Protecting the Enemy in Libya?

Matt Gurney is a columnist and editor at Canada’s National Post. Follow him on Twitter: @mattgurney


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As the war in Libya continues, and as the anti-Gaddafi opposition suffers serious setbacks, it is becoming more obvious that the success of the rebels is inextricably dependent on the military might of the NATO-led coalition’s forces. Yet U.S. intelligence regarding the composition of the rebellion already paints a grim and ominous picture: that the anti-Gaddafi insurgency is fortified with militant Islamists and even al-Qaeda-linked operatives who were formerly in the business of killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. CIA agents are only now being sent in to survey the extent of this influence, and while coalition diplomats refuse to rule out arming the Libyan rebels, allied forces must seriously come to grips with just who they are poised to bring to power — and whether it will be worse than Gaddafi himself. That this matter rests in the hands of the Obama administration, which has showed all signs of weighing American national interests last, is worrisome — to say the least.

The situation on the ground remains fluid. The Libyan military, still loyal to dictator Muammar Gaddafi, and the eastern-based rebels that have risen up against him, continue to trade territory and towns in fierce battles. Tracking the action from abroad is difficult — it seems the same few towns have been conquered and reconquered with every update. The town of Ras Lanuf, which the rebel forces captured to great celebration only days ago, has fallen back under Gaddafi’s control. This is typical of the ebb and flow of this war. When Ras Lanuf was under rebel control earlier in the week, experts and observers were expecting the rebels to roll into the Gaddafi-held town of Sitre, symbolically important because the dictator was born there. The rebels tried, and paid a heavy price when they failed. And now they are on the retreat once again.

The bleak situation for the Libyan rebels on the ground puts the West in an impossible position. Several weeks ago, when the allies began their campaign after securing UN approval, there was a sense of urgency. The rebels appeared to be on the verge of collapse and Gaddafi was threatening revenge on the civilian population of those areas that had risen up against him. America, Britain and France all launched their own military campaigns on short notice, and it took weeks for NATO to agree to take command of the entire operation under the command of a Canadian general. Now that NATO is running the show, however, there is still the issue over what comes next.

It speaks to the haste that the war against Libya was organized that only now are we truly beginning to have a full understanding of the situation on the ground. It has become clear, given the setbacks suffered by the rebels in recent days, that Gaddafi, despite the damage taken to his forces, still has sufficient firepower to hold the rebels in check. While the rebels can operate in areas swept clean of resistance by NATO airstrikes, when left on their own, they are outclassed by Gaddafi’s better armed and better trained forces. Having committed to protect Libya’s civilians, allied powers now face the unpalatable possibility that the fighting in Libya will effectively become a stalemate, leaving NATO in the awkward position of having to decide under what conditions it will leave Libya.

Indeed, the only thing worse then the stalemate may be breaking it. If Gaddafi remains in charge of Libya, he will likely revert to state sponsorship of terror. And yet, there is a disturbing lack of knowledge about who, exactly, the rebels we are now supporting really are. In a rush to head off the massacre of civilians, the allies have gone to war in Libya to assist people who might otherwise be our enemies.

Emerging intelligence reports paint a grim picture concerning the character of “our” side in Libya. Admiral James Stavridis of the United States Navy, currently serving as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO’s European forces, told Congress during testimony this week that intelligence is showing “flickers” of al-Qaeda and Hamas influence inside the Libyan rebellion. This colorful phrase seems to mean that though the rebels are mainly anti-Gaddafi in their outlook, they are drawing support from anti-Western terrorist organizations out to topple Gaddafi. This is crucial knowledge to have, as up until now, precious little information has been available as to the composition of our de facto allies in Libya — even though we have already committed ourselves to battle on their behalf. If Obama has ignorantly stumbled into a war in which he contributes American power and treasure to an al-Qaeda takeover of a nation, it would be a nightmare of catastrophic proportions.

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  • crazy horse

    American administration is retard or does it on purpose?Who supplied Mojaheddin in Afghanistan with stinger missiles in 1980's????

  • http://www.fx-exchange.com/ Bowmanave

    America will establish a more islamist puppet in libya just like Iraq. the reason america actually wants islamic laws is because its a tool that can be used even against their puppet to keep them under control. sharia law is an insurance policy for the west. the elites know that sharia law can be played against anyoone in west and people will get behind them in a similar way in case there is a conflict. all the so called radical islamist parties are funded and manufactured in west to destabilize any progressive independent government they despise. who funds muslim brotherhood? who funds aljazeera? their head quarters are in london. there are plenty of agent provacatuer under the guise of being a radical imam in britain as well as in america. they just do what their masters tell them to do.

    • WildJew

      In what way is sharia law is an insurance policy for the west? Where is the evidence Afghanistan under Taliban / al Qaeda (with its harsh, oppressive) rule was an "Islamist" puppet state for the west? Where is the evidence Iran (a nation under rigid sharia law) is an "Islamist" puppet state. As Obama furthers the advance of the harshest interpretation of Islam in the Middle East, how will this be an insurance policy for the west?

  • http://apollospaeks.townhall.com ApolloSpeaks

    LIBYA, THE FRENCH CONNECTION AND THE SPECTER OF VIETNAM

    If there's any lesson that this country should have learned from the French it's this: DON'T FOLLOW THEM INTO WAR. The last time we did we got the long, losing military Odyssey called Vietnam and spent years at enormous cost in lives and treasure trying to clean up their mess. And here we go again with history repeating itself in a different part of the world with the French spearheading a war* against the despot of a former European colony and the US blindly following suit…….

    Click my name to continue reading this widely linked article on my top townhall.com blog.

  • morristhewise

    Freedom has its price, and Libyans that want a Democratic system have to pay it. Oil companies must be guaranteed a larger share of extraction profits, in return they will support the establishment of a two party system. The result will be a lower standard of living for most Libyans, but they will have their freedom.

  • http://www.therepublicrevealed.com/ Victor Laslow

    Obama is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. Soon he will arm the same insurgents who killed American soldiers so they can attack Israel.
    He intended to destroy Israel all along now he is implementing his plan. Obama just needed to wait until after healthcare passed, it did so now its Israel’s turn. This is an old video that nobody believed when it came out. Now if you watch maybe you will.
    Victor. http://www.therepublicrevealed.com/forums/index.p

  • Glenn Kirby

    Remember "James Bond", the mastermind of British Intelligence? Where is the intelligence regarding whom these masked rebels really are, now receiving UN backing in Libya?One thing is certain the world must contend with over 6 million jihadists militarily preparing themselves to unleash a reign of terror on Christians and Jews.America is hated as is Israel.Gadaffi is the necessary evil in Libya and North Africa and he understands the culture of Arabs more than the West could ever imagine.The architects of war and bombbardment do not posess a clue as to how Arabs think and how they have survived for thousands of years under dictatorships.

  • USMCSniper

    Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said al Qaeda jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi’s regime. Mr al-Hasidi insisted his fighters “are patriots and good Muslims, not terrorists,” but added that the “members of al-Qaeda are also good Muslims and are fighting against the invader”.

    Ahhhh..hmmmm… NATO and we are the invader… and the inepts Obama and Clinton are going arm the rebels? What a cluster f*&k!!!

    • BS77

      This Libyan "adventure" is actually causing incredible damage to a poor country…..now instead of "saving lives" we are putting huge numbers of women, children and elderly Libyans in danger, making refugees by the thousands….people now searching for shelter, food, water and medical help. The whole operation is a bomb bomb bomb and hope for the best kind of mess. Of course Kadaffi should go…he could have been taken out ages ago. Now we see a poor nation's towns, roads and infrastructure being destroyed….for what? For these so called rebels who insist on wasting all their ammunition by shooting in the air? What are we getting into here?

  • BLJ

    Kill them all and let Allah sort it out.

    • Fred Biffle

      Check out Debka… according to sources, Lybia did not “give up” all of its WMD when it decided to play nice with the west. The “Rebels” recently liberated many stores of mustard and nerve gas shells and sold them to Iranian backed Hezzbulla and Hamas. according to “sources” the convoys are being tracked into Sudan.
      Probably waiting for the convoy to be far away from populated area before dropping a dime on their A$$. No other source to confirm, seems plausible.

      source : http://www.debka.com/article/20811/

  • tagalog

    If the Libyan rebels we're supporting are Muslim, anti-Western, jihadists, it won't just be a catastrophic nightmare that we're using our military might to aid them; it will be President Obama joining those who are making war on the U.S.A, giving aid and comfort to our enemies, and will make him guilty of treason. Maybe it's a good thing he didn't consult with Congress and acted unilaterally.

  • LindaRivera

    "anti-Gaddafi insurgency is fortified with militant Islamists and even al-Qaeda-linked operatives who were formerly in the business of killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan"

    There is nothing new about the U.S. taking the side of Muslim radicals and terrorists. It is a frightening pattern. In Kosovo, in the nineties, US/NATO took the side of the KLA Muslim terrorist organization. US/NATO waged ruthless war on Kosovo's Christian Serbs. During the Second World War, Christian Serbs rescued and hid hundreds of downed American military and allies. An entire village of Serbs were put to death for refusing to divulge the hiding place of the Americans and allies. US/NATO paid the hero Christian Serbs back with destruction, killings and war.

  • LindaRivera

    America is bankrupt!

    This war is something for the Muslims to take care of! Not America, UK or any other non-Muslim countries! If the Muslims want a war, let the Muslims use their military, their planes, their money!

    We will come out of this (who knows when?) even more financially damaged and even more fanatically hated.

  • Al'Marri

    I agree with Linda Revera. I found it laughable that out of all the aircraft provided for the no fly zone, only 4 came from Arab countries. Have we learned nothing from past mistakes of helping Muslims, help that all too often resented. I heard the current unrest in the middle east being equated to 1989 when eastern European states threw off communism. In my view I equate it to 1979 when Khomeini highjacked the Iranian revolution. Look at what a disaster that has produced. If the Musims want to fight amongst themselves then let them get on with it. At least they will not be killing us!

  • http://www.chick.com Raymond

    How ironic is it that the FOX News where Sean Hannity has been howling about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf wanting “Sharia law” to replace our existing laws is the very same FOX News whose parent company, the Rupert Murdoch controlled News Corporation, has as its second largest shareholder Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal?

    Prince Alwaleed’s uncle, King Abdullah, actually rules Saudi Arabia under Sharia law. Prince Alwaleed, who is reported to enjoy a close personal relationship with Murdoch, has become so enamored of Murdoch’s media success that he is starting his own 24 hour news station, a venture dubbed the “Arabic FOX News” by Raw Story.

    Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch has partnered with Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal to launch a new 24-hour news network for the Arab world, a move that has drawn mockery from Murdoch’s critics and questions from media experts. First and foremost among those questions is whether a news service linked to the famously pro-Israeli Fox News will resonate among Arab viewers.

    “Fox News, famous for its uncomplicated, gung-ho and pro-Israel stance whilst maintaining a mocking notion of neutrality, does not seem like a likely partner” for the Middle Eastern news network, writes David Roberts at the Gulf Blog. “Their coverage of Middle Eastern issues is far from renowned or competent.”

    The new channel, based in Saudi Arabia, “will focus on development in Saudi Arabia and the Arab world on the political, economic and social fronts,” Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, the world’s 19th-wealthiest person according to Forbes, said in a statement. The network will be competing with the two principal international Arabic news services, Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, and “is going to become an addition and an alternative for viewers,” bin Talal said.

  • Jim_C

    So you guys were for doing something about Libya last week, but now that we have, you've changed your mind?

    Got it.

  • John Velvet

    Perhaps emerging leaderships in the world are driven by ideologies, not pragmatism. Such leadership will seek influence from foreign ideological leaders, "brothers in thoughts", and accept support from foreign pragmatic leaders as long as it serves the purpose.

  • Obamaphobic

    The irony is that Obama won't attack a country like Iran which would be in our national security interests, but he'll attack a country that presents no security risk like Libya. Military action in Libya has no upside at all just a tremendous downside. There is absolutely no purpose for us to be there; it’s not even our oil we’re protecting its France’s. This horrible president can’t get booted out of office fast enough.

  • Deendid

    One thing is certain the world must contend with over 6 million jihadists militarily preparing themselves to unleash a reign of terror on Christians and Jews with Vehicle signs.America is hated as is Israel.Gadaffi is the necessary evil in Libya and North Africa and he understands the culture of Arabs more than the West could ever imagine.The architects of war and bombbardment do not posess a clue as to how Arabs think to Portable Signs and how they have survived for thousands of years under dictatorships.