Thursday, March 31, 2011

Libya: Not a Good Week for the Colonel

This isn't a good week for the Libyan colonel.

His current voice at the United Nations is "a former Nicaraguan foreign minister" who's in America on a tourist visa. That's provided that the Nicaraguan's paperwork gets to the right office in the U. N. - and he gets a visa allowing him to officially represent someone in the United Nations. (The New York Times))

Libya's boss is also missing two high-ranking officials. They're not 'victims of crusader aggression,' or whatever the line is. My guess is that they realize that the jig is up1, and they're getting out while they can.

Libya's former Foreign Minister, Ali Abdussalam Treki, was supposed to be the next representative of the colonel's country at the United Nations. Then he turned up in Cairo, essentially saying 'I quit.'

Foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, is now another former F. M. - and the last I read, he's in the United Kingdom.

Libya: Not Over, Not Simple

I've heard - but haven't followed up on - stories about earnest thinkers who are appalled and aghast at the idea of supplying folks who have had enough of the colonel with weapons. In a way, I see their point. It would be nice if everybody in Libya would just take a deep breath, and decide to sit down and settle their differences over a cup of tea.

It would also be nice if the colonel hadn't had the 'stray dogs' who didn't cooperate in his 1969 revolution 'liquidated.'

Sadly, in my opinion, being 'nice' isn't always good enough.

I've also heard - but again haven't followed up on - accounts of what happens when folks who are trying to get their country out of the colonel's hands don't have the material support they need.

And, of course, there's the specter of Al Qaeda taking over Libya. Or some other like-minded outfit. That could happen. Which, I gather from the news, is why the CIA is going the rounds in Libya, finding out who is trying to do what - and why.

Has America made mistakes before? Yes, of course. Has this country learned? For the most part, in my opinion, yes. We finally gave up on slavery as a bad idea, decided that it was okay for women to vote, and even had an Irishman as president.

My guess is that the current administration doesn't want to be remembered as the folks who gave Libya to Al Qaeda. I didn't vote for President Obama - but I've never assumed that he's stupid, either.

Do I think that the solution to all of Libya's problems is getting rid of the colonel? Hardly.

The country, in my opinion, is a mess - maybe not as badly-off as Somalia, but few places are. The colonel has had decades to mismanage his territory - and it's likely that everybody from the International Red Cross to Al Qaeda and Al Shabaab is eager to get in and do their thing. Folks living in Libya are also - obviously, given the number of enforcers the colonel still has - hardly a homogeneous group.

"Simple" is what we find in some fiction. Libya is quite real.

My hope is that Libyans who want to live with the rest of the world get control of the country - and I'm pretty sure that keeping them lightly armed isn't going to help.

Somewhat-related posts:
News and views:

Excerpts from news and views:
"For a man so cultured in the dark arts of international diplomacy, perhaps it should not have been a surprise that Moussa Koussa engineered his escape in the way that he did....

"...A friend of Koussa's family shed a little more light on the extraordinary escape, and the anxiety that Koussa will now be feeling. 'He has left Tripoli, but his wife and children are still there,' said Noman Benotman, a senior analyst at the Quilliam Foundation in London. 'I fear for his family, and what kind of retaliation there might be against them.'...

"...After leaving university, Koussa was sent to London to head the People's Bureau in St James's Square, London – in effect the country's ambassador in the UK. The role meant he was in charge of security at all Libyan embassies in northern Europe, and he was known to be involved in buying weapons.

"He was also charged by Gaddafi with liquidating what were called – in chilling Libyan officialese – 'stray dogs' who betrayed the 1969 revolution....

" June 1980, he was expelled from the country on the advice of MI5.

"Speaking to the Times outside his office, Koussa called publicly for the murder of two dissidents, and said Libya was thinking of co-operating with the IRA. 'We don't like breaking the law here,' he said. 'But we are fighting these people because they worked against our revolution.'

"The outburst led the British media to characterise him as 'the envoy of death' and he was given 48 hours to go....

"...Though the families of the Lockerbie victims will have welcomed that [immunity from prosecution], Djebbar questioned the wisdom of stating it explicitly. 'There might have been wrongdoing in the past but he has done the right thing on this occasion in terms of Libya's future. People who abandon Gaddafi are doing the right thing. This is not the time to talk about retribution or punishment. What is of paramount importance is to prevent the division of Libya and stop it becoming another Somalia.' "

"The drama over who will next represent Libya at the United Nations deepened Thursday in the wake of two apparent defections.

"Moammar Gadhafi's government earlier this month asked that former Foreign Minister Ali Abdussalam Treki be approved as its envoy.

"Treki, who recently served as the president of the U.N. General Assembly, was to replace Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgham as ambassador in New York, but he never arrived.

"A relative of Treki and an opposition leader said Thursday that Treki has defected and was in Cairo.

"Cairo-based Libyan opposition activist Hani Soufrakis said he spoke with Treki several times by phone on Thursday, and confirmed that the diplomat had cut ties with Gadhafi's government....

"...With recent questions over Treki's whereabouts, it appeared Libya had shifted to Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, a former president of the U.N. General Assembly and a former Nicaraguan foreign minister, to be its envoy.

"But that came before news that the Libyan foreign minister who supported him defected Wednesday....

"...The United Nations said Thursday it has still not received an official, legal form from Libya requesting Brockmann be its man...."
(CNN World)

"A former Nicaraguan foreign minister who once called President Ronald Reagan 'the butcher of my people' has been appointed to represent Libya at the United Nations after its delegate was denied a visa, the Nicaraguan government said on Wednesday.

"Nicaragua said the former minister, Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, 78, an outspoken critic of the United States and a Catholic priest, would replace the Libyan diplomat Ali Abdussalam Treki, who had been unable to obtain a visa to enter the United States.

"Libya's ambassador to the United Nations, Abdurrahman Mohamed Shalgam, defected in late February after denouncing Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi during a Security Council meeting during which he pleaded for international help to save Libya from bloodshed.

"The Nicaraguan government of President Daniel Ortega, a leftist who has frequently sparred with the United States and has forged close ties with Colonel Qaddafi, said it sent a letter to the United Nations secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, on Tuesday to inform him of the appointment. Before he defected, Libya's foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, also notified Mr. Ban. But the United Nations said on Wednesday that it had not received official notice.

"In its letter, the Nicaraguan government said that Mr. D'Escoto would 'support the Libyan brothers in their battle to ensure respect for sovereignty and self-determination - both of which are being violated by the powerful, who once again threaten the independence and peace of the people.'

"But Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, said Mr. D'Escoto was not an American citizen - even though he was born in Los Angeles - and was in the country on a tourist visa, which did not permit him to act as the representative of a foreign government. She said he would need to leave the country and apply for a different visa if he were to take up the post....

"...The son of a Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States, Mr. D'Escoto has a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University.

".Some United Nations diplomats said he was unlikely to help overcome Libya's status as a pariah. In his previous role at the United Nations, they said, he had shown himself to be viscerally anti-American. Others said he had tamed his anti-Americanism."
(The New York Times)
Characterizing Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann as "an outspoken critic of the United States and a Catholic priest" is, to the best of my knowledge, accurate. As far as it goes. I've discussed this sort of thing before:Back to the excerpts:
"Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, a former foreign minister of Nicaragua's socialist Sandinista government and one-time president of the United Nations General Assembly, has been named by Muammar Qaddafi's regime as Libya's ambassador to the UN.

"Libyan Foreign Minister Moussa Koussa informed Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon of the nomination in a letter dated March 29. The letter says D’Escoto Brockmann was named to the post because Ali Abdussalam Treki, also a former General Assembly president who was chosen to represent the Qaddafi government at the UN, couldn’t get a visa to enter the U.S. [NOT QUITE: He's got a tourist visa, which doesn't cover being a U. N. ambassador, see (The New York Times)]

"D'Escoto Brockmann, a Catholic priest who was General Assembly president in 2008 and 2009, once said former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were 'possessed by the demons of manifest destiny.' D'Escoto was Nicaragua's foreign minister for the Sandinista government as it fought U.S.-backed contra rebels during the nation's 1980s civil war.

"He called Reagan a 'butcher of my people' for supporting a rebellion that caused Nicaraguans to suffer 'something much bigger than the Twin Towers,' a reference to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York.

"Nicaragua's government said in a statement that D'Escoto Brockmann received instructions from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega to 'accept this nomination and represent the people and government of Libya to re-establish peace and defend their legitimate right to resolve their national conflicts without foreign intervention.'...

"...'There's an old story here,' [Washington-based Brookings Institution senior fellow Kevin] Casas-Zamora said. 'An old debt that Ortega is trying to repay.'..."

1 It's 'the jig is up' in the dialect of English I speak. You may have run into the expression as 'the gig is up.' Either way, it means that something (generally underhanded or at least dubious) has been discovered - and it's time to run, or cut a deal with the authorities. (see The Phrase Finder,

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In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.