Posts tagged ‘NATO’

May 23, 2011

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April 26, 2011

The poisoned chalice of NATO’s aid to the Libyan rebels

Depleted Uranium birth defects and cancers in Iraq, Afganistan and the Former Yugosalvia

[Akif Brownlie, Libya News Contributor]

International reports suggest that it is a well known secret that NATO forces assisting the rebels in Libya are using depleted uranium ordinance (‘DU‘) in their bombing strikes on Col. Gaddafi’s forces.

Whilst DU weapons are effective tools for wearing down the wily Colonel, there are serious questions now by the international community concerning the devastation on the health of all Libyans that the use of these weapons will bring.

DU is highly toxic as a radioactive substance and because of that analysts and international public health monitors, like the World Health Organisation, are echoing the view of the international community that there will be serious and wide-ranging permanent effects on the health of Libyans for many years to come from radiation contamination brought about by NATO’s shelling of their country.  That is because DU is proved to have devastated the health of residents in countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia, where it has been used in bombing attacks by NATO forces.

It was in 1991, that the US military, in a real war for some time and keen to test out its new super toxic DU amour piercing artillery deployed the use of DU material in its military invasion of Iraq.  Later on and delighted by the apparent usefulness of DU to create weapons of serious destruction in Iraq, the USA used DU ordinance again to pound peace into the conflict in the former Yugosalvia.

But questions began to pile up with regard to the usefulness of DU in war as cancer rates began to increase in more than 5 provinces in southern Iraq which had been shelled by the Americans. Chilling facts had emerged for the World Health Organization which found that the DU shells had contaminated the air, water and soil in the areas with highly toxic radiation which was linked to the increased cancer cases.  As such, by 2003, leukemia south of Baghdad had skyrocketed and by 2009, cancer rates had increased by the rate of thousands year by year. In 2011, reports suggest that the problem is getting worse.

In Yugoslavia too, where the ordinance had been used, leukemia symptoms became epidemic and in some parts of the country radiation levels had risen to up to 1000 times above normal. Even NATO troops suffered from the use of DU and more than 250 Italian force members have since died from DU-related cancer. As for civilians, cancer rates went up from 1 per 1000 per each new-born baby to more than 15 per 1000.

Analysts are saying that there is no need for US, or NATO forces to use DU as there is nothing to indicate that non-DU bombs can be less effective. Furthermore, as DU-inflicted wounds on humans are practically impossible to treat and present hazards for not only the victims, but also the medical personnel treating them who are likely to be seriously contaminated with radiation, there is a strong case that they should not be used whatsoever by any civilized military force.

Furthermore, where DU shells explode in non-residential areas, the problem does not go away but becomes a deferred sentence of death for residents in the target country, or region as such explosions have been found to contaminate the soil and water permanently and to cause untold misery and deaths from cancer upon residents.

According to United States’ former Justice Secretary Ramsey Clark, DU utilisation is: “An unacceptable threat to life and a violation of international law”.

April 22, 2011

European Union and the USA set to deploy occupation forces in Libya

[Jonas Griffiths, Middle East and Africa Contributor]

Guardian.co.uk/ PrisonPlanet TV: In what many international observers are saying is a thinly camouflaged scramble for Libya‘s oil riches, the EU and USA are ramping up to deploy ‘occupation’ forces in the guise of  ground troops for the protection of  ‘humanitarian’ supplies to the rebels in the besieged country.

According to WeeklyIntercept.Blogspot.com, the US’s ground troops will be sent to complement and assist the hundreds of special forces military personnel from the US, UK and France already deployed within Libya as trainers and advisors.

Furthermore, this week, despite the controversy over the use of the missile-armed US Predator drones in Pakistan by its tendency to inflict unpalatable levels of ‘collateral’ damage upon the Pakistanis, President Obama has ordered that the very same machines may be used in Libya in aid of the rebels. In particular, it is hoped that the rebels in Misrata will have an easier time in overcoming the vastly superior firepower of the incumbent Col Gaddafi’s forces when the drones are deployed.

In the meantime, PrisonPlanet TV reports that the EU has prepared a plan for rubber stamping by Nato which will allow it to deploy more than 1,000 ground troops in Libya for the protection of humanitarian aid supplies to the rebels.  Whilst  the soldiers will be fully armed and instructed to fight if the humanitarian aid supplies are threatened, the Nato forces countries, despite having armed Col. Gaddafi’s forces in the years preceding the ‘people power’ movement in Libya, are still refusing to arm the rebels. Military analysts have commented that all this is causing concern among the rebel forces who are suspicious that using the cover of Nato’s barely-legalised involvement in their conflict, EU and US forces will quickly become ‘occupying’ forces similar to events in Afghanistan and Iraq.

In addition, as there is nothing in place by  that sets out a plan of action for any of the foreign occupation forces to be deployed in Libya to be commanded by the Libyan rebel leaders, the rebel leaders are declining the troops deployment and becoming increasingly suspicious that the offer of assistance will be yet another ‘occupation’ move for the exploitation of the country’s oil-wealth by foreign western powers.

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April 20, 2011

British and France put soldiers on the ground in Libya

[Katherine Taylor, Libya Conflict Contributor]

BBC News reports that the UK is sending a number of its military advisors to Libya to assist the rebels to overthrow the regime of Col Muammar Gaddafi.  Around 10 British officers will be deployed together with around the same amount from France.

The British are saying that the move complies with the UN resolution on Libya which prevents the depl0yment of foreign occupation troops. Col. Gaddafi’s foreign minister, is reported to have said that the move would not be helpful to Col Gaddafi and the rebels as it would only serve to prolong the conflict. However, he did not mention what else Britain could do to assist with the rebel’s demands being met.

Military analysts commenting on the move are saying that it is undoubtedly the first step towards a full-scale deployment of British and French troops to Libya to spearhead the following invasion of Nato forces.  They are also saying that Nato’s resolve not to arm the rebels means that Col Gaddafi’s forces have distinct firepower advantages over them as they are able to rely on weaponry (including tanks, rockets and anti-personnel munitions) supplied to Col Gaddafi by US and European governments in the past 2 years.

April 11, 2011

No peace deal without the Colonel’s surrender, rebels say

[Jo Mokobi, Middle East and Africa Contributor]

BBC News: Despite the entrenched Libyan dictator, Col. Gaddafi’s acceptance of a peace deal brokered by the African Union which would allow him to escape a war crimes tribunal, the Libyan rebels are saying that nothing short of the total withdrawal of the Colonel (including his stepping down and facing a criminal trial) and his regime will secure any peace in Libya.

In the meantime, with weak support from the air from Nato forces, compounded by its policy of not arming the rebels, the Colonel’s forces equipped with sophisticated and up-to-date western manufactured ordinance is continuing to wreak havoc upon rebel forces in Ajdabiya.

April 7, 2011

Libyan rebels are angry as Nato’s ‘collateral’ damage claims at least 13 of their members’ lives

[Jamal Atkins, Libya News Contributor]

BBC News: Rebels in eastern Libya are saying that they have been mistakenly targeted in a Nato air strike which claimed at least 13 of their members’ lives. The BBC’s reporter on the scene, Wyre Davies, says that on the perimeter of Ajdabiya, the rebels had been forced to withdraw after being heavily targeted by the Nato strikes.

It is the third time that this has happened in less than a few days when coalition forces aiding the rebels mistakenly targeted and killed rebel fighters.  It is reported that many, both rebels and residents, were injured by the air strikes and there are concerns that the frequency of these kind of errors is not the result of accidents, but a result of a secret plan by Nato.

(BBC) “It is unbelievable,” said one Benghazi resident. “Nato, with all the equipment they have – is this the second mistake? Is it really a mistake or something arranged secretly?”

April 3, 2011

Nato forces ‘friendly fire’ kills civilians

MailOnline: Nato’s air support of the Libyan rebels is proving to be a mixed blessing as Libyan civilian death toll mounts.

At least 13 Libyan civilians have been reported killed so far by Nato’s ‘friendly fire’ and the rebels’ military equipment has also suffered damage by the air strikes. Despite this, it is reported that the rebels are keen for Nato’s support to continue.  An interesting question is what happens if they say ‘no’ to further Nato aid?  My guess is that ‘regime change‘ will continue notwithstanding as the countries making up the Nato contingent in Libya will have too much to lose in terms of oil credits if the Gadaffi regime continues to rule.

Various news reports are suggesting that the end to the conflict seems nowhere in sight as Nato air strikes, although effective, have not diminished the regime’s capacity to inflict continuous damage on the rebel’s forces. For example, it is reported that Misrata has now been retaken by the Colonel’s forces who have rejected calls for a ceasefire.

My guess is that sooner, or later, Nato ground forces will have to be deployed to support the rebels as if ‘collateral damage‘ escalates (as it most certainly will if the air strikes continue) Nato will lose credibility with the rebels to the advantage of the regime. Furthermore, is it not time that Nato considered arming the rebels? After all, the Libyan regime is well-armed with US and European military equipment supplied to it in the run-up to the conflict.

MailOnline reports that bombs dropped on Tripoli by Nato forces have resulted in further civilian casualties.

[Tutsu Ahmedi, Middle East & Africa Contributor]

March 28, 2011

NATO takes over in Libya

[Jens Alamasian, Middle East & Africa Contributor]

Sify News: On Sunday, NATO formally took over all UN-articulated military interventions in Libya. This means that the current predominantly US-led coalition forces will cede command to NATO.

The organisation proposes to enforce the no-fly zone in Libya and has pledged to take:  ‘all necessary action’ to stop civilian attacks by the incumbent regime and: “.. to implement all aspects of the UN resolution. Nothing more, nothing less,” according to the organisation’s Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

NATO members, according the the rules of the organisation, need to decide now whether they will participate in the military operations and if so, their level of involvement. Only Germany so far has chosen to opt out of any military operations.

What is NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization or NATO, is an international governmental military group which came into being as a result of the North Atlantic Treaty of 4 April 1949. It is headquartered in Brussels.

The essence of NATO is that all member states agree to a system of collective defence which means that if an external party attacks any member, then all members will join in its defence. In that regard, it would seem that its role in Libya presents a somewhat exaggerated extension of its remit especially as the Libyan regime did not attack any of of its members.

NATO has 28 members: Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

March 22, 2011

US says ‘We’re sorry’ to Afgans for civilian deaths

BBC News: Over 4000 media items including photos and videos were obtained by the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, which show soldiers in the US Army in graphic and ‘repugnant’ actions upon Afghan civilians. The US military has since apologized and says that the actions were those of a ‘rogue’ unit in 2010 and investigations are under way.

The photos were recently published by Germany‘s Der Spiegel magazine and are said to be some of the many that were taken by US Army investigators. They depict US soldiers grinning over the bodies of Afghan civilians they appear to have killed.  Other photos show soldiers kneeling over a body and holding the face of the dead man to the camera by using his hair and turning his head.

In 2010,  around 3000 civilians were killed in the conflict. The UN says that the Taliban were responsible for around 75% of the deaths and coalition forces the remaining 30%.

[Middle East Contributor]

March 7, 2011

USA in love with Latvia

[Aldis Pasrosky, Baltics Contributor]

Latvians Online: With praise for Latvia‘s booming democracy and resilience in times of trouble from non-else than America‘s Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, ringing in their ears, Latvians have a lot to be proud of these days.

Mrs Clinton is reported to have said after a meeting with Latvia’s Foreign Minister, Girts Valdis Kristovkis: ‘….the sky is the limit’ now for Latvia…it is a democracy that is demonstrating by its actions how it can build a better future for its own people… The United States has maintained an unbroken friendship with Latvia throughout its modern history, when it was at war and under occupation and since it acquired its independence from the Soviet Union, and we have long admired the Latvian people’s resilience throughout very difficult times,” (transcript of the press conference as distributed by the State Department and reported by Latvians Online).

The minister had met with Mrs. Clinton during his recent visit to Washington, D.C. for discussions concerning economic development and world-wide security issues.  Latvia’s membership of NATO, its continuing support for America in the missions in Afghanistan, the diversification of its energy resources, its efforts to deal with the current economic crisis and its firm support for the democratic movement in Belarus had also been discussed.

While the meeting with Clinton may not have delivered any firm commitments regarding aid, or economic co-operation with Latvia, Mr. Kristovskis was hopeful of the United States’ interest in making investments in Latvia. He also said that the US-backed ‘Northern Distribution Network‘ – a project for the transport of supplies to Afghanistan which involves the port of Riga, would engage Latvian entrepreneurs.

Latvia is a country of around 2.2 million inhabitants. Its national langauge is Latvian, but Russian and English are widely spoken. It is in the Baltics and borders Estonia in the north and Lithuania in the south. The Russian border is in its east. In 2004, it became a member of the European Union and is currently one of EU countries hardest hit by the financial crisis. It’s capital, Riga, the largest city in the Baltic region, is a major transhipment port.