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U.S., allies see Libyan rebels in hopeless disarray

(Reuters) – Too little is known about Libya’s rebels and they remain too fragmented for the United States to get seriously involved in organizing or training them, let alone arming them, U.S. and European officials say.

U.S. and allied intelligence agencies believe NATO’s no-fly zone and air strikes will be effective in stopping Muammar Gaddafi’s forces from killing civilians and dislodging rebels from strongholds like Benghazi, the officials say.

But the more the intelligence agencies learn about rebel forces, the more they appear to be hopelessly disorganized and incapable of coalescing in the foreseeable future.

U.S. government experts believe the state of the opposition is so grave that it could take years to organize, arm and train them into a fighting force strong enough to drive Gaddafi from power and set up a working government.

The realistic outlook, U.S. and European officials said, is for an indefinite stalemate between the rebels — supported by NATO air power — and Gaddafi’s forces.

“At this point neither side is able to defeat the other and neither appears willing to compromise,” said one U.S. official who follows the Libyan conflict closely.

“The opposition needs time to do what they need to do — forming a government, bringing together key opposition figures, getting on the same page and building a new generation of leaders,” the official said.

There is no sign the CIA or any other U.S. agency is organizing arms supplies for the rebels. But U.S. officials say privately that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are willing to provide weapons and other support to Gaddafi’s foes.

There are “indications” that Qatar has begun to supply some easy-to-use weapons, including shoulder-fired anti-tank rockets, to the opposition, a U.S. official said on Thursday. Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani was meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House on Thursday.


Pentagon officials say NATO air strikes, combined with enforcement of an arms embargo, will degrade Gaddafi’s fighting ability. The hope is this may create cracks in his regime and open the way for a political solution to the crisis.

One Western official compared the no-fly zone to a greenhouse that hopefully will allow for the gradual growth of a national opposition movement in Libya that draws together the disparate rebel factions.

Several weeks ago, President Barack Obama signed a secret order — a “covert action finding” — authorizing the CIA to consider a range of operations to support Gaddafi’s opponents.

But the order requires the CIA to seek extra “permissions” from the White House before specific measures such as providing training, money or weapons.

CIA operatives on the ground are aggressively collecting information on the rebels, their structure, leadership and military capabilities, U.S. officials said.

April 14, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More

U.S. Will Consider Controversial Drone Policy in Pakistan, Says Ambassador

he United States will reconsider its controversial policy of deploying drones against militants taking refuge in Pakistan, according to its ambassador in Islamabad.

Cameron Munter revealed that America intends to review using unmanned aerial vehicles in the wake of an angry public and political backlash over high civilian casualties suffered in attacks.

“That is something on our agenda,” Munter told a gathering of top Pakistani military brass, analysts and academics Monday at an event that was billed by the local U.S. Embassy as a major policy announcement.

The U.S. military and the State Department rarely comment on drones.

Munter’s comment did not come from his prepared speech, but during a question-and-answer session in response to a question from a member of the audience demanding to know when drone strikes would cease permanently. Fearing a hostile reception that would embarrass the State Department and stoke further local anti-U.S. sentiment, television cameras were ordered to leave the room for the question-and-answer session.

“We have habits and tendencies that don’t work for us and get in the way [of its relationship with Pakistan],” Munter said, a reference to drones and undercover C.I.A. operations on Pakistani soil that have enraged Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence.
The ambassador gave no timeline on when a review of drone policy would be conducted, but Washington will likely want to make it a priority as it attempts to rebuild frayed relations with Pakistan, its most important ally in the war on terror.
Dealings between the U.S. and Islamabad hit rock bottom after Pakistan lost patience with relentless pressure from America to eradicate militants who use Pakistan’s tribal border regions as sanctuaries and training bases from which to launch attacks on NATO troops.
January’s killing of two Pakistanis by a C.I.A. contractor in Lahore invoked the wrath of all sections of Pakistani society, including the I.S.I., politicians, the religious establishment and an increasingly anti-American public.
Just when things could not appear to get any worse, in March a drone attack in Pakistan’s militant-infested northwest killed a gathering of 31 tribal elders and others, in an apparent confusion over the intended target. The death toll added to an already high civilian body count.
An estimated 600 civilian lives have been claimed by drone attacks in the past 24 months compared to more than 1,000 militants’ killed in four years.
But Pakistan cannot solely blame America for its losses.
While the drones are launched from NATO bases in Afghanistan and, it is suspected, some from Pakistan soil, ground target intelligence is provided almost exclusively by the Pakistan military to the C.I.A.. To cloud the issue further, the Pakistani military and the government regularly condemn the drone attacks in pubic as a violation of sovereignty, but privately acknowledge they would not be able to kill as many militants without the U.A.V.s.
Pakistan has repeatedly requested to be given its own attack drone technology by the U.S., but Washington has been reluctant to hand it over in fear that Islamabad may use it against its neighbor and arch rival India, also a key strategic partner for America in Asia.
The U.S. is now at pains to patch up a relationship that has been worn threadbare by deep institutional distrust and public scapegoating of each other by their leadership.
A fresh example came Monday when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari reportedly blamed his country’s destabilization as the result of America’s invasion of Afghanistan.
He told the U.K.’s The Guardian newspaper that the war there was seriously undermining efforts to restore its democratic institutions and economic prosperity after a decade of military dictatorship. The interview demonstrates the uphill struggle the U.S. faces in once more winning over Pakistan, with whom it has had on-and-off relations for 40 years.
Munter described the “renewal” of America’s commitment to Pakistan, and stressed long-term commitment to strengthening Pakistan through investments in education, energy and security programs.
“We are not trying to buy people. We will be here for generations,” he said. But the ambassador indicated that countering militancy and extremism would remain the top priority for the U.S..

April 11, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More

Explosions in Tripoli and ‘carnage’ in Misrata

Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — Three loud explosions could be heard in Tripoli on Tuesday. It was the first time since the uprising began that such blasts were heard during daylight in the Libyan capitol.

The three blasts came within about 20 minutes. No anti-aircraft fire could be seen at the time.

To the east, Libyan forces pounded parts of the city of Misrata on Tuesday, with tanks firing mortar shells and troops using heavy artillery in an effort to retake control of the city, a witness told CNN.

Coalition planes circled overhead but did not strike the tanks, he said.

As representatives of numerous countries met in London to decide the next steps in their Libya effort, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi showed no sign of letting up his effort to crush the rebellion that seeks an end to his nearly 42 years in power.

March 29, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More

US jet crashes in Libya; fighting rages in cities

BU MARIEM, Libya: An American fighter jet crashed in Libya’s rebel held east, both crew ejecting safely as the aircraft spun from the sky during the third night of the US and European air campaign.

Muammar Qadhafi’s forces shelled rebels regrouping in the dunes outside a key eastern city on Tuesday, and his snipers and tanks roamed the last major opposition-held city in the west.

The crash was the first major loss for the US and European military air campaign, which over three nights appears to have hobbled Qadhafi’s air defences and artillery and rescued the rebels from impending defeat.

But the opposition force, with more enthusiasm than discipline, has struggled to exploit the gains. The international alliance, too, has shown fractures as officials struggle to articulate an endgame.

China and Russia, which abstained from the UN Security Council vote authorising the international intervention, called for a cease-fire Tuesday, after a night when international strikes hit Tripoli, destroying a military seaport in the capital.

The US Air Force F-15E came down in field of winter wheat and thistles outside the town of Bu Mariem, about 24 miles (38 kilometers) east of the rebel capital of Benghazi.

By Tuesday afternoon, the plane’s body was mostly burned to ash, with only the wings and tail fins intact.

US officials say both crewmembers were safe in American hands.

”I saw the plane spinning round and round as it came down,” said Mahdi el-Amruni, who rushed to the crash site with other villagers. ”It was in flames. They died away, then it burst in to flames again.”

One of the pilots parachuted into a rocky field and hid in a sheep pen on Hamid Moussa el-Amruni’s family farm.

”We didn’t think it was an American plane. We thought it was a Qadhafi plane. We started calling out to the pilot, but we only speak Arabic. We looked for him and found the parachute. A villager came who spoke English and he called out ‘we are here, we are with the rebels’ and then the man came out,” Hamid Moussa el-Amruni said.

The pilot left in a car with the Benghazi national council, taking with him the water and juice the family provided. They kept his helmet and the parachute.

A second plane strafed the field where the pilot went down. Hamid Moussa el-Amruni himself was shot, suffered shrapnel wounds in his leg and back, but he could still walk. He used an old broomstick as a crutch and said he held no grudge, believing it was an accident.

He said the second crew member came down in a different field and was picked up by a helicopter, an account that coincided with the US explanation of the rescue.

The US Africa Command said both crewmembers were in American hands with minor injuries after what was believed to be a mechanical failure.

Most of eastern Libya, where the plane crashed, is in rebel hands but the force has struggled to take advantage of the gains from the international air campaign.

Ajdabiya, city of 140,000 that is the gateway to the east, has been under siege for a week. Outside the city, a ragtag band of hundreds of fighters milled about on Tuesday, clutching mortars, grenades and assault rifles. Some wore khaki fatigues. One man sported a bright white studded belt.

Some men clambered up power lines in the rolling sand dunes of the desert, squinting as they tried to see Qadhafi’s forces inside the city.

The group periodically came under artillery attacks, some men scattering and others holding their ground.

”Qadhafi is killing civilians inside Ajdabiya,” said Khaled Hamid, a rebel who said he been in Qadhafi’s forces but defected to the rebels. “Today we will enter Ajdabiya, God willing.”

Since the uprising began on Feb. 15, the opposition has been made up of disparate groups even as it took control of the entire east of the country.

Regular army units that joined the rebellion have proven stronger and more organized, but only a few units have joined the battles while many have stayed behind as officers try to coordinate a force with often antiquated, limited equipment.

The rebels pushed into the west of the country in recent weeks, only to fall back to their eastern strongholds in the face of Qadhafi’s superior firepower.

Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city and the last major western redoubt for the rebels, was being bombarded by Qadhafi’s forces on Tuesday, his tanks and snipers controlling the streets, according to a doctor there who said civilians were surviving on dwindling supplies of food and water, desperately in search of shelter.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals if the city falls to Qadhafi’s troops, he accused international forces of failing to protect civilians as promised under the United Nations resolution authorizing military action in Libya.

”Snipers are everywhere in Misrata, shooting anyone who walks by while the world is still watching,” he said. ”The situation is going from bad to worse. We can do nothing but wait.

March 23, 2011 Posted Under: Articles, Cars, Google News, Health News, Mobiles, News update, Recipes, SEO   Read More