russian neo-Nazi Slavic Union, trained at Belarusian KGB facility around time of Minsk Metro bombing

- Norway International Network News Site: Breivik Believed to Have Bought Much of His Equipment from Russia

On Friday, a court in the Norwegian capital held a hearing to decide whether 32-year-old Anders Behring Breivik, the confessed killer of 77 people, should be kept in isolation, a month after he detonated a bomb and went on a shooting rampage. Breivik, whom the MSM describes as a “right-wing extremist” (i.e., neo-fascist) has admitted killing eight people when he exploded a truck bomb outside the prime minister’s office in Oslo, then fatally shooting 69 people, including many teens, at the ruling Labour Party’s youth camp on Utoya Island.

Breivik denies criminal guilt because he believes the massacre, which ironically targeted fellow ethnic Norwegians, was necessary to save his country and Europe in general from Islamic immigration and “cultural Marxism.” If found guilty on terrorism charges, then Breivik could be sentenced to 21 years in prison, the maximum term available for a criminal conviction of any sort in Norway. An alternative custody arrangement—if he is still considered a danger to the public—could keep him behind bars indefinitely.

Breivik’s ideologically motivated slaughter was the bloodiest incident in Norway since the Nazi occupation during the Second World War.

Ominously, The Telegraph, citing Norwegian military sources, reports that Breivik had actually prepared a second bomb, bigger than the one that exploded in Oslo. Police discovered the explosive device at the farm Breivik had rented some 85 miles north of the capital. The second bomb weighed up to 1.5 tons and was ready for deployment. In comparison, the van-borne bomb Breivik detonated on July 22 weighed an estimated 0.95 tons.

Norwegian authorities have not officially responded to claims concerning the existence of another large bomb. On July 27, police admitted only that they had found and destroyed “explosives” stored at the isolated farm, but did not offer any details related to the quantity or condition of the materials.

The most troubling aspect of the Breivik case, which the MSM has mostly overlooked, is the Norwegian’s links to Russian neo-Nazis, who are likely under the control of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), and his reported training in sabotage-terrorism at a Belarusian KGB facility (logo above). Surprisingly, the second bit of information appeared in state-run Novosti, which picked up the story from Gazeta.ru which, in turn, interviewed a Belarusian opposition figure. In the West, the MSM acknowledges that Breivik has links to Eastern European “nationalists” and even visited Belarus on at least one occasion.

It is possible, of course, that the FSB was responsible for training Breivik, planting the “Belarusian KGB trace” in the Kremlin media to divert attention from its own complicity. Within the Union State of Russia and Belarus, Breivik could theoretically move without hindrance back and forth between the two “former” Soviet republics. At the same time, Minsk may have obligingly carried out Moscow’s wishes in cultivating Breivik as “Agent Viking.” In any event, the Belarusian KGB’s collaboration with the Russian FSB is well documented. After all, the two organizations were once part of the same entity, the Soviet Committee for State Security, and continue to work together within the Union State framework.

After the April 11, 2011 Metro bombing in Minsk, which killed 12 commuters and injured 200 others, the FSB arrived on the scene to “help” its Belarusian counterparts. “Right now, we are closely cooperating with the FSB and blast experts from Russia who arrived at the scene on Tuesday morning . . . Russian Investigative Committee experts are also there, in line with a previously clinched agreement,” Belarusian Deputy Prosecutor General Andrei Shved said at the time.

Coincidentally or not, Belarusian oppositionist Mikhail Reshetnikov alleges Breivik was in Belarus this past spring, within the general timeframe as the Minsk bombing, undergoing his training under the aegis of an “ex”-Belarusian “special service” officer.

The Norwegian media, in fact, has exposed Breivik’s links to Russian neo-Nazi Vjatjeslav Datsik, whom he met in Oslo. In a past incident, Norwegian immigration authorities rejected Datsik’s application for asylum after escaping a Russian psychiatric institute. Datsik was jailed in Norway and eventually deported for various offences. Reportedly, Breivik has close links with the Oslo branch of Datsik’s organization, Slavic Union, which was found to possess knives, guns, and firebombs when police raided a tattoo parlour operated by the group in the Norwegian capital. Breivik is believed to have bought much of his equipment from Russia.

In his 1,500-page Internet manifesto, Breivik expressed admiration for Vladimir Putin, as well as the Russian prime minister’s youthful cheering squad Nashi. The Kremlin, not surprisingly, was quick to disassociate itself from the Norwegian mass murderer. Elsewhere, the manifesto urged the formation of “cultural conservative student organizations” that would champion the cause of a “racially pure” white Europe. “This movement should be somewhat like the equivalent of Russia’s Nashi movement,” Breivik suggests.

A spokeswoman for Nashi (Russian for “Ours”), Maria Kislitsyna, told Interfax news agency that “it is the first time that we hear of our organization mentioned in this context.” The Kremlin formed Nashi to counter pro-Western street protests in former Soviet republics in the mid-2000s. Disciplined and well-funded, some political analysts have compared Nashi to the old Soviet Communist Youth League (Komsomol). Nashi activists stage noisy but non-violent demonstrations outside Western embassies in Moscow.

In Western Europe there were pockets of support for Breivik’s rhetoric that obviously embarrassed far-right leaders seeking electoral validation. France’s National Front, for example, suspended a member whose blog praised Breivik as an “icon,” while Italy’s Northern League suspended a member who called some of the gunman’s ideas “great.” The leader of the English Defense League, to which Breivik claimed links, said “the desperation among those angry at immigration is a ticking time bomb.”

While most European neo-fascists distanced themselves from Breivik, at least on Internet forums, Russian neo-Nazis and extreme nationalists hailed his killing spree and intimated that similar attacks will occur in Russia. “The white race is attacking: The White Hero of Norway Anders Bering Breivik,” read the headline on the website of the Slavic Union, one of Russia’s largest neo-Nazi cults. “The more legal nationalist organizations are destroyed, the more Breiviks there will be,” Dmitry Demushkin, the former leader of Slavic Union who now heads the “Russkie” nationalist movement, told the Associated Press.

Intriguingly, the Kremlin has long been accused of allowing neo-fascism to flourish with impunity. In the 2000s, for instance, Putin, then president, regularly faced accusations of “flirting” with ultra-nationalism, including by creating the nationalist Rodina party just two months before Duma elections in 2003. However, the Kremlin later purged Rodina from politics, folding it into the pro-Kremlin Just Russia party in 2006.

Indeed, one of the first potemkin parties created by the Soviet leadership, Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s misnamed Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, has for 22 years championed an extreme form of Russian nationalism. There are good grounds for believing that Zhirinovsky is an FSB/KGB agent tasked with managing this false opposition party as part of the ongoing Soviet strategic deception.

In his second work, The Perestroika Deception (1995), KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn warns the West that the Soviet communists intend, among other tactics, to form alliances with nationalists (page 123) and Islamic fundamentalists (pages 149) for the purpose of undermining the capitalist nations ahead of a peaceful merger between a USA controlled by the “radical left” (page 18), a “neutral, socialist” European (page 17), and a revitalized Soviet Union (page 17). In the light of this revelation, we must not be surprised when Al Qaeda’s new commander–Egyptian arch-terrorist Ayman al-Zawahiri, who spent six months in FSB “custody” in Dagestan in the late 1990s–launches another “911” against America, or when Breivik copycats pop up to wreak more havoc in the European Union.

USSR2 File: Gorbachev speaks to press on 20th anniversary of “hardliner” coup: Rejects charges of complicity with putschists, denounces United Russia as “worse version of Soviet Communist Party,” praises Putin for delivering Russia from “chaos” of Yeltsin years

In a press conference devoted to assessing the legacy of the coup against his presidency by communist “hardliners” on August 19, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev not only defended his actions, but also reprimanded his successors in the Kremlin. With typical Aesopian doublespeak, Gorbachev derided United Russia as a “worse version of the Soviet Communist party,” in which he began his political career as a Marxist-Leninist committed to world revolution.

“Our senior management should be updated,” Gorby told a packed hall of journalists in Moscow on Wednesday. “There comes a time when you need to get out of this rut.” Russia’s next presidential election is slated for March 2012 but the results, opines Gorbachev, will in all likelihood be “preordained” by political backroom deal-making in which President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will decide whether Putin will return for a third term as president, or his protogee Medvedev will continue for a second term.

“If the regime behaves just to increase its own power then this is already partially authoritarian,” Gorbachev pretended to lament, even as he advocated special circumstances for authoritarian rule. Notably, he stopped short of criticizing “ex”-communist Putin, instead praising the president-turned-prime minister for “bringing Russia out of the chaos of the Boris Yeltsin years.”

Gorbachev’s appearance, reports the Financial Times, was “clearly aimed” at showing opponents that he was still “fighting fit.” The 80-year-old former Soviet president still commands respect among some circles in Russia, though he is rarely seen in public, and sports an even wider following in the West, where he has mesmerized Ted Turner types and other globalists.

Over the past 20 years, a number of experts, including the coup plotters themselves, have charged Gorbachev of being complicit in the 1991 putsch, which sought to prevent the dismantling of the Soviet Union by “reform” communists. Detractors allege that Gorby, who was incommunicado at his official holiday residence between August 18 and 21, was in fact “waiting to see if the coup would prevail before he took sides.” Yeltsin, “post”-communist Russia’s first president, made this accusation shortly before he died in 2006.

Gorbachev rejects this theory, retorting that it was an attempt by Yeltsin to blacken his name and divert attention from his own complicity in the collapse of the USSR.

In 2005, Kommersant Daily interviewed Valentin Falin, former head of the International Department of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, who alleged that the 1991 coup was a feint designed to deceive the West into thinking that there were real factions within the CPSU. Of course, in making these comments, Falin all but acknowledged the truth of KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn’s assertions, first published in 1984, namely, that the Soviet communists would one day feign their demise in order to triumph over the capitalist nations by stealth. The fact of the matter is over the years Russia’s leaders have in many ways signalled the continuity of their plans for global domination, in cooperation with Red China, with those of the Not-So-Former Soviet Union.

The real mastermind behind the August 1991 coup was Politburo member Oleg Shenin, who was arrested along with the other “Vodka Putschists,” but amnestied in 1994. Shenin died in May 2009. No doubt he took to his grave knowledge of the Swiss bank accounts where the CPSU, with a little help from financier Marc Rich, squirreled away the party slush fund before the Soviet Union imploded.

Incidentally, in Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World (1988), Gorbachev plainly affirmed that the perestroika and glasnost reforms were in fact designed to strengthen, not weaken, international socialism. The communists have never been shy about their plans, but who ever took the time to listen?