Sarkozy and Cameron visited Tripoli yesterday. Gen Carter Ham, the commander of the Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM), was also present and made comments. Note that the following quotes were issued publicly in speeches; these are not ‘anonymous government official who declined to be identified’ hints as to what they mean:
In his speech in Tripoli, Cameron stressed that the NATO war on the country would continue. “There are still parts of Libya under Gaddafi’s control, Gaddafi is still at large, and we must make sure this work is completed,” said Cameron. “We must keep up with the NATO mission until civilians are all protected and this work is finished.”
The pretense that the “NATO is protecting civilians becomes more absurd each day. As Cameron spoke, NATO warplanes bombed the towns of Sirte and Bani Walid. NATO’s massive fire power is being used to enable the “rebels” to carry out the kind of siege of these population centers that the Western alliance initially claimed it was intervening to stop pro-Gaddafi forces from carrying out in Benghazi.
[My note: Sirte and Bani Walid are 2 of the several civilian towns under siege. Electricity and water have been cut off. The rebels asked NATO to simply strafe the towns into dust to save them the trouble of sorting the pro-Ghaddfi civilians from the pro-rebel civilians. It appears that NATO has decided to start with this procedure. On 10 Sept, residents of Bani Walid testified that chemical weapons such as mustard gas were being used by NATO in their town and sent out a plea for help.]
Cameron added that Britain would …deploy a team of British military “advisers” to assist the NTC.
There has been widespread speculation in the media that the Sarkozy government would cash in on being the first to recognize the NTC and the first to begin bombing Libya, with the French oil giant Total emerging as the number one beneficiary…Though fighting continues in Libya and there are signs that the NATO-sponsored regime change may produce a new civil war, both Sarkozy and Cameron suggested in their speeches Thursday that the Libyan war provided a new model for imperialist interventions.
In his remarks, Sarkozy issued a veiled threat that Syria could be the next target. “I dream that one day young Syrians will be as lucky as the young Libyans today, that one day they will also be able to say: ‘democracy and a peaceful revolution are for us.’”
Meanwhile, the commander of the Pentagon’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) made it clear that the US military sees the Libyan war as the prelude to new imperialist wars in the region. Gen. Carter Ham indicated that AFRICOM’s role in the Libyan intervention had been something of a baptism by fire for a command that had been largely dedicated to military assistance missions and attempts to find bases for US military forces on the African continent.
“Dropping bombs and Tomahawks, those kind of things, was not something the command had practiced to the degree we were required to do” in Libya, he said. “The question for us now is how do we sustain that so that if we would have to do this again, we’d start at a higher plateau.”
Ham also said that he wanted to secure more special operations forces for AFRICOM to conduct “counterterrorism” operations in Africa. He pointed to three groups that he said posed a threat: Al-Shabab in East Africa, the Nigeria-based Boko Haram and Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM).
This last group, AQIM, had merged in 2007 with the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group from which much of the leadership of the NATO-backed rebel forces in Libya are drawn.
Ham voiced concern about reports that portable surface-to-air missiles from the Gaddafi regime’s stockpile had gone missing as a result of the US-NATO war. He also said that Washington and NATO had to ensure that the Islamist elements that they have armed and supported do not “reemerge to be part of the interim government or subsequent government.”
[My note: Somehow, the rebels have managed to get hold of 20,000 surface to air missiles. Kucinich mentioned this as a major concern in his speech on Libya last week, saying, “Western officials, perhaps the same geniuses who knowingly helped Libyan rebels with ties to Al Qaeda overthrow the Libyan government, are now worried the surface to air missiles and other weapons will get into the wrong hands”.]