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If you thought “protecting civilians” was merely UN-speak for “aiding the rebels” (as many of the rebels did), think again. On the contrary, the fact that NATO believes violence against defenseless people by its putative ally is so likely that deterring it requires a formal warning backed by a threat of bombardment tells you a […]

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The conflict between the stated desire to see Muammar Gaddafi removed from power and the actual authority granted by UNSCR 1973 is becoming readily apparent:

WASHINGTON — Members of the NATO alliance have sternly warned the rebels in Libya not to attack civilians as they push against the regime of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, according to senior military and government officials.

As NATO takes over control of airstrikes in Libya and the Obama administration considers new steps to tip the balance of power there, the coalition has told the rebels that the fog of war will not shield them from possible bombardment by NATO planes and missiles, just as the regime’s forces have been punished.

“We’ve been conveying a message to the rebels that we will be compelled to defend civilians, whether pro-Qaddafi or pro-opposition; said a senior Obama administration official. “We are working very hard behind the scenes with the rebels so we don’t confront a situation where we face a decision to strike the rebels to defend civilians.”

The warnings, and intense consultations within the NATO-led coalition over its rules for attacking anyone who endangers innocent civilians, come at a time when the civil war in Libya is becoming ever more chaotic, and the battle lines ever less distinct. They raise a fundamental question that the military is now grappling with: Who in Libya is a civilian?

In the early days of the campaign, the civilian population needing protection was hunkered down in cities like Benghazi, behind a thin line of rebel defenders who were easily distinguishable from the attacking government forces.

That is no longer always the case. Armed rebels — some in fairly well-organized militias, others merely young men who have picked up rifles to fight alongside them — have moved out of Benghazi in an effort to take control of other population centers along the way, they hope, to seizing Tripoli.

Meanwhile, fresh intelligence this week showed that Libyan government forces were supplying assault rifles to civilians in the town of Surt, which is populated largely by Qaddafi loyalists. These civilian Qaddafi sympathizers were seenchasing rebel forces in nonmilitary vehicles like sedans and trucks, accompanied by Libyan troops, according to American military officers.

The increasing murkiness of the battlefield, as the freewheeling rebels advance and retreat and as fighters from both sides mingle among civilians, has prompted NATO members to issue new “rules of engagement” spelling out when the coalition may attack units on the ground in the name of protecting civilians.

It was unclear how the rules are changing — especially on the critical questions surrounding NATO’s mandate and whether it extends to protecting rebels who are no longer simply defending civilian populated areas like Benghazi, but are instead are themselves on the offensive.

“This is a challenge; said a senior alliance military officer. “The problem of discriminating between combatant and civilian is never easy, and it is compounded when you have Libyan regime forces fighting irregular forces, like the rebel militias, in urban areas populated by civilians.”

The challenge would seem to only become greater if the rebels do manage to return to the outskirts of Surt, or even to Tripoli itself. At that point, we’ll likely be dealing with an urban war not unlike Somalia and it would be exceedingly unclear exactly who it is we’re supposed to be protecting. This has the potential to get much more difficult, and much messier.


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OK, considering may be too strong of a word but the NATO chief sure isn’t ruling it out. That is because the situation in Libya will get worse before it gets worse. Let’s say the rebels are successful in removing Gadaffi, then what? They are going to come together, put their Jeffersonian minds to work, become good civic-minded and rule of law citizens? — that has less chance of working than Harry Reid does in becoming president. The rebel forces in charge in the aftermath will start fighting one another has soon as they stop fighting Gadaffi. Factions will form, alignments will be made, and the strong man to emerge will larger numbers and influence on his side. The others who are fewer in numbers will naturally suffer the consequences. It has all the makings for a nasty civil war and a chance for tribes to carry out retribution against rival tribes. I’ve already went into this, here.

Or, if you like, Gadaffi continues to stay in power and his tanks and artillery continue to pound the rebels. To the point that that the rebellion is crushed and punishment by Gadaffi is meted out to the public in typical Arabic dictator fashion — ‘Duh! It’s called Winning,’ as Charlie Sheen would put it. Much like is shaping up now.

Rebels say ground forces loyal to leader Muammar Qaddafi are closing in on opposition fighters holding the key oil port of Ras Lanouf along the coastal road leading to the capital, heavily shelling the rebels and reversing their advance toward Tripoli.

Warplanes, apparently part of the NATO force that has intervened to weaken the regime’s superior military power, buzzed Wednesday over the zone where the most intense fighting was under way. But no explosions were heard that would indicate new airstrikes.

Qaddafi’s forces hammered rebels with tanks and rockets Tuesday, turning their rapid advance into a panicked retreat in an hourslong battle. The fighting underscored the dilemma facing the U.S. and its allies in Libya: Rebels may be unable to oust Qaddafi militarily unless already contentious international airstrikes go even further in taking out his forces.

Airstrikes alone will not prevent Gadaffi’s army from advancing. The loyal forces have the advantage of being a trained military with tanks, artillery, and rockets. That isn’t to say that the airstrikes have not had an affect. It just hasn’t delivered a knockout punch. So if the goal is to remove Gadaffi, the rebel forces will need help on the ground. And once Gadaffi is removed, the rebel forces will need help on the ground so they don’t start killing one another. Either way, we’re there.

President Obama appears loathsome to the idea of US ground forces in Libya — indeed it is a very bad idea for the US. Arming the rebels as an alternative is an even worse idea, because, again, as I said; if the rebels succeed in removing Gadaffi what happens when several now well armed groups start killing each other? The answer, of course, is NATO and US ground forces establishing a cease fire and playing peace keepers.We can’t do this on the cheap. The Middle East is a black hole for presidents and has plagued every administration since Eisenhower. President Obama is learning nothing is done cheaply and quietly there. What was intended to be a few airstrikes that weakened Gadaffi to the point of capitulation or exile is now spiraling out of control. Obama’s team doesn’t want to face it but they have no real options left.

We should hang a big sign over the Middle East that reads: “Here, if you break it, you buy it.” Maybe then presidential administrations will get the message.

Danger Room | NATO Chief Opens The Door to Libya Ground Troops

The mantra, from President Obama on down, is that ground forces are totally ruled out for Libya. After all, the United Nations Security Council Resolution authorizing the war explicitly rules out any “occupation” forces. But leave it to the top military officer of NATO, which takes over the war on Wednesday, to add an asterisk to that ban. During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked Adm. James Stavridis about NATO putting forces into “post-Gadhafi” Libya to make sure the country doesn’t fall apart. Stavridis said he “wouldn’t say NATO’s considering it yet.” But because of NATO’s history of putting peacekeepers in the Balkans — as pictured above — “the possibility of a stabilization regime exists.”

So welcome to a new possible “endgame” for Libya. Western troops patrolling Libya’s cities during a a shaky transition after Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has fallen, however that’s supposed to happen. Thousands of NATO troops patrolled Bosnia and Kosovo’s tense streets for years. And Iraq and Afghanistan taught the U.S. and NATO very dearly that fierce insurgent conflict can follow the end of a brutal regime. In fact, it’s the moments after the regime falls that can be the most dangerous of all — especially if well-intentioned foreign troops become an object of local resentment.

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Washington (CNN)- As the NATO mission in Libya progressively moves forward, Sen. Lindsey Graham posed the pivotal question of the day, “Can American forces fly under the NATO banner, or has President Obama taken that off the table?”

At issue is a strongly held belief by many Americans and U.S. legislators that American military forces should never take orders from anyone but Americans.

Under the current situation, at some point U.S. unit commanders would be reporting to a NATO command structure that would not necessarily include high-ranking American officers. However, individual American servicemembers like pilots, Marines and soldiers would get their orders from their own American unit commanders.

In an interview that aired Wednesday on CNN’s “The Situation Room; the South Carolina Republican told Wolf Blitzer he would support the decision to transfer the mission to full-on NATO control but not an action to eliminate American-flown missions and weaponry from the NATO force configuration, voicing concern that such measures would undermine the capability of the NATO mission.

“Eliminating U.S. weaponry, grounding U.S. gunships and not allowing U.S. A-10s to fly under NATO command would weaken the entire NATO operation in Libya; Graham said.

Graham, along with Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, have raised concerns about the action in Libya, but have remained supportive of U.S. involvement.

Graham praised Obama’s efforts in Libya but pointed out the “eerie” similarities between the current strategy and the mission the United States carried out in Iraq, saying, “We didn’t have the right strategy to bring the right answer.”

“The right answer is to replace (Libyan strongman Moammar) Gadhafi. If American military power can’t be used, then we have really degraded NATO. I don’t see how you politically replace him if you don’t have the military component to make him leave; Graham said.

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Written by Sasa Milosevic

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

Over 60,000 people in Serbia have joined a Facebook group to publicly support Gaddafi's regime. Credit: Support for Muammar al Gaddafi from the people of Serbia, a Facebook group

A Facebook group titled “Support for Muammar al-Gaddafi from the people of Serbia”, with its 62,500 members, became a serious threat for the Libyan opposition not only due to the support for Gaddafi, but also because of cyberattacks on the opposition's web site.

The cyber war initiated by pro-Gaddafi Serbian citizens, recruited mainly from the Serbian ultranationalists, rang out in the international media and panicked the Libyan Youth Movement (@shabablibya), “a group of Libyan Youth both in and out of Libya inspired by our brothers and sisters in Egypt and Tunis.”

Mohammed al-Sabah, a Libyan Youth Movement representative, said this to the Serbian media:

Thousands of Internet users from Serbia are attacking and infringing on our sites daily with anti-NATO and anti-EU slogans, so much that [the sites become] completely useless. We do not claim that all of them are hackers, but it is clear that it is an organized campaign. If something is not done soon, things will get worse for us.

According to Milan Kovacevic, a web administrator and author of the book “Cryptography in Electronic Banking; Serbian hackers are not independent in their actions, but are a part of international groups:

These are two of hacker groups: “C1337ORG” and “Black Hand.” A big part of the attackers are actually foreigners who hide behind Internet address of ordinary users from Serbia.

He adds that it is possible that among the Libyan rebels there exist insiders who are informing Serbian hackers where and how to attack.

Administrators of the most popular Serbian Facebook page deny any connections with ultranationalists, explaining the essence of support for Gaddafi:

Gaddafi was sending oil to us when we were under economic sanctions. Gaddafi did not recognize Kosovo's independence. After the bombing in 1999, he sent money for Serbia's recovery. Gaddafi was providing employment to our people while they had nothing to eat here. Gaddafi is fighting against the people who have destroyed our childhood. So we are with him! Colonel, win for all of us!”

Daniel Vidal wrote in a comment to this statement:

I heard that Gaddafi gives €2500 to each student who wants to study outside Libya. He also gives them a car…

Milan Veris added:

Gaddafi is a living legend. Twenty years ago, this man built the most modern plumbing in the world. He brought water to Libya directly from the Nile.

(Because of this desert irrigation project, Belgrade's private Megatrend University awarded Gaddafi an honorary doctorate in 2007. Some of Gaddafi's opponents in Serbia, however, consider that a marketing trick to attract Libyan students to this university in the Serbian capital.)

Gorica Pukmajster wrote:

I am one of those whose family was fed by Gaddafi's salary, which, back then, was ten times what I was making when I worked in Belgrade.

Below are some more Facebook comments.

Dusan Duda Stevanovic

An army of monkeys led by a lion worth more than an army of lions led by a monkey.

Pathos Ydoni:

To the east of Libya, in cities that are controlled by the rebels, mobs and gangs, according to several human rights organizations, are virtually committing a crime against humanity. […] Rape, murder and torture are normal for rebels…

Trese Babe Oraje got this information from friends in Libya:

The rebels intercepted four buses from Tripoli to Benghazi, with people who started the peaceful protests in support of the Libyan army and stopping the NATO aggression. They took them hostage, and they beat even the women.

The NATO action in Libya has caused some young Serbs, who still live with the memories of the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, to react with hatred.

Burek Pekaric:

These are the disturbed minds, and I really think to go to the French and Italian embassies and kick them with empty beer bottles on their heads. Monsters.

Ljubomir Popovski suggested this:

First, it should start from the dead. All French soldiers should be dug out from the New Cemetery and sent to France in cattle wagons. Second, all French monuments from Kalemegdan should be removed. Third, the French embassy in Belgrade should be closed and turned it into a museum of the NATO aggression.

Will exchange Tadic for Gaddafi. Credit:

The most rigorous critics are those Serbs who are disappointed with the decision of the Serbian president Boris Tadić to publicly distance himself from Gaddafi's government, “washing his own hands” of the long-term arms trade with Libya.

Vladimir Speed Savic urges:

Gaddafi, take from Tadic the Persian carpet you gave him last year for the Day of the Libyan revolution. And the honorary medal… Let Sarkozy weave him a new one at his own expense…

The administrator of the group posted a video of Radio Television Vojvodina from the time when the Serbian Ministry of Foreign Affair paid a visit to Gaddafi, thanking him for not recognizing Kosovo. Foreign minister Vuk Jeremić and his group performed a deep bow for Gaddafi.

Some of the group's members warn that the Serbian police and the Serbian Inteliigence Agency ((BIA)) are monitoring online activities in the well-known dictatorial style.

Marko Nikolic posts this alarm:

Twenty of them from BIA are here in this group and they are posting messages to the wall.

Jebes Chuck Norris, Gaddafi ujedinio Srbe reveals:

We welcome the night shift of MUP [Ministry of the Interior] that monitors our group with fake profiles.

Bloggers on also offer public support to the “defiant” Libyan leader, as the Western media describe him.

Cho-Seung Hui says:

The president who would welcome us to free ourselves forever from joining the European Union, democracy, the rule of human rights, privatization, globalization, capitalism and other disasters that have befallen us after the October 5, [2000].

As_basket_player_5 concludes:

Until a few days ago, a totally irrelevant figure in our lives, and now a hero in Serbia. Nobody knows why.

This post is part of our special coverage Libya Uprising 2011.

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Repeat as necessary: It’s not a war. Yet, given the news today about a quietly expanding air campaign, possible weapons shipments to the rebels, and maybe even ground troops down the line, it surely isn’t a “time-limited, scope-limited military action” anymore either. We need a new euphemism. How about a “Flexible, Unified Bombardment/Air Reaction”? Hillary […]

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“Due diligence.”

Better late than never?  Eleven days after the West started bombing Libya’s armed forces, the man who will take charge of the effort at NATO says that the US has detected “flickers” of al-Qaeda involvement in the rebel forces assisted by the bombing campaign.   NATO will now perform some “due diligence” to ensure that we’re […]

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A Guardian reader bristles at the new intervention:

I fail to see just how this is anything to do with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. Nato exists as a mutual defence pact in the event that one member country is attacked, all members are deemed to have been attacked and all members retaliate appropriately under Nato command. Only one country has been attacked – Libya is not a member state and the attackers are. The Nato involvement in Afghanistan was stretching the purpose of the treaty to breaking point but this has gone too far. If the US, France and UK need a legitimate "umbrella" organisation to cover their aggression then come up with a new one.

Judah Grunstein uses the NATO intervention as an opportunity to examine global security gaps.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

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NATO insisted that it would “remain impartial” in the Libyan conflict when it takes over command of Operation Odyssey Dawn, but the New York Times and CBS both report that the White House sounds a lot more interested in picking sides.  In fact, the ranking American commander in the coalition, General Carter Ham, warned today […]

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In the last couple of days, rebels have been sweeping towards Tripoli, capturing or recapturing one town after another — Ajdabiya, Brega, Uqayla, Ras Lanuf and Bin Jawad, according to the BBC. Sirte is still a Gaddafi stronghold, while Misrata is the scene of bitter fighting.

Libya military actions - March 26 (BBC)Libya military actions – March 26 (BBC)

However, no one is doubting that the rebels were successful only because of the air strikes provided by the US-led coalition and operationg “Odyssey Dawn; based on authorization last week by the UN Security Council, according to AP. Al-Jazeera on Sunday showed rows of tanks along the coast road demolished by coalition missiles.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made the rounds of the Sunday morning news talk shows, appearing on every one (but not permitted to appear on Fox News Sunday — apparently the war is still going on).

Here are the excerpts from Face the Nation that I found most interesting:

“BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, let’s talk about Libya a little then. We have- the U.N. resolution is in place. It’s established a no-fly zone. NATO is going to take over the operations there. But it does not call for regime change. And the President has said that Mister Mac- Qaddafi has to go. That seems a bit contradictory.

ROBERT GATES: Well, I don’t think so. I think you- what you’re seeing is the difference between a military mission and a policy objective. The military mission is very limited and restricted to the establishment of the no-fly zone and for humanitarian purposes to prevent Qaddafi from being used to his armed forces to slaughter his own people. That’s it. And- and, one of the things that I think is central is you don’t in a military campaign set as a mission or a goal something you’re not sure you can achieve. And if we’ve learned anything over the past number of years, regime change is very complicated. And- and can be very expensive and can take a long time. And so I think the key here was establishing a military mission that was achievable was achievable on a limited period of time and that could be sustained.

BOB SCHIEFFER: What- what would be an acceptable outcome? You want him out. But would you be satisfied if the country wound up partitioned or something of that nature?

HILLARY CLINTON: I think it’s too soon to predict that. I mean one of the reasons why we are forming a political contact group in London this coming week is because we want to get a unified political approach just as we have forged a unified military approach. And as- as both Bob and I have said, there are many ways that this could move toward the- the end state. If you think about what happened in the nineties, you know, it- it took a while for Milosevic to leave but you could see his days were numbered even though he wasn’t yet out of office. And so, there’s a lot of ways that this could unfold. What is clear is that Qaddafi himself is losing ground.”

This is very interesting. I don’t believe that I’ve heard an argument like this before. It makes a virtue out of not having an objective for the Libyan intervention. I actually have some sympathy for this argument, but it seems strange to hear it, after hearing for years that every military action should have clearly defined objective.

The other bit of very strange news on Sunday was that command for the entire operation was to be turned over to Nato. You’ll recall that it had already been decided that implementation of the “no-fly zone” was to be commanded by Nato, so what was new on Sunday is that Nato will also command the part of the mission where fighter jets go into Libya and blow up Gaddafi’s tanks and troops.

Or, at least that’s what we assume the agreement means, based on the following description from NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, according to CNN:

“Our goal is to protect civilians and civilian-populated areas under threat of attack from the Gadhafi regime. NATO will implement all aspects of the U.N. resolution. Nothing more, nothing less.”

The problem with all this is Turkey. It was just three days ago that a French fighter jet destroyed a Libyan air force plane that was violating the no-fly zone. It was destroyed by a French air-to-ground missile, just after it landed, according to the Guardian.

Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan vitriolically attacked French president Nicolas Sarkozy:

“I wish that those who only see oil, gold mines and underground treasures when they look in [Libya’s] direction, would see the region through glasses of conscience from now on.”

Thus, it’s not surprising that the announcement of Nato command on Sunday conspicuously did not provide any details of what will be permitted.

Before today, Erdogan was bitterly opposed to Nato command, because it would mean that Turkish forces might be used against the Libyans. But on Sunday, Erdogan demanded Nato command, so that Turkey could influence the course of the action. The Guardian quotes him as follows:

“We have been opposed to any unilateral action and we could never accept appeals such as that by the French minister for a new crusade. But for Turkey, it’s out of the question to shoot at Libyan people or drop bombs on the Libyan people. Turkey’s role will be to withdraw from Libya as soon as possible [and] restore the unity and integrity of the country based on the democratic demands of the people.

[It’s vital that] this deployment should not be carried out for Libya’s oil. Of course there will be a price for these actions and no one can guarantee that Libya won’t have to pay a price. …

I’m afraid we could see another Afghanistan or a second Iraq emerging. When western forces entered Afghanistan nearly 10 years ago, people were talking of it being over in days, and people said the same in Iraq. But a million have died and a civilisation has as good as collapsed. We don’t want to see a similar picture in Libya.”

It’s hard for me, at least, to see how all this is going to be sorted out. I agree with those commentators who say that Gaddafi will never agree to back down, since he’s obviously enjoying himself right now, playing the international victim.

President Obama has announced that he will give a televised speech on Monday evening. Perhaps then we’ll know everything.

China bitterly attacks Libya military intervention

China could have vetoed the UN resolution authorizing the Libya military intervention, but was talked into abstaining through the charms of two women, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice. But now the Chinese appear to regret this action, if we’re to judge from the following, appearing in the state-run media Xinhua:

“The ongoing West-led “Odyssey Dawn” military operation against Libya, which was launched on March 19, apparently is adding fuel to the fire of the Libyan crisis instead of bringing the light of “dawn” to the North African country.

The operation, dominated by Western powers including France, Britain, the United States and Italy, has caused huge civilian casualties, building and infrastructure damage and hundreds of thousands of refugees. It has escalated the Libyan conflict, which started in mid-February.

It apparently has overstepped the authorization of the UN resolution on Libya adopted on March 17, raised questions and triggered disturbance in the region and around the world at large. …

Meanwhile, the operation was initiated under the pretext of “humanitarian” assistance and protecting Libyan civilians, but the results, ironically, turned out to be more civilian deaths and a deteriorating humanitarian crisis.

Libyan authorities said over 100 civilians had been killed by the air strikes, and the UN Refugee Agency said over 350,000 Libyan refugees had fled the country up to Wednesday. …

In Homer’s glorious ancient Greek epic poem “The Odyssey; the Greek hero Odysseus, after the fall of the Troy city, finally managed to return home and accomplished his long-cherished dream after a 10-year arduous trek.

However, the West-led Odyssey Dawn operation is complicating and worsening the situation in Libya and bringing about more sufferings to the Libyan people. The real “dawn” for the Libyan people, alleged as the operation’s aim, apparently is still far, far away.”

Imagine that – a Beijing blogger quoting Homer!

China’s food imports keep rising, while exports fall

China's corn imports and exports (WSJ)China’s corn imports and exports (WSJ)

A high level agricultural official, Chen Xiwen, is criticizing China’s policy of demanding that each year’s grain harvest be larger than the previous year’s setting a new record each year. “Chasing ever-higher output levels may mean over-fertilization and unsafe agriculture; said Chen, indirectly referencing the Law of Diminishing Returns. China’s grain imports;China used to be the world’s largest soybean producer, now it’s the world’s largest soybean importer; said Chen. Wall Street Journal (Access)

Iran speaks out against Syria’s pro-democracy protesters

12 more protesters were killed on Sunday by Syria’s army, after two days of fierce anti-government protests in the port city of Latakia. Iran, which considers Syria an ally, is portraying Syria’s protesters as “agitators.” But Iran has spoken out in support of protesters in Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Of course, Iran’s government has never had a kind word for peaceful protesters at home. Guardian

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(Claire Berlinski)

The latest development in the saga of the Imam’s Army suggests a novel development in political history: Conspiracy theories-which you would not think capable of agency or intention-have quietly, secretly penetrated every organ of the Turkish body politic, where they have been lying in wait patiently, waiting for the signal from their hidden master. They have, as of today, taken control. Whoever we think we’re dealing with, they’re not really in charge anymore. The conspiracy theories are:

Remember I mentioned the site that claims to have Ahmet Şık’s book and to be counting down to releasing it on the Internet? Reported today in Hürriyet: ‘The website’s manager appears to be “cemaat” and the address in the site’s “Information” section is that of Fethullah Gülen’s real address in Pennsylvania. The person who purchased the URL apparently lives in Washington.’

Oh, oh, oh. So many questions. First-what the hell? You get it what a cemaat is, right? There’s no translation with all the emotive overtones in English. The literal translation is “religious organization; but in this context it should be translated as “a member of Fethullah Gülen’s multi-tentacled conspiracy to bring the entire solar system under his control.” Now remember, Şık’s book-allegedly-contains evidence that Gülen has taken control of the police, and when the police carted him off, Şık was shouting, “Anyone who touches Gülen burns!” So the intimation that this website is actually a Gülenist front is-how can I put this?-look, whoever’s handling this book’s publicity, can we be in touch? I want you on Team Berlinski.

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The truth that Obama won’t accept.
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ABC’s Ann Compton reports: The Obama White House is convinced NATO will pick up the full military burden In Libya in the next few days, allowing American pilots to stand down, dramatically reducing the risk to US forces. Ben Rhodes,…

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NATO takes over no-fly zone

Top news: NATO has agreed to take over enforcement of the internationally mandated no-fly zone over Libya. Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that all 28 members, including initially reluctant Turkey, had agreed, but that talks would continue over the possibility of giving NATO "broader responsibility," likely referring to attacks against Libyan government ground troops. In a boost to the coalition’s efforts to recruit Arab allies, the United Arab Emirates has agreed to commit 12 warplanes to the effort. 

France declared the no-fly zone "under control" on Friday as planes continued to strike Qaddafi forces outside the strategic city of Ajdabiyah. Rebel spokesmen say they expected the government controlled city to fall on Friday or Saturday. Another air raid was reported near Tripoli before dawn today. 

Nato officials say planning for for the operations is assuming a timetable of about 90 days. Representatives of the Qaddafi regime met with the African Union in Ethiopia on Friday for what the U.N. hopes will be the beginning of talks to resolve the crisis. The AU criticized Qaddafi, its former head on Friday, with Chairman Jean
Ping calling the aspirations of the Libyan people "legitimate" and
calling for transitional elections. 

Japan: The number of those killed by Japan’s earthquake rose past 10,000. The evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactor has been extended.


Middle East

  • Thousands marched in the Southern Syrian city of Daraa to protest the killing of more than a dozen people shot by security forces. Officials promised to institute reforms, including, possibly, lifting the state of emergency, which has been in place since 1963. 
  • As protests escalated, President Ali Abdullah Saleh said he was ready to hand over power, but only to "good hands." 
  • Gaza militants have fired a new wave of rockets deep into Israeli territory. 



  • Former Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma was charged with the killing of an investigative journalists more than 10 years ago. 
  • Portugal and Ireland’s economic troubles are dominating the EU summit in Brussels. 
  • Portugal’s debt rating has been downgraded for a second time. 



  • At a summit in Nigeria, West African leaders demanded that the AU take a stronger role to control the violence in Ivory Coast. 
  • Nigeria’s opposition candidates are boycotting an election debate with President Goodluck Jonathan. 
  • Government ministers in Swaziland have agreed to cut their salaries by 10 percent in response to massive pro-democracy protests. 


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