Obama, “Where do We Go From Here?”

In my analysis of the information available from many different sources, I find that the US is in a quandary about what to do the Middle East. Where does America draw the line? This could escalate into the next Iraq or total war in the Middle-East, where we have very few friends. It should be time and lessons learned that the US must not intervene in the state of affaires of a Foreign Nation. There is a time to War, and time for peace. The US has problems at home and should attend to those as a first priority. Simply speaking we the American People and the US Government can not afford another Trillion Dollar bid for peace. These countries will accept our help, and then accuse us of stealing their Oil, occupying their lands and mandating our culture on them. It is time to let go and resolve our problems at home.

The Middle Eastern Countries do not want us!

Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, blamed “conspirators” for two weeks of anti-government protests that have rocked the nation but failed to lift emergency rule or offer other concessions.
In his first address to the nation since the start of a violent crackdown on protests demanding greater freedoms that erupted earlier this month, Assad said Syria was going through a “test of unity”.”I belong to the Syrian people, and whoever belongs to the Syrian people will always keep his head high,” he said in the televised address before members of parliament in the capital, Damascus, on Wednesday.”I know that the Syrian people have been awaiting this speech since last week, but I was waiting to get the full picture … to avoid giving an emotional address that would put the people at ease but have no real effect, at a time when our enemies are targeting Syria,” he said.

Serious Grievances’

“Many Syrians have serious grievances which they want addressed, but many others appreciate the peace and stability they have enjoyed under the Assad regimes compared to the catastrophes suffered by Iraq and Lebanon,” Patrick Seale, who wrote a biography of Assad’s late father, Hafez said in a telephone interview from London yesterday.

Assad said today that Syria was the victim of a “huge conspiracy” and that his regime is “the last obstacle in the face of the Israeli plot.”

Syria has been in a state of war with Israel since the creation of the Jewish state and Syrian state-run media often refers to Israeli plots against the country.

LIBYA who is Friendly and who is not?

“There’s no way of knowing what’s friendly territory or not. Front lines change hour by hour, and the military doesn’t receive that information immediately, nor are commanders “100 per cent” certain where friendly forces are positioned. The coalition’s method of targeting Gaddafi‘s troops seems comparatively unsophisticated, relying not on vehicle markings or on-the-ground intelligence sources but on simple behaviour, a “sure sign of intent”. “First of all, they watch them for a while, they can see [the unit] and observe it, they can see where they’re going and coming from, they can watch tanks… if they turn north toward the fighting and fire toward what is known as a civilian target, [we] would attack them. “But it’s a pretty high burden of truth.”

In Iraq, US air forces used radio technology to identify whether vehicles were friendly, but in Libya discerning opposing sides is extremely difficult, said David Hartwell, a UK-based Middle East security specialist for Jane’s Defence Weekly.

The problem stems from a lack of education and a fluid battle with ill-defined front lines that leave pockets of opposition and loyalist forces scattered throughout the country, he said. Since the air campaign began only recently, it’s possible that crews don’t fully understand the political attitudes on the ground in Libya.”There perhaps hasn’t been time for the education process.”  “Clearly these pilots, these guys in these situations have to think on their feet, and to some extent you’ve got be a bit of a diplomat.”The military’s default reaction to a downed pilot is to expect the worst and defer to the opinion of the man on the ground, he said, but since the UN resolution was specifically meant to protect Libyans from harm, there is a “huge onus” on avoiding civilian casualties.Ultimately, the life-or-death choice over the proper response lies in the hands of the responding pilot, improvising his reaction based on information provided by an anxious airman who doesn’t speak Arabic and just ejected into unknown territory.

Not knowing whether the approaching trucks were friendly or loyal to Gaddafi, “The  pilot may well have sort of reviewed the situation [and] said, ‘Well yes, I can stop the convoy, but I don’t necessarily have to blow it up,” Hartman said.

More reading:

Obama ‘orders covert help for Libya rebels’ – Americas – Al Jazeera English.

Libya Out of Time; Gaddafi is on the March!

Libya troops advance east; powers want Gaddafi out

ReutersBy Maria Golovnina and Michael Georgy | Reuters – Wed, Mar 30, 2011 8:03 AM SGT

(Reuters) – Muammar Gaddafi‘s better armed and organised troops reversed the rapid westward advance of rebels on Tuesday as world powers meeting in London piled pressure on the Libyan leader to step down.

A conference of 40 governments and international bodies agreed to press on with a NATO-led aerial bombardment of Libyan forces until Gaddafi complied with a U.N. resolution to end violence against civilians. It also set up a contact group comprising 20 countries and organisations, including Arab states, the African Union and the Arab League, to coordinate international support for an orderly transition to democracy in Libya. “All of us must continue to increase the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Gaddafi regime through other means as well,” U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said after the London talks finished.

“This includes a unified front of political and diplomatic pressure that makes clear to Gaddafi that he must go.” The United States, Britain and Qatar suggested that Gaddafi and his family could be allowed to go into exile if they took up the offer quickly to end six weeks of bloodshed. Washington and Paris also raised the possibility of arming the rebels, although both stressed no decision had been taken.

However, U.S. President Barack Obama told NBC television that he had already agreed to provide aid such as communications equipment, medical supplies and potentially transportation aid to the Libyan opposition, but no military hardware.

PENDULUM SWINGS

Without the help of air strikes, the rebels seem unable to make advances or even hold positions, and on the ground the pendulum of fighting swung back Gaddafi’s way.

It took five days of foreign air strikes to pulverize Libyan government tanks around the town of Ajdabiyah before Gaddafi’s troops fled and the rebels rushed in and began a 300-km (200-mile), two-day dash across the desert to within 80 km (50 miles) of the Gaddafi loyalist stronghold of Sirte. But the rebel pick-up truck cavalcade was first ambushed, then outflanked by Gaddafi troops. Government forces retook the small town of Nawfaliyah, 120 km (75 miles) east of Sirte, and rebels said they had been pushed back a further 25 km (15 miles) to the outskirts of the larger Bin Jawad.

“The Gaddafi guys hit us with Grads (rockets) and they came round our flanks,” Ashraf Mohammed, a 28-year-old rebel wearing a bandolier of bullets, told a Reuters reporter at the front.As the onslaught began, rebels leapt behind sand dunes to fire back. After a few minutes they gave up, jumped into their pick-up trucks and sped off back towards Bin Jawad. Reports that some Nawfaliyah residents fought alongside government troops were an ominous sign for world powers hoping to end Gaddafi’s rule without a descent into all-out civil war.

In western Libya, rebels and forces loyal to Gaddafi both claimed control over parts of Misrata, Libya’s third city, which has been besieged by government forces for more than a month. State television said thousands of people were taking part in a march in support of Gaddafi in Misrata, which it said had been “cleansed of armed terrorist gangs.” It was the third time the channel said Misrata had been recaptured from rebels.

A rebel spokesman called Sami said Gaddafi’s forces had tried to enter the town from the east. “Fighting is still taking place now. Random bombardment is continuing,” he told Reuters by telephone from the city. “The humanitarian situation is catastrophic. There is a shortage of food and medicine. The hospital is no longer able to deal with the situation.”

LACK OF FOOD

Aid agencies are increasingly worried about a lack of food and medicines, especially in towns such as Misrata where a siege by Gaddafi’s forces deprives them of access. “It is difficult to even get water in from wells outside the town because of the positions of the forces,” said Abdulrahman, a resident of Zintan in the west, cut off by pro-Gaddafi forces.

The U.N. refugee agency said it had reports of thousands of families living in makeshift shelters cut off from assistance. Protection of civilians remains the most urgent goal of the air strikes, and British Prime Minister David Cameron accused Gaddafi’s supporters of “murderous attacks” on Misrata.

A series of powerful explosions rocked Tripoli on Tuesday and state television said several targets in the Libyan capital had come under attack in rare daytime strikes. The Pentagon said 115 strike sorties had been flown against Gaddafi’s forces in the last 24 hours, and 22 Tomahawk cruise missiles had been fired.

The United States is scaling back to a “supporting role” to let NATO take full command of the air campaign from U.S. forces on Wednesday, but air strikes by U.S., French and British planes remain key to smashing Gaddafi’s armour. Obama told NBC that military pressure and international sanctions had “greatly weakened” Gaddafi, adding: “He does not have control over most of Libya at this point.” Washington says it has seen no evidence of civilian casualties of the bombardment, but Gaddafi accused Western powers of massacres of Libyan civilians in alliance with rebels who he said were al Qaeda members. “Stop your brutal and unjust attack on our country … Hundreds of Libyans are being killed because of this bombardment. Massacres are being mercilessly committed against the Libyan people,” he said in a letter to world leaders. “We are a people united behind the leadership of the revolution, facing the terrorism of al Qaeda on the one hand and on the other hand terrorism by NATO, which now directly supports al Qaeda,” Libya’s official news agency quoted him as saying.

ELECTIONS

The rebels deny any al Qaeda links and on Tuesday promised free and fair elections if Gaddafi is forced from power.

Admiral James Stavridis, head of U.S. European Command, told the U.S. Senate that intelligence on the rebel forces had shown ‘flickers’ of al Qaeda or Hezbollah presence, but no “detail sufficient to say there is a significant al Qaeda presence”.

Clinton met the opposition Libyan National Council envoy Mahmoud Jebril before the London talks. After the conference, she said a political resolution could include Gaddafi leaving the country, and noted that a U.N. special envoy would visit Tripoli soon to explore that option and urge Gaddafi to implement a real ceasefire. “As you know there is a lot of reaching out that is occurring, a lot of conversations that are going on,” she said. “He will have to make a decision and that decision, so far as we’re aware, has not yet been made.”

Obama once again ruled out sending ground troops to Libya or directly toppling Gaddafi militarily. “To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq,” Obama said in a televised address before the conference. However, the United States and France both said they could consider arming the rebels. “I’m not ruling it in, I’m not ruling it out,” Obama told NBC. Washington argues that this possibility is covered by the U.N. resolution, but even its allies disagree.

“I remind you it is not part of the U.N. resolution, which France sticks to,” French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe told reporters, “but we are ready to discuss it with our partners.”

(Additional reporting by Angus MacSwan, Alexander Dziadosz, Edmund Blair, Maria Golovnina, Michael Georgy, Ibon Villelabeitia, Lamine Chikhi, Hamid Ould Ahmed, Marie-Louise Gumuchian, Andrew Quinn, David Brunnstrom, Steve Holland and Alister Bull; Writing by Jon Hemming and Kevin Liffey; Editing by Peter Millership)

More Insight –

Al Jazeera reports that Troops loyal to Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, have shelled pro-democracy forces heading west on the main coastal highway, pushing them out of Bin Jawad, a small town around 150km east of Sirte, Gaddafi’s hometown.

Al Jazeera’s Hoda-Abdel Hamid, on the road leading east from Ras Lanuf, reported that explosions had also occured in that town on Tuesday, which opposition fighters had earlier retreated to from Bin Jawad.

“So certainly what we can say at this stage is that Bin Jawad is not any more in the hands of the rebels, actually the Gaddafi forces now are managing to pound Ras Lanuf and are getting closer and closer to them, pushing the opposition fighters eastwards more and more,” she said.

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The World Should see This!

This shocking Chinese public service announcement has garnered the attention it hoped for.

In an effort to promote safe driving, traffic authorities released the below segment, which depicts what some think may be the most dangerous intersection in the world. The 12-minute video threads a series of accidents captured by surveillance cameras on a busy road in the city of Heze, in the Shandong province. And the gruesome crash compilation has gone viral–within 22 hours of its posting on Chinese video sharing site Youku , the piece has amassed more than 2 million views and 279 pages of comments.   

As Youku describes the video (translated from its original Chinese text):

Installing surveillance cameras is just one method, but improving motorists and the people’s traffic safety knowledge is the key. We cannot stop traffic accidents from happening, but we will do our best to prevent and reduce the occurrence of accidents. Rise up together all people and all police, and work towards building a safe and peaceful Heze, work towards being able to go home to eat with our loved ones…

Comment: Every-Country and especially in Asia should take heed of the drastic needs to improve our citizens appreciation for life and limb. Police start doing your JOB. Save the people from dieing unneccessarily.

Hotdogfish!

Muammar Gaddafi’s Forces “Fight to Save the Oil”

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi‘s forces have gained control in part of Misrata, according to rebels.

International journalists were taken to a suburb in Libya‘s third largest city as part of a government escorted trip. Constant crackle of automatic fire could be heard, both close and in the distance, and rising smoke could be seen from several parts of the city.

Around Tripoli Street, in a suburb in the southern part of the city and under the control of pro-Gaddafi forces, soldiers manned checkpoints. About four pro-Gaddafi gunmen were visible on rooftops around the area where journalists were taken. Many buildings were riddled with bullet holes, windows were smashed and rubble from houses was visible. Burnt remnants of military and civilian vehicles, as well as fuel tanks, could be seen. There were few civilians inside and on the outskirts of the city. Some civilians came to where the journalists were. Women and children waved green flags. A resident said: “Misrata is ours, there are still some bad guys in other parts, but Gaddafi is winning, the city is ours.” Although rebels have made recent advances in the east, Misrata was the only city under their control in the west. International organisations have expressed concern about humanitarian conditions in the besieged city.

Rebel Convoy

NATO was in the process of taking over command from the U.S.-led coalition after all 28 NATO allies agreed on the transfer on Sunday, Lt.Gen. Charles Bouchard, commander of NATO’s military operations in Libya, said at the Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy. ” The transition would take a couple of days,” said Bouchard.

President Barack Obama on Monday delivered a major speech on the administration policy toward Libya, claiming the U.S. military intervention was to avoid civilian casualties in the North African country instead of “regime change”. Facing mounting domestic and international criticism for his ambiguous military policy in Libya recently, Obama’s speech was aimed at easing the criticism.

At present, how the military intervention will end remains unknowable at this stage, experts said, and critics fault Obama for not providing an outline of what comes next. In his 27-minute speech delivered at National Defense University, Obama defended U.S. involvement in Libya, saying the intervention was to safeguard “interests and values” of the United States. “When our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.”  “The United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners.”

Meanwhile, Obama said broadening the military mission in Libya to include “regime change” would be a mistake.

Oil prices hovered below $104 a barrel Tuesday in Asia as traders eyed gains by Libyan rebels seeking to topple Moammar Gaddafi and restart crude exports from the OPEC nation. Oil prices have come off near two-year highs above $106 last week after coalition bombing pushed back Gaddafi forces and allowed rebels to retake key oil ports. Fighting is expected to become more fierce as rebels approach Gaddafi stronghold Tripoli, the capital.

In Review: Hotdogfish