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April 26, 2015 / 7 Iyar, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Benghazi’

American Among the Dead in Terrorist Attack on Libyan Hotel

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

The terrorist attack on Tuesday, Jan. 27, at the luxury Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, Libya, carried out by an ISIS-affiliate, resulted in the death of at least 10 people. The dead included a former U.S. Marine.

The American, David Berry, was a contractor with Crucible, a security firm. Berry served as a U.S. Marine from 2000 until 2012. A report on social media states that Berry was shot.

The Islamic State in Tripoli Province, a Libyan branch of ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attacks. It named the terrorists: Abu Ibraheem Al-Tunsi and Abu Sulaiman Al-Sudani. Those last names indicate one was of Tunisian background and the other Sudanese. Both were reportedly Libyan nationals.

The attack was believed to be carried out to avenge the capture of an alleged al Qaeda operative, Abu Anas al-Libi, who had been accused of playing a role in the bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998. Al-Libi died in U.S. captivity, awaiting trial.

The terrorists shot their way into the hotel, according to CNN. A car bomb was also detonated in the parking lot of the hotel during the attack. The two terrorists blew themselves up when security forces began closing in on them.

In addition to Berry, one French citizen and three Tajikistanis were killed in the attack, according to preliminary reports. The remaining five dead are all believed to have been Libyans.

The Prime Minister of Libya, Omar al-Hassi, was staying in the hotel, just two floors away from where the focus of the attack took place. Al-Hassi was hustled out of the building and escaped harm.

This is the first major attack on foreign nationals in Libya since the September 2012 Benghazi attack in which four Americans were killed.

Libyan Parliament Attacked in Islamist Purge Attempt

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Ever since the 2011 ouster of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadaffi, competing factions have been engaged in efforts on the one hand to turn Libya into an Islamist stronghold, and on the other, to shepherd Libya towards democracy.

What started with high hopes for real democracy following decades of absolute dictatorship has now sputtered out into infighting, violence, political stagnation and economic downturn.

On Sunday, May 18, a military-style attack on the Libyan government’s General National Congress building was waged reportedly by retired Libyan general Khalifa Haftar, who has been attempting to eliminate control over sections of the state by Islamist terrorist groups such as Ansar al-Sharia.

Reuters is reporting an attack was waged on Friday in Benghazi to dampen Islamists control over the city, an assault that included military helicopters and was described by opponents as a coup attempt by Haftar. His followers call themselves the National Army. Friday’s attack left 75 dead and 140 wounded.

Lawmaker Omar Bushah told Reuters that gunmen stormed into the General National Congress building, raiding lawmakers’ offices and setting the building on fire.

There were local reports that seven lawmakers had been captured, but other reports denied anyone had been in the building when the assault began.

Following Friday’s assault, Libyan authorities imposed a “no-fly” zone over Benghazi. But the disorganized regular army is in no position to control the many independent, well-armed groups.

The removal of Gaddafi augered a new beginning for Libya, but the rebel groups formed to help with his ouster have been dissatisfied with their access to oil wealth and control.  At the same time, Islamist groups unleashed in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings are firmly devoted to creating a theocratic, hardline Islamist state.

Severe birth pains have accompanied Libya’s lurch towards democracy. It is now on its third prime minister since March, the parliament is unable to gain consensus and the new constitution is yet to be written.

Not only is Libya burdened by warring factions, easily toppled leaders and outright violence, but the oil-rich nation’s economic lifeline has been in free fall. Libya had been producing 1.4 million barrels of oil per day. It is now down to producing only 200,000 barrels per day.

Benghazi Burning: 1000+ Prisoners Escaped, Justice Bldgs Bombed

Monday, July 29th, 2013

This is what utter lawlessness looks like.

On Saturday, more than 1,100 prisoners inside the Kuafiya Prison in Benghazi, Libya escaped after demonstrations outside, and riots inside, induced the guards to open the doors or risk having everyone inside burn to death.

By Sunday, approximately 100 of those who had escaped had been recaptured, but Benghazi saw more violence that evening.

Two explosions rocked the city of Benghazi on Sunday evening, one in front of a court house, and the other in front of the Justice Ministry.  There were no fatalities, but 13 people were injured.  However, there was massive damage to the buildings and surrounding areas.

Although no one claimed responsibility for the explosions or the prison break, it is believed that the violence was in response to the assassination of a lawyer and leading critic of the Muslim Brotherhood, Abdelsalam al-Mosmary, who was shot in the chest after leaving a Benghazi mosque following Friday prayers.  Al-Mosmary was extremely outspoken and harshly criticized the presence of armed militias on the streets of Libya. These militias were also the focus of massive protests following the September 11, 2012 attack on the American Compound in Benghazi.

After news of al-Mosmary’s death spread, hundreds of protesters attacked the Benghazi and Tripoli offices of Libya’s Muslim Brotherhood, late on Friday, according to Reuters.

Over the weekend Libya’s Prime Minister, Ali Zeidan, closed the border between Libya and Egypt.  He suspected that al-Mosmary’s assassins were headed towards Egypt.  Zeidan was elected in the fall of 2012, when he narrowly defeated Mohamed Al Harary, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, by 8 votes.

Zeidan said he would reshuffle his cabinet in the wake of the violence. An emergency meeting is expected to take place on Monday.

Violence in Libya is on the increase.  Of course, Benghazi was the site of the September 11, 2012 murders of four Americans: Ambassador Christopher Stevens, U.S. Foreign Service Information Officer Sean Smith, and former Navy SEALS and Embassy security personnel Glen Doherty and Tyrone S. Woods. But Libyan political activists were stunned by the assassination of one of their own.

At Last, Secret Obama Middle East Policy Revealed, No Kidding

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

Note: I beg you to read this article and I’ve never said that before. I think in the wake of the Egyptian coup, everything has come clearly together on U.S. Middle East policy. This is the most important article I’ve written in 2.5 years, since predicting the first Egyptian revolution in October 2010. Here is the story.

A statement by two National Security Council senior staff members has revealed the inner thinking of President Barack Obama. It is of incredible importance and I plead with you to read it. If you do you will comprehend fully what’s going on with U.S. foreign policy.

Egypt, Egypt, Egypt… There are more words written about this event than demonstrators in Tahrir Square. But, to quote a recent secretary of state on Benghazi, what difference does it make? A great deal indeed.

First, let’s remember that in the face of advancing totalitarianism in the Middle East, U.S. policy completely y failed. Imagine, if you wish, what would have happened with the Nazis without Winston Churchill and Great Britain in the 1940s. The U.S. government of this day was not only ready to leave Middle Easterners to their fate; it even sided with their actual or potential oppressors.

So who has been waging the battle meanwhile? The people of Iran and Turkey, who have not won because in part the United States failed to encourage the former and did not encourage the Turkish army to do what the Egyptian army did do; the embattled Tunisian and Lebanese anti-Islamists; the Saudis (at times) and the Persian Gulf Arabs (except for Qatar) and Jordan. Oh yes, and also Israel the most slandered and falsely reviled country on earth.

Second, the Benghazi affair was the model of the Obama Administration worldview: If you allow a video insulting Muslims, four American officials will be killed. If you support the overthrow of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, thousands of Americans might die. This is the result of placing not politics but counter-terrorism in command. 

And this leads to… Barack Obama’s Big Decision

Is President Obama going to come down on the side of the Islamist ex-regime, remember this includes the Salafists in objective terms, or the new regime? What a remarkable irony that Obama endlessly apologized for past U.S. support for dictators and ended up adding a new chapter to that history and heightened anti-Americanism! Remember that one of his last conversations with ex-President Muhammad al-Mursi,

Obama told him that he still regarded him as the democratically elected president of Egypt.

Of course, Obama will have to end up recognizing the new government. The question is how much and how long he will resist that? It is pitiful to know that the best possible result is that he will accept the rulers in Cairo and continue the economic aid. In fact, he should increase it. We should not be talking punishment for the coup but in fact a rich reward, to show others which way the wind blows.

Specifically, U.S. diplomats were urging a deal: a coalition government in Egypt in which the Brotherhood has part of the power.   You can imagine how well that would work and how grateful the Brotherhood (much less the Salafists) and their opponents will be to Obama for proposing they surrender. So in other words, the army, the former opposition, and the Islamists–in short, all of the Egyptian people no matter which side they are on, will see America as their enemy.

And will Obama learn more lessons from this situation?  Will he stop seeking to install a regime in Syria that is worse than Mursi’s? Will he increase support for the real Iranian, Turkish, and Lebanese oppositions? Will he recognize the true strategic realities of Israel and stop seeking to install a regime like Mursi’s in the territories captured by Israel in 1967 (I refer here to Hamas, not the Palestinian Authority which might well give way to Hamas after a state would be established?)

So far though, it looks like Obama is determined to be the protector of oppressive dictatorship in Egypt. Isn’t that what Obama complained about what previous presidents had done? The Obama Administration has called on  Egyptian leaders to pursue, “A transparent political process that is inclusive of all parties and groups,” including “avoiding any arbitrary arrests of Mursi and his supporters,” Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said July 4 in a statement.

Benghazi’s Lesson

Monday, May 20th, 2013

I haven’t written about the Benghazi affair before. I’m not in a position to judge whether the State Department or military could have intervened in time to save Ambassador Stevens, or why the consulate wasn’t reinforced, etc.  I’m sure the disaster could have been prevented, and someone is responsible for it. But I’m not the one to explain how and who.

What I am competent to discuss is the politics of the decision to present the attack as something that it was not and that the relevant people knew at the time it was not.

Some of President Obama’s opponents have been saying that it was all about the election. Obama’s claim was that he had more or less ended the terrorist threat — after all, he killed bin Laden! So the truth that an American ambassador was murdered on the anniversary of 9/11 by al Qaeda linked terrorists would not be helpful. Therefore, the story that the attack grew out of a spontaneous demonstration over an anti-Islam video was pushed instead.

This is true as far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. The fact is that the video story was part of a theme that has run through Obama’s presidency from the beginning. This is the idea that the policy of the United States toward the anti-Western jihad should have two dimensions: we will kill overt anti-American terrorists, while at the same time try to placate the Muslim world through diplomacy and propaganda.

Every effort is made to relate positively to Muslims here and abroad. Aid programs are established to Muslim countries. NASA administrators are asked to reach out to the Muslim world. Less benignly, ‘Islamophobia’ is presented as a more dangerous phenomenon than domestic jihad, the administration embraces the Palestinian cause, supports Islamists in Egypt, falls in love with the Islamist prime minister of Turkey, etc.

This policy, which started immediately before Obama’s inauguration when he pressured Israel to withdraw from Gaza, found full expression in his Cairo speech of June 4, 2009. Although I was initially shocked by his obscene equation of the Holocaust with the way the “Palestinian people … have suffered in pursuit of a homeland,” the most alarming thing about the speech taken as a whole is its obeisance to the Arab and Muslim historical narrative, the story that is told to justify aggression against the U.S. and the West (and Israel is only a small part of this).

For example, he said,

The relationship between Islam and the West includes centuries of co-existence and cooperation, but also conflict and religious wars. More recently, tension has been fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations. Moreover, the sweeping change brought by modernity and globalization led many Muslims to view the West as hostile to the traditions of Islam.

In other words, it’s all our fault. Never mind the cultural and political backwardness that made Muslim nations hellholes for all but a tiny privileged minority, never mind the cynical behavior of kleptocratic Muslim leaders who sold themselves to whomever would supply the most weapons for them to use in their wars and intrigues against each other and Israel — their problems are all because of those Western colonialists!

Compare them to Israel, which freed itself from British domination to become the most successful nation in the Middle East, or Vietnam, or many other formerly colonized peoples. And keep in mind that many Arab countries, like Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq, went rapidly from Ottoman domination to independence, suffering little, if at all, from Western exploitation.

Obama’s approach extended to the way we respond to ideologically-motivated terrorism in the U.S. The administration seems to have taken the true statement “not all Muslims support terrorism” and quite invalidly inferred from it that “Islam can never be the motive for terrorism.” So Major Nidal Hassan’s mass murder at Ft. Hood is explained as workplace violence, other terrorists are defined as mentally disturbed, the Department of Homeland Security issues a directive that such words as “jihad” and “Muslim” cannot be used in connection with terrorism, and the NYPD is criticized for carrying out surveillance of mosques.

In the view of the Obama administration, the enemy is not an ideology. It is only specific organizations (whose motives are not discussed) that attack us.

Any disagreement with this position — anyone who suggests that there is a dangerous ideology of political Islam out there which often finds violent expression in terrorist acts — is stigmatized as an Islamophobe, a kind of racist, a designation which places the person so vilified outside the pale of discourse, and justifies denying him or her the right to speak publicly.

And so we come back to Benghazi. What better explanation could be given for the disaster than an Islamophobic video? Not only does the randomness of the outburst excuse everyone involved for the failure — who could have known this would happen? — and not only does it hide the fact that even the acknowledged war against al Qaeda hasn’t been going as well as they would like us to think, it casts blame precisely on those intolerant opponents of the administration’s policy of trying to placate the Muslim world!

Thus the schmuck who made the video is imprisoned for a year for a parole violation, after Hillary Clinton tells the parent of one of the U.S. personnel murdered in the attack that she would see to it that the filmmaker was arrested and prosecuted.

The dual policy — killing overt terrorists while expressing love and respect for Islam — is both unfortunate for our real allies, like Israel, which sees itself pressured into concessions to the PLO or Hamas as a way to show that Obama cares about Palestinian Muslims, as well as a failure.

The reason for the failure is a misunderstanding of the messages we send as they are received in Arab and Muslim cultures. The message of caring and respect that we are trying to send is perceived as weakness. Muslims understand that non-Muslims can either fight or submit to Islam — it’s not possible to admire Islam while at the same time refusing to submit. So Obama’s gestures are either ignored or indicate that he is not strong enough to fight.

At the same time, the drone strikes and the war in Afghanistan kill Muslims, and it is the duty of Muslims to avenge these killings. The fact that the perpetrators are non-Muslims makes them obscene in these cultures, the reversal of the natural order.

In the meantime, the morale of our police forces on the home front is weakened, the tools necessary to discover and prevent jihadist terrorism are taken out of their hands, and aggressive Islamic ideologues in our mosques and college campuses are encouraged.

A better policy would be to stop pretending to admire the people who hate us. We should say to the Muslim world, “look, we have a system that’s different from yours, we think it’s better, and we intend to defend it. Anyone who hurts us or our allies will get it back ten times over.” We don’t need to ‘declare war on Islam’ to do that, as apologists for the present policy claim.

Our leaders have become so used to lying, that they haven’t considered simply being honest and standing up for what we believe.

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The Post-Obama Democratic Party

Sunday, May 19th, 2013

Two elections ago, the Democratic Party was on the verge of being torn to shreds. After a long series of dirty tricks and one stolen election later, there was an uncomfortable coming together.

Obama and his cronies kept most of the important positions, while the Clintonites got a few pieces of the foreign policy apparatus. The arrangement satisfied no one, but it kept ticking along until the Benghazi attacks happened.

By the time Benghazi happened, Clinton and Obama needed each other more than ever.  Obama needed the Clintons on the campaign trail to sell him to more moderate Democrats who remembered that times had been better under Bill. Hillary needed Obama to anoint her as his intended successor.

The awkward dance, complete with an injury, a congressional hearing and a 60 Minutes interview and then the real fireworks began.

Hillary Clinton had turned lemons into lemonade, getting what she could out of Obama. State had looked like a good spot for her because it would insulate her from the backlash over the economy. And she would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for Benghazi. It wasn’t quite leaving on a high note, but as bad as Benghazi was, no one in their right mind would want to be associated with what is going to happen in Afghanistan. At least no one who isn’t as dumb as Hanoi John who began his career with Viet Cong and Sandinista pandering and will end it watching the Taliban take Kabul.

Benghazi hasn’t slowed Hillary Clinton down. And her target is the same old target from 2008. We’re back in that 3 A.M. phone call territory. The truce between Obama and Hillary Clinton ended on 60 Minutes. It’s not exactly war, but it is politics.

While Obama and his cronies plot out the second term, Hillary Clinton is plotting out her election campaign. These days every presidential campaign begins with the ceremonial burial of your own party’s predecessor. It wasn’t just McCain who kept a careful distance from Bush, Gore kept a careful distance from Clinton and Bush Sr. kept a careful distance from Reagan. The reinvention invariably involves the ritual jettisoning of some portions of your predecessor’s program and personality.

Hillary Clinton isn’t betting on being able to ride Obama’s coattails. Not only are the coattails short, but the same electorate of younger and minority voters whose turnout he could count on, won’t be quite as eager to come out for her. Her people are not betting on Obama’s strategy of dismissing mainstream voters and counting on making it up with a passionate base. To win, Hillary Clinton will have to win back some of the same voters that Obama alienated during his two terms.

The script is already written. You can spot it peeking through select mainstream media editorials. Watch for those instances where mainstream media pundits blame Obama’s inexperience and his failure to reach out across the aisle for his shortcomings. Those mentions aren’t so much an attack on Obama as they are a campaign sign reading, “Hillary 2016.” It’s subtle for now, but a year from now, those grudging admissions that Obama fell short in some areas will come with the strong suggestion that next time around, someone more experienced and more able to build bridges could do better.

Republicans will rightly wonder on which planet, Hillary Clinton is an experienced bipartisan leader. But compared to Obama, she is, and these days we are grading on one very gentle curve. Clinton had begun building that image for the 2008 election and now her people are taking it out and dusting it off again. The Democratic Party is being given the chance to choose the sensible experienced candidate that it failed to choose last time around. And the fact that the candidate in question is actually neither is one of those things that doesn’t really make a difference.

In preparing for a Post-Bush candidacy, Hillary gambled that the public would want someone a little more to the right and so she cultivated an image as a conservative member of the Democratic Party. Not only did she cultivate the image, but she made an occasional effort to vote that way and build those alliances. It was good planning, but a bad bet. Unlike Bill, Hillary was never an instinctual politician. Bill plays it by ear, while Hillary makes long term plans and is caught by surprise.

When American Ambassadors Were Still Untouchable

Friday, May 17th, 2013

I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson, which tells the story of Ambassador William Dodd, President Roosevelt’s first Ambassador to Hitler. The book chronicles the slow descent of Germany into Nazi tyranny. One of the most striking features of the narrative is the fear that slowly descends on the German populace as they become terrified of ever expressing an opinion about Hitler and his police state even in the company of close family and friends.

Yet Dodd and his family were utterly immune to such fear. Though they lived in a home that was owned by a Jewish banker; though they regularly hosted journalists who wrote critically of Hitler; though they drove by the home of Franz Von Papen – the deputy Chancellor –  to show their support even after he had been placed under house arrest by Hitler for his Marburg speech of June, 1934; though Dodd openly snubbed Hitler every year by refusing to attend the Nazi Nuremberg rally where Hitler was celebrated as a god, Dodd never had anything to fear. He did not have to worry that the S.A. would ransack his Berlin home in the middle of the night. He did not have to fear that his daughter Martha, who even had an affair with Gestapo head Rudolf Diels, would be summarily shot for her increasing disillusion with Hitler’s regime. He did not have to fear that the SS would arrest him on his frequent walks through the Tiergarten for a speech he gave on that made subtle reference to Hitler’s growing assault on freedom. And he did not have fear that roaming bands of Nazi thugs would attack him for his protests to the German Foreign Minister against unprovoked attacks that threatened the lives of Americans.

And why didn’t he fear? Because even a monster as evil as Hitler, arguably the most dangerous man that ever lived, wasn’t going to mess with the American Ambassador.

In fact, one of the stories told in the book is the day that Dodd took a walk with French Ambassador André François-Poncet in the Tiergarten when the latter told him he would not be surprised if he would be shot in the street by the S.S.

Dodd was astonished. It never occurred to him to ever worry so long as he was the American Ambassador and indeed Hitler and the Nazis never harassed Western Ambassadors.

It therefore matters that just 80 years later a bunch of terrorist thugs can think they can murder an American Ambassador in full site of the world without consequence. American diplomatic staff were once the safest people in the world, representatives of a superpower who would rain hell from the skies should you touch one of their diplomatic staff. But no more.

The growing revelations from the Congressional hearings on Benghazi that the Obama State Department watered down public statements on the attack in order to cleanse them of any mention of al Qaeda and terrorism is a travesty and shows a lack of moral will to give evil its proper name. ABC News and Fox News reported this past Friday that the departments talking points were revised a full 12 times to purge them of any mention of terrorism. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland asked the CIA to remove mention of their own security warnings about Benghazi.

According to ABC News the original paragraph read,

The Agency has produced numerous pieces on the threat of extremists linked to al Qaeda in Benghazi and eastern Libya. These noted that, since April, there have been at least five other attacks against foreign interests in Benghazi by unidentified assailants, including the June attack against the British Ambassador’s convoy. We cannot rule out the individuals has previously surveilled the U.S. facilities, also contributing to the efficacy of the attacks.

But Nuland was concerned that the line “could be abused by members [of Congress] to beat up the State Department for not paying attention to warnings, so why would we want to feed that either?”

I have earlier written how  Ambassador Susan Rice was utterly inappropriate to be chosen as Secretary of State based on her efforts to disassociate the word genocide from the Rwandan mass slaughters of 1994 so as not to commit the Clinton Administration to intervention.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/america-rabbi-shmuley-boteach/when-american-ambassadors-were-still-untouchable/2013/05/17/

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